Tuesday, January 28, 2014

I Made a Little Sun

This week we got a little artsy! We have a member who teaches groups how to make stained glass projects and she invited our district over last monday during our P-day to work on stained glass! I made a little sun. It's probably the most impressive thing I've ever made before... And I actually had a really enjoyable time making it. I think it's a pretty expensive hobby but It's really quite awesome. I highly recommend trying it.

In the last 9 months, this was a somewhat discouraging week. Now, just because discouraging things happened that doesn't mean that I myself am discouraged! I'm actually very happy! It was a really growing week for sure.

There is a man that we have been teaching that excepted a baptismal date. Over the course of a few events his baptismal date was pushed back to February 1st which is this coming Saturday. It wasn't his fault at all and he got very discouraged. It's been a source of a lot of stress for me since the ward pretty much has decided to take over the situation and also pushed hard to have his baptism a week later. Ward leaders and members are all super confused, our investigator is super confused, and we're completely confused. For sure it's happening this Saturday though and hopefully we can get the word out.

We do our emails from a public high school's library and this boy and girl just walked by holding hands. The boy had a headphone in the ear on the side the girl was walking on and the girl was practically dragging him to their next class. Hahaha.

There's a Sister missionary serving in Wyoming who's family is not LDS. She was baptized a year and a half ago against her parents but by the time she decided to serve a mission they were more accepting. Her family just moved to Chandler from California and the sister missionary sent her family in as a referral to us. On Thursday we met the family and were even able to have the sister missionary skyped in! Introductions went great. We got to know the family and make it comfortable pretty quickly. We talked about what we missionaries do and talked about our purpose. We asked the sister missionary to share her conversion story which was super powerful. She cried a lot too. We started teaching the message of the restoration and about the time we got to the Apostasy, the mom had a mini freak out. The family is catholic and the mom especially has no intentions of ever changing. She asked her daughter why she had us come. They daughter explained that the message missionaries share has changed her life so much and she just wants her family to listen to what we have to say with an open heart and mind. We took a time out on the lesson and let them talk things out. In the end, she agreed to let us come back and that she would give it a chance. It ended really positive and was a great experience!

Me and Elder Jolley are tight. We're definitely going to hang out after the mission.

We had the privilege of going through the Gilbert Temple open house on Saturday! A little over a week ago, there was a family that we met on the street as we were biking through a neighborhood on the way to an appointment. We stopped and talked for awhile and invited them to the temple. They said they could only go on a saturday and couldn't find any tickets online. We got their phone number and told them we would find tickets for them. The next day at church we were asking around and found a member who had exactly the amount of tickets needed on a saturday to take this family though. We called them up and let them know and they confirmed they'd like to go. We had an amazing experience. The spirit at the temple is very strong and they felt it. They also had a lot of questions that we were able to answer. We are working on a follow up visit and hopefully we'll begin teaching them more. It's an amazing time to be a missionary especially here! The Lord truly is hastening his work. Our mission is experiencing miracles that it's never experienced before. I would invite you all to get involved!!! Make invitations!! The Lord has promised that he will help us know what to say. He has also promised that either we will be led to people who are ready for our message or they will be led to us. Open your mouth and share the gospel with every one you can because you never know who is ready!

Love Elder Janis

Monday, January 20, 2014

We Are Pumped!

Let me tell you about my new companion! His name is Elder Jolley and he's from Vermont! He was the only member in his High School! In fact, there is only 1 stake in the entire state of vermont. The strength of the church here in Arizona is super impressive to him. He just turned 19. He really has the greenie fire. He has hit the ground running and is already a very capable missionary. We've decided to skip most of our lunch our and eat as quick as we can so we can make extra appointments. The members already love him and trust us as their missionaries. As his trainer I'm learning a ton from him. His excitement and enthusiasm reminds me of the energy I came into the field with and it has relight my motivation for hard core discipline and diligence. ;) We have set high goals for our area and are already achieving some of them. We are maintaining exact obedience. All I can say is AWESOME. I'm just so happy to be working so hard with such a great companion.
In our first lesson together, we put an investigator on date for January 25th. WE ARE PUMPED! This man has been investigating for years and all it took was asking him what he thought his wife (who wants to get baptized soon) would think if he got baptized on January 25th. He thought about it and then committed.
We had the great opportunity to do a Q&A with a large group of seniors from one of the prep schools in the area. They had some random questions like, "Why is God represented as a man?" or, "What's the mormon culture like?" It was really cool to answer their questions and there seemed to be some genuine interest! The group was put together by one of our young men who was taking all these peers through the Gilbert Temple Open house so he just had them show up to his house an hour early to have a Q&A with us!
I wish I could tell you more about my week and my mission! I'm SO busy and I'm doing SO good!! Not only is this the best 2 years but it's the freaking funnest 2 years! I really love talking to strangers. I like finding new jokes to make them laugh and I like the challenge of making it comfortable quickly.
I love you so much Mom!! Have a great week!

Love Elder Janis

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Enter in Silence. Please Remove Your Shoes.

Last night we received our 6 week transfer call. They finally decided Elder Janis and Elder Goates was too powerful of a companionship and Elder Goates is getting transferred. Staying in the Gilbert zone, I have been asked.......................... TO TRAIN AGAIN! I hope I train the extent of my mission. Nothing is more challenging and I'm grateful for the challenge to help a brand new missionary adjust to the mission. What a privilege. I'm so pumped that I lost about 2 hours of sleep last night thinking about how awesome it's going to be to welcome this new missionary into the best mission in the world and into the best area in world!!! Good things are coming. Miracles are happening. It's a wonderful time to be a missionary and to just be alive!

Elder Goates and I found 2 new investigators this week. I won't use their real names so I'll refer to the 70 year old Vietnam vet as Al and his 60 year old wife as Carla. They are so strange... We were told by one of our members to stop by their home to see if they'd be interested in hearing a message about the temple so the following day around 7:00pm, we knocked on their door. Carla came to the window and told us they were sleeping and asked what we wanted. We told them we had come to personally invite them to tour the Gilbert Temple and wanted to share a message with them. They told us to come back the next day and they'd love to hear the message. 

The next day we went over with our member and we were able to have a discussion outside their home about temples. The door was kind of cracked open so we were able to see inside a little bit. It was weird. All I could see was a sign that said, "enter in silence. Please remove your shoes." and a big picture of an indian guru hanging on the wall. They invited us to come back the next day for lunch, and honestly I don't really know why because Carla told us we were probably not going to be speaking and we would be eating beef stew in a sitting position on the floor. So we didn't think she was inviting us back because she wanted to hear more. Well, besides the fact that this was setting up to be the funniest moment of our missions, we accepted the invitation and made plans. 

The next day we showed up and knocked. Al opened the door in his wheelchair (he's paralyzed from the chest down) and he instructed us to take off our shoes and to enter in silence.. just as the sign said. We did so and found Carla in the kitchen stirring a pot of beef stew. On the counter there was a candle burning and incense burning from somewhere else. The lights were dimmed which emitted only enough light for us to see pictures of indian gurus all over the walls and on the shelves. THEY WERE EVEN ON THE MICROWAVE. Carla provided us bowls and started juicing fresh grapefruits. The stew was delicious and so was the juice. Different from what we were expecting, Carla started conversation with us and started asking us questions. She wanted to know all about our missions and where we were from. We got to know her and Al better too. Although they are very strange, they are the nicest people I've met in my life. As far as religion goes, they're pretty abstract. They meditate a lot and do yoga to connect with God. Al actually taught us how we can feel God. He had us rub our hands together and then pull them slightly apart. He told us that the energy we felt between our hands was God. Elder Goates and I thought that was pretty wack but we humored him. After lunch we set up another appointment to come back to answer more questions about our religion and about temples. Carla also promised to teach us some yoga and meditation. 

We came back two days later and we found the house exactly the way it was the last time we had been there (candles burning and incense. The pictures were still there too.. :(). We sat down to begin meditations and Carla looked at us and said, "I'm so happy to see you both! After our last visit I knew that God sent you to us. His spirit is radiating from you. The night after you left I had dreams about Jesus all night and when I woke up, I told Al that I had dreamed about Jesus all night and he told me that he had too!" That was pretty cool. Meditation was actually super nice. We then were able to share more about the gospel and set up a time to see them again. I'll keep you all posted for sure :)

We had the opportunity to hear from a member of the 70 this week. Elder Holland was actually supposed to speak to us and then the night before the conference he received a special assignment from the 1st presidency and had to find someone else to speak. The wife of the member of the 70 spoke and said, "It was like we had all bought tickets to see the Beatles and instead we had to watch the dixie chicks." She also said, "It's not the messenger, it's the message." I thought that was pretty cool. My favorite part of the meeting was actually when we sang hymns. Our mission combined with the Phoenix and Tucson missions so there were about 700 missionaries gathered together. A key learning I took from the meeting was to be faithful in all things. We never give up hope. It was inspiring and motivational.

Have a great week!

Love Elder Janis

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

This Guy Was Happy!

This was an amazing week!

We took a priest out with us to visit our one-legged investigator this week. We went over to help him take his christmas lights down, which he was super grateful for. We also brought a gift for the new year. Elder Goates and I cleverly used old Christmas package wrapping to wrap up the Book of Mormon on CD. J has been super grouchy lately and not very receptive and so we assumed that if he even accepted the gift, he wouldn't use it. When he opened it up, his face lit up with more excitement than most kids demonstrate on Halloween!! This guy was happy! He exclaimed, "Wow! The Book of Mormon on CD! Oh boy! This is just what I wanted! You guys just made my year!" He expressed so much enthusiasm it really came across as sarcastic, but he really was that excited! What a character!

Right after, we went to go contact a less active lady in one of our wards. When we pulled up we saw her neighbors in their garage so we went and talked with them for awhile. The dad said if there was ever a zombie Apocalypse or major world calamity he would join ranks with the mormons. Right now he won't just because he doesn't think he could afford paying tithing. I told him that was ridiculous and he was just making excuses. He agreed. As we were leaving we asked if he happened to know his neighbors and he said that they had been friends for about the last 10 years. So we went to W's house and knocked. After a minute of waiting, the door opened and a woman we presumed to be W answered the door. We asked if she was W to which her mouth said "no" but her eyes said "yes". Her reaction totally gave this woman away. We told her we had just been talking to her neighbors and asked if she knew them. Again she said "no, I don't even know who they are." We told her that her neighbors were really excited about the Gilbert Temple open house and asked if she had seen the temple. She said she hadn't. Unbelievable! You can literally almost see the temple from her house! How could she think she could get away with saying that?! Anyways, we told her about it and invited her to go and for the first time she said the word "yes", which coming from her was probably a lie so she probably meant "no". As we were about to leave I asked nonchalantly, "so what was your name?" Taken off guard she stammered for a second trying to think of a name before sheepishly admitting, "W." She couldn't think of a false name quick enough :D That's when we should have pulled out 2nd Nephi 9:34. ;)

That's all for this week!

Love Elder Janis