Monday, February 24, 2014

We Can Throw Each Other "Under the Bus"


First off, we had transfer calls last night and I'm staying!!!! By the end of this transfer I will have been in this area for 7 months. Elder Jolley and I are still companions and we're still covering Grove 1st and 2nd.

Last night was super special for me. Every month our mission president holds a Mission President's Devotional for all missionaries who bring investigators or recent converts to come hear two recent converts bear their testimonies and listen to a member of the mission presidency speak. One of the converts who spoke last night was a man me and Elder Caldwell street contacted and started teaching back in my second area. Months later, he was baptized and then last night spoke. He said that the first day he met me and Elder Caldwell, I had this big smile on my face that made him want to listen to what I had to say. Now this man has a burning testimony and shares it with every one he meets.

Our investigator was baptized this week! For sake of privacy I will call her Sue. Sue's mom raised her Catholic but Sue never felt satisfied with her religion. She was always looking for something greater. She felt guilty partying during the week and then going to confession on Sunday and then repeating the next week. This past year at Home Coming, she was introduced to a few LDS girls who set a good example for her. Months later, she reached out to them just to ask them questions about their beliefs. Eventually she was so interested she asked her friends if they would take her to church with them. Of course they said yes and that's when we were introduced to Sue. We set up the first appointment and in the first lesson she committed to baptism and was baptized two weeks later. She discovered her very own personal testimony during our second lesson when she answered a question with a powerful testimony. We told her, "Sue, you have a testimony! Did you realize that?!" She was so surprised! She hadn't realized she actually had her own testimony! At her baptism she was able to share a few thoughts and one thing she said that I thought was very powerful was that her conversion has changed her to the point that she never wants to do anything bad again. That really is the true mark of conversion. When we let the spirit into our lives, that is the impact it makes. Now we are teaching Sue's mom who has become interested and she is making great progress already!

We had a super funny lesson this week with a high school kid and one of our young men. As we were teaching the fall of Adam and Eve, this guy randomly interjected, "If Adam and Eve had stayed in the garden of Eden, we would all be naked right?" Our priest replied back quickly, "Dang, if that was true I would have to work out a lot more!" It was too funny not to write about this week! Just so you know we did clarify his question and brought the spirit back into the discussion. He accepted a return appointment so we take that as a good sign!

Me and Elder Jolley get along super well.. We have this unspoken agreement that we can throw each other "under the bus" in any given situation to lighten a possible awkward exchange. For example we were walking into this Dog Grooming business owned by an inactive member so the first thing Elder Jolley said when we walked in was "we brought this dog in to get groomed" (referring to me of course). I got him back later that night when we were talking with this guy throwing firewood onto a massive bonfire he had going. I offered Elder Jolley as extra firewood if he needed it.

Playing basketball all those years paid off this week! As we were biking through a neighborhood, we passed a basketball court were two guys were shooting hoops. We decided to challenge them with a bet: If we won a game of two on two, then we got to teach them a discussion. If they won we'd leave. They accepted the challenge. 15 minutes later we were teaching them a discussion. At the end of the lesson, one of them asked for a Book of Mormon and the other wanted a pamphlet. As we were leaving, a group of 6 more people showed up so we challenged them too! A short time later we were enjoying the second discussion of the evening on the basketball court. Elder Jolley and I were sitting on a cement block with 8 of these guys gathered around us. It was the teaching situation because we had just humbled them on their own court! They were willing to listen to everything we had to say! Near the end, one of the guys pipped up and said, "I think I want to become Mormon!" I was like, "Whaaat! That's awesome!" He then explained further that he and his mom had recently gone through the Gilbert Temple open house and she was already thinking about converting! I got his address and sent it over to the missionaries who cover his area. How cool is that?!

Last night we actually had a really cool experience giving a priesthood blessing! As we walked into the Mission President's Devotional, we were walking past some sister missionaries when we were stopped. One of them was sitting on a chair sobbing and the others explained she was dealing with a really painful migraine. They asked if we would give her a priesthood blessing. We immediately proceeded to anoint, after which I sealed the anointing and blessed her to be healed. Immediately she stopped crying and shaking and became very calm. After the blessing we gave her some water and she felt better. It was really awesome.

Everyone who reads this letter has to do one thing for me: Read from the Book of Mormon every day this week.

I love you all!

Love Elder Janis

E's Baptism!

This is the guy I street contacted and spoke at the Mission President's Devotional last night!

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

We Hardly Had Time To Eat

This week has been one of the best of my mission! We were so busy this week we hardly had time to eat! In fact we skipped two dinners to be able to make appointments with investigators. So many of our members are having amazing success as they've been inviting their friends to listen to the missionary lessons. There is a girl who we started teaching two weeks ago who is getting baptized this Friday! Her conversion has been one of the most powerful I've witnessed as I've been on my mission. She grew up catholic and a few weeks ago asked one of her LDS friends a few questions and became interested in the church. Each time we taught a new principle or doctrine, it was familiar to her even though she knows she's never heard it before. She has changed so much in such a short time. That's the most amazing thing about teaching the gospel because we get to see the quick change that it makes in people.

I'm really short on time today because we have so much stuff we have to do! I'm sorry I can't write more! I love you so much!

Love Elder Janis

Just thought I'd post a picture of Elder Janis that he posted on Facebook. Here he is with Elder Hardy.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

"Help Wanted"

I am super excited to tell you about this past week because it was one of the best :D

I've decided that missionary work is way more fun if you do it differently. For example, we helped this family move new furniture into their home and they gave us the bubble wrap as payment. The rest of that day we were wrapping Books of Mormon in bubble wrap and offering people "plain" Book's of Mormon, or "Bubble wrapped" Book's of Mormon. We got a positive response! Earlier in the week we saw a sign outside a dry cleaners that said "Help Wanted". I looked at my companion and we agreed that they needed our help. We walked in and told the lady at the counter that we saw the sign asking for help and told her we help people all the time, especially with building and strengthening relationships with Jesus Christ. She was extremely confused.. I gave her a card with a picture of Christ on it and explained our purpose again. She finally understood and accepted the card with a laugh.

One more funny story: There is a family we street contacted a few weeks ago and were able to take through the Gilbert Temple Open House. The family has a daughter in High School who works at a pizza shop near our house and so me and Elder Jolley decided to stop by, get pizza, and convince her to take the missionary lessons. By the end of dinner we went up to the counter to give her a tip. Just before handing it to her we said, "Now wait, to get this tip you have to agree to take the missionary lessons." Not only did she agree to take them but she said she'd get her whole family to take them too! We're setting up a time to have dinner with the family and have the first lesson. Sweeeeet!

One of our members introduced us to her friend this past week who was interested in taking the lessons. We've had 3 lessons with her thus far and in the second lesson she accepted an invitation to be baptized!! She is the most prepared person I have yet taught! In Doctrine and Covenants it talks about who the elect are. It says that the elect are those who hear the voice of God and harden not their hearts. This girl is a huge example to me of hearing and obeying the word of God. There is so much she doesn't know or yet understand but she is humbly doing what the Lord has asked.

This has been a very spiritual week for me. Our mission president challenged each of us to read the Book of Mormon in 9 weeks and I've been making great head way. I have received so many witnesses of the truth of that book as I've been reading through it. It is changing who I am faster than anything else ever has. I love the Book of Mormon.

Make reading the Book of Mormon the highest priority in your day and you will feel a greater peace in your life. You will come to a greater knowledge of who you are and who God is and your relationship with him will grow.

Love Elder Janis

Thursday, February 6, 2014

I've Changed and I'm Glad I'm Changing

This was by far one of the best weeks of my mission! Our good man E was finally baptized this week! I'll send pics in another email. He was VERY excited to be baptized and definitely jumped in with both feet. He bore his testimony after the baptism and shared with us how deeply the gospel has changed his life in the last 4 weeks. It's hard for him to comprehend where he was before and he's so grateful to God to have been given a second chance. It strengthened my testimony of the power the gospel has to change someones life even in such a short amount of time.

Elder Jolley and I had the unique privilege of going out of our area to watch the baptism of a man Elder Caldwell and I street contacted about 6 months ago and began teaching. After I left the area, this man dropped the missionaries for a few months and recently picked back up and made the decision to be baptized. He too is a changed man.

Our work has dramatically increased in the last two days. We had an entire family come with us to church this week which was one of the most exciting experiences of my mission! Also one of our Laurels brought a friend to church that wants to start taking the lessons and she seems very anxious to learn everything she can! This morning during personal study our phone rang and there was a guy on the phone asking if we were missionaries that could teach him the lessons. The Lord is hastening his work!!!! There is so much interest in the gospel right now. Everyone has questions. my advice to members who want to be involved would be to let your light shine. Be an example and let people know you're a member of this magnificent church and you hold it's teachings and doctrines very important to you. Be someone people will come to with their questions.

My testimony is so strong. I have had too many experiences with the spirit over the course of my life to ever be able to deny the reality of the restoration of Christ's church. I testify as a personal witness that God loves you. He is real and this is His work. I told Dad in my email that I've changed and I'm glad I'm changing. I've never been happier or more full of life and purpose. I think it's because I'm serving other people and living the gospel of faith, repentance, and renewing my covenants each week by partaking of the sacrament.

I love you all!

Love Elder Janis