Monday, April 14, 2014

Optimus! Transform!

Mom, I'M SO HAPPY RIGHT NOW. I've worked harder this week and more intensively than I ever have in my life and on my mission. I LOVE MY NEW AREA. I'm convinced that the people in Maricopa are some of God's most choice and elect people on earth. We are teaching so many people that are soaking our message up. The gospel is healing people left and right! It's AMAZING what the gospel can do for the people who have soft hearts.

There are a few experiences that I had this week that will have changed my life forever. One of them happened last night. As we were walking into our church building to get stats for the zone, we noticed a car that was stopped by the entrance to the church parking lot. I felt the undeniable prompting of the spirit to go to the car and talk to whoever was in it. My incredible companion Elder Karl acted before I could making a B-line for the car in haste. (Elder Karl is a huge hero of mine for how quick he acts on promptings and how committed he is to serving with all his heart, might, mind, and strength. He also goes home in the middle of this transfer because he's finishing his mission.) We came up to the window of the car and asked the man in the drivers seat how he was doing and if he needed help. He was looking for his son but had just gotten off the phone with him and his son was on his way to meet him at the parking lot. The Dad got out of the car and we started building a relationship by asking simple questions about his belief. We shared a powerful scripture about faith getting us through hard times and that's when he broke down and cried. In a pained voice he asked us, "How do you explain all of life's suffering?" The spirit took over as we testified that before we came to earth we knew the sufferings we were going to have and we still chose to come. And we came so that we could become stronger people through life's challenges. 

At this moment his son was walking up to the car so I intercepted him to keep the other conversation going where it was at. His son was in obvious stress too and we didn't talk for long. I was able to get to know him a little and we friended each other on facebook. The conversation on the other side of the car ended a bit abruptly because the father had become too emotional to keep talking. His son offered to be the driver and they got in the car and drove away. As I had been talking to the son Elder Karl and Elder Hyer had been told by the father that his daughter had recently over dosed on drugs and had died. We meet people every day that have been through severe trials like this one but this one touched me more than the suffering of anyone else because of the love you could see this man had had for his daughter. I am sure this is not the last time I will meet this family.

Wow. It's tough to write about some of these experiences sometimes. To lighten things up I've got a really funny story for you! We were visiting a family coming back into activity and they had a little boy about the age of 4 running around in his underwear. At the close of our meeting we asked the little guy to say the closing prayer. He crouched down in a tight ball and loudly yelled, "Optimus!" Before we could react he yelled louder, "OPTIMUS!!!" and then leaping high into the air with legs and arms extended he screamed, "TRANSFORM!!!" When he landed on his feet he sprinted from the front room to the back of the house most likely I think to fight off evil.

Maricopa is a town of maybe about 40,000 people a few miles away from any big city. It's kind of by itself in the middle of the desert and it's awesome. There's a railroad that runs through the middle of town and there's an AM track that will park there for a half hour that will take people from California all the way to Louisiana. There are A TON of african american people here which is awesome because they're way funnier than the Caucasian people back in chandler. The neighborhoods here are quite nice and the homes sell for really cheap so people have nice houses but they're super humble. EVERYONE wants to hear the gospel. It is a huge blessing to be here.

I've been thinking a lot this week about how God calls us to fill assignments and helps us accomplish those assignments. It seems so obvious that if God would ask someone to do something, like serve as a bishop of a ward, he wouldn't set them up to fail but would actually help them accomplish the task. Can we all look at our lives like this? We knew what we were getting into before we came to earth because we talked about it and chose it KNOWING that God was the one inviting us go to earth. He didn't send us here alone. He gave us Christ and his atonement, the Holy Ghost also known as the comforter, and prayer. He is there every step of the way. As long as we don't give up we will be successful.

I love you all! Especially you Mom!!

Love Elder Janis

Elder Janis with his two companions: On the top "higher" (Elder Hyer), on the bottom (Elder Karl)

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