WOW. Your schedule is almost as crazy as mine I feel like! ;) All of that would wipe me out! In some ways it must be very nice to have the time to sit down and read books and things! That is something I REALLY MISS!!! In homeschool you taught me to love reading and as a missionary we only get an hour of personal study every day and that just isn't enough time for me!! I want to soak the scriptures up and read conference talks and pray and read preach my gospel!! I've been having extremely powerful personal studies lately that have really brought the spirit and increased my knowledge of the gospel and how to help people repent and change their life. Today I studied the topic of people who are "past feeling" as Nephi put it. It is very easy for us who live in this physical world to become desensitized to the feeling of the spirit and the only way to become sensitive again is to repent and live the gospel.
Maricopa is so awesome! As a zone we were the most productive in our mission this last week as far as finding new investigators and teaching member present lessons. The week previous was a little lower so Elder Hyer and I set a goal with our zone to reach a certain number of member present lessons by the end of the week and we had each companionship text us each night how many member presents they had had and when a companionship hit their goal we would send a forwarded text to all the missionaries announcing the success. The result was a massive increase and a huge boost of excitement and energy!!! As a mission we care about numbers but not because they're numbers. We use them to set our vision higher and to help us reach more of God's children each week. President Toone could care less if any of us baptize a single person on our mission. He cares about the personal conversion of each missionary. He also understands that if a missionary has a baptism it will definitely pump them up and strengthen their faith.
Last night we had a mission presidents devotional where missionaries can bring people they're teaching to come hear two converts testimony and listen to President Toone speak. The event is held at the ASU institute building and low and behold Spencer was there!!! It was awesome to see him and introduce him to President Toone, my companion, people I've taught throughout my mission, and previous companions. In so many ways I feel like my mission has been closely linked to my family.
The family that we've been teaching and preparing for baptism on the 24th is doing amazing!! They were able to come to church and to the mission presidents devotional this last week and loved all of it. Our members really love them and have welcomed them in as family.
There's a youth we're teaching who is currently on probation and house arrest and in the middle of a lesson with him in the front room of the house, the front door opened and his 6 year old brother with his friend walked in. The little brother pointed at the young man we were teaching and said to his friend, "He's on house arrest." Then like nothing happened they walked out of the room. L threw his arms in the air with a face that said "What the heck! Go tell the whole world why don't you?!" It was so funny to me!
Earlier this week we went on exchanges with two awesome missionaries in our zone. I got to go into the other missionaries area and serve for the day with Elder Coyle who is from Alaska and has only been on a mission for a month. It was really fun to be with a new missionary again. It was a great reminder to me of how I was when I first got here and how much I've changed over the last year. For the exchange we focused on talking to everyone that we saw. We ran into these two guys out in the garage drinking some beers. We initiated a conversation and became best friends quickly. One guy was sober but the other was a little drunk. The one who was sober asked me if his friend was going to go to Hell for being an alcoholic. I responded that I'm grateful to not be the judge and only God could judge him but I promised that if we can't quit our addictions here on earth they will follow us to the next world. Then just for fun but also to raise a voice of warning I read to them Alma 34:32-34 and told them not to procrastinate the day of their repentance. I came down pretty hard on the guy who was drunk and his friend was backing me up trying to get the guy to toss the beer right then and there. Elder Coyle I think was pretty shocked at what was happening and was mostly observing. In the end both guys wanted a copy of the Book of Mormon and wanted us to come back. The lesson learned is that if the spirit is telling you to be bold with someone and rebuke them, DO IT. Because that person may need a loud voice telling them they need help. They also need to know that your motive is love and not anything else. That's what these two guys needed and now they're investigating the church.
The mission is the best. Nothing can compare to the experiences I'm having out here! I LOVE MY MISSION.
Love Elder Janis
pic 1: funny old lady that likes to punch missionaries in the arm. Met her at the Easter Pageant and got a picture with her :D
pic 2: Joelouise guzmans baptism!!! I got permission to go back to Gilbert for the baptism.
pic 3: at the mission presidents devotional. Left to right: Sister Walker, Brother Walker, Sister Crandell (awesome member who makes great food), Dameyon (He and his family are preparing for baptism on the 24th!!!), Damia, Elder Hyer, Stephan Bailin (awesome young man in the ward who goes out to teach with us all the time)
2: The boys
3: We have a good time