Monday, June 30, 2014

We Needed To Knock On That Door

This week went so fast! The transfer went even faster! My second transfer in Maricopa will be finished this Wednesday and a lot of changes are coming. Elder Hyer got called and will be transferring to who knows until the meeting! Elder Naeata, the Tongan missionary who's been living with us is also getting transferred. Our ward has us and a companionship of sister missionaries and they're both getting transferred so I'll be the old dog for the 3 new missionaries coming to our ward. I am really excited for everything up ahead! Our area continues to be blessed and we're teaching so much! 

We had a special experience a few nights ago 20 minutes before it was time to go in for the day. We didn't have any more appointments to go to so it was up to us what we wanted to do. It would have been really easy to call it good because it had already been a really successful day. We decided to follow the Spirit on where we should go and after a few minutes of driving we felt prompted to park the car and walk down a certain street. It was dark outside and Maricopa doesn't believe in street lights so when it's night time it's pitch black. My ipad had died so I was just going to plan on not needing to read any scriptures. The spirit rebuked me and I took my Book of Mormon with me even though I didn't see how I would even be able to read it due to how dark it was outside. 

As we walked we passed by a house with open blinds and in the family room there was a large gathering of people who looked to be having a good time. We kept walking hoping to run into someone on the street to have a gospel conversation with but I kept feeling like we needed to go back and knock on the door. I will admit I was afraid and I really didn't want to bother anyone late at night. Finally I couldn't take it anymore and I turned to Elder Hyer and told him we needed to knock on that door. He agreed and we walked back. After we knocked, we could see that the lady coming to the door was actually a lady in our ward. 

She welcomed us in and introduced us to everyone sitting around the living room. This included her husband and three kids, and some family friends who were visiting for the week from Show Low. We talked with them a minute before the husband got up to leave. After he left the wife told us that he had left the church 13 years ago. This was a source of great pain to her. The family friends visiting also had similar challenges with their husbands and we learned further that they were there in town to get special treatment for a daughter that was very sick. I was so grateful I had grabbed my Book of Mormon because the scripture I wanted to share with them was Alma 36:3: "And now, O my son Helaman, behold, thou art in thy youth, and therefore, I beseech of thee that thou wilt hear my words and learn of me; for I do know that whosoever shall put their trust in God shall be supported in their trials, and their troubles, and their afflictions, and shall be lifted up at the last day." As we talked about trials and Christ's ability to help us, the Spirit filled the room and comforted many hearts. Each of the women shared their testimony of how Christ has been helping them through their current struggles which was very powerful. We left with a prayer and a memory I will not soon forget.

A 9 year old young man we've been teaching was baptized this week! His Dad baptized him and after coming up out of the water, he asked his son to go back under to pull the plug for the font.

Things continue to move forward! I love you all! Have a great week!

Love Elder Janis

Monday, June 23, 2014

Truly a Miracle Story

To answer your question about how we balance our proselyting and our leadership responsibilities I would say that it just takes a little extra planning. There are usually slow times during specific days we can knock things out during but sometimes it completely interrupts proselyting and we just have to deal with it. Last night for example we were frantically making calls trying to get information on hiking a trail in the ahwatukee foothills for a zone activity for today! The plan that we had to go to a museum fell through but we still wanted to do something. We got all the information, blasted it out to the zone, and had an AWESOME experience this morning hiking a trail. I'll send pictures! (Right after getting back into Maricopa I got my haircut so don't judge me too much ;))

Also this week was stake conference! Our mission President, President Toone was there for both the adult session on Saturday night and the General session on Saturday. These past two weeks I've been working hard to memorize the Family: A Proclamation To The World to pass off to President Toone when he came down for conference and after stumbling through it on Saturday night after the adult session I passed! Our mission has an award for anyone who memorizes the proclamation and after seeing other missionaries passing it off my competitive side got the best of me and I got it memorized. Stake conference was AMAZING though. I would like to share a story President Toone shared about events leading up to his and Sister Toone's departure to be mission presidents in Early July of last year.

As President Toone sat in President Eyring's office, he was told that his name was on a list of theirs to be the mission president in Samoa in a year. But the Lord needed him to serve in Tempe Arizona NOW. Would he be willing to accept the call? His report date was less than 3 months later. He answered that he would do anything the Lord asked of him but he had two concerns: first he had no idea how they would financially be able to make it work. Second he had promised his 94 year old mother in law who they had been housing and taking care of for the past 20 years that they would never leave her or abandon her. President Eyring responded, "To answer your first concern, Brother Toone, where's your faith? And as for your mother-in-law, we know of her situation. We have thought about this a great deal. We can assure you that she will be well taken care of." With that President Toone accepted the call to be the Arizona Tempe Mission President. A month before their departure date, just as they finished making arrangements for the mother-in-law, she quietly passed away. Truly she was now being "well taken care of". The next challenge for the Toone's was getting the house either sold or rented. No one was making any offers. A week before their departure date a stranger knocked on the Toone's door. He said, "I don't know you and you don't know me. Our family recently lost our home and we've been looking for a house to rent locally so our children can stay in the same schools. We have never seen a for rent sign on your street but we keep feeling impressed to come to this street. Do you know anyone on your street who would be willing to rent?" President Toone replied, "When do you need a house by and for how long?" The answer came back, "July 1st for 3 years". Truly a miracle story.

This was a very powerful week for me. We have two investigators that we're working with to help them keep the Word of Wisdom and they both started with a strong foot forward and now at the end of the week one of them relapsed really bad. I love this man with all my heart and it hurt to see him fall but it's a very powerful experience because we as the missionaries are in a unique position of guiding this man. It gives me the perspective our savior has for us when we make mistakes. He doesn't judge us harshly or condemn us. He offers his love and compassion. He doesn't condone the sin but he is full of understanding. So that has been our response to helping this man. It's been a big growing experience for me.

While walking to an appointment we ran into these three drug dealing thugs. Everyone on the street knows who they are and we talk to them every time we see them and they're always super rude. This time wasn't any different. As we walked up and said hello they quickly said, "we're having a business meeting. You guys should leave." Something kept me there so I offered a pass along card and then planned to let them get back to their SUPER important meeting that was right there on the street. I mean, sorry for interrupting your super private and important business meeting that you're having on the street! Anyways each of them denied the card that had a picture of Jesus on the front so I asked them if they were Christian and believed in Christ. In disgust they mocked us for what we were doing and for who we represented. They kept telling us to leave and I kept saying "No way! You guys need this!" It was almost humorous how childish they were acting about the whole thing and honestly if they had just accepted the card at the beginning we would have let them be. As I bore my testimony of Christ they kept mocking but I didn't really mind it. It was a testimony they needed to hear and I loved them too much to just let it go. As we walked away one of them called out me and said, "Weed will get you in tune with Jesus!" They all thought that was pretty funny. I thought to myself, "Really? What an inspired comment. I'll have to remember that one." Anyways, it was a pretty intense experience and thought you all would be interested in hearing about that encounter. :)

A lot of people say after their mission, "well my mission was amazing but it honestly wasn't the best two years of my life. BUT it was the best 2 years FOR my life." So far for me my mission has been the BEST 14 months of my life AND for my life!!! You just have to embrace the challenges. They usually don't go away by themselves. Once you embrace them you love them. I LOVE MY MISSION.

Love Elder Janis

Pictures from the hike this morning!

Elder Janis Elder Hyer Elder Miller and Elder Naeata (this is everyone who lives in our house)

Tuesday, June 17, 2014


This week was AWESOME. Hands down AWESOME. Let me start with one of the top 3 sweetest experiences I've had so far on my mission which happened last night!

Every month our mission president holds a Mission President Fireside and invites all the missionaries within reasonable distance to bring investigators, less actives, and recent converts to listen to two recent converts share their story and hear a message from President Toone. We brought a man we just started teaching this last week who goes by "Moose" but that isn't his real name. He's been through a lot in his life and feels like he can't get baptized because he isn't worthy or good enough. The two converts who spoke last night had the exact same concerns and shared what the atonement meant to them and helped them change. One of the converts was an ex hell's angel biker!! Moose was very affected and is ready to change. After the closing prayer a young man tapped me on the shoulder and low and behold it was a young man named O that I had found and started teaching while I was with Elder Jolley in Chandler!! After Elder Jolley and I had been whitewashed out, O fell through the cracks and never got baptized. All contact was lost and I honestly felt like that transfer I hadn't accomplished anything because all our work in that area was burned out by the new missionaries. Well O GOT BAPTIZED just last saturday! To me that was one of the biggest miracles I've seen on my mission. I can't describe the love we feel towards the people that we teach and to hear him share his testimony and talk about the change that is happening in him trumps all other experiences I've ever had. WOW.

Also this week T was baptized!!! It was an amazing baptism! Now the whole family has joined the church and is on fire! Her husband D was baptized 3 weeks ago with her brother D and they're all preparing to go to the temple to be sealed in a year from now! The ward has really reached out to them to make them feel welcome and I'm confident they will stay active and strong. I love that family so much.

The miracles continue to come. Some people don't believe in miracles. I do. I have seen things that go way beyond anything Elder Janis could have done.

I love you all and wish you another wonderful week!

Love Elder Janis 


The family!!!

Friday, June 13, 2014

He Flexed His Arms Like an MMA Champion

"Ben" was baptized this week!!! It was one of the best baptisms I've ever been to! Right after coming out of the water, he turned and looked at everyone observing and let out a yell and flexed his arms like an MMA champion achieving the victory! Everyone laughed and I believe the Holy Ghost waited a little bit longer to descend upon him then he did when Jesus was baptized by John and immediately descended. :) The next day in church was his confirmation which he had asked me to perform. We were running late while waiting for a few of our investigators we were giving a ride to and as soon as we walked in the building, the congregation turned to the foyer we were walking in from and everyone was pointing so I knew it was game time. We walked into the chapel and right up to the front where "Ben" was already seated and everyone invited to participate were standing around him. We confirmed him a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saint and bestowed the Gift of the Holy Ghost and a Priesthood blessing. After the confirmation our Bishop told us we had walked in just when Ben had sat down so it was perfect timing!

Earlier this week Elder Hyer and I had the amazing opportunity to go on an exchange into Ajo Arizona which is located very close to the Mexican border and is about as small town as it gets! Since it is so far out we both went to do missionary work in Ajo with the tri-companionship that is serving there rather than one of us going there and the other coming back into our area. It was so different from anything I've seen so far on my mission! There is a huge drug problem in Ajo and just about everyone is addicted. The people are so humble though. No one has very much but everyone is willing to share what they have. I loved the experience and it was a highlight for me. While in Ajo we saw what the locals call a "Javelina" which is a rodent that looks like a boar. Think of the rodent in the movie "Princess Bride" and that's about it. It was sweet!

This was the best week ever! I can't wait for this coming one! We are preparing Dameyon's wife for baptism this weekend and she is super excited! So are we!

Love Elder Janis

Picture: K and A's baptism which was a week ago. Their mom is standing in the middle. We're working on helping her get ready for baptism.

Monday, June 2, 2014

Obviously He Was a Man of Religion

There is this lady in Pakistan that I've been teaching on Facebook that is super awesome! She is Christian and receives a lot of bullying for her beliefs and she reached out to me on facebook because she saw that I talk of Jesus Christ. As we've talked she's downloaded the book of mormon on her computer and is making great headway. Every day we have awesome conversations about what she's read and how it is helping her. All her family is Catholic and they are treating her very badly for her decision to read the Book of Mormon and talk with an LDS missionary on facebook but she doesn't care because she is fascinated with what she is learning. Hopefully this week she can meet with local church members!

So much happened this week! There is a family that we have been teaching and the two girls were baptized this week. They are an awesome example to their Mom and are really the pioneers in the family. It's incredible to see the faith of these two girls as they lead as examples in their family.

There's a man that we've been teaching for several weeks now that I will call "Ben". Ben first met Elder Karl and Elder Hyer at Walmart over 6 months ago. They found him in an aisle with his hands in the air looking around at cans of chunky soup saying with a loud voice, "Praise God for all this food!" Obviously he was a man of religion and didn't mind people knowing it! He got into a conversation with Elder Karl and Hyer and while people would walk past he would raise his voice and say, "all these people need to appreciate what God has given them and repent!!!" Very unusual kind of guy :) He is very spiritual and very opinionated. His most common words are, "Praise God" and "God Bless". Whenever he says these he takes a moment to look up into the heavens before continuing on with what he was saying. Ben is such a great guy and even though he's going through some financial difficulty he's a very giving person and took some food out to a man who lives an hour away who was penniless. During our first lesson with him (after the missionaries met him in Walmart and got his contact information, he slipped through the cracks and recently came back up) he told us he already believes Joseph Smith is a prophet and was eager to come to church. He's been coming for the last 3 weeks and is preparing for baptism this next Saturday! I'll be sure to send pictures of the baptism and I'll include one from this morning right after he passed his baptismal interview.

I'm having the best mission ever! This was an amazing week filled with miracles! Earlier this week our Spanish Elders got a call from the bishop informing them a girl that had been baptized when she was 8 had never been confirmed and since it had been so long they needed to do the baptism again and confirm her. This was a big miracle for them! It's amazing this transfer to see the miracles that are happening for missionaries as they exercise faith in President Toone's promise that every companionship can have a baptism.

Love Elder Janis

This is a picture from this morning with a new missionary Elder Naeata, Elder Miller, Me, "Ben", and Elder Hyer. Ben is Jewish by the way! My goal of baptizing a Jew will happen this Saturday!!!!!!!!!!! ;)