Monday, September 29, 2014

We Got Permission To Use a Guitar and Write Lyrics

September 22, 2014

Our mission came together as a whole twice this week! The last time we were all together was for Christmas last year! On Friday our mission president had everyone come in for a special training by him on things he's been trained on lately by the apostles at mission president seminars. VERY POWERFUL. Then, on Saturday, Elder D. Todd Christofferson asked to be with just our mission for two hours along with Elder Lawrence E. Corbridge who wrote the talk on becoming the fourth missionary and Bishop Dean M. Davies 2nd counselor in the presiding bishopric. Needless to say it was a VERY spiritual meeting. I would have to say it was the spiritual highlight of my mission. Before the meeting started, the brethren wanted to shake everyone's hand. That was neat! Bishop Davies then spoke about letting our light shine and not getting the D.I.M.S (Discouraged, Idle, Murmur, Sin.) Elder Corbridge talked about how the greatest human condition is to have the spirit with us at all times. This is available to everyone. The worst condition is to be separated from god. It is the most common human condition. The human universal need is for a savior. During the meeting I had very powerful memories brought back to my mind of events on my mission that have led me to where I am right now and it was a witness that God is intimately involved in my life. Literally everything that has happened to me that involves my mission was the right place, the right time, with the right people. I am very aware of my relationship with Heavenly Father and know that I am a son of god. I know this not because someone stated these facts but because the spirit showed this to me. So have the patience through the hard times and know that God really is directing your path.

At the meeting on Friday I had approval to play a song to our housing coordinators who are finishing their mission here earlier than expected due to an unexpected health issue. When Elder Diaz and I found out we took it upon ourselves to write a thank you song to them and we got permission to use a guitar and write lyrics. We picked the tune from the song Time of Your Life by Greenday. Here are the lyrics!:

Oh dear Davenports this's not our last goodbye,
You've been a blessing and we want to tell you why.
Nobody else knows how to treat bed bugs,
After the mission we will give you lots of hugs.

Chorus: There are things unpredictable but in the end are right,
we hope you have the time of your lives.

There're many memories that still are in our minds.
You taught us how to clean and make the apartments shine.
Just let us tell you that there's someone who'll be glad,
you're going to meet her when we finally come back.

Chorus

We will miss you two doing cleaning checks.
We want to apologize for all the things we've wrecked.
You are our hero's and it's very hard to show
how we all love you more than you could even know.

We had everyone sing this last verse with us: Oh dear Davenports this is not our last goodbye.
We love you so much and you know we couldn't lie.
We want to thank you for the service you have done,
the hearts of all of us you certainly have won.

The Arizona Tempe Mission wants to thank you now,
with you we've had the time of our lives.

Everyone loved it and it was really special for the davenports. I'll see if I can send the video!

Oh, transfers are this week. I got called to be a zone leader again so I'll be leaving. I'm really sad to leave, this was the best transfer of my mission.

I will have to write the rest of my week in a letter!

I love you so much!! Have a great week!!!

PS: Transfer news just changed! I'm going to be staying in my area but I'll be a zone leader and elder glencoe is leaving! Now I don't know what the heck is going on! I won't know until thursday who my new companion is!

The iPad will only let me send parts of the video at a time!
(If you can't see the videos on the email, go to  Elder T. Janis to see it.)

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She Had a Scraggly Beard Growing

September 15, 2014

I had a wonderful week! The work we have in this ward practically doubled this week from solid referrals we received from the members, including our bishop. It's so nice to have a teaching pool with multiple solid investigators who want to progress! I have had the feeling that the members in this ward haven't had a whole lot of trust in the full time elders and so we've been working hard to change that by offering to give talks in sacrament, bearing our testimonies last fast sunday, and bringing members out on splits to awesome teaching appointments. It has taken the last 5 weeks but this last sunday was very rewarding as multiple members were making comments about the good job we're doing. We had a very detailed progress record for our ward council too which is something the missionaries haven't brought to ward council in months, maybe even years. A councilor in the bishopric commented that they know more about the investigators we're teaching now than they ever have in the history of this ward. It's paying off and we had a lot of investigators come to church.

So one of the individuals we're teaching is this inactive guy name Joseph but he looks like Steve Nash to me and so that's what the picture on Facebook was about :) he was supposed to come to church but didn't make it. He's a cool guy though and his job is to bake cookies at paradise bakery! That place is so good! He also is overly addicted to Pokemon.. There are some crazy people in Tempe.. Speaking of crazy people, get this! Right after our first visit with Joseph we were on our bikes waiting at the light so we could go and this older guy in a truck rolled his window down and started yelling at us. It's not super uncommon that this happens but this guy was really emphatic! He yelled at us to stay where we were because he wanted to talk to us. Bracing ourselves for hell fire and damnation we patiently waited for him to park his truck and storm over to us. As he approached us he said, "I've been a member of your church twice and I've got a few things I want to tell you." We
waited for him to continue and he said, "I need you missionaries to pray for me. I'm out of work, out of money, and I've got bills to pay! I need you to pray that I get a job RIGHT NOW. I don't have time to wait. I need it NOW! Second thing, I always have something to give to the missionaries when I see them. But I don't have anything for you so I'm sorry." I was so confused! Of course we agreed to pray for him and we did it right there on the street corner! Right then his wife came up and as we got acquainted we learned that back in the day she had been a pro wrestler. I believed her because she had a scraggly beard growing!! It was all so weird! Anyways, we told them we needed them at church and hey! They came!

We are working hard and staying very busy! Also the weather is getting close to cooling off which will be nice since our area is strictly a bike area!

A motivating thought I've had this week is this, "Discipline weighs ounces and regret weighs tons." Regret is the price we pay when we don't pay the price of disciplining ourselves. I love that quote!

Love Elder Janis

Monday, September 8, 2014

I'm Not Joking People!!

This week was awesome!!!! This past Saturday night was one of the craziest experiences of my mission.. Elder Glencoe is the man, he should be in Ripley's believe it or not.. So we visited a member to figure out how we could get her brother to approve his 9 year old daughter getting baptized. While there, she fed us each a plate with 2 chicken legs, a side of mashed potatoes, rice, and corn. She then gave each of us a big slice of cake. I was a little concerned because we had our dinner appointment right after! My companion elder Glencoe asked for a second slice of cake before we biked over to our dinner appointment.

When we got there, it was with a hispanic family and the mom had made these big sandwich kinda things called tortas! Imagine a big chicken fried steak sandwiched between lettuce, tomatoes, onions, avacodos, all smashed between two huge buns! One would be plenty and I was already full. My companion downed the first one and asked for a second one even before I was half way through my first! The mom made him a second and assumed I'd also like a second. During my last few bites of the first one I was sweating and really struggling to keep it all in. Boom, she dropped number two on my plate. Elder Glencoe had already finished his second AND HE ASKED FOR A THIRD..... I'm not joking people!! He went for it!! This was real life. I'm a witness. As I neared half way through my second he had already finished his third. At this point he stopped but then the attention was back on me. I had really been struggling and honestly I hadn't said a word for the last 20 minutes because I was trying so hard to eat! They asked if I would like a third. It must have been the look I had on my face but the husband said, "elder janis, if you're full you don't have to eat." I was so happy but angry at the same time! He could have said that a long time ago!!! ;) Anyways, this was probably the closest experience I've had with death on my mission. Let me repeat again everything my companion ate: 2 chicken legs, a side of mashed potatoes, rice, corn, 2 large slices of cake, and 3 monster Tortas!!!! I'm still in shock..

We met this cool old guy this last week. He's 87 and staunch catholic. While we were contacting some in actives I felt a prompting that we should tract out the row of apartments we were at. When we came to the second door it was open and inside was this sweet old man who looked at us and said, "You're the mormon boys! Come on in!" We talked about the similarities between catholicism and mormonism and had a really positive interaction. He's somewhat nervous about passing so I read to him the words of Paul to the Corinthians in 1 Corinthians 15:52-58 which talks about how the sting of death is conquered by Jesus Christ. He really appreciated the visit and asked us to come see him again.

I love you all so much!!

Love Elder Janis 

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

He Pulled His Cell Phone Out and Started Recording Me!

The area I'm serving in right now actually has the most poverty I've seen on my mission. We have absolute ghetto dumpy apartments and rural areas that are dirty and gross. It makes me appreciate so much good ole Katy Texas!!! ;) Cinco Ranch is so nice!!! Earlier this week we were biking through one of the dumpiest areas and there was a lady changing her clothes in the middle of the parking lot completely unconcerned that it was a public place. In case you were wondering, we did not street contact her :D

What a strange week this has been! Since I wrote on Wednesday some amazing things have happened. On Thursday we had a zone conference with half the mission to be trained by Elder Gregory L. Schwitzer of the second quorum of the 70. His training was amazing and I received a lot of inspiration on how to bear testimony and how important it is to facilitate friendships between our members and investigators. BUT the most powerful talk during the whole conference was the 10 minutes our mission presidents wife, Sister Toone, took to talk about who we should be becoming as missionaries. It goes right along with what Elder Robbins said last week. Sister Toone shared the story of how one of her boys was very proud in high school and took the gospel for granted. When he left on his mission she prayed every day that he would be humbled and appreciate the blessing that the gospel is. In his letters he wrote of how difficult every single one of his companions was. He was convinced that by the end of his mission he had served with the most difficult missionaries in the whole mission. When he returned home he had completely changed and is so Christ-like that Sister Toone sometimes can't believe that he is her son because he is such a good man. She was more emotional than any of us have seen her and of course it made me think of Mom and her hopes for me. I wish I could listen to her prayers for me sometimes  just so I can know what things she hopes that I learn from my mission. I hope that I am becoming everything she wants me to be and that I don't lose a second.

On Friday this week our Mission President called us up and asked if we would take an Elder with us at least until Tuesday who is in the process of finding out if he will be leaving the mission or staying due to disobedience. It has been an interesting few days with him. At this point he's working hard and is trying to stay but it isn't genuine. If there is any way he can stay President Toone will keep him here. We'll see if he's still with us by next week!

As I was street contacting two guys a few nights ago, one of them pulled his cell phone out and started recording me! I was sort of like, "what the heck guy!" and he explained that for the past few months, he has recorded 2 seconds of memorable experiences from each day and then at the end of the year he will combine it all together and play it all together. I'm glad I made the video and I also like the idea! Kind of a cool way to keep a journal of sorts!

I love the gospel so very much as I experience it changing my nature to be a more pleasant person to be around :) Especially at night when I'm tired and get grouchy. I love the Book of Mormon which brings the much needed peace I seek for on a daily basis.

I love you all!!

Love ElderJanis

Monday, September 1, 2014

Nothing Will Slow Us Down

Written on 9/27/2014

This week was just as good as last week if not better!!! The highlight was getting a special invitation to an MLC with our mission and Gilbert mission to be trained by Elder Lynn G. Robbins of the presidency of the 70. Since I stepped down to a District Leader I don't go to the Mission Leadership Councils but President Toone invited me and Elder Diaz (I lived with him in my second area!! We are living together again and are having so much fun!) who is a former Zone Leader on a special assignment as well. 

The training by Elder Robbins changed my perspective a lot on why i'm out here. His topic that he trained us on for 3 hours was taking responsibility. We started off by talking about all the reasons people use to avoid responsibility (see if you have used one before :)): self-denial, excuse, hide, anger, blame, procrastination, entitlement... The list goes on. He made the point that because we have 100% of our agency, we have 100% responsibility for how we use it. Anytime we resort to that list we will hurt ourselves. People who can't forgive EVEN IF THEY ARE RIGHT will be hurt in the end. Of course, we don't have control over other peoples actions BUT we have control over how we react to their actions. Elder Bednar says, "sometimes the best reaction is no reaction at all." I love that quote. So everyone out there who isn't taking responsibility for your life, I would invite you to repent and take control of your life.

There is a story that illustrates this point. There was a newly wed couple who got into a petty argument about something they later couldn't even remember. It got to the point where the husband and wife were giving each other the silent treatment. The wife who wrote the story says that she remembers thinking "It's his fault and he should say sorry first." Near the end of the day she got on her knees to pray that her husband would humble himself and see how wrong he was and apologize to her. She heard a voice in her mind say, "Do you want to be right or do you want to be married?" She then went to her husband and apologized and they made things right.

Elder Glencoe and I received a ton of referrals this last week and we're having great success contacting them! We have a lot of really good work going and nothing will slow us down!

I'll write again next monday and I'll have a story or two from the week to share!! I love you all!

Love Elder Janis