Friday, October 24, 2014

I Almost Yelled At Him From Across the Chapel!!!

October 20, 2014

I had an amazing week!! Last night was one of the greatest miracles of my mission! I had a really really really super awesome experience last night at the monthly mission presidents devotional! When Elder Goates and I were serving together in the Grove 1st and 2nd wards we found, taught, and baptized a guy named M who moved to New Jersey a week after his baptism. My whole mission I've been depressed any time I've thought about him and his situation because we lost contact with him and his life was in a really tough spot. I was sure he was inactive and that the gospel hadn't sunk deep enough to change his life. WELL last night guess who walked in.... M!!!!!! I almost yelled at him from across the chapel!!! I was able to sit by him and catch up and he just moved back and he is strong in the gospel!!!!!!!! I can't believe it!!!!! It's a super huge miracle that I wasn't even expecting! Seeing him last night was one of the biggest highlights of my mission. We both were shocked to see each other. He expressed deep gratitude for Elder Goates and I and for what we did for him in sharing the gospel with him. 

Elder Jolley and I had the opportunity to take an investigator and her son to the Phoenix temple open house this week! It was SO pretty! Everything in that temple is stunning. It's one of my favorites for sure. It's been a huge blessing to have been able to go through two temple open houses in such a short amount of time! Especially being on a mission, it's really incredible! The work is hastening!

We were super busy this week and taught a lot of people!! We've been refocusing on street contacting as a zone and Elder Jolley and I had some really funny experiences this week. We also tracted a little which was fun but we didn't get any return appointments.

I love you all!

Love Elder Janis

Monday, October 13, 2014

What's the Craziest Thing You've Eaten On Your Mission?

It's been a great week full of miracles!! We have an investigator and her son who we put on date last week in our members home but later this week after she had gone a day without smoking she texted us wanting to call the whole thing off. She said she felt like everything was moving way too fast and needed to slow down. She promised she would come to church but didn't want us to come over until aftersunday. Let me tell you, that was very frustrating!!!! We gave her the space she asked for and prayed and prayed and prayed! Sunday finally came and by the time sacrament meeting started she still wasn't there! Then we got a text from her saying that she had parked in the parking lot and as she watched people walking in she felt totally inadequate and unworthy to go in so she left. She said that she felt like she was trying to be someone that she wasn't. By the way, this was her 5th full day without a cigarette! I asked her if we could come by later to talk to her and she said that was ok. 

We knew that she was having an extra hard time because of the withdrawals from the cigarettes so we brought a member with us that has professional experience helping people quit. That helped a lot!! We were able to have an open and honest conversation about how she was feeling and then bear powerful testimony of aspects of the gospel to help her resolve her concerns of feeling unworthy. We read part of President Monson's talk from the Preisthood session this last conference about the German warship called the Bismark which was deemed indestructible. What eventually destroyed the Bismark was a torpedo that damaged the rudder. Now it had no way to choose which way to steer. We explained that she was like the Bismark and self doubt was jamming her rudder and keeping her from improving her life. She felt so much better and is refocused and committed to working towards her and her sons baptism!

Funny story: While street contacting in the ghetto yesterday, we talked to an african american teenager and what looked to be his 8 year old little brother. We asked them if they had gone to church that day. The little boy said, "I've got my own church. I'm a Hebrew Israelite!" Elder Jolley asked him if he even knew what that meant because we were a little confused. He said, "I'm a Hebrew Israelite! Of course I know what that means!" Before we left we gave them a pass along card with a picture of Jesus coming out of the tomb. He took a look at it and said, "This aint my Jesus! My jesus is black and has dread locks!"

People always ask us, "What's the craziest thing you've eaten on your mission?" Up until this week all I could really say was maybe Little Caesar's.. Well we had dinner with a Spanish family in our ward and they had made us..... Menudo!!!! :D Immediately I thought back to Damon's first experience with Menudo on his mission and he wrote "I can stomach Menudo!" because menudo is cow stomach cut into chunks and boiled in a pot of some spanish word I can't pronounce. It was awful.. I can't say I can stomach Menudo. So how did I get out of that dinner without offending the family?? I'll tell you :D They gave us tortillas to dip in the menudo and so I asked if people ever put the cow stomach on the tortillas and ate it that way. They said yes and encouraged me to try it. I loaded all that menudo on that tortilla!! I took a bite and then drank some of my Hawaiian punch to help it go down. Pleased that I was eating, they turned their attention back to my companion who wasn't chewing at all, he was just putting the menudo in his mouth and swallowing it down with his Hawaiian punch! While they were distracted I slipped my menudo taco into my sock! I do feel a little bad and I'm very embarrassed to be writing about it.. One day Menudo and I will face each other again and I will conquer.. But I have lived to fight another day. 

My challenge wasn't over that night though because for an extra treat the family brought out.......... Cow foot!!!! Whoo hooo!! Basically it's the ankle of the cow and it's been prepared in a way that the meat and cartalige all look the same and it's really slimy and you kind of have to slurp it to eat it. It's basically the consistency of phlegm. Alakhsdsg;alkhsdg;l.... I shudder when I think about it. I was able to eat that better than Menudo though. Plus the cow foot was bigger than the menudo tortilla and I didn't think I'd be able to hide the cow foot in my other sock and get away with it :) I hope you don't think any less of me from being so weak!

Well, I'm still alive and ready for another week! I love you all!

Love Elder Janis

Monday, October 6, 2014

Our Investigator We Call ZZ Top

We started emailing later today because Elder Jolley and I got permission to make a trip out to Chandler to shop for ties and an outlet! The result was two matching ties that we can wear to zone meetings to show unity. We also have a bunch of other really close matching ties so we basically match every day anyways but now we have 2 identicals. :)

Yes, conference was truly amazing!!! There was a strong theme throughout the conference that we need to gain our own testimony of Christ, Prophets, and the Book of Mormon.

This was a crazy week because we had to teach our investigator we call ZZ Top (because of his cool beard) all the lessons get him interviewed, and then get the baptismal program ready to go by Thursday. His baptism was very uplifting. At the end of the program he was asked to share a testimony. He managed to start by saying that when he gets really nervous he just starts to laugh and that was it, he laughed for a solid minute before trying to pull himself back together just to start laughing again. His wife used to be a patrol officer and doesn't mess around. With a very stern face she said, "Dave, do you need help?" He instantly was able to compose himself and finished his testimony. No one wonders who wears the pants in that relationship!

On Friday night Elder Jolley and I got a text from our mission office secretary of a referral from HQ. We went to the house and knocked and a kid inside yelled, "who is it?" Elder Jolley responded, "Elder Jolley" (I'm sure they were very confused when they opened the door. Mentally they were probably picturing a really old guy that is super happy.) The lady we went to contact opened the door and invited us in. We hit it off immediately and had a powerful first lesson about the restoration of the gospel. 

This lady was first introduced to our church by her co workers who are almost all LDS. At the end of the lesson we invited her to pray about our message and then asked if she would like to watch a session of general conference with us the next morning. She agreed and we met up with her on Saturday morning early enough to do a church tour before the session started. As we listened to the Mormon Tabernacle Choir sing the opening hymn she leaned over to me and told me that all through the night she was having dreams about the things we had taught her and what her friends at work had shared with her and she felt like God was answering her prayer. Then in President Uchtdorf's talk he mentioned that one of the ways God communicates with us can be through dreams! That was really neat for her. The next day we watched the last session of conference in one of our members homes. At the end of conference we invited her and her 8 year old son to be baptized on October 25th. She started to cry which made her son start to cry and they both accepted the invitation. It was a very powerful experience. It's frustrating to try and write these experiences out because there's no way for me to be able to describe such an experience. You just have to be there.. Missionary work is the most rewarding and spiritual work in the world. I love it.

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

Love Elder Janis

The Terminators

September 29, 2014

Well let me tell you about my week!

The dream team is back!!! Me and Elder Jolley are reunited and we're taking Tempe over!! Our ward mission leader has no clue what to do with us.. He really likes us though and he's trying to think of a nickname for us. All he's got right now is the Terminators but he's trying to think of something else because he doesn't think that's a good term to use for missionaries :D

Remember the lady with the beard I told you about two weeks ago? I took Elder Jolley over there this week and we had such a funny experience! First thing that happened was Elder Jolley offered his chair to S. S said, "shut the h*** up and sit down." (S is the king of first impressions. He's actually a really sweet guy!) Later, Elder Jolley asked him, "what's the most important thing to you in the world?" S turned to me and made me answer for him. I know S well enough to confidently answer "Money". S got a big smile on his face and said to me, "I like this guy." And then he came over and shook my hand. He and Mr. Crabs would get a long really great!! Later in the evening he told us he needs to raise 15 million dollars to uncover Noah's Ark which is buried under mount Arait apparently. At another point I asked them if they were sealed together. S got ticked and said, "No, and don't you ever bring it up again. My father keeps bugging me about. As soon as he stops asking when we're going to get sealed is the day I'm going to get sealed! Well I brought it up again at the end just to bug him and all he could do was laugh. I like S and Betty :)

I don't know if I told you but we also have a car now!! It's a 2014 corolla and it's pretty sweet! The weather is also cooling off which is amazing! I'm done with my last summer!!!!

My testimony of following the spirit grew this week. I believe it prompts us a lot more than we recognize. After giving a priesthood blessing to an investigator who has gout in his knee, there was a really powerful spirit so we invited him to be baptized. He said yes! The only problem is that was pretty much our first lesson with him and he was leaving town next Friday and won't be back until thanksgiving. He's been to church twice now so he just needs to be taught the lessons and have an interview. We explained why it's better to do it sooner than to delay and he made the decision that he wants to do it on Thursday. WOOT!!!

Last Monday morning I received a call from my mission president asking me to clear my schedule for the evening and he wanted me to come to the mission home. When I got there, the newly arriving missionaries were there getting situated. President Toone had prepared an evening devotional and he wanted me to participate but didn't tell me how. A few other missionaries from the mission came in a little later and then we started. When Elder Christofferson came there was a musical performance sung by 8 missionaries to the song "My Savior Will Supply My Need." President had brought them all in to sing it again for the new missionaries. He then asked a Sister missionary with only 1 transfer left to speak for a few minutes about beginning our missions with the end in mind. Another sister who has 2 transfers left also spoke. Elder Bressler, a newly called assistant was then asked to speak about accepting leadership assignments. As the final speaker, President Toone asked me to speak about dealing with unexpected challenges on the mission. I was very open about Mom's situation. The point I wanted to get across was that we can make the decision that we will never let our faith be shaken by challenges and that no matter what comes our way we will turn to God. I was grateful for the opportunity to share and it helped me to cement my own resolve to turn to God no matter what may come.

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

Love Elder Janis