Thursday, November 20, 2014

We Had a Cigarette Smashing Party!!

November 17, 2014 Letter

I'm REALLY excited to tell you about my week!! It was so fun! First off we met this crazy guy in his 70's that told us he is going to send lasers into the sky on New Years Eve that will write a message saying "If you do not repent before midnight you will not be part of this world." Hahaha. And then he claimed to know everything about electronics but he was asking us to help him download the Gospel Library app on his new Samsung tablet. After we finished we were leaving and he called out to us, "How do you turn this thing off?!" It was hard not to laugh in front of him!

We saved an apartment from burning down this week!! We were eating dinner with some members and we heard an alarm going off. We walked out onto the balcony and saw smoke billowing out of the window of an apartment across the courtyard. We ran over and knocked on the door. No one answered so we knocked on the neighbors door to see if they knew what was going on. This lady opened up and saw that we were missionaries and was actually pretty rude and wouldn't listen to us even though we were pointing at the smoke pouring out of her neighbors window! After calling 9-1-1 when the firemen showed up, they knocked on her door and she sure listened to them!! 3 fire trucks showed up about 5 minutes later and to get into the apartment they had to break the door down with a sludge hammer! It was pretty cool!! No one was in the house which was a blessing! A minute later they came out holding a pot that had been left on the stove and had ignited in the kitchen! No flames had caught the rest of the house yet and all they had to do was clear the smoke. Sweet huh?!

There's a lady we're teaching that we stopped by this week and knocked on her door. A little time went by and then she answered the door. She was very startled to see us there so I asked if she had heard us knock. She said she hadn't but she was just coming outside so she could smoke. I told her God had sent us to her house to tell her not to smoke. She was pretty mad I said that and told us she had had a terrible day! So we asked why it was so terrible! After telling us a few things we would pry deeper and ask, "Well what else went wrong today?" until she got it all out. By the time she finished she had gotten so intense she had crushed her cigarette! Before we could celebrate she had already gone in to grab another one. We told her she wasn't going to smoke that one either. By this point she just started to laugh and we were able to convince her she didn't need to smoke anymore. We talked about her motivation to quit smoking and she expressed a strong desire to quit. We challenged her on the spot to bring out all her cigarettes so we could break them all into pieces. It was REALLY difficult to get her to do this but she finally did and we had a cigarette smashing party!! That was fun for all of us :)

We had our transferly based Mission Leadership Council this last week and our mission president prefaced his comments by introducing his topic as "Covenant Keeping" and then proceeded to read specific portions of the white handbook. He introduced his topic so subtly that I almost missed that when he was talking about covenants he was talking about what the white handbook refers to as "guidelines". This is a pattern I'm beginning to notice in the church. Less and less are they saying what we can and can't do. They are providing guidelines and asking us to use our best judgement. For example, Green tea is not explicitly against the word of wisdom. There is an argument for both sides and the church will not make a rule about green tea. We have to be spiritually mature enough to govern ourselves.

Also the Phoenix Temple was dedicated this week! President Monson was very humorous. During the Corner stone ceremony the wind was gusting and it was blowing President Monson's tie around. He looked down at it and said, "George! Get down George!" He then buttoned up his suit to keep it down and then looked up with a big smile. Lynn G. Robbins spoke at the dedication and talked about patterns. Almost every program in the church has a specific pattern of how often we participate in it. Church is once a week, seminary has it's schedule... But we are not told how often to attend the Temple. They leave it at, "go often." It's significant that they allow us to show Heavenly Father our appreciation for Temples by how often we go there.

Have a fantastic week!!

Love Elder Janis


November 10, 2014 Letter

I had an awesome week!! I got my new companion. His name is Elder Maughan from Rigby Idaho. He's been out for one transfer longer than me so he only has 2 transfers left after this one. Crazy how time flies! I am loving serving with him. He's such a good teacher and is very focused. He's really good at planning and setting goals and I'm learning a ton from him.

Last Monday night we went back to that southern baptist bible group. They let us take 20 minutes to preach and we talked about Peter's conversion. In Matthew 16 Peter testifies that Jesus is "the Christ, the Son of the Living God." But at the end of Christ's life he denied him 3 times. It wasn't until Jesus came back and rebuked Peter for going back to fishing that he was finally converted. The group loved it and we had a really good relationship building experience from that. The lady who then did a sermon was so funny! At the end of every sentence she would said, "amen?" kind of like how Canadians say, "eh?". Hahaha.. At the end of the bible group we all held hands in a circle and the preacher prayed for 10 minutes straight practically yelling her praises to "Father God". Here's an example: "We just want to thank you Father God for your goodness.. For your spirit Father God. You are awesome Father God. We worship you Father God, we are your humble servants Father God...". I It was different :)

I hope you have a great week!

Love Elder Janis

He Hasn't Frozen Their Brains With Popsicles Yet

November 3, 2014 Letter

I had a super week!! Jennifer and her son Johnathan were baptized!! A whole ton of people came and she brought a ton of non member friends which was sweet! We will hopefully start teaching them soon! :) Well... I will.. We had transfer calls last night and Elder Jolley is leaving already! He was only here with me for 1 transfer!!! We're both trying to figure out how we can convince President Toone to keep us together just once more.. Maybe we'll walk into his office wearing a sackcloth and smeared in ashes. Stay tuned.

Halloween night was really fun!! We had an early curfew and had permission to play board games and just hang out so we played clue, drank root beer, and made up raps. It was fun to unwind a little bit. It's easy to get build a lot of stress!! We saw our good man Charles, chuck, papa, southern baptist human killer earlier in the day and his house was all decorated for Halloween. When he answered the door he was in very poor spirits and told us it was a bad time to talk. I wanted to talk a little longer and lift him up a bit so I complimented him on the Halloween decorations but said that the scariest part were his little dogs that were yapping at us in the window. (He hasn't frozen their brains with popsicles yet). He started laughing super hard until his wife pulled into the drive way. Instantly his demeanor switched from jovial laughter to somber dread. In a quiet voice he said, "She's the scariest part. I gotta get goin' fella's." I squeezed his shoulder to bolster him up and we left.

The work continues!!! Onward and upward. The work is true!! It changes lives. We just have to have an open heart and open mind. God can perform miracles. 

Love Elder Janis

Then He Went Crazy Too

October 27, 2014 letter

Well this week was probably the absolute BEST week of my life :D  We were blessed to get 7 new investigators this week from a variety of sources, most of which were referrals from members or other missionaries. My favorite person is this guy named Charles. He also goes by Chuck, Papa, "or anything young too." He's a 57 year old black southern baptist, ex Army ranger, and ex drill sergeant. He's about 6'0 and is pretty stocky and has a cowboy mustache that goes all the way down his jaw like a handlebar mustache hahaha. It was easy to tell that he used to be a drill sergeant because when we first knocked on his door his dogs went crazy and then he went crazy too screaming at them to "SHUUUUUUDUP!" He was eating a Popsicle and before even introducing himself to us he said, "I'm going to feed my dogs Popsicles so their brains freeze and they die." Later in our conversation with him he said that he wishes he could go back in time and slap Jesus Christ's apostles who fell asleep while Christ was praying in Gethsemane. I am SO determined to get this man baptized it's not even funny. The church needs this guy. He's great :)

I had the opportunity to go on an exchange with one of the District Leaders in our zone this week. I learned a lot from him... A lot of things NOT to do! I normally wouldn't write about something like this but it's so funny I have to share. When people ask him where he's from he says, "I'm from heaven." Usually they would laugh and say, "that's cute, but really, where are you from?" Then he would say again, "I'm from heaven." Then it would just get super awkward. Anyways, he did this at our dinner appointment and it totally ruined member trust with this family. There were some guests there eating with us who were cousins of the family and one of the ladies asked me how long I've been out on my mission. Immediately, this Elder aggressively rebuked her saying, "Don't ask him a question like that. You should ask him about something that is important to missionary work like who his investigators are so you can pray for them by name". If it wasn't awkward before, it was awkward then. The lady did as she was told and asked me who my investigators were. I told her we were working with some super cool people but then answered her first question about how long I've been out and then I changed the topic. Also Elder Jolley and I spent most of our food money this month on matching ties so food has been a little scarce. For lunch, this Elder ate 4 bowls of cereal and 2 burritos which pretty much wiped out our milk and cereal supply. I can just say I was glad to get Elder Jolley back the next day! He was so mad that the milk was gone because he is a dairy farmer from Vermont and likes his milk :)

This weekend we have two baptism, Jen and her 8 year old son jonathan. I LOVE THESE PEOPLE. Jen is such a good lady and she has gone through so much in her life. 3 weeks ago she quit smoking after being addicted to it for the last 30 years. She has no desire to smoke and is so excited for her baptism. The ward loves them and they love the ward!

I have a testimony that this work is true!!!! It is God's work!

Love Elder Janis