Tuesday, December 30, 2014

"Miguel stinks..."

This week flew by as fast as the year went by! We had our Mission Christmas conference on Monday and MLC on Tuesday, New years Eve on Wednesday and Christmas on Thursday. We were still able to have some solid lessons during the end of the week and the lady who came to church last week is now preparing for baptism on January 10th and was there again on Sunday. Another guy we've been working with was supposed to come to church two weeks ago but didn't have church clothes and felt uncomfortable. So last week we brought him church clothes but he bailed just before church started because this time he felt uncomfortable going to church with the gnarly beard he's been sporting. We were wondering what his excuse would be this week but he actually came! He tried to leave before sunday school because he felt like he smelled pretty bad and needed to go home and put on some deodorant. I convinced him to stick around for class and my companion Elder Belnap sat next to him. After the opening prayer he wrote a note to me on his Ipad that said, "Miguel stinks, he really should go home and put on deodorant." We let him go after class got out :)

Take advantage of this time of year to reflect on where you're at and what progress you've made this past year. President Monson gave a talk in this last conference entitled "Ponder the Path of thy Feet." I would encourage you to do just that.

Love Elder Janis

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Like, I REALLY liked some of my ties!!!

Sent on December 15, 2014

Haha (Tiffany here: I got a text from someone I know in his mission telling me about this experience and he's commenting on it.) when I was in their ward I was noticing in myself that I was becoming very selfish about my ties. Like, I REALLY liked some of my ties!! But I also knew how powerful it could be for some of the young men to receive a missionary tie to help them think about a mission in their future. But the tie couldn't be just any tie! It had to be one they would want to wear! So I told God I would give my best ties away if he would provide for cool ties to find their way to me so I could give them to youth in the wards. The night I gave those two ties away was the same night the missionaries we live with came home with a bag full of really nice ties from a kind member who wanted to bless the missionaries. I gave 2 sweet ties away and got 7 sweet ties back. :)

I had one of the most spiritually powerful experiences this week!!! I was on exchanges with a missionary who has only been out for 3 months and we were walking around an apartment complex in his area looking for an address and I saw this older lady walking her dogs and I immediately knew God placed her there so we could go talk to her. We talked for a minute about her dogs because people love talking about their dogs and then we told her we had a beautiful video about why we celebrate Christmas and we wanted to show it to her. Her name was Mary and she said, "That's funny you say that because just before coming outside, my good friend who is a Jehovah's Witness showed me a video about why I shouldn't celebrate Christmas! It really upset me because I love Christmas so I prayed to God and told him that all I want to do is do what he wants me to and if he doesn't want me to celebrate Christmas I won't. So then I came out to get my mail and here you are telling me you have a video about why we celebrate Christmas!" And then Mary started to cry. She invited us to come into her home to share the video and we had a powerful lesson. It was my privilege to recount the first vision to her and it was the most powerful experience I've had yet testifying of the first vision!! The spirit was so strong and Mary felt it. Even though she is older she has a very open heart and mind and because of that she can recognize the spirit. I will be following up with the missionaries that serve there to find out how she progresses :)

On Saturday we were out and about pretty early to do a service project and we saw this guy on the corner of Priest and Broadway on his knees with his hands clasped together like he was praying but he had his head up and his eyes were open looking at the people driving by. About 3 hours later we saw him again as we drove through the intersection but he was just standing there. Later in the afternoon as we drove past again and saw him we decided to park and go talk to him. As he saw us walking towards him he took off across the street to the other side just before the light turned red. We took the opportunity to give a Book of Mormon to this guy named Juan (yeah, another Juan! Haha it sounds like I'm saying "another one"). #Caringforthejuan. Unfortunately we weren't able to talk to our elusive street corner prayer man. Well the opportunity finally presented itself around 8:00 that night. As we pulled up again to the intersection this guy was on my side of the car close enough I was able to roll my window down and say hello. He glared at me so I asked him what he was doing on the street corner. He replied that he was waiting for the President to come. I almost laughed at him but I didn't.. I asked him what he needed the President to do for him. He said he was waiting for the president to bring him drugs. The light turned green and we drove on. We haven't seen him since. Perhaps President Obama came!

Well we had transfer calls last night and I'm staying but Elder Maughan who has only been here for one transfer is stepping down to be a trainer somewhere else in the mission! I'm going to miss him. I'm glad to still be in this area because there is so much work left to do! This coming week is shaping up to be a very very busy one! I won't be emailing until Tuesday next week since we are doing a mission conference all day Monday. Start thinking of a time on Christmas we can Skype! We'll have 30-40 minutes to talk.

I love you all! Have a wonderful week!

Love Elder Janis

A LOT of groovy things

Sent on Dec 8, 2014

This past week we challenged our zone to go tracting!! It was so much fun and we saw a lot of success from it! As we tracted this week we found some awesome potential investigators. One of them is named Juan and he's trying to get a job so he can get his children back from CPS. Well later that day we got a call from him telling us that he got the job! We were so happy for him we went back and celebrated with him! This coming Friday is our wards Christmas party so hopefully Juan and the family he's living with will come out! As we tract we are using an approach with the "He is the Gift" initiative in mind. One of us has the little pass along card to give to the person and the other missionary holds the ipad with the video already up and ready to go. When people open the door and we start talking, we then just push the play button. When the video is already going people don't say no. They are immediately interested. It works like a charm :) The most common response we've heard from people about the video is, "It's true." Then we ask them who they know who could use a message about Christ this Christmas season and when we can come back to share more of our message.

We also had zone conference this week. The theme of the conference was two fold: 1 Am I consecrated to my purpose? 2 Live up to the covenants we've made in the Temple. Before the conference started President Toone had all the missionaries who were finishing their missions in the next month to bear a departing testimony. I am pretty close with a lot of the missionaries who stood up and it was such a surreal experience to be witnessing their departing testimony. Elder Stiles who was my zone leader for 6 transfers bore his testimony and so did one of my previous companions Elder Hyer. That experience will last with me as one of the most memorable experiences of my mission.

So we visited with our former Army Ranger southern baptist man again this last week and he shared some more insights! Ready for this?

"The first time I jumped out of a plane in the Army Rangers my butt was so tight you couldn't drive a pin through it with a sledge hammer!"
"A man is a leader of his flock. His family. That man has got to be dedicated to God, which gives him a lot of man points."
"A man is like waffles. He only goes two directions. A woman is like spaghetti. She goes all sorts of different directions. As a man it is our duty to be bad a** but you also have to be the kind of man that understands the woman's side. Not the alternative lifestyle guy, but the kind of guy that can understand a woman nonetheless."
"I love Jesus Christ. He's done a lot of groovy things for me. A LOT of groovy things."

What a guy.. He's awesome.

The work continues to move forward! I'm sprinting through the last few months of my mission! I'm loving it!

Love Elder Janis

Send In the Big Boys

Sent on December 1, 2014

So many great things happened this week! #1 we found a whole ton of new investigators by..... Tracting! Yes, tracting! (Our mission doesn't typically ever tract because it's more effective to work through how many members we have.) The church has this huge Christmas initiative rolling out and we challenged our zone this last week to start tracting. We have pass along cards that say "He is the Gift" and there's a 2 minute video about Christ being the gift of Christmas and it's really powerful! So when we knock on someones door we get to know them a little before giving them a card and showing the video. Then we invite them to participate in sharing the gift by thinking of people they know we can share the video with. Then we ask when we can come back and share more of our Christmas message with them. It's working quite nicely :) One funny experience we had was this one door we knocked and this guy wearing girl clothes opened the door. He was totally high and asked what we were up to. We started to share our message and this other guy sitting on the couch by the door yelled, "We're not interested! Can't you see we're trying to get high?!" Then the guy wearing girl clothes smiled at us and slowly closed the door. Weird huh?

We've been working with this Marshallese family the last few weeks and we've been really trying to get them to come to church! On Saturday we stopped by and they said they were coming. We stopped by again on Sunday morning and they said they were coming. Then when Church started we got a text from the dad saying, "We're not going to make it because I have really bad diarrhea and it's getting worse." Poop. :/ 

We had a great lesson last night with our good friend Charles, Chuck, Papa... He opened the door and said, "I'll give you 10 minutes to say what you have to say." An hour and a half later we were laughing and slapping each other on the back and high fiving on our way out. We found out he is a free mason and he asked us if we knew about the two angels that stand as sentinels. "For sure" I said. He asked me what I thought they looked like. Then he gave us his idea. "I bet they're about 7 or 8 feet tall weighing 300-400 pounds of solid muscle. Those are the angels I pray for when I ask for God to send me defending angels! 'Please God, don't send me your wimpy ones!, I want the big tough ones!' JC (jesus christ) up above then turns to his main man Gabriel and says, 'that Chuck guy is praying for angels again. Send in the big boys.' And then all my problems go away". What a character! He also gave some great marriage advice! "If you 'win', you lose. If you 'lose', you win." That means if you're arguing with your wife and you win the argument you've created a rift between you and you've really just lost. Now, if you are humble enough to let go of your pride and work it out, you win! I love that!! 

Thanksgiving was sweet! We had dinner with our recent convert Jennifer and her family and the food was so good! I think it's my favorite holiday now. We played some games as a zone in the morning and the evening and had a blast.

My birthday went great! Mom sent me a Halloween package a month ago that finally got here so that was fun to open on my birthday :D I'm now 21.. Man, that night was so crazy! It's sort of a blur, I can't really remember what happened.

I love you all so much! Thanks for your prayers and support!

Love Elder Janis

A 50 billion Year Old Knat

Sent on November 24, 2014

Well another week has come and gone! Here's the update:

There's this cool black family we started teaching this week and they have a garden. They grow watermelons. :D I include that only because it's another indicator I like to point out to Dad how Watermelons, Kool-aid, and chicken are big time favorites. Are you convinced yet?? :) This other guy we talked to this week called New Testament Peter an atheist for denying christ 3 times. That escalated quickly!! He also boldly rebuked the Darwin theory of evolution: "Sure there are some pretty hairy humans who haven't made the jump to light speed yet and there are some monkey's that look a lot like some people I know.. But don't tell me I evolved from monkey's! If a gnat was born 50 billion years ago then today it would still be a gnat. It would be a 50 billion year old gnat but it would be a gnat." Ahhhhhh priceless mission memories... :)

All in all it was somewhat of a discouraging week because a lot of our investigators were sick and some of the people we've been helping prepare for baptismal dates didn't come to church. Regardless of the challenges, there was SO MUCH to be grateful for this week! In fact the challenges themselves are a huge blessing! And applying President Uchtdorf's council about being grateful in our circumstances, I can be grateful knowing I've made covenants with God that will bless me in the areas that truly matter. I love the gospel!! This is truly God's church! I am a witness.

Love Elder Janis