Monday, April 20, 2015

The Last Letter

This last week was so crazy! We did 3 exchanges. The first was in Yuma, the second one I went to South Phoenix, and the third I went to Tempe. President Toone was gone Wednesday through Friday at a mission presidents seminar in Dallas and when he got home late Friday night sister Toone called us to tell us she was checking him into the ER because he was super sick. He's been in ICU all weekend and Sunday afternoon was finally checked into a normal hospital room. Added to all of this we still have a lot of preparations to do for transfers: Finishing the transfer board, 21 departure interviews, 5 visa waiters leaving our mission for theirs, and preparing for the new group of missionaries arriving from the MTC on Tuesday. With all of that on your mind let me go back to where I started and tell you about Yuma.

Yuma was AWESOME! One of the missionaries I was with has only been out for a few months and explained at the beginning of our exchange that he feels like everyone around him has really cool mission stories to tell but he doesn't. As we went through the day nothing was really happening. People weren't opening their doors and I could tell these elders were getting discouraged. Finally in the afternoon I suggested we say a pray and ask God to help us find someone to teach. The new elder said the prayer and 20 seconds after he said amen, we met a lady by her apartment that wanted to hear our message. We taught her about he restoration of christs church and asked her if she would be interested in receiving her own copy of the Book of Mormon. She was very interested so we set up an appointment for the following day and left her with a prayer. When we got in the car we had a little celebration. The new elder was pumped he had experienced a little miracle.

In South Phoenix I got yelled at by some drug dealers. Other than that it was a pretty sweet day :)

Tempe was also a great experience! I actually ran into a convert I had taught over a year ago who is still active in his ward! It was a very sweet reunion.

So today President Toone is doing a lot better than he was on Friday night. He had caught an infection that was shutting his organs down and the doctors all said that if he had waited 24 more hours he wouldn't be alive. They were able to treat him and he is recovering quickly and hopes to be out this afternoon. We're still waiting to hear back from him if that's going to happen or not. In the meantime he is practically delegating the rest of the transfer board to us and figuring out the logistics of everything that needs to happen for transfers to be a success. The biggest concern now is wether he will be well enough to do the departing interviews before the incoming group arrives because when they get here we spend all our time with them until transfers getting them oriented and welcomed to the mission. It's pretty stressful but it's going to all work out :) right now the only reason I have time to email is because we're waiting for the doctors to tell president if he's staying in he hospital or if today he can go. We can't move forward until we know. Please pray for him!

With this being my final email as a missionary I would just like to close by sharing how much my mission means to me. I wouldn't trade these two years for anything. I have come to know God better and my commitment has grown a lot deeper. My face is set, my goal is heaven. Covenant keeping is the test. My decision had been made; I am a disciple of Jesus Christ.

Love Elder Janis

Monday, April 13, 2015

"I Need Your Help!" + Pictures

This week was so awesome.. I'll start by telling you all that for the first time in my mission I got bashed for celebrating Christmas by a fellow Christian! Then a seventh day Adventist joined the mix and bashed us for worshipping on Sunday. I was really tempted to just laugh at them because it reminded me so much of the Pharisees and Sadducees in Christ's time that were so hung up on little details that they lost sight of the important things. Anyways.. It was a good reminder to keep my focus on the Savior and also keep an open mind. The only kind God can teach is an open one. I tried asking the Christian woman that if God asked her to do something if she would do it. Avoiding the question she said, "I don't worship God, I worship the Most High." Alright.... Time to move on.

Dad, you'll like this! A Brazilian lady at in-n-out grabbed my companions arm as we were leaving and dragged him to her table where her mother and her daughter were sitting saying "I need your help." What she needed was to know the scriptural reference in the New Testament where Christ talks about the mote in your brothers eye and the beam in your own. We gave her the reference and she said, "Yes! I'm going to send it to my husband. Thank you!" Hahaha I love being a missionary in public! People are so funny.

We started working on the transfer board this week. I've been looking forward to participating in this inspired process ever since I received the assignment because it's talked about so much. We've spent about 9 hours with President Toone talking about the mission and what needs to happen. We're combining two zones because we're losing a lot of missionaries these next few transfers and we're creating an all Spanish zone. I'm impressed with how well president Toone knows individual missionaries and knows what they need. This whole transfer I have been really surprised with how frequently missionaries are talked about. When I was first out I didn't think any of the leadership of the mission knew me. My experience has totally disproved that.

I'm really looking forward to this week. We're finishing up all the exchanges with zones we haven't gotten to which means we get to go down to Yuma! That's the only part of the mission I haven't seen yet.

Thought: Discipline weighs ounces. Regret weighs tons.

Love Elder Janis

P.S. - "I totally forgot to write in my email that we got to go to Phoenix for a specialized training for all the Spanish missionaries! We didn't participate in the program but president Toone wanted us there for the beginning and for dinner. For the rest of the meeting he let us see the area a little bit and since elder Wallentine served here before we found the corn guy and some cool graffiti."

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Being Held like Zoram

Yes, I have time to explain how president called me! Typically the Saturday before transfers president Toone makes a phone call to the assistant he's assigning to be an assistant and you would have about 30 minutes to get everything packed so you could get to the office and start training. I never thought I would be called as an assistant especially this late in my mission.

Saturday came and went with no phone call which i was expecting. Transfer calls came on Wednesday night and the current assistants called to let us know what was happening in the zone. Elder Belnap and I were both being transferred and we were shocked! Because president hadn't called either of us we assumed there would be no leadership change and we'd both be zone leaders somewhere else in the mission (president will call anytime someone is being called to serve in any leadership capacity the missionary is not currently serving in: Trainer, district leader, or zone leader).

The next morning was transfers and we arrived a little early to pick some things up in the mission office. President Toone was in and when I walked in he grabbed my arm and said, "Elder Janis, do you have a moment you can meet with me in my office?" "Oh boy", I thought. "I'm in trouble!" I of course told him I was actually busy picking things up and didn't have time to meet with him in his office. That's probably why he was holding my arm so I couldn't say no.

It was kind of like when Nephi who is large in stature "seize[d] upon [Zoram], and held him, that he should not flee." My agency seemed to be held in the hand of my 7 foot tall mission president. In his office he told me that he wanted me to serve as an assistant. He explained that in a way it was a demonstration of lord sealing my mission with a stamp of approval. He went on to explain that he wanted me to get out on as many exchanges as possible. After that he told me not to say anything about it to anyone until he announced it at transfers.

The most surprised person besides me was probably elder Belnap since we had just been companions and so he was ticked I hadn't said anything to him about it! I told him that I had only known for an hour and wasn't supposed to say anything about it! It's been chaos since the assignment but I'm really enjoying it!!

This week we were so busy! We got out on exchanges into Maricopa and Tempe South. While in Maricopa the elders were pretty lost as to what to do since they didn't have a lot of people to teach. They asked what I would do if they had already visited everyone in the area book, worked brought lists from bishop, and visited every member of the ward. I suggested we tract. So we did! And it rocked!

We found a part member family who's records weren't in the ward and we found two new investigators.

One house we went to was outrageous though. The floor matt said "GO AWAY" and then peep hole had been converted into a video camera. We knocked anyways. Then the owner spoke through a speaker on the camera. He said, "who is it?" We replied, "the missionaries!" He responded back, "can you read?" We answered in the affirmative that we indeed had the ability. He then yelled at us, "Then BEAT IT!". No use pushing it so we left.

That evening we visited the bishop of the ward who said, "Elders, you guys are blowing up my Facebook page!" Super confused we asked him what he meant. He pulled up his Facebook and showed us a neighborhood group page of the development we had been tracking in earlier that day.

The guy who was so rude to us had posted a picture of us on his front porch from his camera with a caption about how ticked he gets when people bother him. The entire community then jumped on the post and everyone was sharing their thoughts, most of them positive, about the LDS missionaries. One lady even said we had knocked on her door and when she looked at us through the peep hole she was intimidated and didn't open the door. The bishop sent her a personal messaging apologizing and introduced himself as the bishop of the local congregation. She replied back that she would really like us to visit but would appreciate a message in advance to let her know we were coming.

We also went to the Mesa temple Easter pageant this week! It was awesome! I actually saw David and Chelsie Barwick!

General Conference was so inspiring and up lifting. I am so grateful for modern prophets. I was hit with a greater determination to turn my whole will over to God. It really is the only intelligent thing to do.

I love you all! Have a great week!

Love Elder Janis

Tuesday, March 31, 2015


Left to right: Franky (a member who helped teach the kids), Matt, me,
Kyle, Raymond. AWESOME KIDS! They always asked hilarious questions.

Fell Asleep Writing in Journal & Other Stories

This week ROCKED!! It was the busiest week of my mission for sure! In fact two nights ago before I closed my journal and passed out I wrote, "This is the most exhausted I have ever been my whole life." That was supposed to be the first sentence of my entry but I fell asleep because I couldn't finish it. (I got it done the following morning, don't worry :)).

Two days before the experience of passing out while writing we had to wake up at 5:20am to get packed for an exchange in Casa Grande with some companionship's there. What we'll do is go into a zone and split up into three other companionship's and spend the day with them. I went with two missionaries that are pretty new to their missions. We had a really successful day and taught a lot of the people they're working with and were able to find a few new investigators too.

Two days later we went on exchanges with the Chandler zones and we had to wake up at 5:20am again to get down and get everyone where they needed to be before an appointment we had back here in Tempe. I brought two zone leaders from one of the Chandler zones with me and we had a blast!

Part of the reason I brought them up was because there was a baptism in my old ward in Tempe that I was asked to go to. The baptism was for the three kids of the single mom I had been working with while me and Elder Belnap were companions. The mother said the closing prayer and she couldn't control her emotions. We were all in tears by the end of her prayer. She expressed her deep gratitude to the Lord for bringing the gospel to her and her family EXACTLY when she needed it.

Those are the moments that make all the trials worth it. At the end of the day we drove back through Chandler to pick up and drop off and didn't get home until 10:15pm. I was driving and I think Jesus took the wheel because I was sooo tired! Yikes! :)

In our area we killed it this week! We set a goal for 30 teaching opportunities even though we had a district leader training we had to prepare for and conduct and 2 exchanges and we still hit our goal! Any time we could we did 3 way splits with members and we found 7 new investigators and put someone on date! It was nuts!

It's awesome to see the fire it is lighting in all the zones of the mission because the assistants area has always been known to not get much done because of all the office work. My biggest desire is to set an example of finishing a mission strong and if I can break the stigma that assistants don't do missionary work I think it will make a big impact. It totally kills a lot of missionaries excuses about why they don't have anything going on in their area too.

One night I was street contacting in an apartment complex with a member and a group of kids ran up to us and asked, "are you the paramedics?" We of course lied and told them yes because it would put us in a great opportunity to teach. Just kidding. We were honest and told them no. They said, "ok, we're waiting for the paramedics because an old guy just jumped of the 2nd floor balcony and broke his ankle!"

Just then an old man hobbled up and asked us who we worked for because he also must have assumed we were the paramedics! We told him that we worked for Jesus and he liked that. Just then the real paramedics showed up and got him to sit down and started asking him questions like, "Why did you jump off your balcony?" I guess he served in Vietnam and used to do stunts like that all the time and thought he could still do it. Always a good story to share each week :)

Love Elder Janis

Monday, March 23, 2015

Pictures of the Giants

Elder Babcock, Elder Wallentine, President Toone, Elder Janis

(The joke in our mission is that you have to be over 6 feet to be
an assistant. President Toone is 7 feet tall!)

Called as AP, Better Than a Foot

I tried last week to be undercover but I really can't tell you much about this past week without telling you I was called as an assistant at transfer meeting. I'll have to tell you the story of how President Toone gave me the assignment some time.

The week of transfers was so crazy getting the departing missionaries to the airport and figuring out housing and car problems throughout the mission. We spent a lot of time in the office working things out and getting organized and spent just about no time sleeping. Writing in my journal is harder than ever but I'm all caught up on that too!

This week we prepared our training with President Toone for MLC (Mission Leadership Conference) where all the zone leaders and sister training leaders come in for a 6 hour conference where we set the vision for the mission for the coming transfer. The meeting was on Thursday and we were able to start planning for it on Tuesday morning.

We spent the entire day brainstorming and writing things down just to crumple it up and start all over again. It's really important that our companionship is on same page and feel good about the direction of the trainings and it was really frustrating for all of us to feel like we were getting nowhere. By Tuesday night we were back to square one. Wednesday we fasted and got back to preparing. Things were slowly coming together but still didn't quite feel right. Finally around 6pm we felt inspired to split the training into two parts to be able to cover more topics. It flowed really well from then on and we were ready by 8 and got to go out and do real missionary work!

The conference went really really well. We received really good feedback from some zone leaders that really appreciated the new approach with the MLC training with doing the two groups. The fun part of the day was that last Monday we bought matching ties for us and President Toone. We had to buy an extra tie for president that a lady in the ward used as extra fabric to widen and lengthen his because he is so big and tall! I'll attach a picture so you see what I mean :) He's 7 feet tall!

The last half of the week was the best. We got to spend quality time out with the members teaching investigators. We have two that are showing real progression and we have plans this week to put them on date and find new investigators. We will be doing a lot of exchanges this next week into Casa Grande and some of the Chandler stakes (Chandler East, and West) and I'm really looking forward to that. Especially going back to chandler for a day! Chandler holds a special place for me. I spent a total of 9 months of my mission there.

There is this funny recent convert in our ward that we had a conversation with this week. She is slightly crazy:

She was dogging on me and Elder Walentine who are new to the ward and was telling us we were worse than even her stuffed animal hippopotamus. So we asked, if we're worse than a hippopotamus what are we better than?". She answered, "A foot." A foot? Yep. I'm better than s foot. Thank goodness! There's another missionary she really doesn't like and we asked her if he is better than a foot. She said no. He's not. I'm glad I'm not that elder :) When she found out I was from Houston she got really excited! She told me she is also from Texas. I asked where and she said, "Humble Texas. That's where I was created."

Impactful thought for the week... (This will change your life! And if it doesn't..... Nothing will. :l)

You have time to do whatever you want.

If that is true then you just need to determine what you want. Too many people make the excuse, "oh well I don't have time for that", or, "I'm too busy to do that"... I don't have time to attend the temple or read my scriptures or go to the gym or write my brother/nephew/cousin/soon to be uncle(Damon and Macall?) who's on a mission ;P That's not true. We have time to do whatever we want. So what do you want? You choose.

I love you all!

Love Elder Janis

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Repent and Listen to the Spirit

I was transferred. It was a huge surprise to me, my companion, and our ward!! In fact they transferred both Elder Belnap and myself. We were devastated to learn we were both leaving. I know it is God's will though. The families we've been working with that have recently joined the church or that are preparing for baptism are all actively attending church and are connected with the members so I don't think they will slip through the cracks. I am now serving in a YSA ward on ASU campus and I'm in a trio with Elder Wallentine (he transferred in with me and has 3 transfers left) and Elder Babcock who has been here for 2 transfers already and has 2 transfers to go before he finishes his mission. YSA work is so different! We have been so busy since transfers though that we have hardly even been able to spend time in our area. I've only met one investigator and one less active. Church was sweet though and I was able to connect with a bunch of members. This is the most impressive ward I've served in so far because it is so organized. The ward council works like a fine tuned machine. Everyone knows their responsibilities, accomplishes them, and reports back. Missionary work is discussed first and everything is focused on the individuals needs in the ward. The bishop speaks only a small part of the time and mostly when he speaks it is to thank people for their incredible effort or to make an assignment. I'm learning A LOT.

This Sunday we had the monthly Mission President's Devotional. My companions and I were responsible for putting the program together and we had a lot of things going on that we weren't able to call and ask converts to speak until Friday night. One of the ladies from my last area was preparing her first talk for sacrament so I figured I could give her a call and ask her to speak. She was so mad at me!!! (We have a good relationship so it was cool :)) But she said she would do it and she did phenomenal! Afterward she was really grateful for the opportunity but I still owe her so when I get back to Arizona after my mission I owe her and her son dinner :) Can't wait.

Sometimes we feel like heavenly father is far from us. We may experience the great blessing of feeling the spirits presence in our lives and then all of a sudden we feel like God has perhaps abandoned us or left us to figure out our problems on our own. I would invite you to consider that God does this to teach us that we CANNOT go through this life alone without his help. Without his spirit we can never experience deep happiness and peace. The spirit will come back as we repent and listen to the promptings of the spirit but we have to make the effort.

Love Elder Janis

Monday, March 9, 2015

A Miracle Occurred This Week

This transfer has flown! I can hardly believe it but today is the first day of my last transfer. If this transfer goes as fast as last transfer I'll be going home before I know it! I have taken some time the last 24 hours to set some lofty goals for myself to work as hard and as focused as I can. I'm anticipating that this will be the greatest transfer of my mission. I do not know yet whether I will be transferring or staying but will find out on Tuesday night. Transfer meeting will be on Thursday. I almost asked you all to wait for a Facebook post on Thursday to find out what happened but that would be straight apostasy since our mission is taking a few months break from Facebook. ;)

On March 4th the whole mission was brought together for a 5 hour training meeting from a member of the 2nd quorum of the 70 and a representative from the missionary department. The meeting was the 1st of a 3 stage training program the church is rolling out with all online proselyting missions throughout the world. Stage 1 is being called a restart in our mission since we have been an online proselyting mission previous to the meeting. The main topic was spiritually protecting ourselves while proselyting online. A lot of interesting principles were shared. One of my favorite quotes that applies to anyone with a weakness (that means everyone reading this letter!) said, "When we struggle with a weakness we are disappointed in ourselves. The Savior, however, is not disappointed with us if we seek true repentance. He is grateful for every decision we make to follow Him." They also talked about how iPads are just tools and you only use it when you need it. There are a lot of situations we use technology way too much when we should just put it away and focus on the people we're around or the meeting we're in. People deserve the gift of our attention.

Family and friends, a miracle occurred this week. A man I've been working with ever since I got into this area 7 and a half months ago and who missionaries have trying to get baptized for the last 20 years was baptized Saturday night with his two grandsons. His wife is a member and they would have us over for dinner fairly often and I would always challenge her husband (who speaks better Spanish than English) to take the lessons. It never worked. Finally after having finished another meal, I told the husband that at 2:00 the next day the Spanish missionaries would be knocking on his door to teach him the first lesson. He didn't tell me not to do it so the next day at 2:00 the Spanish sisters in our zone were teaching him the first lesson in his living room. More lessons followed and he started going to church. In the meantime we were introduced to two of his grand kids who had previously been taught all the lessons and just wanted to be baptized. We over viewed the lessons with them, got their interview and then put them on date for March 7th. Later that same day the Spanish sisters went over to visit the grandpa. The wife brought up the fact that the grandkids were preparing for baptism for March 7th. Instantly the spirit touched this man and he too accepted an invitation to be baptized on that day. As a zone we have been praying for families to teach and baptize. March 7th was the last weekend of the transfer and we had a family baptism. To celebrate we invited all the missionaries in our zone to come watch and our mission president and his wife came too. It was a special experience for sure.

I will quickly tell you a few other things that happened is week. One investigator I visited on exchanges in another area was feeling pretty depressed so after the lesson we picked her some flowers to cheer her up. It worked. Also on that exchange I was able to bike again for the first time in about 6 months! On Monday night we took the three boys of a family we're teaching to fhe at the church. The lesson was the plan of salvation and the 10 year old boy raised his hand at the end and said, "there's only one problem... Who judges Jesus?" Hahaha this kid is so funny, he always has off the wall questions. We also taught a man in a hotel room later in the week... That one was interesting! We got a text for a referral and the address showed a hotel. We took the elevator to the 5th floor and knocked on the number that matched our text. I felt so weird being in a hotel knocking on a random door. Well it opened and the man seemed to recognize who we were and he welcomed us in! It turns out he is a recent convert from Guatemala and wanted to find the church building.

This is the home stretch! I appreciate your love, prayers, and support! I'm giving this mission all I've got!

Love Elder Janis

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

3 Generations and the Ex Army Ranger

This week was so great!!! We had a huge miracle. Two youth we are preparing for baptism fell off date. Their mom is a less active member and she decided she needs to figure out what she believes and wants to church shop. It was devastating because their grandfather who has been investigating on and off for the last 30 years is preparing for baptism on the same day. Of course we were worried that the grandfather (who is being taught in Spanish by the sisters in our zone) would also choose not to be baptized. We knew arguing with the mom was a bad idea so we didn't do that. We encouraged her to church shop and figure things out BUT to make her search a matter of diligent prayer. A few days later we got a call from the grandmother who is a member and she told us that her daughter had decided that her children could be baptized and she supports it! On March 7th a grandfather and his two grandchildren will be baptized. Less active family members are being touched by the spirit. From the steady example of this faithful grandmother, a 3 generation conversion is taking place.

I visited my favorite 57 year old ex army ranger this week while I was on exchanges with a brand new missionary from the MTC. I didn't give this poor elder any heads up about this man's personality. When he opened the door and saw my companion he asked him who he was and why he was there. The elder stuttered a bit so I explained that we were on a one day exchange and jokingly said the elder was there to train me. We'll call the investigator Chuck. Chuck asked him what he was training me. The elder fresh to the field had no idea what to say so all he said was, "I don't know." Chuck ripped him apart for that! "What do you mean you don't know? Why did you come to train him if you don't even know what you're going to train him on? You've gotta have these things planned!" I felt bad for the elder so I explained that it was the other way around and I was training him. Later in the discussion Chuck was talking about how much he appreciates our visits and he grabbed me by he shoulders, looked me in the eye, said, "I love you!" And then gave me the biggest kiss in between my nose and cheek! He then looked at the Elder I was with and said, "I promise I'm not gay." It happened so fast and was so funny I couldn't help busting up laughing. When we left and we're back in the car driving away I asked my companion about the experience. He was in quite a shock but said that he had learned quite a lot. Hahaha that was a very unusual visit!

That's all for this week! Stay strong and fight the fight! Patience brings blessings. Steady, consistent efforts for righteousness will result in becoming who we are meant to become.

Love Elder Janis

Monday, February 16, 2015

Two Sweet Baptisms!

This past week was fantastic!

On Friday the 13th the man I had taught in Maricopa was baptized! I saw a post on my wall at 2:00p that afternoon and immediately called president Toone to ask if I could go to Maricopa for the baptism. He told me I could go but that I owed him :)

Going back to Maricopa that evening for the baptism was one of the sweetest experiences of my mission! This young man has grown so much and it was powerful to me to see his spiritual maturity. His dad is not a member but I had taught him when I was in Copa as well so I asked him after the baptism when he was going to get baptized. He said, "Oh, probably soon. When do you finish your mission?" I told him that I finish in 2 months and he replied, "Alright, I want you to come down before you go home and baptize me." I wasn't too shocked with his response because he's a very spontaneous person and you never know what's going to come out of his mouth next! I'm really excited for him and his family to be in the gospel together! I'll be following up on Facebook to find out when his baptism will be.

Here in the Tempe Zone I was able to speak at the baptism of the lady I street contacted a few months ago who had been praying to know whether or not she should celebrate Christmas due to a video a Jehovah's Witness friend had shown her of why we shouldn't celebrate Christmas. Right after praying she went outside to get the mail and that's when me and the missionary I was on exchanges with walked up and asked her if we could show her a video about why we SHOULD celebrate Christmas! She is such a sweet woman. She is 74 years old and is very spiritual but has never been baptized because she never found a church she felt right about -- until now. It was a blessing to see the fruits of some of my labors this week!

That's it for this week! I love you and wish you luck!

Love Elder Janis

This is M., the lady I street contacted a few months ago! She was so happy!

A brother I taught in Maricopa got baptized on Feb 13th! His dad says he wants me to baptize him before I return home from my mission in April!

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Overcoming Addictions

This week had to have been one of the most discouraging weeks of my mission!!! Everything was setting up to be the greatest week ever and then Satan had to throw in his two cents and mess it all up! Within a 15 minute window of time on Sunday morning all of our investigators and recent converts texted us letting us know they weren't coming to church for one reason or another (mostly sickness). On top of that the grand-daughter of a lady we're teaching texted us basically saying she wanted bishop's phone number to tell him how terrible we are and that she wants new missionaries. That was totally surprising to us since we couldn't think of anything we had done to offend her. She hasn't talked to bishop yet and she won't talk to us about it so we can only speculate. A family member that is anti against mormon's is putting a lot of pressure on the grandma not to continue with the lessons. The grand-daughter told us a week and a half ago not to visit anymore which we have respected. We still are allowed to call and check up though and this Sunday we called the investigator and Elder Belnap invited her to come to church to hear him speak. Well that's kind of when things blew up so we're assuming it was the invitation to come to church. It's frustrating but we can't take it personal. President Packer says that if you doing your calling right then people will dislike you. I like that thought. I think too that if your life is super easy it's not because Satan ran out of ammunition. It means that you're not a threat to him. If your getting hit with a ton of trials it means you are a threat and he's packing on the heat!!

On to the highlights :) The family we're working with towards a baptism date are doing really well. They didn't come to church on Sunday because the little daughter got sick but we were able to visit them in the evening and teach the Word of Wisdom. For privacy sake I will call the single mother "Sally". Sally has been smoking for a long time and she also loves her black tea. She knew the lesson was coming though and when we told her that we were going to talk about the Word of Wisdom she said, "So does that mean that at the end of the lesson I'm going to have to stop smoking and drinking my black tea?" We laughed and told her "Yes, but don't stress out. We will help you understand why God has given us this commandment and how you will be given the strength to live it." After we taught her the context of the commandment and some of the principles of why we have it (mainly to protect our agency) she felt a lot better about it. She has been wanting to quit smoking for a long time so the desire is there, she just didn't believe in herself. At the end of the lesson she committed herself to quit smoking by pick up the Book of Mormon and read until the urge to smoke a cigarette goes away. We're going to be following up daily to support her and she's got us on speed dial :) The best way to overcome an addiction is to pray a lot and replace the bad behavior with a good one. Train yourself to pick up the scriptures and read when the temptation flares up or go jog or something like that.

We had our Mission Leadership Council this week which was awesome. In the mission we are focusing on becoming "Impact Teachers" this transfer. We spent a lot of time this week planning out trainings for the coming transfer for our zone and we're really excited to become better teachers.

I really had a fantastic week even with the terrible 15 minutes on Sunday morning :) It wasn't enough to ruin the whole week. Now it is a new week and absolutely anything is possible. We can accomplish miracles!

Love Elder Janis

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

The Power of Belief

This was a wonderful week!!! We had transfers and I'm staying in Tempe for another transfer! I was very much expecting I would step down and be trainer for my last two transfers but it looks like the Lord has other plans for me. I'm still a zone leader serving with Elder Belnap. This is our 2nd transfer together and we have a great friendship. The two missionaries we lived with got moved and now the mission IT specialist and his companion from Canada live with us. It is so cool to live with these Elders. Elder Baker, the IT specialist, has an assignment to train the mission at zone conferences, mission leadership councils, interviews, and other settings on online proselyting. He spends a lot of time with President Toone and the Assistants and I've been able to pick his brain a little for some of those stories. I love hearing stories about President Toone. The more I learn about him the more I'm blown away with how great he is. He has my loyalty completely.

Funny story: Elder Belnap and I were driving down the street and pulled up to a red light. A lady started across the cross walk by herself and half way across she stopped and pointed down at the ground and started shouting! (It really looked like she was casting a spell on the cement.) She looked up and all around her at the cars waiting at the red light and she started laughing like the wicked witch of the west. She then jogged to the other side of the street and karate chopped a cup that had been resting on a rock by the street light. The cup and the liquid inside flew everywhere and she began to laugh again. There was a car with a guy and girl right next to where she was and the guy in the car started laughing too but the girl in the passenger seat looked scared. I love seeing strange happenings :) This is a great area for people watching.

I had one of the best lessons of my mission this week! There is a single mother with 3 boys ages 10 11 and 12 who we are teaching. They've all been praying to know if our message is true and we followed up on how that was going. The 11 year old boy said, "I think I got my answer." We asked him to explain what happened. He said, "I was saying my prayer to know if this church is true and when I finished my prayer and looked up, I saw some shadows holding their thumbs up. So I think that was my answer!" We couldn't help laughing a little bit but we encouraged him and his commitment to praying and looking for his answer. The rest of the family is still trying to find their answer so we decided that as a family we would all kneel down and pray to know if they should be baptized and we extended February 28th as a day to pray for. After the prayer we all sat silently feeling for the answer. The Mom finally broke the silence and said yes! The 11 year old is ready to go ASAP and so are the other boys so the next step is to make sure the family comes to church.

I have a testimony of the importance of attitude. At transfers especially, there is so much gossip that goes on between missionaries who are leaving and taking over areas and a lot of pre-bias is created. One missionary might say to another, "Oh, you're companions with so and so? He's annoying.." or, "he's a tough companion," or "he's really smart"... Or they might say, "this area is pretty slow". This totally affects the effectiveness of that companionship in that area for the rest of their time spent there. How sad! I believe that if we believe something, we can achieve it. The brain is so powerful, it can achieve the impossible. Please change any negative attitude you have towards anything to a positive one and reap the blessings.

Love Elder Janis

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

We're Swinging Back!

This week was phenomenal!!! It was so busy and so crazy I'm trying to remember everything that happened! I feel like we were able to accomplish a months worth in one week!

The highlight was going on exchanges into a District Leader's area I had gone on exchanges to before. The first time I exchange into this area about 2 months ago I street contacted a lady named Mary who we showed the "He is the Gift" video to. She had just been visiting with Jehovah's Witnesses who were telling her why she shouldn't celebrate Christmas and it really upset her but because she has such a righteous heart she prayed to God and said, "If you don't want me to celebrate Christmas I won't, but please just let me know!" Then she walked outside to get the mail and that's when we met her. If you remember me writing about her the week I met her I mentioned we were able to teach her the first lesson and she really felt like God had sent us to her. This past week we visited Mary and I learned that she had accepted a baptismal date for February 14th, Valentines day!! She is so excited and is telling all her friends in the neighborhood (which is a lot because every one loves this dear sweet woman!) and all her friends are excited to see their 74 year old friend "get dunked." Mary is so excited and has come a long way since I first met her! She's been going to church and reading the Book of Mormon and everyone tells her she has a new light with her everywhere she goes. I hope to be able to be there for her baptism.

Our area is experiencing some real challenges. Laziness and pride are our enemies here and we're takin' some hits! But don't worry, we're swinging back! The only thing to do at times like this is hit your knees and pray harder and then get up and get at it with a little more enthusiasm and heart! This week is transfers but they changed when they make calls so I won't find out if I'm staying or leaving until tomorrow night. I have 2 transfers left, 12 weeks, and President's pattern has been to have you train your last 12 weeks so that's my best guess. There is a missionary who was reassigned to our mission this past week from Chile but his Mom in Mesa is battling heart and lung cancer. He has 6 months left of his mission and President Toone talked to me about possibly arranging for me to do a few exchanges with this Elder to help him through what he's going through with his family. I have a hunch we may just be assigned as companions. We'll see :)

My testimony has continued to grow stronger and stronger. In stake conference this last Sunday a member of the 70 who was presiding said that the 3 most important elements to our testimonies are #1 that we believe that God is real and he loves us, which I do, that the Book of Mormon is true, which I believe, and to believe in modern day prophets, which I testify we have. When our testimonies are anchored in these truths we won't be shaken when our testimonies are challenged our tried.

I love you all lots and I'm praying for you! Have a wonderful week! I know I will!!

Love Elder Janis

Me and my comp Elder Belnap

Monday, January 19, 2015

The Spaghetti Steak Salad Potato Fruit Smoothie Challenge

I gave a talk in Sacrament yesterday and chose to speak on our responsibility to turn to the Lord in times of trials and shared this trial. Our bishop here announced the week I was gone that Mom had passed so when I got back everyone was giving me hugs and stuff just like in Katy 2nd ward. It was nice to feel so much love and support from my ward here. It makes me feel at home.

Well I'm not getting any younger and my mission isn't getting any longer so to start this past week off my companion and I set a goal to teach 50 lessons this week. Before I left we were averaging about 25 lessons but I feel such an urgency to accomplish everything I can and I have this feeling that there's no time to waste and there are too many people in our area who don't know about the gospel!! So we set a high goal and we finished the week with 47 lessons. I am happy with what we accomplished. The Lord gave me a trial this week probably because I set a goal to teach a ton of lessons. I woke up on Friday morning feeling sick to my stomach so I slept a little longer to see if it would go away. Around 10am I bolted out of bed and made it just in time to throw up into the toilet. After that I had super painful cramps in my stomach so I laid in bed and moaned for about two hours before I finally fell asleep. I woke up Saturday morning feeling awful still and wasn't able to get out until that evening. It was definitely humbling because I have so much fire in me that I need to spread and then BAM, God let's me get sick so I can't do anything. It's a good lesson to me that God cares more about our character than he does about the things we accomplish. Even still, we were able to be almost 2 times as productive this week with my two sick days than all our previous weeks. I'm fully recovered from the funk I had and I'm really excited about what we'll be able to accomplish this week.

We have an 84 year old investigator named V we're teaching now who is really excited about everything she's learning and wants to be baptized. She came to church last week and we've met with her every day this week and everything was looking super for her baptism to be on the 24th. Well on Saturday as I'm laying in bed sick, my companion gets a call from her where she said, "You're not going to like this but I've made up my mind. I don't want to be mormon. If you could come by some time today to pick up your bibles I would appreciate that." Absolutely devastated and too sick to do anything about it, I turn over onto my knees and said a prayer as my companion and another missionary went out the door to talk to V. They burst through the door about an hour later ecstatic! They said that when they pulled up to her house she came out the front door and said, "Elder's, I changed my mind. I want to keep studying with you. It's made me happier than anything else in my life has." It turns out she has a son who has power of attorney over her finances and he got super angry with her that she was meeting with us and was thinking about being baptized. Because he has power of attorney V was afraid that he would start threatening her if she continued meeting with us. Well she's decided she isn't going to let that stop her from accepting the gospel and she's back on track! We pushed her baptism back a week so she can come to church one more time and prepare for her interview. It was an awesome experience to be so devastated one minute, and then elated the next! And it was a testimony builder of the power of prayer. When there's nothing else we can do, at least we can pray.

At dinner last night the member kept feeding us more and more. First we had a huge plate of spaghetti, then her son brought in some big steaks he had been grilling, then we had salads and a large helping of potatoes. By the end of the meal I was pretty stuffed. I was starting to feel a little sick again because I hadn't eaten hardly anything on Friday or Saturday because I was sick so my stomach was having a tough time with normal food again. Well thankfully desert was a fruit smoothie. It was ice cold though and so it took awhile to eat. As we ate desert we were talking about different food challenges we had done like the gallon challenge or the cinnamon challenge. I was thinking about how much pain I was in from the meal we had just eaten and I entertained the idea of asking if anyone had ever done the spaghetti steak salad potato fruit smoothie challenge. But I didn't :) I figured that might come across as ungrateful. Which I wasn't. The food was really good :)

I love you all and I hope you have a super week!

Love Elder Janis

Monday, January 12, 2015


I hope you all are doing great!! I appreciate everything you did to facilitate me getting back to Texas and then to Utah and back to Arizona! I'M SO HAPPY TO BE BACK!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I adjusted back to being a missionary immediately after stepping off the plane. I had to wait in a line at the airport in Phoenix after I landed and as I was waiting I was able to talk to the three people around me about the gospel and the church and how absolutely WONDERFUL it is!!!!

I can't hold my testimony in. I have to share it with EVERYONE. Even my companion and roommates.

Every Monday morning we have a zone leader conference call with President Toone and the Assistants and before the meeting started Elder Jolley was asking me about how everything is going (I thought we hadn't been merged into the conference yet and it was just he and I on the call) and I laid out how sick (great) the gospel is and threw down on how AWESOME it is to be a missionary and then everyone else started jumping into the conversation and everyone was getting pumped up!

The pre conference turned into a big pep rally and I'm pretty sure Arizona is about to be baptized!!!!

Then President Toone got on the call and went through the regular agenda items and then welcomed me back and gave me an opportunity to share some thoughts about my experience from the last two weeks and I got to testify again to how awesome it is to be a missionary to represent Christ.

We didn't have time Saturday night when I got in to proselyte but Church got out at 12:00pm on Sunday and because we were in a threesome with the visa waiter until 8:00 this morning I set it up so I could go out with a young man in our ward and my companions would go elsewhere to teach.

They dropped me off with him in the members apartment complex and we had an hour and a half before a meeting we had to get to for zone stuff. Well I couldn't be contained, if we saw someone down a ways from us we B-lined it straight to them and started talking about the gospel.

We ended the hour and a half teaching 7 lessons to a total of 14 people. 5 people accepted return appointments and we placed a book of mormon, received and contacted 4 referrals, and even got some fried chicken from a Marshallese guy that lives with members (we had no idea) and wants to come to church.

Listen everybody, the hype is real. Missionary work is DOPE. It is so fun and it completely fills your soul with joy. The gospel is true!!!! It is given to us by a loving Father to help us be happy. Choose the right ya'll!! Repent! Develop your faith! Live true!

Love Elder Janis