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