Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Why is the Eggnog always gone?


You wouldn't believe it, real snowstorm in Arizona! We got a couple inches but still. 
What some people have to do to experience winter.
Ok so that didn't happen, nor will it down in the valley but I imagined it once. sorry everybody.

Christmas is next Thursday which completely blows my mind. Bro Randall said this is one of the mildest Decembers he's seen here. The first half of the week was high 70's and I wasn't the only one not wearing a coat, it was nice to blend in because when it rained Thursday night I was right next to them with my cute sweater (picture up on Hermana Mendoza's facebook btw). I really like Arizona. Maybe it's because I haven't been here in summer yet but I'm sure 120 can't be that bad right?

We had a lesson with Janette Saturday at this "casa de yogurt". Pretty cool place but felt out of place. Even though it said casa on the door didn't make it feel like I was in someone's home. 
Janette is crazy. She knows more about the gospel than any investigator would ever. She took institute this last semester and has read the Book of Mormon and D&C all the way through. In addition to all of that, she's taken the 'lessons' 3ish times. When someone knows the subtitles of your lessons, they should be a member already. To recap, we got her record from elders in the Tempe mission because she goes to church here and will be baptized here. Kinda funny was when we were talking a little about our backgrounds we found out that Janette had looked us up already and knew most of the things we talked about before. She found the blog of my letters home and all. I really hope she sees this :) Hey Janette! 

I think that showed me that we need to take responsibility of what we say and do because everything has weight. I wonder if things would have gone different if I had a really bad mark on myself. Maybe she wouldn't talk to us, we never know when our past will show up.

Thursday we had a "Christmas Conference". three zones got picked up on a bus and we rode down to the Mesa temple to go through the visitor's center to see how it can help us in our missionary work. Also on the agenda was a temple session and a buffet, followed by going back to the temple and seeing the lights. A full day! Unfortunately Elder Anderson and I got sick that morning but didn't feel the full effects till lunch time. It was quite miserable waiting for everyone to do all these awesome things while we felt super gross inside. President Griffin who is the coolest man ever, gave us some money to run down to a Walmart and pick up some medicine while they went to the buffet. Walmart is generally a weird place that makes people feel dizzy but I had no idea what fun it could be under the influence of disease. You can imagine two elders stumbling through a modern day Sahara. If you can't, well....how about that animated Hercules near the end when Herc is swimming in that green pool in the Underworld. I think that's a accurate description of that historical event. On the bright side, President invited us to come back tomorrow with another section of the mission. Yahoo!
I hope everyone is being on their best behavior for little saint nick!

Love,
Elder Bryan
A step up from the Ragnar honey bucket

Monday, December 8, 2014

From the Tundra plains of Buckeye

This week was incredible. We had a lot of lessons and a plethora of new investigators. Whoo! People to teach again!

Monday night we stopped by Adriana Martinez who we haven't been in contact since the first day I was here. Now almost of her family is deathly ill or something like that. We're not sure how true it is, they were running around really fast when they saw us pull up. She's a really good actor if she doesn't want us to visit her, it seems like she really wants to get baptized. Who knows what will happen there.
We got a lesson with Taylor, who we hadn't seen for a week. Definitely worried going into that lesson but everything he said was awesome. He had serious problems with the word of wisdom and this last month he focused on going cold turkey of the things he hadn't already dropped. He understands the meaning behind the commandments which is golden. He asks us questions about things that tell us he really is serious about getting baptized. We set a date for January 3rd for him and a temple baptismal date two weeks after. He's pumped and has been going to early morning seminary and mutual. Between him and our ward missionary who is devoting his life to missionary work, I couldn't be more excited. 

We had dinner on Wednesday with the Guinchos which was a different experience. He speaks Portuguese and Spanish and she's Italian. My brain was on a carousel with four languages flying around as the three small children would switch like nothing. It was really weird how similar they all were and how I could grasp small bits of everything. I think I'll stick with Spanish till I'm proficient though.

We watched the Christmas Devo with the Randalls and the Gedulds, two member families who are really just one big family. Super cool people who always invite us over. Sister Randall told me to "go to school, get a wife, work hard, then come home to Verrado!" They're a hoot and with everything really picking up here, I don't want to get transferred ever. We'll see what happens on the 31. I'll be finished with training and Elder Anderson will have been here close to 9 months. 

Elder Anderson said it hasn't been this busy the whole time he's been here. I guess some say Buckeye is something of a dead area, but I'm learning to solely focus on the potential. It's easy when your companion is a really patient, calm dude. I learn so much by watching how he handles situations, especially with other missionaries. I'm trying to glean as much as I can. 

We started teaching two families, The Fregosas and the Sanchezs. Fregosas are a young family who are community of Christ who at first seemed not interested but the dad, Humberto is really willing to listen. His wife thinks he's losing faith and at times it can feel awkward but it's all good. The Sanchez family came from Janette who's going to ASU but wants to be baptized here where she will go to church. It's kinda weird because she's very bold and "hinted" that she doesn't really like us as much as the elders at ASU but she wants to follow our rules. After the first lesson, the grandpa who lives with them, asked if we are allowed to drink soda. Thinking it was about the WoW we explained that we can. He leaves and comes back with a 12 pack of Sprite. Man even people who aren't interested recognize how important the work we are doing and they feel it's their duty to help provide for messengers from God. Super neat. Janette also wants to get baptized but has a really hard time talking during lessons, I guess she's shy around her family. We decided to have her over at the Mendozas to get her to open up a little so we can find out how much she's learned.

On Friday the Verrado community had a christmas lighting party. A whole bunch of local business set up tents and two trucks came in to make man made snow for the kids to play in. I wish I could say that Elder Anderson and I ran into that area and duked it out till we got thrown out, but sadly we restrained ourselves. We did help Sister Geduld set up her cupcake business and Bro Guincho with his Craig's Cuts. And got some good PR for missionaries, who knows.

Saturday we had surprise interviews with President Griffin. Just being in the room with him made me feel all warm and whatnot. *grinch smile* It was so cool how personal he made the interview. I can't imagine how he does it with every single missionary. The best part is I get to hang out with him again on Thursday for our Christmas Conference. 

Hope everyone watches the "He is the Gift" video and shares it or likes all of my posts so I get a big head and feel so popular. Let GG Norma know I'm praying for her as well. Have a great week!

From the tundra plains of Buckeye with love,

Elder Bryan

Monday, December 1, 2014

Two weeks worth of emails

Happy December!

This week was neat. Even though every one of our lessons canceled, it gave me a new challenge- What do you do when nothing goes as planned? I feel stronger having put more faith in the Lord and the Holy Ghost. After all, the Holy Ghost is the real teacher so I shouldn't stand in the way of the work. 

Several things. The first is if I became a house builder or something similar, I would make it a law to have the house number visible and readable. What's the point of having a light on it if you have a tree leaning against it, or it's so unreadable, you think it's a paint mistake. We need to have a national reform! But it actually helps missionaries have an excuse to knock on doors. I guess you give and take. The second is teach people that if you come to the door, open the shall thing covering the glass, turn on the light and stare at us for a minute; that you open the door instead of walking away and leaving the smiling Elders feel like idiots standing there. It was really funny though. Elder Anderson and I looked at each other and just laughed. I'm so glad I'm being trained by a guy who can laugh it off. I felt like I knew how to but he's got the gift. Every other missionary I've talked to has said nothing but praise about my comp. I'm wondering what I did to get it so good.

Thanksgiving we sat inside for most of the day until our dinner appointment. It warmed up to 80 which was absolutely insane. We had a wonderful dinner with the Dials who had their son and his family over. It's always interesting to see how different other's missionary experiences can be. The members here are super kind to us, so when we get an opportunity to serve them, I get pumped. I hate not being able to pay it back/forward. 

We had a progressing investigator move into our area this week. Her name is Janette and she's been taking the lessons while attending ASU. She lives with her family on the weekend and since they now live here, we'll teach her on the weekends. It's a different experience since she'll be taught during the week by different elders. Hopefully we decide how things will go in the future because she really really wants to get baptized. It's weird to go from english to spanish but when we talk with her its even more so. It's like flipping a switch back and forth. 
Looking back to the month of November I realize that we've been really blessed. We set a goal to get at least one new investigator each week and we did that and 2. I feel like God cares about me and all the small things I can worry about. Some days I have to be reminded that all this is His doing and that I'm merely an instrument. How great it is though, to be that. I love being a missionary! 
Good luck this week family!

love, 
Elder Bryan





Happy Thanksgiving Week!!

It's so bizarre that Thanksgiving is already here. Seems just like
yesterday I was getting on a plane for Mexico.
Elder Anderson and Elder Brown were sick for a couple of days so Elder
Perkes and I did some work in his area. It's weird how empty it feels
to not be in your area for a while.
Saturday, we had a pre-Thanksgiving dinner at the Randalls and some
non-member friends that they invited. After the food we went around
and said what we were thankful for. It made me wonder, "What are
people thankful for who believe in different things?" It was really
sad. People said the usual stuff but one guy wished he could see his
deceased family members again. How depressing to not know if you'd see
a loved one ever again. I am so glad I have this gospel. With these
three months apart from family, I know now how much they mean to me.
It's so sweet to know that we are an eternal family. I wish I had
spent more time with you guys.
After the Randalls, we went to the church to visit the Rio Vista
Thanksgiving party. E. Anderson passed on food and I made the mistake
of saying yes. I don't know if it was just regular Mexican portions or
they were mad at us for Anderson not eating but If you saw the picture
Hermana Mendoza posted on fb, both Elder Anderson's plate and mine is
mine. I felt like I gained 20 pounds.
I don't have many stories this week and most of all of our lessons
dropped. Just average missionary work. Hard, but enjoyable.
I love King Benjamin's address to his people, especially when he talks
about how much we should be grateful to God. It's amazing how much we
take for granted. I have gained a greater appreciation for my
blessings.

Love
Elder Bryan

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

This is called, canceled appointments and five minutes to take selfless.

Chase's first attempt at cutting his own hair.

Their appointment was canceled and they decided to try the camera feature

At least he looks busy in this one.

Temple Celebration and Dedication. Also known as Hob knobbing with celebrities.

You're probably wondering why I'm emailing today instead of yesterday. I guess that the Monday before transfers we do normal missionary activities and have pday, Tuesday. Yeah it makes sense with the way the elders going home and coming in are planned. Anyway here's my special week

So Hermano and Hermana Mendoza are friends with Mom on fb? Man they're my favorite. She thinks that I have too young of parents. They are some solid members who are always willing to feed us and go with us to lessons. 
Yesterday on exchanges Elder Perkes and I decided to walk since all of our appointments and finding was within a 4 mile radius. That was a pretty fun experience. Alex Hutchison from Nibley, told me that really random stuff happens in Arizona and I've seen it, but its even more true when you're walking. There are some odd ducks here. And some sketchy places that seem fairly normal till you step inside. They could do a season of hoarders. 

On Tuesday we decided to push back the baptism date for Taylor (16yr old guy, see older emails) so we make sure he's fully ready. Also we're teaching him at a park by his house now because his member girlfriend is super insane and told him he couldn't get baptized since he drank tea this week. It's been tough to have to reteach/correct everything after she speaks. Needless to say our lessons go quite smoothly now. We got a new ward missionary and I'm really excited to work with him. When he was on the plane home from his mission, he promised God that nothing would get in his way to share the gospel. He started up two companies that he hopes to sell soon so he can spend all his hours doing missionary works. As it is he already eats and breaths Preach My Gospel.This Sunday he wants us to get him a list of all the people on the ward roster with checks next to people we want to talk to so he can invite them over for a party and eventually take the lessons with their friends. Como un jefe.

In our spanish branch, things are as complicated as it seems to be on La Gata, the popular tv show on TeleMundo which happens to be playing in 60% of hispanic homes we go into. For example, one of the investigators that we got from the new area is living with a member who's ex-wife is in the branch. Church is so much more exciting now that we're involved with the members.
 
The cultural celebration was sweet. We showed up at 12 and didn't leave till 9. In the recording, I'm the one holding the Spain flag in between the front and the middle. If you can even see it idk. The backdrop was a real prop, I didn't expect something as cool as it was. It was a rare time where the whole mission was in the same place for so long. I feel like I've been spoiled this first transfer with awesome and unique events.

 

The real highlight was the Temple Dedication. Temples really are sacred buildings but we invite everyone to be worthy to enter. How cool is that? The night of the cultural celebration we got a text that our zone would help prepare the temple for activity. You can imagine us freaking out in a professional manner when we read that one.
Due to some miscommunication, we arrived an hour earlier than they needed us. We got to the temple grounds right as the third dedication session was ending. That was one of the happiest places I've ever stood in. All of these people were waiting outside for Pres. Uchtdorf and Elder Oaks to come out and we just happened to be in the right spot at the right time. A member from Elder Anderson's old ward got a video of me shaking Uchtdorf's hand. Pretty cool moment. Even cooler was when he came back after everyone left to take pictures with his wife and we were waiting for our assignments. He spoke to the ten of us assembled about our callings and what a blessing we are for the church and him. I needed a chair after that. 

The few hours we spent in the temple was a memory I'll never forget. My testimony of temples has been strengthened ten-fold and I felt a little closer to heaven. But don't mistake me for one minute. You don't need to have the experience I had to gain an appreciation of the Temple or feel God's presence. What we all need is to actually go to the temple or prepare ourselves to be worthy enough to enter. How sad is would be, to never get to go inside when it is dedicated to the Lord. 

I love this work, every day I see mighty miracles happen. It is absolutely stunning. 

Love,
Elder Bryan

Monday, November 10, 2014

Live from good old Buckye, it's Elder Bryan!

Before I start, I want to acknowledge Aunt Addie and just want to say
sorry for not replying to your comment, but the Phelps are super
awesome and I'm glad I finally have a connection with people.

This week really flew by. I think I'm really adjusted to this world of
continual change. I don't fear talking to people in a language I
really don't know. I've accepted failure and now I can really learn.

       If this week has taught me anything it is that every calling in the
church is tied to missionary work and vital to the ward/branch. I have
an added respect for the Relief Society and the RS presidents I get to
work with. They're the best. A ward can be extremely successful in
being a support to its members and the community when all of the
auxiliaries function together. Us missionaries should really serve as
a tool for the ward to utilize. That's the vision I have for Rio Vista
and Verrado.

       This week we really started working the added area we received from
the hermanas. It was a little overwhelming when that call came that
they had reassigned those people to us in the area book, hearing about
the surprise lesson we would have the next day, the problems with all
the people we were now about to contact and all of that. It can be a
little much to know so many people's problems. At the same time I
wished that the ward would let us be in ward council meeting so we
could help out more since no one really comes to ward coordination and
we could resolve concerns and let everyone be on the same page instead
of the Bishop getting phone calls all week. That's almost as
frustrating as Spanish. Spanish is only difficult because I feel like
I should be progressing more than I am. I hope I don't come off like
I'm a spoiled rotten kid or something because I truly am grateful for
the wonderful gift of tongues that I have received. I haven't learned
something so hard in such a short time before. Without that blessing,
I'd still be at "the red parrot is very beautiful' and 'What do people
call you?'"

        Taylor (the 16yr old who's dating a member of Verrado) is still on
date for the 22nd. The lesson we had last thursday was really neat.
While we were teaching tithing and fast offerings, he finished the
paragraph in the pamphlet and looked at me and commented that, "I love
this church. Shouldn't everybody know about how they can be happier?"
Dagnabit it I wanted to cry. Just how fast people have accepted the
gospel can blow my mind but at the same time, the truth makes sense so
why not? Really strengthened my testimony that its so true. Yes,
everyone does need to hear about this wonderful message!

         we had Zone conference, Dad you were so right about being
super pumped after it. President Griffin is the man! It was like a
mini general conference with awards for clean cars given at halftime.
I saw Elder Romney (again, he's probably sick of me) and Elder
Aryudabi that I met in the mission home. We were only around each
other for 24 hours and we're already best friends. Well best friends
if you consider that I don't know how to spell his name right. I also
want Mom to know that I got the flu shot just for you. My arm is still
a limp noodle jk. Wow, did I really just type jk?

        After having an exchange a week since I've been out here, I've really
grown to appreciate Elder Anderson. He works hard and we get along
like a cat and yarn or a Chihuahua and my ankles if you think of it
like my ankles enjoy being chewed.. ok nevermind that doesn't work.
Mom please edit that one or something. We play off each other rather
nicely and I appreciate his driving skills. Some people weren't
blessed with his handling, I might have whiplash after the last
exchange.

        Oh if anyone wants to watch the Phoenix Arizona Temple Cultural
Celebration you can stream it from ABC15.com or if you live in Arizona
they are broadcasting it locally. I really hope we get called as the
group to help clean the temple and prepare it for services the
following Tuesday.

        We weren't able to have lessons with anyone of our progressing
investigators (besides Taylor) but we did get four new investigators.
One is a family and their grandma, the Ambrocios, who have a problem
with commitment. I guess they've had a plethora of missionaries visit
but they don't want to change. We're trying to change that mentality
though. The other is Betty the cat lady! It's hard having lessons with
her because her mentally challenged son is sent outside to our lesson
by the husband so we can't get anything done. He's a sweet kid though,
just energetic. Its actually really amusing to see these cats creep to
the front porch from all points of the compound/ranch deal,
completely dark except for this dingy hanging bulb, and watch him
kick them back off. I'm waiting for los gatos to just gang up on him
and rush the door.

        In closing I just want to thank everyone who reads this. Most likely
you've contributed something to me. I can't express just how much
that means to me. Whenever I get down, when things aren't working out,
I think about how many people are praying for me. Wow. Truly this work
is worth it. Something I ask myself constantly is, "was it ever easy
for Him?" What better thing when times are tough than to read about Jesus's
life and read of how he was treated by people. He died for me. He died
for you. I'm so grateful to be here in Buckeye to let people know that
there is a plan for us and it's full of happiness.

Do something nice for someone else today :)

love,
Elder Bryan

Monday, November 3, 2014

Crazy birthday parties, Arizona Summers, and Kaysville connections.

Dear Family, 
 
We did a trunk or treat during another "take over exchange" so of course I didn't recognize anyone in their costumes and my companion couldn't help because he's never met these people. It turns out that there was quite a few less-active and non-members that showed up. It was a success because a family we dropped months ago invited us back into their home to possibly restart teaching the lessons. Hopefully this time they'll keep commitments. I'm excited for that one. Macy you are the cutest butterfly I've ever seen. Jake, got to admit, you pull facial hair off better than I ever will. I'm glad I have such a wonderful family.

Unfortunately I don't really use my spanish. Our branch seems to avoid talking to us because they don't want us to challenge them to do stuff and it's hard to catch anyone home who is Hispanic. Nevertheless we're trying really hard to get work moving there and we're planning on getting the leaders excited about the gospel again. 

One thing I learned this week is that Rainbow Valley is where tumbleweeds run wild and with it comes all types of people. (RV is where that huge hog lives btw) We feel like the tip of the "success" iceberg lies in Rainbow Valley partially because the people there are generally speaking, quite poor. People move to Rainbow Valley usually because they're looking for something and don't know where to find it so they plop down there and wait until they find it. My personal favorite area so far. 

One night right before we turned and went home, we stopped by a potential in our list named Betty. We pushed our way through all the 15 cats occupying the front rockyard and knocked on her door. She's an older hispanic who invites anyone who has anything to say about God into her home. Which is really cool because she already has a strong testimony of Jesus and Heavenly Father. She says we are welcome to come by anytime and asked to be taught right then and there on her porch. We hope that she will be more than interested for educational purposes and feel like she would be exactly what our branch needs.  

We are having lessons twice a week with Taylor now. I think that being in contact with him more is definitely helping him retain what we teach. On thursday we set a date for the 22nd of this month for him to be baptized. I really think this will work out. Elder Anderson says that when we find people at church, they've been prepared. He's such a good kid and I can see the change in him from when we first started teaching him. 

Saturday I went to the craziest birthday party I've ever been to for a 5 year old. He's the son of our ward mission leader so he invited us to be there with their non-lds friends to possibly see if they would open up more. I wish I took pictures but I'm sure you can imagine my jaw dropping when I saw the Family Fun Halloween edition in front of me. Brazilians are crazy. The dad went to Brazil (I think by tres corazones Dad) for his mission and married a lady from Sao Paulo. Super cool, wild family. They want us to get their oldest excited for a mission since he's kinda on the fence right now. We're taking him with us to teach Taylor this week so we'll see. 

Everyone here has family in Kaysville. Have I said that already? The family we had dinner with last night is related to the woman Dan Reynolds had his charity concert for. They were in his stake in Iowa and are good friends with Dan. I feel like an introvert since I know close to none of the people they ask about. I think some people are just making up names to tease me. 

I told dad about the WebEx meeting we had as a district leaders meeting. I'm so glad my comp is a DL or else I wouldn't have seen the first web meeting of this mission and perhaps all missions (Pres. Griffin said he didn't know for sure). I'll attach a picture. 
 
It's starting to get colder now. They call this season, Summer. It's funny watching people break out the winter coats here but I know I'll be right next to them soon. 

I love you guys!
Elder Bryan

Monday, October 27, 2014

Hey gang! Let me fill you in on this last week, full of good things.

I went on my first "Take over" exchange Tuesday which as you probably already know, means, I made the schedule for the day and would make the final call on decisions. A little crazy when its with a zone leader as well. Elder Hamilton the zone leader I was with, is from Burley Idaho and a really cool guy. His mind is very sharp and has this owlish wisdom about him, couldn't have been in an easier situation. With the elders I have been with, I feel like I can't screw up. Elder Anderson gave me some of the best advice for the exchange. He said that when everything goes wrong, just take a step back from the situation and let the spirit guide. Like promised there was a few hours where the hard workers in my mind went on strike and we fell into a mini depression. Things weren't working out: our lessons were dropping, and all that jazz. But then the clouds broke and the sun shone on our little heads. 5 doors that haven't opened to us ever, they agreed to have us back over. Success! The best part though was our lesson with Taylor that night. One thing we figured out was Taylor learns slower which is cool, we'll have to be better reviewing for understanding. But after the lesson about the second half of the Restoration (BoM, Joseph Smith, etc), Taylor said the closing prayer and rocked it. He has the best questions, anyways as we were about to get up I asked for something else. I followed the promptings of the Holy Ghost and asked if he would be baptized. Taylor said YES. We were worried that since he started talking to us because of his girlfriend he wouldn't be very interested. Those few minutes were so special. I can't begin to describe it. 

This week we've also been trying to widen our boundaries to get more leaders of the Rio Vista branch since we have none and maybe have 5 active members. The Hermanas who have the rest of the branch were more than cool with it. They have more of Goodyear and Estrella Hills and since they have a ton of things to do in addition to being at the temple open house 3 days a week, they need a lot of help. They actually suggested giving us double the area we asked for. If this goes through (right now its with the assistants to approve), we will have the same amount of miles as the zone leaders. Which means more is required of us if this whole thing goes through. I know that with whatever comes our way, I can look to the examples in my life who have helped me. Especially Dad. You're the best. I love you family. Isn't is neat how we will be together again after we die? I taught that principle to this cool hispanic family this week. The dad when he opened the door I gasped in my mind. He's this huge tatted guy who probably would/could rip my limbs off if I dare even look at his daughters. Needless to say I keep my eyes firmly fixed on his steel gaze. 

One problem we are having is that people are nice enough to set up an appointment but forget we are coming and either go on vacation last minute, or deadbolt the door and turn all the lights off when we stop by. Like do they think we don't hear them stumbling in the dark? Not even mad, just confused. 

Are you guys excited for Halloween? I can only imagine how stunning Macy is going to be in her butterfly costume. 

I love you guys,
Elder Bryan

Ps. did you see me post on fb? I finally got everything cleared!! Beyond excited for creating little messages. :) Oh and Mom, still haven't gotten those things but I think it'll come this week. Mexican post takes three weeks roughly, has it been that long already?

This pig is as wide as I am tall.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Pictures of Elders


From left to right. Elder Perks, Elder Lutz, Me, Elder Brown, Elder Anderson (trainer), and Elder Cook. This is at Lutz and Cooks house (members house whoops)

Second week in the bag!

Hello from Arizona!

I'm finally adjusting to the freezing a/c, and the warm sun is so nice, I really came at a prime time. This week was incredible!! Let me fill ya'll in.

The first week here we had almost all of our appointments fall apart so we did a lot of contacting and setting up return appointments. This week we got to do more teaching which was great. We also have two new investigators, one we met last week looking for a member who turns out had moved. I hear that's pretty common down here in Buckeye. The other was last night with this teenager named Taylor, who is dating a member from Verrado. He's come to church with her family the last three weeks which is awesome. He has a great background, already believing in Jesus and God. Taylor is super receptive and having the lessons at the members house is so much better than us teaching him without members present. I can feel the huge gap between investigators who are friends with members and people we contact ourselves. 

It's been so nice this week to have dinner appointments. Not just because we get a great meal that we couldn't make ourselves (I've been trying my hand at cooking things. Surprisingly I'm not sick yet) but we get to share a message and see if they have anyone we can teach. One of the families gave us a name of the dad's boss who has been hiding from the church here for a year and told them he doesn't want us to find him. Little does he know we plan to visit him this week. Their problem is fairly common here. "got offended in Utah, moved away, doesn't want to be found". We are here to fix that and I'm excited to see how our meeting goes.
 
We just got an email from President Griffin that I'll be able to watch "Meet the Mormons" since I missed it. Super excited for that. Also we got clearance to go to the temple with investigators whenever instead of only one trip a week. The Temple is such a wonderful opportunity for us to let people know more without their privacy being invaded. The cultural celebration should be as cool as it sounds. It might be televised but I don't know for sure. Our stake is positioned right in front of the First Presidency's seats. The air is buzzing here with anticipation. 

Facebook has been a monkey on my back. Why did anyone allow me to have one? So the rules are this, don't write on my wall, tag me in pictures but we can talk if it's about mission work (the rules are more relaxed for people who aren't family) and you can like/share my posts. Just think if it's helping me with my work or is it solely because you want to chat. That being said, yeah I got nothing more about that. 

I have kept in touch with Josh Browning since forever but I haven't emailed Todd, I plan on writing him after this. It's so cool to hear from family who has the same purpose as you. Its like we really are in the army of God. Todd has the coolest FB posts. They make me laugh and I get all "lets do work!" whenever I see them. 

Elder Anderson is the coolest trainer ever. It's even better  when we share so many things in common. I might have killed him when I said that Coldplay's newest album was my favorite. Feel kinda bad about that. Anyways a lil about him, he's a little quieter but every now and then he open up and its exciting when it happens. He's got some drive in there. Here's our routine: wake up 6:20 normal days, 5:30 on Sunday and Mondays. Go to the church down the street and play chair soccer or go run a halfish mile. breakfast/prepare for study. Then personal study for an hour followed by an hour of Comp. study. Depending on the day we either break for lunch or do language study then switch. Hour of online time then we go out and teach. Break for dinner at 5. Come home at 9 to plan for the next day. The days can be so long but its good work. Sundays are the longest ever. 6:30 till 2 for church and then we go contact. 

I love our family. Grandma and Grandpa (boths sets) are the best I could ever have had. I feel kinda bad for everyone else who never got such good people as I did. Sorry. 

Arizona is the coolest. We had a desert thunderstorm last night, how come I didn't know about that cool phenomenon? I agree with you guys, this place is more like Rexburg than St. Anthony. Rexburg, is that the right place? I don't even remember. Missions are the coolest ever. Thanks everyone who helped me get here. I really do appreciate the support.

Love you guys!

Elder Bryan

Arrival in Arizona!

Dear family,

I would describe Buckeye as a mix between rodeo folk, a hobo who lives in our trash and scare the crap out of when we throw the garbage out (terrifying story) and a lot a lot of trailer parks. Our english ward however is a different story. Its this community called Verrado, and wow. Its like Station Park or City Creek but people live there. Most if not all of the houses have grass and they all drive golf carts around. Our focus will be more on Rio Vista here in a few weeks since a lot of people work (part-time?) for the nuclear plant and will be participating in an outage for 6 weeks. I have to adjust my brain when we go from area to another. Elder Anderson my trainer and district leader is such a cool guy. Hes from Walla Walla and likes the same stuff as me only he's good at sports. Don't worry about a bike, an elder left his when he went home and I'm going to ask if I can have it, fingers crossed. Its no big deal since we are in a car but its still nice to know. 

Yeah cleaning facebook was painful. Did I really post that stuff? I shudder. I got a migraine. Yikes.   I wish I could have seen the Meet the Mormons, the zone watched it a week before I came so I guess we can add that to the things I'll have to wait 2 for. Go see it though, its one of the special things we invite people to do, besides of course, going to the Phoenix Temple open house. Such an awesome and effective way to get people to talk to us. One thing that I didn't realize is that we get to be apart of the cultural celebration. I'm beyond excited, learning sign language for one of our songs and all. 

I didn't realize that here EVERYONE knows someone from Kaysville. I should have put two and two together when everyone in Kaysville told me that they had family in Arizona. Also BYU is the third sports team supported here, after the A. Cards and ASU. Kinda weird to see the BYU game on when we walk into someones home. I've learned a lot about dogs too, like Chihuahuas and how no matter what they'll run up to you and either attack or lick. I think the most I've had was 7 on my legs barking like dogs or something. 

Our schedule is very different than 4 years ago even. After study time personal/companion, language study, breakfast, lunch, and online time we get to proselyting around 2 and don't stop (except for Cena, thats my favorite part of the day :D) until 9.  I love that because of this missions obedience, we are allowed more privileges. The ipads that we use for everything and how we are used to try new ideas like this one idea that will be tested out in the next few months would blow away every missionary and how they work. I hope it works though so we can get it into every missionaries agenda. 

Oh man General Conference, General Cenference.... such a sweet place in my heart. Sitting in our auditorium which was like your average high school audi except it had D&C 4 on one side and "Our Purpose" on the other instead of the Davis High fight song. My favorite speaker is Richard G. Scott. I get all teary every time. He speaks like a grandfather to his grandkids, I hunger for that power he has. My favorite talk besides his was Pres. Uchtdorf's about receiving testimony of light and truth. I could see in my minds eye, the new painting, "Worlds Without Number". So peaceful. One thing Bednar told us missionaries in a fireside was when we take notes, that we take better, shorter notes of how we felt instead of what was exactly said. One of his ideas was that we look for 3 things: Doctrine, Invitation, and promised blessings. When you read the talks again in the ensign or on Gospel Library, I think its great to highlight those things. Even President Monson reads the talks and dissects them until the next conference. 
Another cool part was how speakers are now giving their talks in their native tongue. When we heard this, the whole place cheered especially when it was in spanish. Such a cool moment.

I loved hearing about your week, sounds like you got your hands full. I hope everything goes smoothly.
I absolutely love our investigators. I feel like I'm getting a better idea of how God views each and every one of us, as people in our simply awesome form- children of God. I'm reminded that everyone has problems, challenges, and worry about things. 

I love how hard it is, making food out of what I bought at the store for the week, teaching in spanish and english, being rejected when we go finding, and not falling asleep in church (we start at 6:30 and end at 2). Its pushing me to work so much harder than I have in my entire life. I love you guys. Stay strong and say your prayers every morning and night :)


Elder Bryan

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Last week in the CCM!

Dear people,

Today marks the last week mark of the CCM. Where has the time gone? I will be very discontent if my mission goes by this fast. :) I love you all, your love and support has been overwhelmingly awesome!! 

Being the big cheese around here has some perks, like all I have to do is ask Louis, the head chef and I get a little extra on my plate. Who knew that all you had to do was ask in Spanish? I eat very well and I´ll admit I'm not the first one to take their tray to the dish area thing (surprised?) I feel as though I´ve lived here my whole life, almost as if you guys gave me up at birth to be a monk. Can you see me with the robes and all? Maybe more of a Nacho Libro approach though with the little moustache. I mean my life is good, rrreeaall goood! I get to wake up at 6:30 take a cold shower, is the best! I get three square meals that makes me sick though it tastes wonderful, Fantastic!! Haha I do love it here and I wish I got to spend another month just walking the streets and contacting people. When we went to the temple we saw some missionaries jay walking and I longed to be where they were. Not about to get hit by 5 mini coopers and 2 motorcycles in the three lanes across, but working with investigators in Mexico. I really hope I get to use Spanish my whole stay in Phoenix. I just want to get the language down and keep it forever. 

My favorite part about the CCM....hmm thats a tough one. I think of two things, the first is how close I've become with people here. I do have a rep here as being clever and full of impressions. Shout out to Dan Harvey for helping with that. I hope you see this too. The second thing is how much the culture is alive. I don´t even mind the bajillion firework/cannon blasts every few hours for a saint day and I wish we had American flags hanging everywhere like they do here. I look forward to chatting with latinos who are here for two weeks. I learn a ton from them.

As much as I love my comp. he´s been getting on my nerves. He´s not an only child but he could fool you. This whole time here he will walk off and I´ll spend maybe ten minutes trying to find him. This week though it was consistently bad. For some reason he has been more chatty then usual and cut me off in couple of our lessons. We had a talk and I did some things that bugged him too. It felt good to have our comp. inventory(I know thats not how you spell it) this week and after we have been on the same page a lot more. I know that this is just a taste of what is to come. The Lord knows I have a hard time being patient and not so stubborn. I´m grateful for this opportunity to change that. Todd Houghton was always great at those things and I admire him. 

I treasure the few minutes of the day that I get for myself. I sneak a minute in every night before I turn out the light to read Jesus the Christ. Even if you don´t believe in Him or that He exists, He is THE most influental person to ever be. How many people don´t use our calendar system or celebrate Christmas or even use His name in a crude fashion. I understand more about the work that will forever continue until He comes again. I feel closer to God and I absolutely love it. Enjoy General Conference with me. If you aren´t LDS and you read this before this Saturday, I ask that you watch at least one talk. Make it the Prophet, Thomas S. Monson. I can promise that you will feel the truth of his words and it will bless your life to follow his advise. 


I get to write possibly this Saturday before I leave. I believe my flight is at 7:15 on Tuesday morning which means I have to leave here around 2. I am going to miss these Elders and Hermañas I call friends now. My spanish is broken but with the Lords help, I´ll be a fluent taquito in no time! I love you guys. 


yours truly,
Elder Bryan

 












Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Para/por language barriers.




Dear all,

I really enjoyed reading the update. You guys are busier than me!

Mostly its homemade fireworks but theres been canons, pistols and all sorts of commotion. Sometimes I wonder if anyone is alive outside the walls. 

I can´t believe I have two weeks left here. Our district is now the oldest district in our zone. Its really strange when someone from 14B comes into our room and asks me a question. It's even more strange when I reply with the answer. I don't feel very confident in Spanish but its a miracle how much I've learned already. 

This week was humbling. You all know I have a huge head but now (hopefully) its less. I have been struggling to memorize, and grasp some concepts like por/para and why they don´t have a lot of conjunctives. Ive spent a lot of time on my knees and every other time, working as hard as I can. Hermaño Cayetano gave me a scripture because he saw that I was having a rough time, its D&C 89:3 I believe. My goal is to have 20 scriptures memorized. So far I have 4 so I have confidence.

There was only two days where it rained. It was unusual to have such clear skies. Because its always cloudy, there isn't sunsets really just gradual shifts in light, from natural to manmade. But this week we had three solid sunsets, and a double rainbow. Super gorgeous with all the palm trees and mountains. I'm going to miss how green it is here. The church has immaculate lawn care.

The reason I am emailing so late in the day is because we just came back from the temple. What a beautiful temple, even if we only got to be outside (renovations). Their visitor center is crazy cool and way high tech. Its a maze that I got lost in several times. The thing that blew my mind was there was bookshelf of copies of the book of mormon with a tv screen in the center. "Pick one!" the screen said in spanish, "and we will read to you." You picked up a copy and the screen started reading Moroni´s promise in whatever language the book you were holding was in. Haha I was like a little kid. They showed us a video about families and wow it was powerful. I felt very peaceful in a city that never rests. The ride to the temple was also exciting. Since there wasnt enough room on our bus, Elder Sperry, Nykamp (my comp that I never had but is super funny and can always crack me up. He makes this face that cracks me up anyways), and Elder Clyde who is going to Salt Lake City West, we all got to ride with the latinos. Holy cow did they get vamped up about sitting and singing with gringos. There was this one guy from the Dominican Republic who spoke the fastest spanish Ive ever heard in my life. He did D&C4 in like 45 seconds. They made the cramped ride enjoyable and something I dont want to forget. 

I forgot (I think I dont remember what happens) to say that I saw Jonas Johnson here. He left a week ago but before he left we got a picture and talked for a while. I didnt have my camera or Id post it. Trever Wilkey arrived and besides Parker, thats it from Davis. Not much of a reunion pic like the famed one Ben sent me.  Ah ok so this week I really wanted to give a talk in church and I asked the ZL to tell Presidente Rodrigez that I volunteered and I got so excited about it, I even had a cucumber turning into a pickle story. Sadly I wasnt called and I felt sadish. I mean it was a dang good pickle story too. Oh well I have one more opportunity before General Conference which Im excited out of my gills about, its unreal. To answer Dad´s question, we do have large group meetings, all the missionaries fit into the auditorium now, but mainly theyre prerecorded talks from the Provo Mtc. Last tuesday night though, we had a live broadcast of Elder Holland. I think I had three pages of notes from that one, it was immenssly powerful and uplifting. All of the apostles that weve heard from have said that their missions was where all of their joy has come from and that they wish to have personal interviews or something of its kind with each missionary. Its really neat to know that the apostles and I share the same calling- to bring the gospel to the world. Im really excited for this week and the week to come. This whole thing is just really cool. Can you tell Im in a super good mood? I love this church and the message I have to share. And of course I love you guys. 

¡Adios por está semaña!
(right por/para?)
Elder Bryan

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Week Three, Happy Independence day!

Week three is over! (not in a bad way but a, "wahoo! Im still rockin it" way, you know)

New illness? not really but we all have had some stuffy noses, it feels like Im back in school. We are too far inland to get any huge storm from the hurricane but even so it rains like a Missouri rain, sudden and heavy. The raincoat I have is perfect, I love it and keep it with me always. Mainly because I was caught out when it started pouring and got soaked to the bone running for shelter. 

The language is coming. I feel very strongly about the power of the gift of tongues, never have I grasped a concept so fast as Spanish. I'm now in that awkward place where I can´t think or speak in either language. My journal looked pretty rough last night because of it. Like why do we have so many weird things in English? 

This week was a frustrating one, but a productive one. We, as a companionship, went from a train wreck where Sperry spoke the entire twenty minutes about the commandments and the law of Chasity for a first lesson, to us having a very strong discussion with "Alberto", a man who is out of work and knows nothing about God. It feels really good to have an investigator, no matter how fake, feel the spirit and understand that Heavenly Father loves him and that he can pray to him. Teaching someone to pray is my favorite activity. Most if not all of my prayers are in Spanish and I'm working on expanding my vocab. 

    This Monday if you already knew, you historians you, was Independence Day for México. Holy cow do they party. There were consistant fireworks going off from Saturday Morning to today and still lighting them up. We had a cultural dance group come and perform the many dances of México. Remember Bryan family, those chinese candies that Dad brings home and probably brought home whenever he got back? Well they have similar things here. I tried one that had the texture of eating pure sugar and the flames that Devils Spit wish it had. I guess when the guy giving them out told me I was brave, he wasn't kidding. Hermaño Tenoco, gave all of in the district mustaches to wear, which we did all day. The grounds and foods crew all took pictures with us. A cool day for sure. 

    Two things that I learned this week is that Preach My Gospel or Predicad Mi Evangelio, is devine and when the church took 7 years to make it, they took good care of us missionaries. That thing is our bread and butter and the second thing is that "Jesus the Christ" is its companion. The truth that is in every word is incredible. I look forward to extra time so that I can whip it out. Talmage knows his stuff. 

   I most certainly got that "other package". It was scrumptious and I shared with the district that is in our casa which has been having a rough go. The Hermañas in their district rip on every person at the end of the day about how bad they are and how they need to shape up. Definitely stressing the guys out. The doughnuts were a nice tension reliever and from everyone at Casa 33, we thank you.
 
I'm not going to lie I felt homesick this week. Im sure you are all partying now that the guy who lived in your basement is gone. He didn't even pay rent, the nerve. :) I want to let Zach know that it's good to take AP but Music Aesthetics is the way. Im proud of you dude. Its an honor to be apart of this family. Bryan Gang or go home. or something idk we can work on the logistics- Dad any ideas? 

Dad btw, how did you do rice and beans for 2? Im feeling like I need cake or something with a lot of preservatives in it. Then again I can't complain, Costco pizza is tonight. maybe. who knows, they might change their mind and give it to a Monastery or something. Speaking of which I'm trying to get a team together to play against the nearby Catholic church. Should be a good game that will never happen. Some of these guys play like they could go pro. They want some of the glory, see what it tastes like. I say this because Sperry sprained his ankle when a tryhard kicked him down. He´ll be ok by next week-ish but still, come on guys, just because I elbow and bite doesn't mean we need to get rough. 
   

SundaySunday was a wonderful day. The first part was that I got to bless the sacrament for our zone which was a neat experience. Something that I forgot to share was that in Spanish if you didnt know, its shows more respect to pray as if you're talking to a close friend. Informally I guess you could say, or the Tú Form. I love it. Absolutely love it. The other thing that happpend was this last week our Hermañas have been crazy sick so we decided to ask them if we could give them a blessing. Elder Sperry and I blessed Hermaña Jones, who is from Mesa. Really funny and cool, her and all the hermañas are going to Houston South. Really cool. When I sealed the anointing, I felt the power of God like never before. I dont remember what words I said but I´ll never forget the feeling that was in that room. By then end we were all crying because of the spirit. I felt the air get heavy and just this pure love washed over me. I can´t wait to get out into the field. God truly loves us and hears our prayers. I love this Gospel. I have already changed so much its incredible how the Lord is shaping me to be an instrument in his hands.

Till next Preparation Day,

Elder Bryan.