Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Miracles come through exact obedience

Great week, here's some of what happened

Unfortunately Hermano Raygoza is still pretty firm in taking things
slow but he's opened up like never before. To give a mental picture,
Papa Raygoza looks like the pretend uncle in the beginning of SpyKids-
if you've ever seen that. We finally got him to agree to having a date
picked out and put on the baptismal calendar we gave him by our next
lesson as well as watching a session of general conference with us.
The coolest part of our lesson yesterday night was as we were going to
leave, he shook all of our hands and then a side hug. I've never
thought I'd get that from him. I could see a glisten in his eyes as he
squeezed my arm. He also challenged us to a arm wrestle/diamond push
ups. With all of the Capitaltada, flan, and piles of tortillas we get
on the daily, I'm not sure if I'll get close.

Put them on Date!
I think I've previously talked about the challenge in the zone to be
exactly obedient and we'll each put someone on date for the transfer.
The other Solano elders hadn't already put someone on date so for the
exchange this Friday I decided that I'd help them understand what
being exactly obedient entails and put someone on date for the 9th of
April. Elder Jónes and I went out to visit the guy who's on date for
the end of April to move him up but he was out of town. This kind of
crushed my idea,  I knew it'd be easy to bump him up because his
excuse against being baptized was a poor one and the missionaries
didn't ask follow up questions.
We moved on to our next lesson with a recently returned to activity
grandma and her granddaughter where we explained the temple and got
her excited for the temple prep class. I asked the 11year old girl if
she's looking forward to doing baptisms for the dead when to my
surprise, she responded to us that she wasn't baptized herself. Right
at that very moment her father came home from work, this huge muscle
man. I asked him to join us and for his permission to baptize his
daughter which he gave. The miracle was that many missionaries had
asked before but this was the time where his heart opened a little.
Grandma Lugo told me that she had just gotten a call from a friend in
Utah who told her she was praying for the dad to let his daughter to
be baptized and take the discussions himself. Crazy cool.

Book of Mormon Testimony
To help the Stake reach its goal of 500 copies of the Book of Mormon
handed out from the members, we decided to ask every member we have a
dinner or lesson with to take a copy and write their own testimony in
it and then to do one of several options: share it with a friend
themselves, come with us to a lesson and then give it to our
investigator, or leave it somewhere in the open in their home so
someone can ask about it. So far we've done this with ten people and
we need still to follow up with them but it's helped gain more trust
with the bishop and members as well as work away at the mountain of
books in the clerks office instead of us continually ordering more
copies from salt lake. I think I'll always have a testimony written in
each copy I give out from here on till the end. So much better this
way, there's a living testimony that someone actually believes in the
book they'll hold. More power with Moroni's promise.

Love you all,
Elder Bryan

March 21 2016

I don't have a lot of time so I picked two good miracles that happened
this week. For the most part our week consisted of us biking around
Phoenix and trying to talk to everyone, even the crazies. Especially
the crazies! Our mentality is that if we show the lord we are willing
to share the gospel with everyone then the Lord will bless us with
those golden people who are ready to hear the word.

Trash Can Hunting
After a super successful Saturday night of contacting I had this empty
water bottle that I needed to throw away. I took the lead in guiding
our companionship and decided that first we would search for a garbage
can and there we would find someone to teach. We walked around for
about two minutes in this unfamiliar complex until voilà, a pretty
little garbage can in the middle of a glen. I'm pretty sure there used
to be a picnic table but it had since ran away so it was just a
garbage can and a junky grill. As we approached the can, this guy
yelled "Elders" at us from a nearby apartment, hopped the little wall
and wobbled towards us. It had all the signs of another drunk
encounter but turns out Tony has terrible balance. He welcomed us back
into his apartment and introduced us to his girlfriend and dream
catcher 'prayer warrior disciple' brother. They told us they had just
been talking about which church they should go to tomorrow. Tony had
taken some of the lessons before in New Hampshire about 10 years ago
and both Tony and Chrinda are excited to have the missionaries over.
Even though they are English, it's still exciting. We're all on the
same team anyways. It definitely strengthened my faith that there are
people who are praying to find the truth, sometimes literally 5
minutes before you show up.

After the Easter fireside Sunday night we hustled over to the Raygozas
where we had a really good lesson. Hermano Raygoza has been a tougher
investigator, mainly since he's been having the missionaries over on
and off for 5 years and his wife was the old gospel principles teacher
who was all about preaching brimstone and fire until we got her
replaced. I can see how people have been a little pushy. Last night we
had him talk to us about his experience with our church, with God, and
his family. He opened up a little and when he accepted the invitation
to be baptized, a noticeable difference in air pressure was
well-welcomed. His daughters and son-in-law were tearing up and
everything was just sweet. Tender mercies.

Elder Bryan

Monday, March 14, 2016

New digs for the bike gang

We moved! 
It was pretty exciting getting to move apartments this week. The people at the new place are so kind and every outlet works it's a festivus miracle!

Mission Tour
Elder Arnold of the 70 came and spent the day with us on Wednesday. He had a powerhouse personality, similar to Elder Holland. We started in the gym of a stake center as the leaders of the mission sitting at tables with all of the items Elder Arnold told us to bring, specifically lists of every member in the ward, less active, part member families and unbaptized and over eight. We started to prep by reading the many scriptures and case studies we were asked to read in preparation.  Elder Arnold with briefcase in hand comes briskly walking, almost jogging, into the gym and shouts, "Number 11!" Everyone turned to see him and he repeats as he gets closer, "Everyone read Numbers 11, we have so much to cover today so we need to get running now." 
I felt a little nervous as I read the first verse- "And when the people complained, it displeased the Lord: and the Lord heard it; and his anger was kindled; and the fire of the Lord burnt among them, and consumed them that were in the uttermost parts of the camp." Gulp.
Thankfully, that wasn't the focus of the meeting. 
This was an incredible mission tour, just as good as when Elder Foster and Montoya came back in September. Elder Arnold taught us all of the little things we can and should do to be effective missionaries. He brought a great, 'you get up in that orange tree and pick oranges for your investigators'

Bike Gang
Elder Plourde finally got his bike frame transformed into a functioning bike and Elder Benolerao's bike arrived from his last area so we were able to be on bike much this week. We were able to contact so many people it was soo nice! It's a little interesting I'm sure for the people to see three white shirt and tie guys on bikes actually big enough for us riding down the streets of Phoenix and Glendale. It's my favorite thing though.

On exchanges this week, Elder Young wanted to learn how to tract so after an appointment fell through we got to work getting those doors knocked. After a few doors I had a thought, 'man if there is loud noises coming from any of these apartments someone has got to be behind those doors'. I told Elder Young that we were going to play a game called, "Where's that noise coming from?" All three of the doors we found with big sounds invited us to come back. The coolest was this lady who when asked if she'd be interested in the Easter pagent out in Mesa she replied that she actually was looking for someone who could teach her how to study the bible because she made a New Year's Resolution to learn about different religions. Woah. Needless to say, this week was just great. I love missionary work!!

Elder Bryan

March 7, 2016

Hey everyone!

Not going to lie, this week wasn't super eventful.

We got notified that we were going to be moving into a new apartment
February 29th but they kept moving the move in date because it wasn't
finished yet. Gratefully we get to move tomorrow. Not that I don't
appreciate having the police helicopter spotlighting our complex every
other night but change is good, especially since missionaries have
lived in this specific apartment since 2012. Where we are going is
right next to an elementary so it's a nicer part of town, whoo!

For some reason, when we were supposed to move last week, we didn't
buy many groceries (maybe the reasoning was it'd be too much to carry
to the new apartment I can't remember). When the date got moved back
to tomorrow and most every dinner canceled on us, we realized what a
pickle we were in. We had to resort to whatever we had in our place. I
won't go into too much detail but for the record, "Manwich Sloppy Joe
Mega Mix" is just vinegar, tomato paste, and nastiness. Never again.
Today we corrected ourselves and now we have a stocked fridge yet

Many of the things we did this week was in preparation for the mission
tour Wednesday with Elder Arnold of the 70. He has asked that every
area bring lists of all the members, less active members, part
members, and unbaptized and over eight. When we walked in to the
clerks office and had to instruct the clerk how to 1. Turn on the
computer and 2. Find the church's programs I knew we were in for the
long haul. Picture in your mind that epic moment on "Cloudy with a
Chance of Meatballs" when the Dad is struggling to work the computer
but manages to click the send email at the last second, only for it to
be the wrong email of a cat video. Yeah, that was us.
After a long, long, long month and a half I can proudly say that we
have managed to get those lists. And in perfect timing too. The best
part of the journey that were still on is trying to find where
everyone lives because you can almost guarantee that the address on
the record is outdated. Even the high priest leader's address was
wrong. My testimony that God is a God of order has increased ten fold.

This week we as a trio are planning on going on bike. Elder Plourde
has been building one since day one out of a frame he got at the
mission storage and elder Benolerao got his sick ride brought over
from his old zone. Here we go!

Elder Bryan