Monday, December 26, 2016

It was awesome to get to see you guys yesterday! 

Church yesterday was awesome! It was super hectic and crazy because there were so many people there. We had five of our friends show up to Sacrament. It was awesome! We even had one girl that were teaching who is nine and her whole family came. The reason why that was so cool is because they are less active family and the mom is a single mom and there are four kids. The amazing part, however, is that she was working until 7:30 in the morning on Christmas Day all the way over in Corvallis. She texted us in the morning and said that she was going to try and make it but that the roads were icy. Five minutes before the Sacrament, their whole family walked in to the chapel. It was really cool to see how she made it a priority to be there. We have been teaching her daughter for a couple of weeks now and she is preparing to be baptized on January 14! It is been awesome to see how the Gospel has been changing the lives of their entire family. Other than that, we had a few other people at church which is super cool. Another lady that we are teaching came with her two-year-old son for the first time. It was amazing because one of the sisters in the ward basically watched her son so that she could pay attention to the sacrament meeting. It has been amazing to see how awesome the ward has been in helping us out. We had an organ/piano duet as well,  so it made me think of you, Mom
and Staci!

By the way, grandma's book about her history is awesome. I had no clue about some of the stories that she wrote down in there. Especially the story about her and the talent show. That is really cool. I love family history work! It is awesome to be able to see the history of th
ose in our family, especially when you keep an eternal perspective and know that through the temple we can be together forever.

This past week was super crazy. We were flying around teaching a bunch of lessons. We also had a talent show for the zone which was fun. We definitely saw a lot of miracles this week. For example we came home from the talent show which was in Salem, and headed straight to the church because we had some business to take care of. As we pulled up to the church there was a man in the parking lot with his little brother teaching him how to ride a bike. We were able to teach him about the plan of salvation and about how families can be together forever. It was super cool because Heavenly Father literally put him in our path. How often can you say that you found someone to teach that was literally waiting for you in the church parking lot?? That was really sweet. We also had a couple really good lessons. It has been awesome to see how some of our friends have been keeping their commitments and have been reading the Book of Mormon and praying. You can definitely tell the impact that reading the Book of Mormon has on people's lives. I also was reading a talk by President Hinckley the other day, and he mentions how Christ was his friend. I think that that is something that we all need to strive for. Being able to know Jesus Christ well enough so that we can truly feel like He is our best friend. And even when we get to that point, there is always more to learn about His love for us.

I can't believe that it is already the day after Christmas. It seems like just yesterday I reported to the MTC. Time is truly flying. 

Monday, December 19, 2016

Miracles Happening

I really can't believe that next Sunday is Christmas. It has really flown by since August. I can't believe that I have been out for four months already. Time flies!  It has been super cold up here! We even got snow, which never happens out here apparently! We got probably 4 inches of snow where we live. For about three days our cars were grounded so we couldn't drive at all! It was pretty crazy. There is still snow and ice in some places, but it is starting to warm up (warm is about 37.. ) but I am doing good. 
This week here was crazy. Between the snow and not having our cars and some other stuff, it has been a weird week. But the best part of it all has been that we have seen a ton of miracles. On one night, we went through all of our plans with about 30 minutes to spare. The crazy thing is that it gets soooo dark out here so early, so it isn't always easy to talk to people on the streets at night. We decided to say a prayer to know where we should go. We prayed and felt prompted to go in one direction. After about 20 minutes of no luck, we decided it would be best to head back towards the church where the car was parked. We felt prompted to go down one more street and then take the back way to the church. We started to walk past some apartment complex, when we saw some big scary looking dude come out of nowhere. I have learned that you should talk to everyone, so we just started talking to him and were able to talk a little bit about the Plan of Salvation and the Book of Mormon! It was really cool. We definitely didn't need to be in that part of town at that specific time right as this man walked outside of his apartment, but we know that we were guided there by the Spirit and that Heavenly Father truly placed that man in our path. 
The entire week has been full of miracles like that. It has been really amazing to see. We had some really good lessons yesterday as well. The work is definitely picking up here in Stayton. I know that obedience and diligence are the only ways in which we can truly see those tender mercies in our lives! The ward here is awesome too. We are really starting to work well with the members. Brother Graham, our ward mission leader, is an amazing man. He is really motivated to help out. I think he appreciates that we are excited about doing the work here as well. We even set up a combined third hour on the first Sunday of the New Year in which we will help all of the members, age 12 and up, make tabbed Books of Mormon that answer the questions of the soul and then challenge them to each hand the one that they made out within two or three weeks! It should be awesome. 

It is amazing to think of the faith throughout the stories of the Book of Mormon and then that faith that continued with the early saints, as well as those who faithfully follow Christ and His restored Gospel today, even when it is not in line with natural man mindset that most of the world has today. I think that it is cool that faith is really a central theme from the very beginning of the Book of Mormon. Nephi wanted to know if what his father was saying was true, so he had the faith to pray and ask God and the faith that he would get an answer, which of course he did! And then the faith of Lehi and Sariah and taking their family into the wilderness to follow where the Lord wanted them to go and leaving all of their personal stuff and worldly riches to follow in faith! Faith is such a huge part of the Book of Mormon and really everything that we know to be true at all. I think that there is a reason that the first principle in the Gospel of Jesus Christ is faith, because when our faith increases, then we are willing to repent, follow Christ's example and be baptized by someone holding the proper priesthood authority and continue on the path on following Him! During an exchange in my last area I remember talking with Elder Christensen about faith for a really long time. We talked about how our faith doesn't ever stop growing, as long as we are continuing to try and allow it to grow. Once we become complacent with our faith, then we start going backwards. There is no such thing as having "enough" faith! As we continue to follow Christ and are obedient to His commandments, our faith will ALWAYS grow, which allows us to bear those trials with patience and hope, and also allows us to help others through their trials. 

Monday, December 12, 2016

It's Cold!

We actually had a blue sky this week!
It has definitely been pretty cold this week! It was so cold that it even snowed last week! It never really snows here in the Valley, but on Thursday as I was up in Newberg for a conference that I was invited to, we got some snow! It was pretty crazy.

The week here has been pretty good. there have definitely been some slow days. We are trying to work hard and press forward. We know that if we do our part, then the Lord will do the rest. Our ward mission leader came up with a way that we can get the ward involved in the work though. We are inviting each member of the ward, ages 8 and older, to hand out 5 of the Light the World pass along cards! We are going around challenging families in the ward to do this and providing them with the cards. We really believe that this will lead to more people to teach, so we can't wait to see how it works out. Brother Graham, the WML, is awesome. He is really fired up about the work. I have been blessed with two really good Ward Mission Leaders. Definitely different personalities, but both focused on the same thing. Helping others find the happiness that comes from accepting Jesus Christ and living His gospel. On a side note, he handles the sale/shipping of Christmas trees all over the country, so he said that the Fry's Christmas trees down in AZ are the ones that he is sending down there. I thought that was pretty cool!

I read a scripture today, I think it is Acts 17:27, which talks about the Lord not being too far from us. Because we all have the Light of Christ, He truly isn't *that* far from us! It is just a matter of helping people to understand that! Regardless of where we are at in our lives, Christ isn't that far away. He is ready and waiting to pick us up and help us to move forward and do better, but it all comes down to recognizing that He is there and turning ourselves towards Him! I think distraction and deception are the two biggest ways that the adversary tries to not allow us to find joy through the divine nature of Christ. There is so much out there that keeps us from focusing on what truly matters in this life. The way that I have truly come to recognize us here in this Earthly life is that fact that we can only be going one of two ways. We are either making progress towards Christ, and moving towards His love and towards our Heavenly Father, or we are moving away from them. Complacency, or just moving through life with no real worries or cares, is really just moving further away from Christ. Luckily for us, His nature is one of eternal love and compassion. Regardless of where we are at, He is there to help us because He loves us, and His Heavenly Father, more than we can imagine. It is cool to think that no matter what, He will be there for us. He just wants us to be happy. It is cool to see that as people put Him more at the forefront of their lives, it increases their happiness and their entire lives.

I was able to go to a conference in Newberg this week, which was awesome. I really try and listen every time that President Tateoka speaks. He said some really cool things this week that helped a ton. We also had Brother Donaldson from the missionary department there training us. It was really cool. We have some really cool opportunities that are arising in ways that we can use technology to further the work! For example, we can now use Skype! It will be cool because it gives us an opportunity to make daily contact with the people that we are teaching. It is going to be interesting to see how it goes, but I am excited.
Our District

Monday, December 5, 2016

This week has been extremely long. After I got transferred, I had to stay with another missionary for a couple of days until we both got our trainees. It was actually Elder Fisk that I was a companion with in the MTC. And he is serving in the Salem 2nd ward, which is where Chris' companion Sam Bybee grew up. I had a chance to go to their home and meet them! 
With the Bybees

 Since then, it has been a very long week. Training and coming into a new area at the same time has provided some unique challenges. This week we spent a lot of time trying to meet the members, build relationships with them, and gain their trust. This upcoming week we will hopefully be able to start finding some people to teach. There weren't many people being taught in the area when we got out here, but we know that there are people that are ready to hear, it is just our responsibility to find them.

Elder Pinkston is from Draper, Ut. He grew up in Seattle for most of his life though, so he is pretty used to this type of weather. He is excited to be serving so I am looking forward to serving with him. I am grateful that Heavenly Father trusts me enough to train. Hopefully I will be able to do all that He needs from me. 

With Elder Pinkston
The area is very nice. It is definitely more rural, but I like that. We actually inherited a car that was over 50,000 miles, so we get to get a new Chevy Malibu 2016 this week! I was invited to go to Newburg for a Missionary Leadership Council on Thursday, so I am going to switch out our Chevy Cruze for a new Malibu, which will be sweet. 

Elder Hala'eua is still in madras as the District Leader there. It is weird, because I definitely miss him, but I think that he and I both grew as missionaries and disciples of Christ as we were together, so I am glad that we had the opportunity to serve together. 

With Elder Hala'eua
The First Counselor in our ward who we ate with last night lived with his wife and family in Phoenix for three years right around the building and dedication of the temple. They actually went to that church building right there. Its crazy how it is such a small world. 

My studying is going well. The chapters in Mosiah that King Benjamin is talking are some of my favorites because there is so much in there that is helpful to us today. I am in Helaman chapter 2. I just read about the Lamanites attacking the Nephites and taking over the city of Zarahemla and it was because all of the chaos in the lives of the Nephites were distracting them from protecting and securing their city. That is so true for us today. The adversary won't wait to attack when times are most convenient to us and we are most prepared. We must constantly be preparing ourselves to face that opposition and press forward. Distraction is one of the adversaries biggest tools because it pulls us away from staying focused on Christ. We have to make sure that we are always putting Christ first so that those distractions don't lead us astray or vulnerable to opposition.