Tuesday, September 28, 2010

September 28, 2010 - Week 59

Jared's current District at the Portland, OR Temple

Jared, Elder Prawitt, and the AP's having fun!!!

Hello Everyone,

Well this has been a pretty good week for us. Zone Conference was last week and it was so good. I can tell you what, it was not as enjoyable partly because I was the one giving the training for part of it. Usually it’s just a great time to sit back and relax and learn more about the gospel and how to be a more effective missionary. This time I was just stressin out until our training was finished, then I could relax. It went really well though. Elder Prawitt and I had been preparing for it for the past couple of weeks and somehow everything we each studied on our own came together when we planned it out. I got to see Elder Buchanan at zone conference too. He is doing awesome. That kid is a baptizing machine. They just baptized 7 people and have about 8 more on date. I don't know how he does it. President gave everyone a little bit of a rebuke. There have been a lot of problems with missionaries in this last transfer and President is just getting fed up with it. It was probably the best rebuke I have ever heard though. He said what needed to be said, he encouraged us to be better, and he did it all in the spirit of love. There are many exciting things ahead for missionary work and he said that if the missionaries cannot be more obedient than the work will never progress like it should. There is this new thing called, "I'm a Mormon," Where people are making profiles of themselves. It’s to show that members are a diverse group of people, but that they are all blessed by their belief in Jesus Christ and the gospel. They are really promoting it in some states like New York and Florida. I bet Max Johnson is having a blast right now. I believe his mission was one of the ones where it was really working good. People are able to get online and then talk to missionaries’ right on the internet and ask them questions. Some missionaries are even having time where they go to computer labs and just chat with people for a couple hours. President said that the goal of this is for missionaries to get off the streets to find. Anyway it’s super exciting and President is asking for a higher commitment of obedience so maybe in the future our mission might be able to do the same. This week was pretty fun because the AP's were on the west side of the mission almost the whole week. Elder Prawitt and I are their favorites so they stayed with us haha. It was a blast. We had such a good time. Elder Lavin is the senior AP and he goes home this transfer. He was pretty sad because he said that he wants to do this again when we all get home. He is a good kid.

Well I guess I will tell you just a little bit about a couple of people who we are teaching. Some things just don’t go the way you would have hoped they would. Many of the people we have been teaching, we weren't able to see this week. It’s kinda disappointing, but we will continue to try. We have been meeting with this guy named Tim. His girlfriend is a less active member who has recently been coming to church. They are in their 40's/50's. Well Tim has some very interesting ideas on religion and God. He came to church a couple weeks ago and so we have been meeting with him ever since. He has been warming up with us more and more. He always likes to feed us and he feeds us some weird stuff. This week we had shrimp pizza. It actually wasn't that bad. Well like I said he has some interesting interpretations on things but we are getting through to him. He is now reading the Book of Mormon where a couple weeks ago he refused. He is really starting to like it too. We asked him how he feels about things and he goes, "Well, I'm pretty sure the Mormons aren't of the Devil. This seems like the way I’ll probably go in the future, but there is still more I need to know." So he is doing awesome. Progress is slow, but there is progress. This week we also met with Brother Gonsalves. We had a great lesson with him. He just wants his family to be happy and he knows this is the way to do it. They have been having nightly scripture study and nightly prayers as a family. There is just a different spirit in their home. Brother Gonsalves said that this just feels like the right way to go. He has said for a long time that he will probably get baptized, but he just doesn't feel ready yet. This time, we invited him and he said yes. He is so on fire. He has so many questions about everything. When he comes to church he is participating more than the members and he is just so curious about everything. He said that he wants to become part of the ward family. We were so happy. He has a 12 year old daughter who has been coming to church. She loves Young Women’s. She is very shy and doesn't have a lot of friends, but the girls have really reached out to her and she loves it. She doesn't feel ready to get baptized right now, but it’s probably because she doesn't understand it very well yet. We are pretty confident that we can set a date for her to get baptized with her dad. Brother Gonsalves baptismal date is October 23rd, but we are thinking we might move it closer just because he is completely ready for it. There is no need to wait. We will have to see.

That’s about it for me this week. Kind of a short email. I want to try and send some pictures this week though. I love you all and hope everything is going well. I'm so excited for General Conference. It is such a great privilege that we can hear what the Lord needs us to hear. It’s a true testimony that the windows of heaven are not shut off. Here is my scripture for the week. D&C 21: 4-6. I'm understanding more and more how much our Heavenly Father loves us. He truly knows each of us separately as individuals. It’s amazing to think about how He has been in my life and influenced me. How the certain events that have transpired have helped me and blessed me so much in the future. And then to see that same influence and love in other people’s lives. It’s amazing. I'll give one more scripture, just because it’s my favorite. Alma 26: 37. Yes another scripture from Alma 26. But it is one of the best missionary chapters of all scripture in my opinion. Well I love you all. Take care of yourselves this week and enjoy Conference.

Elder Garrick

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

September 21, 2010 - Week 58

Good morning everyone,

Ah there has been so much that has happened in this last week. I don't know where to begin. I guess I will just start off on how the week went. We had a lesson with a man named Kenny this week. He was a referral from some members in our ward. Kenny works with one of the members and one day Kenny came up to him and started to ask him questions. Kenny's daughter is a recent covert to the church and just got married in the Temple. Kenny was really confused and kind of angry that he could not go to his first daughters wedding, so he asked one of his co-workers who he knew was LDS. They had some really good talks with each other. Kenny started to ask more of his co-workers who he knew were LDS. To make a long story short, they did a great job explaining everything to him. They bore their testimonies to him and he felt the spirit. They described what he was feeling and that the spirit was leading him to the truth. When we showed up to teach Kenny he was holding a Book of Mormon in his hand already with the testimony of one of his coworkers on the front cover. We had a great lesson with him. As we taught about the First Vision he said, "I have that feeling again. The feeling I had when my friend talked to me." We bore testimony that it was the spirit. He said that he already knows that all of this is true. We asked him if he would be baptized and he said, "Of course I would." It was so great. But here is the catch. Kenny lives in Portland, OR so we will have to pass him on to the Portland missionaries as soon as possible. He is a great guy and completely prepared for the gospel, a golden investigator.

Next we went on exchanges with the Assistants this week. It was great. Actually a lot of our appointments fell through so we did a lot of finding. I went with Elder Baker. He is a great missionary and I learned a lot about serving in a leadership position and also better ways to find people. While we were together we had a lesson with Ian and Nicole. They are cousins to some members in our ward and they are all actually living together at the moment. They are great too. As we were teaching them we were about to commit them to read and pray about the Book of Mormon. Everything was going pretty good and then we hear this bang. Ian jumps up and rushes out the door. We hear crying from their little boy. I guess he tried to do a jump on their front porch and fell. As he came down he bit a hole right through his tongue. There was blood everywhere. It was so crazy. They rushed him off to the hospital as fast as they could. Needless to say, the lesson didn't go as we had planned. They are really cool though. We checked up on the little boy and he is doing fine now. They are trying to come to church, but are having difficulties with his work schedule.

Ah the next day we had some more Sister drama. This time there was an elder who was involved. Two missionaries, an elder and sister, have kind of gotten close to each other. They spend a lot of time together because they are both Spanish speaking and all the Spanish missionaries have dinner together, go to church together, and even teach lessons together. Well it went a little too far this time. Nothing serious happened, but it needed to stop. The Assistants were still in Vancouver so they came back to our zone and we had to sit down and talk with both companionships. Unfortunately the elder in our zone was emergency transferred to Pasco and will be there for the rest of the transfer. There were a lot of tears involved. President and Sister Greer came up on Sunday to settle everything down. Man life of a zone leader, not as fun as everyone would think sometimes. We were pretty sad too because the elder that got transferred is a good friend and missionary. He really just wanted to help the sister missionary out, but his feelings for her got to close. I hope he does well. So because of all that our zone has been pretty crazy. I think with a new mission president a few missionaries are thinking they can get away with some things. President is pretty mad about it and he is cracking down on it. Our mission is actually really good. Missionaries are more obedient and diligent than they used to be, even a couple years ago, but even the most minor things are not acceptable. So that was a bummer for us this week.

The Gonsalves family is still doing fantastic. They came to church this week for all three hours. Their 12 year old daughter is really shy and doesn't have a lot of friends. She was so nervous to go to Young Womens. The whole time she was saying to her mom, "Why do I have to go? Please don't make me go!" They told her that she did. Right before the 3rd hour of church was about to start they thought they would go get her and take her home. At this point she was talking to the rest of the young women. Her dad asked her if she wanted to leave and she ran off with her new friends to the next class at church. They had a great time and Brother Gonsalves said that he really enjoyed church and that a lot of his questions were answered. We are meeting with them more and more during the week. Bro. Gonsalves said that he is really jumping into this with both feet. They are having nightly family prayers together and are studying the scriptures together too. They are great. We also have started to meet with another members niece. Her name is Cailynn and is from New York. She lived kind of a crazy life and she came here to live with her aunt and uncle to straighten things out. She is really open to learning more about the church though. She has already come to church twice and is really excited when we come over. There is a girl in the ward who is about the same age so they have been hanging out together literally almost everyday. It is really good. We had a pretty good lesson with her yesterday and she said that she is excited to learn more now. We are hoping that everything goes well for her. She loves to read so she said that she would start reading the Book of Mormon.

Well other than the crazy stuff that has been going on in the zone, I am doing really well. It seems like things are finally starting to pick up for us. We have some really solid people we are teaching right now who are sincere and want to learn more. I'm really hopeful for the future. This week we have zone conference and I will be giving my first official training as a zone leader. I'm really excited about it though. It is about recognizing and relying on the Spirit in conversion. Elder Prawitt and I have been working on it for the past few days. It's going to be great. We are working really well together. Elder Prawitt is awesome. We are very similar to each other. We like the same music, pretty much have the same personality, and the same desire and drive for missionary work. We are hoping that we can stay together for his last transfer in the mission. Well hope everyone is doing well. I love you all. I'm so happy that I have so much support and love while I have been out. Take care everyone.

Elder Garrick

Saturday, September 18, 2010

September 14, 2010 - Week 57

Hello Everyone!

Well this has been another busy week. I tell ya what, it just never slows down for us. I am completely fine with that though. I enjoy being busy. Time is going by so fast. It actually makes me nervous sometimes knowing that it is flying by. Well I want to assure everyone that I am getting their letters. Seriously I just haven't been this busy in my life ever. It is very hard for me to write letters back. Even our P-Days are hectic and we are usually the ones who organize our p-days and get everyone together to do things. So it's even hard to write on p-days. I will try my best, it just may take a little longer than it usually does.

There isn't a whole lot of amazing things that happened this last week. President challenged the Zone leaders this week to have 10 OYM's (Open Your Mouth). This just means that each day he wants us to talk to 10 different people and teach them something and invite them to do something else. For example, stop and talk to someone on the street, teach them about the Book of Mormon, and then invite them to read and pray about the Book of Mormon. It hasn't been that hard. Elder Prawitt and I do this a lot anyway. It has been helping us to talk to everyone and focus on our purpose as missionaries. We are being blessed for it as well. We have a lot of potential investigators that we could teach in the near future. There are also people coming out from nowhere at church who just came with their aunt or boyfriend etc. Its really exciting. we are hoping we can meet with them and start teaching them as well. This week we also met with the Gonsalves family. The wife is the only member of the family. The husband and their 12 year old daughter are not members and the missionaries have been teaching them for a little bit. We had a great lesson with them this week on the Restoration. Brother Gonsalves is praying about a baptismal date for sometime in October. They all came to church on Sunday and really enjoyed it. We have high hopes for them. We have also been finding a lot of Russian people. I don't know if I told you all yet, but Elder Prawitt served in Ukraine for the first half of his mission. Because of medical issues he had to come home for a couple of months and now he has been serving in the Kennewick Mission for almost another year. Well Ukrainian is very similar to Russian so its nice because if they can't understand what we are saying then Elder Prawitt can translate it for them. Russians are very funny too. They are really nice and curious about the things that we teach them. We will see how it goes. As for our other teaching appointments, nothing too big. We had a few appointments cancel on us which was a bummer, but we keep trying.

This week we also went on exchanges again with two companionships in the zone. That was a ton of fun. I really like doing that because I am able to really get to know the other missionaries and talk to them closely. This week the AP's are coming to our area to go on exchanges with us. We will split up and do double the work for one whole day. It will be pretty intense though. I'm really excited for it. The AP's are really good missionaries and I am becoming good friends with them. This last week we also had a Sister's Conference for all the sister missionaries on the west side of the mission. Since we have 6 sisters in our zone, we were asked to come help and give training. It was actually a pretty good meeting. We role played and taught with the sister missionaries. It was definitely different from teaching with elders, but I learned a lot from them. On September 11th we did the Day of Service at the church's carrot farm. That was a ton of fun. The whole stake was there and we spent the day picking carrots, weeding, and cleaning the carrots. All the missionaries were there together too. I can't believe how many carrots we actually had. It was amazing. Probably 8 truck loads. All the elders had to load the carrots from the truck to the store house.

Well that's pretty much it for me this week. Very busy. I am learning more and more about sacrifice and consecrating my work to the Lord. President Greer said something at ZLC that has stuck with me. He said, "So many of the missionaries are still stuck in Utah, or Arizona, or wherever they may be." His point was that there are many missionaries who are still trying to live the lives they lived back at home. I'm doing my best to get completely lost in the work. And from Lyndsie's comments, I am doing a good job at it because she said I am now one of those weird missionaries. It is probably true, but this is the one time in my entire life where I can literally devote ALL my time and attention to serving God. It's an amazing experience. I know that it will be different when I come home, but I don't want it to be all that different. I want to do the things I am doing now for the rest of my life. I want to know the things I know for the rest of my life and live the way I am right now for the rest of my life. I take that back, I want to be a little better tomorrow and the next day. Today we went to the Portand, OR Temple. Man that is such a beautiful temple. I loved it so much. I went in today with a lot of questions on my mind. I had a lot more questions come up during the session. As I sat and pondered of these things in the Celestial room, I prayed and searched the scriptures. I came away with so many answers to my questions. We just barely got back. I think we are just going to go shopping now and try to get some sleep because we had to wake up really early. Oh I'll be honest, that probably won't happen. We will probably play basketball or frisbee. I'll will definitely write some letters though. Take care everyone. I love you all very much.

Elder Garrick

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

September 7, 2010 - Week 56

Hello Everyone!

It has been a great week for Elder Prawitt and I. We did so much, I can't believe it has only been a week. I will probably only highlight a couple of the many events that took place. On Thursday we had Zone Leader Council in Kennewick. This meant that most of Wednesday we took our van, yes elder Prawitt and I drive a mini van, and some of the other zone leaders in the other Vancouver areas and drove to Kennewick. It was a blast. We picked up Elder Olsen and we got to talk and joke around the whole way down. That night we stayed at the AP apartment. It was fun. I got to talk with the 2 AP's and just get to know them. They are amazing missionaries. ZLC was great. It's where all the zone leaders in the mission get together and have a training from President and Sister Greer and the AP's. We reported on how well our zone is doing and discussed the needs of the mission and how we could improve. The best part of the meeting was at the end. President Greer asked a few missionaries to bear their testimonies. There were a couple who were going home this transfer. They told of experiences they have had, especially with teaching from these new lessons. Teaching People, Not Lessons. Its truly amazing. By the end of the meeting there was a great spirit there. We all sang, "If You Could Hie To Kolob," and there was great power in the song. We prayed and the meeting ended. Everyone just sat there. I feel so privileged to be a part of all of this now. Many of the missionaries who were there have been my leaders. They have been the ones that I have looked up to my whole mission, and now I get to work with them. I saw many of my friends there and made some new friendships. It was such a fun time.

There is a lot of reporting that we have to do as zone leaders. Its definitely something I am not used to. This week we have been working on our Stake Report on how well the missionary work is going in the stake and what improvements we would like to see. On Sunday we met with the Stake President and his councilors, President Greer and his first councilor. Man talk about spiritual giants. I felt like a little boy sitting inside of that meeting with them. They are so loving, but have a sense of power too. President Greer is hilarious too. He was cracking jokes the whole time. That was really neat. I guess I'll be doing a lot more of that in the future.

Whit you talked about in your letter how the missionaries in your ward explained how referrals work. And Lynds you said a little bit about your neighbors you just moved in. I want to tell you a story about how important members are in missionary work. Last week we talked to the the Browns in our ward. The Browns are the Samoan family who just recently got baptized. We gave a lesson on missionary work and asked if there were any neighbors they had they could invite over for family home evening. They said their next door neighbors. They didn't really know them, but they thought they would be good. We asked Brother Brown if they thought their neighbors would come. He said, "Don't worry Elders. We have faith. They will come." So the Browns went over the next day and invited them over. We had dinner on Saturday with both families. It was really fun. After we shared a message on families. Eric, the son who is preparing to go on a mission bore his testimony on how much the gospel has blessed his family. Then Sister Brown told them why she invited them over, because she wants the same thing for their family. The young couple was touched. They talked about how God is very important to them and their family. The Browns invited them to come to church this next week and encouraged them to take the lessons from the missionaries. The couple accepted. It was great. They did such a good job. So this next Saturday we are going to have a lesson with the couple and they are going to come to church with the Browns on Sunday.

Another instance of members inviting their friends. There is this new young couple who moved into the ward. They are living with their non-member cousins right now. The ward helped them move in last week and ever since their cousins have been asking a ton of questions. So we talked to them and scheduled a time we could have dessert and get to know them. We went over and started chatting. The non-member husband, Ian, was talking to us about his religious background. He said that religion has always been an important part of his life. He feels there has to be more to life than what he is doing everyday and he is searching for something. We talked about our purpose in life. We shared scriptures with them and introduced them to the Book of Mormon. We then explained that we teach people more about the Plan of Salvation and asked them if we could share more of this message with them. The wife then piped in, "Ya we want to learn more about your beliefs." They are completely ready for the gospel. They want to have God in their kids lives. We are going to start teaching them this week as well. So this week has been great. We are getting a lot of referrals from members and are working closely with them. Whit and Lynds, that is why members are so important. I can't tell you how many doors I have knocked and only a few will listen. Those who do listen, its so much harder to teach them, because they don't have a friend to help and support them.

Another fun thing you get to do as a missionary is help the companionships who are struggling. Oh boy is that fun haha. This week we had two sister missionaries who just are not getting along. We found out some information and had to resolve it. We sat down with both the sisters and talked about their companionship. What they liked about each other, what they disliked, what they could change, how they could help each other. Man I have never had to do something like that with sister missionaries. It was really good though and they are getting a long more. Last night I went on my first exchange as a zone leader. I went with a new missionary who came out with Elder Williams. It was a lot of fun. It was nice not to be a zone leader for one day and to just help this young missionary out. He had a lot of questions on missionary work and how to work with his companion. It was like I was training again. We had a good day. We found some new investigators and had great lessons with the ones we taught that day.

Well I am running out of time. I hope everyone has a great week. Hope its sunny there, because it is raining today. The rain is coming and it soon will not stop.

Elder Garrick