Tuesday, October 26, 2010

October 26, 2010 - Week 63

Good Morning Everybody!

Well another week in the Washington Kennewick Mission. The rain is finally here and I'm not sure if its going to go away now. It has been raining all week. I am sure getting good use of my coat. Well this week was Steve Gonsalves baptism. We met with him almost everyday to help him be prepared for Saturday. He is an amazing man. On Friday night we went and had a lesson with him. At the end of our lesson we read with him D&C 20:37 about the qualifications for baptism. Tears swelled up in his eyes as he realized the changes he had taken in his life and that he was truly worthy to be baptized. He just started to thank us. He said, "I hope you realize how lucky you are, to have grown up in the church. I would have been much better off if I would have had this in my life earlier. I know that my past is something that shaped me, but you are just so lucky to have had this. I want my kids to be like you. I want them to be able to not give into temptations." He then just started to sob. He grabbed the Book of Mormon in his hand and held it tightly. He said, "I know that this book is true. I know that it is true because it changed my life. It not only changed my life, but it saved my marriage. That woman (talking about his wife) means everything to me. She means everything to me and I want to be with her forever." What a great man he is. He has truly changed his life. You would not even believe what kind of life he used to live, and you would never have known it. He is one of the nicest men you will ever meet. He said that he is excited for his baptism because he can finally put his past behind him. It's buried in the water. He was even more excited for his confirmation, because he said that's when he becomes an official member of the church. He was so excited to receive the gift of the holy ghost.

So his father in law came up from Kennewick to baptize him. He got there the day of the baptism. We didn't know if he had baptismal clothes or not so we brought an extra white jumpsuit. They show up for the baptism and sure enough he doesn't have anything. We gave him the jumpsuit and he tried it on. Unfortunately it was super small on him. The baptism is supposed to start in 10 minutes. We are scrambling wondering what to do. We call the person who has all the clothing and she doesn't answer. Ah man! Time is drawing closer and we literally do not know what to do. Finally we see a guy just randomly walking in the church. He just so happened to have the same size waist as the father in law. So he ran home and grabbed his white temple pants. We started the baptism and had the talk on baptism. The pants still weren't there, so Elder Prawitt and I did a "missionary presentation." We stalled for as long as we could. FINALLY they show up with the pants and Brother Gonsalves father is able to get changed and we could proceed with the baptism. Holy cow was that stressful. I swear all baptisms are stressful. It seems like something always goes wrong at them.

Not much else happened this week. We were able to meet a couple new people and start teaching them. One is a lady named Rebecca. She is homeless right now and living with her aunt. She is so humble. I guess she had met with missionaries in the past and was going to get baptized, but her boyfriend wouldn't let her. She since has broken up with him and her whole life has just fallen apart. She has spent some time in jail and there realized that God was still there for her. Her life is still very hectic right now as she is trying to get everything figured out, but she wants to be baptized. She keeps on pleading for us to come back. We met with her yesterday and are going to see her again tomorrow. She really just wants to change her life. We also met with a lady named Rhonda. She is really cool. We have been trying to meet with her for like 3 months now, but she has always been too busy. She wanted her and her husband to meet with us, but they could never do it at the same time. Finally the husband said he just wasn't interested, so she said we could come by just to see her. We had a great lesson with her. We introduced her to the Book of Mormon and she said that she would read it. God has always been very important to her and overtime she just stopped going to church, but she realizes how much it helped her. She can see how her kids don't have the same thing she did and she really wants them to have it. This week we are having our Halloween Trunk or Treat. We are inviting everyone to it. Hopefully a lot of people show up. Guess what? We have to be in our house by 6 o clock on Halloween. BUMMER!!!!! I don't know what we are going to do. Hand out candy I guess. Oh well.

This last week we had interviews with President and Sister Greer. They are awesome. It was interesting because Elder Prawitt's interview was really short. They pretty much just asked him what he is going to do when he goes home. My interview; on the other hand, was a lot longer. President was drilling me with questions about the Zone and telling me things that need to get done. I guess they are preparing me for when Elder Prawitt leaves. All the responsibility will fall on me. Oh boy. Oh today we are going on a hike. There is this pretty cool waterfall that we are going to hike up to. I'm really excited for it and I'll be sure to take a lot of pictures. Well I think that's about it for me. Hope everyone is doing well. Talk to ya later.

Elder Garrick

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

October 19, 2010 - Week 62

Hello Everyone!!

Well it is just another day here in Vancouver Washington. The sun is shining and the rain clouds are gone. This week has been pretty good for us. Not a whole lot has happened this last week, but I will hit some of the highlights. I conducted my first baptismal interview. It was an 11 year old boy, so it wasn't that difficult. And man he was rock solid. He has such a testimony of the gospel. I really liked interviewing him. It's amazing to see how much the gospel can really bring happiness into peoples lives, even an 11 year old. So I'm glad it went well. I was stressin out all week and studying up on how to conduct an interview and what I can do to help the person feel comfortable. As most of you know, interviews are usually stressful, and it is for the one doing the interview too haha. But it was not bad at all. Speaking of interviews, Brother Gonsalves had his this last week. We found out some information about him that needed to be taken care of with President Greer. Brother Gonsalves is an amazing man. I can't believe the life that he used to live. Growing up in Boston is rough. He has changed so much and now all he wants to do is do the right thing and follow Christ. Elder Prawitt and I love that guy. We had a long chat with him. He loves to talk. His baptism will be this Saturday and his father-in-law is going to come up from Kennewick to baptize him. I'm so excited for that day.

Really not much else has happened. We didn't teach as much as we usually do. There were just a lot of little things that we had to do. Its funny because we have just been so busy and we have been trying to cram in as much proselyting time as we can. We have put off some of our zone leader responsibilities because something else comes up and we have to take care of that and then we are already running behind on schedule so we just go to our next teaching appointment. We had a big realization this week that we need to slow down and get everything organized. We spent a good day just planning out what needs to be done and how we can do it. It was really good. Everything is working out now and moving smoothly. And now that we are organized we have more time to go proselyte. Its good. I came across this scripture and it really hit home Mosiah 4:27. I can't tell you how much that is true. Yesterday I went on exchanges with an Elder in our district named Elder Mcelhaney. He is such a good kid. Man does he work hard. He didn't have a lot of teaching appointments so we did a ton of tracting. He is a Spanish missionary so he did all the Spanish doors and I did all the English doors. We actually had a lot of success and got a lot of return appointments. I am realizing each and every day that everyone has their own personal conversion to the gospel. We talked a lot about how Heavenly Father gives us opportunities to grow and to learn. Many of these opportunities are things that we are going to struggle with for a while, but we can face those challenges and come out stronger, or we can blame God and just fall deeper into a hole. Elder Mcelhaney was diagnosed with cancer before he came out on his mission. He said that in high school he was doing some awful stuff. He said that he would party a lot. One day he was at the gym and noticed a small lump which he later found out was cancer. He immediately had to go through chemotherapy. He said that after that he changed his life. He should have died, but amazingly he didn't and now he is serving the Lord and doing his best everyday to make it up to him. He said that he is thankful that he got cancer, because cancer saved his life. He was going down the wrong road and now he is back on the right path. Well we had a great exchange. We had an awesome appointment with one of their investigators. Unfortunately it was all in spanish so I just sat and smiled. I could tell that it was good because the investigators were so excited to hear about prophets and the restoration. The spirit was strong too.

Well that's it for me this week. I'm not sure what we are doing for p-day today. I don't think anything special. Take care everyone and enjoy the fall.


Elder Garrick

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

October 13, 2010 - Week 61

Good Morning Everyone!

I'm sure you all probably guessed that I had a meeting yesterday. For the past two days all the zone leaders and district leaders had training on these new fundamental missionary lessons. It was amazing. But that is why I did not email yesterday. This week has been hectic. Transfers were this week and boy does that take a lot of time. There was some confusion on housing so we had to get that figured out. One of the sister companionships left and they brought in two elders. What they didn't realize is that the sisters were living in a house with a single sister and the elders can't live there. So we did a lot of moving and calling around and finally got everything figured out. WHEW! There weren't a whole lot of activities or anything that happened this week but I thought I would give you an update on people we are teaching.

Brother Gonsalves is doing great. He is completely ready to get baptized and he knows this is all true. He wants to do everything he can to change his life and completely follow Christ. Its amazing. His wife; on the other hand, is already a member but does not want to come back to church right now. This kills Brother Gonsalves because he wants to do this together and he keeps saying, "I want to go to the Celestial Kingdom with you." Elder Prawitt and I both realized that it would be best to just move forward with Brother Gonsalves so we can prepare him for his baptism. Its the best thing right now.

We have been meeting with this Turkish lady for a while now named Seren. She is pretty cool. She is muslim and doesn't have a real Christian background. She always talks to us but has never really gotten into the things we teach or anything. We decided to change our teaching to fit her needs. The past two lessons we've had with her have been great. She is now curious and wants to learn more. She is excited and making efforts on her own part to learn. Its pretty cool. We also met for the first time with a guy named Jerry. We met him before and just talked to him, but this time we were actually able to teach him. Man this guy is so ready for the gospel. The questions he asks are just so soul searching and with every question, the gospel has an answer. He was really wondering where we come from and what happens to us when we die. We explained the Pre-Earth life and how we have a Spirit body and a physical body. He was amazing and it just clicked inside of him. It was a good lesson and we hope to continue onward. Lastly is Birry (prounounced Beeray). We tracted into this family just yesterday. They are from West African and have lived here about 13 years. We were talking to the wife, Birry, and she said that she was Muslim. She started talking about Mohammed (sp?) and how he was a prophet. We explained that God has always called prophets on the earth and he has again called another living prophet. Her response was, "What! Are you serious? A living prophet! When did this happen? Are you serious? There is a prophet on the earth?" We simply told her yes and asked her if it would be important for her to find out. She said, "Of course it would be. This is a big deal! Why have I never heard about this before? I'm confused, when did this happen? Did God just drop him out of heaven one day?" It was amazing. She honestly wanted to know. She couldn't meet with us then but we rescheduled for a latter time. She said, "Good I want to hear more about this prophet." So we are meeting with her tomorrow. I am really excited and will have to let you know how it goes.

Our 2 day training was great. We talked about Our purpose as missionaries and how important it is to truly love people and to rely on the Spirit. Its so important in everything that we do. We read from D&C 50:13-14 where it says, "Unto what were ye ordained? To Preach my Gospel, even by the Spirit." President Greer asked us when did we accept the call to do missionary work. One elder raised his hand and said, "When we got our mission call." Another missionary raised his hand and said, "When we got baptized." I then realized that I accepted my call to do missionary work much earlier than that. The spirit bore witness to me that this is why I am here right now. I accepted this call long ago and now I'm fulfilling my calling, that I was sent here. Its amazing. I can't believe how great this work truly is. To help people come closer to Christ, its the most rewarding thing I have ever done. I realize that more and more everyday.

Well that is it for me this week. I hope you're all doing fine. I pray for many of you everyday. I think for P-day we are just going to play some basketball. I have a lot of letters that I need to write that I probably won't be able to write. I love you guys.

Elder Garrick

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

October 5, 2010 - Week 60

Hello Family,

Man this was such a great week. I have so much to say, but am unfortunately already running out of time. I hope that I can type fast enough. Well this week we had Zone Leader Council again. This is where all the zone leaders get together with the Mission President and discuss the needs of our mission and what we can do. We drove down with all the zone leaders on the west side of the mission on Thursday and the new zone leaders. And guess who is a new zone leader. Elder Buchanan! I hope that he does well in his new position. Also Elder Brinton got called to be a new zone leader. He is in our district right now and is a great missionary. At ZLC we always have a testimony meeting where President Greer usually asks the leaving Zone Leaders to bear their testimony. Those testimony meetings are the most spiritual meetings I have ever been to. There is such a great love for God, for missionary work, and for each other in the room. The past two ZLC's the Spirit has been so strong. It is such a great feeling.

Well I wanted to tell you really fast about Tim and Shilo. We have been teaching Tim for the past couple of weeks now. I think I talked about him in my last email. He has his own belief in God but he came to church with his recently activated girlfriend and we have been meeting with him ever since. We have had some good lessons with him. So the other day we show up to their house and Sister Carlson's, she is Tim's girlfriend, brother is there. He just got out of jail that day. As we sat down he immediately came over to us with a Book of Mormon in hand and started to ask us questions. He said that while he was in jail he went to their library and asked for a Book of Mormon. His grandma is LDS and he wanted to check it out a little bit. Well while he was in jail they took away all of his belongings. He literally had nothing except for the Book of Mormon. He considers it a sign that he should learn more. So we start to explain to him a little bit about the Book of Mormon. Then Tim jumps in and he starts teaching and testifying on Joseph Smith and the Book of Mormon. It was amazing. Our investigator is teaching another investigator about the gospel! Shilo, the brother, had studied Native American religion. We told him how the people in the Book of Mormon are the ancestors of the Native American. He was completely amazed. We are now going to start teaching Shilo with Tim. It was pretty cool.

The Gonsalves family is doing pretty well. Brother Gonsalves is solid. He knows this is true and he is leading his family out and setting the example. He has changed so much. His wife is a less active member and has more doubts and concerns right now but we are going to work with her and see if we can help her. Their family is awesome. Brother Gonsalves said that he considers Elder Prawitt and I like his sons.

Wasn't General Conference amazing. Holy cow the first session was just mind blowing. I had so many questions that I wanted answered and most of them were answered in the very first session of General Conference. By the end of Conference, all my questions had been answered. It was so great. I thought it was so cool to see at the very beginning President Monson said that we need more missionaries. I recently heard that only 30% of young men are actually going on missions. As President Monson spoke I could tell that it wasn't coming from him, it was coming from Heavenly Father. My other favorite talks were from Elder D. Todd Christopherson about consecrating yourself. I have really been trying to do that lately with my mission. He gave some great guidance that I am going to try and follow for this next transfer. And President Uchtdorf, surprise surprise. He is still my favorite. His talk on focusing on what is important was so great. The simple things are what really matter. Our relationship with God, family, others, and ourselves. That was so great. And he gave a great talk on Pride. I have really seen how that is the great stumbling block for everyone. I have seen it in investigators, members, missionaries, and sometimes even in myself haha. What a great talk. There was another talk, I can't remember who gave it, but he spoke on faith and character. He said, "We become what we want to be, when we be what we want to become each day of our lives." I loved that. I'm focusing on that everyday. Well that's it for me. I love you guys. Hope you enjoyed General Conference too. I'm always glad to hear that everyone is doing good. I love you.

Elder Garrick