Tuesday, December 28, 2010

December 28, 2010 - Week 72

Elder Garrick during our Christmas Day Skype call.

Jared and Elder Prawitt with the Brown Family

Jared, Ian, and Elder Prawitt.

Jared at the Portland, OR Temple.

Elder Burgin, Nicole and Jared at Nicole's baptism.

Nicole's Family at her baptism.

Jared and Elder Burgin at a Christmas party with some of their zone.

Jared's Christmas - spoiled boy

Hello Everyone,

What a great week it has been. I hope everyone had a great Christmas this past week and are enjoying the time with family and friends. With my Christmas phone call I feel like there isn't a whole lot to talk about, but I will give you the updates from then until now. After our phone call together we went off to the Williams house. This is Ian and Nicole's cousins. It was so much fun to be with the Williams and with the Martins (Ian and Nicole) for Christmas. They did so much for us. They obviously already had their Christmas that morning and afternoon, so the night was completely dedicated to us. They had made our favorite treats and tried to make everything feel like home. They made a ton of my favorite potatoes. After dinner we played games. We had a blast. There were times when I was crying because I was laughing so hard. I feel really grateful for what they did for us that night. After games we opened up presents in which they had a few gifts that went along with some Christmas poems they had. A nail and an orange. They gave me cheese and crackers and some orange sticks. We then opened up the scriptures and read the Christmas story in Luke. Ian and Nicole are doing well. They seem to be doing a little bit better. We have held off teaching them because their lives were just so crazy and we started to become an annoyance to them. If the gospel ever becomes an annoyance, then something must be wrong, so we figured we would back off for a while and see what happens. Hopefully we can teach them again in the future.

On Sunday Nicole got baptized. The Spanish sisters had a baptism before us so they told us that they would fill up the font and leave it for Nicole's baptism. Usually it takes around 3 hours to fill the font. We arrived a little early, just to make sure everything was okay and to set up chairs. When we get into the Relief Society room we noticed that the baptismal font was draining and was almost empty. We quickly turned the water back on and Elder Burgin jumped in and plugged it back up. Ah!!!!! Baptisms never go smoothly! But it worked out like it always does. We were able to fill the font just in time for the baptism. Elder Burgin baptized her and then I gave a talk on the Holy Ghost. The Spirit was so strong during the service. Nicole's parents and best friend came. Her mom was just crying the whole time. It was pretty big that they came because her Dad is kind of anti against the church. I'm sure they felt the spirit, hopefully we can talk to them some more. They were very nice people.

Well we also found out about transfers. Both Elder Burgin and I are staying. This is also Elder Burgin's last transfer so I will be sending another missionary home. Most likely I will stay for at least one more transfer after that, to train a new missionary to the area. That will make this the longest area I will ever have on my mission. I'm going on transfer #4 here and will probably stay for the 5th. Its great though. I love Vancouver. I love the people here and the rain is actually starting to grow on me. Elder Burgin and I went running on Monday. Yes I went running. First time I have ever done it on my mission. I usually just work out inside. But it felt so good to go outside and run in the rain. Its refreshing.

We continue to try and find new people to teach. We are finding more and more potential new investigators, but currently aren't able to get in the door with them. Yesterday we were finally able to see this couple that we've been trying for a while. We showed up to their house and they were actually home. The husband (or boyfriend) just lost his job. They are really struggling right now and have definitely been humbled. The girlfriend is ready to accept the gospel. She just wants to have something change. She even recognizes that money wouldn't solve their problems and they need something else. We had a great talk with them. By the end of our conversation they accepted to listen to our message and to come to church on Sunday. They were very grateful that we were there. I feel so blessed right now. The Lord always leads us to those who are willing to receive us and who need the help. It is truly the humble seeker of truth that is found. That's it for me this week. Have a Happy New Year!

Elder Garrick

P.S. Thank you to everyone who sent cards and gifts. I have some amazing family and friends.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

December 22, 2010 - Week 71

Good morning, Good morning, Good morning!

What a week it has been. We have had so many Christmas things going on it's ridiculous. We found out the other week that the Portland Mormon Choir were coming into town. They were performing at the nearest high school and the person in charge asked the closest zone leaders to help out and get everything organized for what they needed done. That just so happened to be us. We were in charge of setting up and ushering people during the concert. We also had tickets that needed to be dispersed among all the missionaries in Vancouver which is 2 other zones. It was pretty crazy and actually took a lot of time away from proselyting. It's okay though. The concert was amazing. The choir was so good and they had an orchestra there. It was like we were watching the Mormon Tabernacle Choir. We had a few less-active members go to the concert and Nicole went as well, so I would say it was a success. The missionaries in the Portland mission got permission to come over too. I tell you what, ushering is not fun at all. People just don't even listen to what you have to say. They just sit down at the end of the aisle and refuse to move. There were a lot of non-members there, so we were told to just ask people, but if they don't move then don't make a big deal out of it and just try to be friendly and leave a good impression. Besides dealing with all the crazyies, it was a lot of fun. We also had our Wards Christmas party this week. It was the same night as one of the Choir performances. We thought, "Oh this is going to be so nice. We can just go to the ward party and relax and have a fun time with everyone." When we showed up we found out that the activities committee needed a few more people to help prepare and serve food. So the whole night, we were running around serving everyone. We finally were able to eat our food at the end. It was good food though. Prime Rib and Ham. At the end the Brown family put on a performance that was just awesome. It was about how we are from all over the world, but the message of the gospel and the celebration of Christ's birth is the same. They are such a cool family.

Yesterday was our Christmas Zone Conference. Man that was a ton of fun. We had a brief training at the beginning and learned more about the Savior's birth and the message of Christmas. We set our Missions Baptismal goal for the next year and President Greer spoke upon what we need to do as missionaries to find these people and help them receive baptism and the holy ghost. Afterwards, the office missionaries made a Christmas slideshow that was great. It was so much fun to see all the pictures of all the missionaries I have been able to know and serve with. Half our mission was at the zone conference so I saw many friends. Elder Olsen was there, Elder Williams, Elder Cashin. Many of the other Zone leaders were there that I have become good friends with. After we had lunch Sister Greer set everything up for a movie and we got to watch Toy Story 3. Best Movie Ever!!!!! It was so intense. That movie is hilarious too. I'm there with the Mak. I love Toy Story. So that was fun for everyone.

As for my missionary experiences for this week. Like I said we have been so busy lately that they haven't been a ton, but there are still some really cool things that happened this week. We had a lesson with the Gonsalves family this week. As we knock on the door, Brother Gonsalves answers and says, "Sorry boys, we can't do a lesson today." We were shocked that he would say that. He usually loves having lessons with us. He then says, "Come on in, your helping us meet our neighbors." We had a lesson with them a few weeks ago about doing missionary work and how hard it is to overcome that fear of sharing the gospel. We talked about the first step of missionary work is just developing a meaningful relationship with people. So as we walked inside his house, they had prepared about 12 Christmas bags with goodies and candy inside. They had a note from their family and then they threw in some pass-along cards. Then as a family, we walked from house to house and Brother Gonsalves introduced themselves and us. We wished everyone a Merry Christmas and went off to the next one. There was one widow that we stopped by who was so grateful and she was just so nice. Brother Gonsalves said, "That just makes this whole experience worth it." You really could feel the spirit of Christmas as we went around. It was a lot of fun. I was very proud that they decided to do this because they are a pretty shy family. They even said, "If you would ask me 6 months ago if I would ever go around from house to house with two guys in white shirts and ties I would say you were crazy."

The next experience is a finding experience. Elder Burgin and I are really struggling to find people to teach right now. We set a goal to talk with as many people as we could and actually have 10 meaningful conversations with people in which we could invite them to learn more. The entire day it seemed we were trying to find people. We found a trailer park and started knocking doors. Our time is so precious so we did only the doors we really felt that we should go to. We stop by one house and a kid answers the door. Turns out he is really searching for some type of purpose right now in his life. His mom died about a year ago and it has been really hard for him and has made him question a lot of things about life. We had a really good conversation with him and scheduled a return appointment. He said that he thinks his entire family would be interested. We went about the rest of our days activities. As the night approached we tried to see a few of our investigators. No success. We had about 20 minutes until our 8 o clock appointment and decided to do some more finding. We were walking down the street just looking. Then we felt as though we should go right into the next neighborhood. We knock on one door and talk to a lady who said that we don't really know anything and if we went out and sinned then we would have more experience and we would be happier with life. Hmmmm....interesting. Alma 41:10 So we brushed it off and moved on. I felt very strongly that we should go to the door at the end of the street. So we wasted no time and went straight there. An older man opens the door and is very friendly. Turns out his brother is a member who lives in Pasco. I actually think his brother lives in one of the wards I served in at Pasco. He said that he did a study on Joseph Smith and was amazed how an uneducated boy could write something like the Book of Mormon. He said he couldn't do it and it must have come from God. He said that he is one of those people who just never really got baptized because of a few things that bother him. We talked about it and he agreed to meet with us after Christmas. We walked away just smiling. Elder Burgin was jumping up and down. There really are people out there who the Lord is preparing, and if we listen to the Spirit, he will take us directly to them. I have come to know that is true each and every day I am on my mission.

Nicole's baptism is this Sunday. The day after Christmas. She is amazing. She has progressed so far. Before her baptismal interview she talked with us about how much closer she feels to Heavenly Father. She loves her little boy. She recognizes that she has made mistakes in the past, but she is ready to make that change in her life and start fresh. She has made friends with another girl in the ward and they are spending a lot of time together so we are really happy about that. That will just seal the deal for one of the greatest Christmas' I will ever have. Being on a mission at this time is so amazing. My gratitude for what the Savior did and the importance of Him actually coming into this World has grown so much. My faith that we can literally overcome anything through Him is so much stronger now than it ever has been. I truly believe that. We can overcome anything with the Savior. It gives me so much hope and so much joy. Merry Christmas to you all. Have a wonderful holiday. Thank you to all for your letters and your testimonies and love.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

December 14, 2010 - Week 70

Good Morning Everyone!

Well I just got my 12 days of Christmas package. I set up my tree and my presents and hung up all the ornaments of our family. That was so neat. I can't believe how much everyone has changed! We are all getting so old. It was great. I spent all morning putting it up and reading the notes.

Well this week has been a good one. My week always changes depending on how I feel today haha. We are still doing our best to find new investigators this week. Many of our current investigators just aren't progressing and for many, it is time to move on. It is always sad when you have to make this decision. We will still keep in contact when we have the time, but I don't know if we'll make them a priority. I went on a couple exchanges this week. One was with Elder Schneider. I went over into their area and guess what....its a biking area! Oh Gheez! The dreaded bike. You will not believe how many hills there are in Vancouver too. Nothing is flat. And to make things even harder, it was the rainiest day of the year so far. Elder Schneider and I rode as rain is just pounding us in the face. We were drenched! It was actually a lot of fun. Elder Schneider almost turfed it a couple times. We decided that after lunch it would probably be best if we dried off and walked. It was a good exchange though. Work in their area is really struggling right now. We weren't able to find many people, but I hope I was able to lift his spirits and help him. The members that they live with are actually related to the Eldridge's. They know Scotty and Chase. I think the wife is Scott's aunt. Yesterday I went on exchanges with Elder Torgeson. He is a new missionary this transfer. I brought him into our area. We had district meeting that day and then had to help some other missionaries with some service. I really wanted to go out and do some missionary work, but we only had about 2 hours until we had to exchange back. We decided that we would go find. I don't know what it was, but people were just not happy yesterday haha. Door after door was slammed in our face. One guy opened the door and then noticed there were missionaries on his doorstep so he tried to shut the door as fast as he could. It just so happened that his door came out and the guy was just slamming his dog in the door repeatedly. The dog was just yelping, but I guess he didn't notice because he was so worried about having to talk to us. I told the guy what he was doing. People are really funny sometimes. So I could tell that Elder Torgeson was getting discouraged. Man I'm just used to it by now. I thought it was funny. I told him that we just haven't found who the Lord is preparing. We went to a different neighborhood and tried some more doors. Still rejection. We see a lady out getting her mail and we go talk to her. Turns out, she is the care taker for an elderly woman in our ward who we have been meaning to go see. We walked with her to Sister Cole's house. Paula, the care-taker, has actually been reading the Book of Mormon and had questions. We explained to her what it was and shared with her in the Book of Mormon when Christ is about to be born and he announces his own birth to the people in America and they see the star. She thought it was amazing. She actually lives in a different ward, but she wants missionaries to come over, so we will pass her over to them. As we left we saw a man sitting at the bus stop. We talked to him a little bit about the purpose of our lives. He said he has always wondered what our purpose is. We got a return appointment for Saturday. As we walk away and back to the van, Elder Torgeson has a giant smile on his face and says, "Missionary Work is Awesome!" It was a good day.

We are still meeting with Nicole Gentry. She is the person who was referred to us by some members. She has a 15-month son and she herself is only 18 years old. She is doing awesome! She has come to church twice and got to meet President and Sister Greer. Sister Greer sat by her all of church and helped with her son. She is willing to do anything, because she just wants to change her life. Just like any investigator who makes this commitment, opposition always occurs. She recently found out that her best friend has cancer. We also met with her last night, and her parents have kicked her out of the house. She said it wasn't because of church, but that this happens frequently and she feels its time to leave for good. Her fellowshippers are her boyfriends parents. Her boyfriend is a member, but not very active and isn't too supportive of her at this time. It is amazing the type of faith that she has. We talked to her last night about tithing and how it's not really about paying money, but showing your trust in the Lord. Really the gospel is always about faith in the Savior. Everything that we do requires faith that we are willing to trust God, more than we trust ourselves, and then we hope that His blessing will come down on us and He will provide for us. Last night we talked about tithing, but it was so much more than tithing. Nicole is strong and is receiving help from the ward. She has committed to be baptized on December 26th and it will be a white Christmas for her.

I have been really studying about faith, hope, and charity. They are so important. Again I go back to hope, and the hope of eternal life. The Spirit truly does bless us with a portion of heaven. When we are close to Christ, we are touching heaven and we can feel and see that in our lives. Thank you for your talk you sent me from President Eyring and Christmas. To be bound together in love with our families and having that love last forever really is eternal life. The greatest gift we can receive. We open up the corners of this gift each day, more and more, as we feel of His Spirit, and share of His love. I hope you're all doing well this Christmas season. It is such a great time to think of the Savior and what he has done for us. I love you all and have a Merry Christmas.

Elder Garrick

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

December 7, 2010 - Week 69

Hey Everyone,

How is everyone doing? I feel like there hasn't been a whole lot that happened in this last week. It's literally been pretty slow for us. We have had some meetings and had to do a lot of planning. It seems like our proselyting time has been cut short and it sure is having an effect on us. I might as well give you an update on how things are going right now with some of our investigators. Ian's baptism did not go through once again. I really have no idea what is going to happen right now. They are going through a really rough time, and I think Ian might be embarrassed about everything. We haven't really even been able to meet with them this week. He is starting to work full-time again so it will be hard to catch him. It will be completely impossible to meet with Ian and Nicole together, so we are going to do it separately. Maybe this is all in God's plan. We talked to Nicole and she has a small testimony of the gospel. She believes it's true just from the way she feels as we come over and when she went to the temple years and years ago. Hopefully things will progress and we can help them. In other news, we have been teaching another girl named Nicole. She is the girlfriend of one of the members in our ward. She is about 18 years old and has a 1 year old boy. T
he little guy is the most important thing in her life right now and she was interested in the church because she saw how different her boyfriends family was from hers. We taught her a lot this week. She is reading the Book of Mormon and praying. She came to church on Sunday and loved it. She said that she was pretty nervous to come, but when she finally came into the building she was at peace. In our last lesson with her she told us that she believes everything is true. We set a baptismal date for her on Christmas Day. She is really excited for it. There may be some bumps in the future, but she is determined and ready to be baptized.

Really not a whole lot has gone on besides that. There are a lot of investigators that we have been recontacting just because it has been so hard to meet with them lately. We are doing a lot of finding, when we get the time. Last night I went on exchanges with a new missionary. His name is Elder Broadhead. Yes Elder Broadhead. He is the cousin to the Broadhead family in the 1st ward. He is such a good kid. He has a strong desire to do good and serve others. He is already way ahead of the other missionaries in his teaching ability and he speaks Spanish. He is a Broadhead alright, he looks just like the whole family and acts like them too haha. You'll have to let them know that he is in my zone.

That's it for me this week. I think this might be the shortest e-mail of my whole mission. This next week is going to be a good one. We are going to work our tails off. I love you guys.

Elder Garrick

Quote from Brother Steve Gonsalves, "I can find one thing in one church, and find something else in a different church, and try and piece it all together and come up with my own belief, but I don't want to do that. I want it all now! This is where the whole truth is. I have learned more in the past few months than I ever did in my entire life going to church."