Monday, June 1, 2015

The latest happenings in Oregon!

We taught some BOMB lessons. Very powerful and just awesome lessons. Our investigator, Angel, is kind of struggling with his baptismal date so we gave him April 20th to pray about and he said he may have received an answer but he wants to be 100% sure so he's going to keep praying. I have major hope for him. We also starting teaching Atzhiri, a daughter of one of our recent converts. She is awesome. Atzhiri is autistic and before meeting Elder Halversen and I, wouldn't really interact and talk with other people.  Well, we got the approval to teach her and Halvy gave her a children's BOM and she was soooo happy and hugged him....she DOES NOT hug!  It was a journal moment!  So we taught her and her mom said it would have to be in baby steps and repeated so she could fully understand and comprehend. We teach her about the restoration and she was asking questions about things she understood and we only had to teach it once because she was so focused and paid such close attention that she understood it!  It was amazing. She's awesome!  

We also had dinner with a major less active family this week. We teach the three sons regularly and the sisters teach the mom because she's more comfortable with sisters. But we had dinner with the entire family!   It was amazing and we set goals as a family to get better at things as a family and they all participated and it was perfect. Seriously, amazing. Then we stopped by on Friday to invite the boys to our sports night and their mom, Dulce, answered and said "OH!  Come in!  Come in!" And we talked and just kind of hung out and chit chatted and we asked if we could share something with her and she said "Claro!"  Or "of course" and we shared a message with her and finally taught her something!  ITS A MIRACLE!  We were so pumped. 

As far as the missionary experiences this week nothing totally crazy happened!  We now have the new Easter video #BecauseHeLives to share and I love sharing it!  It really invites the spirit into the homes of those we are teaching and it’s a great reminder of the Savior during this Easter season. It's been hard to get our investigators to keep their commitments and keep their appointments. We've been in a bit of a rut lately with that and it's weird. 

Zone vs Zone soccer

After that we came back to Oregon City for dinner with the Lingmann's, our Branch Mission Leader, and then drove back up to Lake Oswego for Branch temple baptisms. It was Patty's first time ever doing baptisms for the dead and we went to support her and watch he do this amazing ordinance. It was such an awesome experience. Not to mention how beautiful the Portland temple is! 

Sister Lingmann teaches piano and has a rather big class. A while ago, when we made our unbreakable vow to lose 10 pounds this transfer, she was making Harry Potter wands for her students so we used one for our spell. We all said we wanted one and she made one for Hermana Mercado and it was awesome!  The rest of us were filled with jealousy and rage. Well, this Wednesday after Correlation meeting, she hands me a handmade Olivander's Wand Box. I open it and find this AMAZING handmade Harry Potter wand! 

We were talking with Angel, our investigator, about his baptism and he wants a missionary who was companions with Halvy before I got here to baptize him. So he called him and asked if he decides to do it, would he baptize him. He said sure and then asked, "Are you for sure going through with this?"  He paused and said "YES!  I'm going to do it!" He's getting baptized!!!!  We are so excited!  Like soooo excited!  We sneakily asked him the baptismal questions the other day when he said he wasn't sure if he got an answer to his prayer and he passed every single one. He's reaaaaady!!!

Our investigator Angel said he wanted to get baptized on the 18th!  The only way that would happen would be if he came to church man didn't come to church.  We are pretty upset but it'll all work out. He can come nextweek and be baptized on the 19th instead!  Fingers and toes are crossed for him!  We are super excited for him because he's ready!

Me and my buddy Ernesto

On a hike 

We have a new investigator!  We looked in the area book for people who haven't been passed by in a long time and decided to pass by a few in particular. We went by this woman's house and she opened the door and we talked and she remembered the missionaries coming by before and we set up another appointment for Tuesday!  We are so pumped!  It's hard to find new investigators because we can't really teach English people so we are limited. But we finally found someone new.  

It was a crazy week in Oregon City though!  Angel, our investigator who has been so close to baptism since I first got there, opened the door one day and said, I've got some bad news. He said he wasn't sure if he wanted to go through with all of this anymore because he wasn't "100% committed". I was so distraught. Well, we asked him to pray about it and make sure this was something he wanted to do. So we go back over and he said he didn't want to quit and was going to keep working!  Yay!  Then his brother said he wanted to be taught and his mom seems to be coming around too!  Just as I leave...WAH!  But I'm so glad and excited for them!  He's such an example to his family and now they're all making changes!

We have a Walmart and I am beaming with happiness and joy!  Oh!  I almost forgot!  Guess who is coming to the mission and we have a meeting with this Saturday?!  Jeffery.  R. Holland. Oh snap!! I'm so excited!

So last week we went to this family fun center called Bullwinkles and I was in heaven. It was so much fun!  They had this roller coaster simulator and all these fun games. There was a bunch of missionaries that came so I got to see most everyone from my old area, which was nice!  Afterwards we went to Sonic and it was amazing. I haven't had Sonic is months and they had 99 cent corn dogs. HELLO!!  99 cent corn dogs and happy hour slushes?  Yes, please!  It was a lot of fun!

We eat dinner with a lot of English families here and it's been quite the change from what I was used to!  We had dinner in downtown Portland the other day and we pull up to this building and I almost dropped dead. We see this building whenever we drive into the city and I just stare in awe. So we go in and had dinner on the 20th floor. THE 20th FLOOR!  They were super cool and we were there over an hour just talking about life and they were giving us all advice for school and what we should do after the mission. It was awesome!

Dinner on the 20th floor in downtown Portland! 

For service every week we go to this old folks home and play board games and bingo with a group of these ADORABLE old ladies!  I'm not kidding when I say that it was the time of my life. Elder Smith and I played Sorry! with our friend Gloria and our other friend whose name I can't remember but she was from Iran.  After every turn, my girl from Iran would say "okay, now hurry up and tell them we want to play bingo". It was hilarious. So we eventually played bingo with Gloria, Betty, my girl from Iran, and Carolyn. These girls are my best friends. Vickie, or Mickey, I couldn't quite tell, came in for some diet coke and turned to her friend and points to me and Elder Smith and says "You can have this one and I'll have him!"  I was dying. I loved those ladies!  I can't wait until Friday!

This Saturday was awesome. We had the opportunity to hear from Elder Holland!  It was amazing. He shook all of our hands and Sister Ballard got pictures!  He's such an awesome guy. He took a microphone and walked up and down the isles and grabbed a bunch of people and yelled a bunch and it was marvelous!  He just talked about how important and what a blessing missionary work is. He said some stuff like:

"This isn't easy for us because it wasn't easy for Him!"
"It takes the best of us because it took the very best of Him!"
"There is no such thing as cheap grace!"
He was talking about obedience and said "This isn't Burger King.  You
can't have it your way!"


Elder Holland and I

We had some small miracles happen that really got us excited and we just had a good week here in the Beaverton, Oregon area!

We got to go to the temple this Thursday!  It was amazing and I loved it. I love being about to go to the temple every couple of months. It's so refreshing and uplifting. Not to mention living two minutes away. Last night we drove around the temple and took some pictures. It's such a peaceful place.

We did our service with our girls at Brookdale this last week. I love those girls. Gloria is a Sorry fiend and my girl from Iran, Manzar or Mazar, I don't know and I played some Bingo. Then we got together with Darlene and played Skip Bo!  Darlene is a member and they are seriously the sweetest women and so cute. I love them.

We found this new family that we are teaching and they're golden! They're so awesome. Their little kids want to know more about God and were super interested in our lesson and coming to church with us. One of the little girls was sitting next to Laing and was having him read through the Restoration pamphlet and she had her arm around him and they were reading it together. The other little girl gave us hugs when we left. They were the best. The dad has seen a lot of hardships and been through a lot of CA-RAY-ZEE things so he has some reservations about religion but we have hope for them. We were there for an hour and it was the best lesson I've ever been in. It was awesome!!

I got a new library card, so there's that. We went to Edwin, a super cool member, for dinner a couple times this week and I sat facing the TV. Why?  Because The Mummy, the Mummy Returns, and Iron Man 2 was on.That's why!  It was an amazing dinner.

Other than that, nothing crazy happened. It was a good week!  I have been studying in Helaman this week and have been focusing on making and keeping Christ as our rock and foundation. It's so important to have him as our foundation because He is the only one who knows and can help us the way we need to be helped. How amazing is it that we have someone who suffered for us and is there for us whenever we need
Him?  Pretty amazing if you ask me. I recently made another life changing purchase of the card game Skip Bo!  We play it when we go to Brookdale, the old folks home, and it had officially taken over my "after daily planning" life. Once we finish our nightly planning, we shuffle the cards and play three cut throat games of Skip Bo!  I think I've won maybe 3 games total...Elder Laing is a straight up cheater. I don't know how the guy does it, but he wins like every single game and the ONLY explanation is that he cheats!

I went on an exchange with the Zone Leaders and it was awesome!! 

We did our weekly service at Brookdale this week and were booted out of the fame department by this weird lady who brought in exotic animals. All these old people were more interested in these animals than they were in the wildly attractive Mormons playing games. This weird animal lady brought in ferrets and a skunk. Of all animals, this weird animal lady brought in ferrets and a skunk. Well, me being me, got a picture holding the skunk. His name is Digger and had been de-skunk-ified but had to lay on a towel because he had diarrhea. You all need to know this information about Digger because he's pretty cute and just clung to my chiseled chest.

Other than that, it's been a slow week!  I am grateful for these weeks where things are tough because it really tests our testimonies and our wills. We could easily say "Forget it!  We are getting ice cream, going to the Tesla store, and playing Skip Bo! Because I'm done with all this junk!"  But we keep going because we have faith that something is going to work out. We are continually praying for finding opportunities and being able to find someone who wants to hear the beautiful message of the restored gospel and we have faith that it's all going to work out in our favor.

Such an awesome city!

I hope you all are doing well and strengthening your faith each day. When we strengthen our faith by reading and studying the scriptures, praying and asking for strength, etc, we will be given the strength and power we need to get things done and overcome those trials that we all face!  Keep working on it because it's worth it!  The blessings are worth it!

Last night, we were walking around this complex, knocking on doors which is the worst thing in the world, and these kids were playing outside. Kids are the best because they always talk with us and tell us everything. Well as we were talking to these kids and their mom comes out and starts talking to us and we are getting to know her. It was perfect, you guys. She is interested and we have her a pamphlet and Book of Mormon and have an appointment set up for Thursday! Miracles happen. God is real. It's been a good week!

Golfing!  We went golfing last week and it was the time of my life. Elder Laing got an Eagle on one of the holes and I finished with 29 over par!  Elder Smith and I played together and he got 39 over par so it was a really good day for me!  It was such a fun day. We then went downtown and we stopped by this store called Rocket Fizz.  It has all this candy and crazy soda, for example, bacon soda. Barf. 

Pday golfing

We went to Brookdale for our weekly service and Doreen was there. Doreen is the reigning Skip Bo! Champion and it is my goal to take her out!  We practice every night after planning and I've figured out how to beat the cheater Elder Laing so I thought I was ready for Doreen. Boy, was I wrong. This woman won every single game!  But it's okay. She's the cutest lady ever and she's a member so we talk missionary work and such. I also made a new friend at Brookdale too. Her name is Carolyn and we play Scrabble. I hate Scrabble but I love Carolyn so I play with her. She was asking me all about my mission and why I decided to serve. I told her because the gospel makes me so happy and adds something to my life that I wouldn't want to live without. She got emotional and had some watery eyes when she told me "Thank you" for sharing that with her. We sat and talked for a good 25 minutes, me sipping on my Diet Coke and her on her red wine.

Last night, we had dinner with this awesome family who told us about this cemetery with a bunch of American flags in honor of Memorial Day. So what would any young man from Tennessee who loves America and his super cool companion do?  We went to that cemetery and walked around. It was amazing. All the graves of people who fought in the wars had tiny American flags in the ground on them and they had big flags lining the roads and perimeter of the cemetery. It was very touching to walk around and see all these flags. I'm glad we took the chance to walk around and read the names some of the people who fought for this country. We found a couple graves that were missed and didn't have American flags and we only had one in our car, but Laing laid a flag on someone's grave who fought in the civil war. It was a touching moment and I'm so grateful we took that opportunity. The pictures are bomb.

Memorial Day

Happy Easter to all!!  I hope everyone had a wonderful holiday and was able to enjoy General Conference and feel the spirit as much as I did!  It was a wonderful weekend!  This week was crazy!  Where do I begin? 

This Thursday we had a Zone Conference. We had lunch there and it was nice and we took a big #BecauseHeLives picture with that pink pin drop thing that says "He is Here" which was fun.

Zone Conference

General Conference was amazing!  I found that every talk had something that I needed to improve on!  It was the first time, probably ever, that I sat down and watched all of the sessions and I even took notes. It was awesome and now that it's over I feel like I don't know what to do. It was such an awesome weekend. Elder Oaks, Elder Holland, and President Uchtdorf are just a few talks that I loved!  I sound like every other member who watched don't I?  Ahaha!  For Easter, we went over to the Beans home for dinner and we watched some bits of conference. I love them.  They are so loving and welcoming it's just amazing. They had us watch the priesthood choir sing "Master, the Tempest is Raging" and everyone was crying. They shared some personal story and background to why this song meant so much to them and everything came back to the Savior. This was the first time that I've really focused on the Savior 100% during the Easter week and I haven't ever felt the spirit so strongly. Watching conference and paying attention really left met spiritually full. And thinking about the Savior and His atonement really made it a special day.  We are truly lucky to have the Savior and His atonement in our lives. So very lucky!  

Well, I've been transferred and I'm so upset!  We got transfer calls this Saturday and we all thought that Elder Halversen would be leaving because he has been in Oregon City forever. Well, surprise!  I am now in Beaverton with Elder Laing. He's from Tennessee and loves Harry Potter so he's awesome!  It was hard to leave Oregon City!  I've been there for three months and made so many friends and it was like I was leaving home all over again. We went by a few people before I left and took pictures and it was sad!  I loved that branch and all those people. But I know Beaverton is going to be awesome. We are two minutes away from the temple, right around the corner from Deseret Book, and we drive a new Subaru Legacy!  So come at us!

Tram ride overlooking Portland

This week has been crazy!  As you know, I've been transferred and I am loving my new area!  We are always busy. We do a lot of knocking and finding new people to teach, the only problem is having people home for the return appointments we set. We are working really hard but are running out of places to find new people because they've been knocked through so many times!

It was such a great meeting and an opportunity!  There's a whole bunch more that he said but I can't decide which things to pick out and share. I guess you should have been there. ;)
To finish our exchange we did some service at this church by sorting through kids clothing and toys and all this junk. It was a lot of fun! The lady in charge gives everyone nicknames and since I was new she was walking around trying to decide on a nickname for me. My new nickname is "Keith Urban". I died!  I love Keith Urban and all his Australian-ness. So it was a perfect fit.

Our miracle came in the form of this lady named Maria. We were at an investigators house talking with him and she's walking down the street with her grandkids and she yells "Do you speak Spanish?"  We said yes and she asks us "Why don't you ever come by my house then?"  We said "Well, we will be there in ten minutes!"  We go over and she says been taught by the missionaries years ago and it was just perfect. She's feeding us dinner tonight and we are going to teach her the restoration again!  How awesome is that?!

Branch President and his family!

I went on another exchange and I led out the area!  It was so nerve racking because we have a pretty big area and everyone we teach speaks Spanish. We had a pretty good day planned but no one was home. Literally every door we knocked on was to an empty apartment. I have to keep reminding myself this: 

 "This is hard because salvation isn't cheap!"

Thanks for reading! Until next time! 

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