Monday, August 29, 2016

Week 84

     Hey Mom! Glad dad's b-day went well, that sounds nice for him to finally eat sugar and stuff, but that stinks that he got sick from it! There's no going back haha. This week was really great, Tuesday morning especially, because we prepped our apartment to get new elders (cleaning) and we split our area, made their whiteboard with all the members they'd have, wrote the info about their investigators and erased our whiteboard, and then I texted some of the missionaries that went down to McAllen to transfers who are the new elders in our district? Annddd.... turns out we are not getting any new elders or anything haha... false alarm. Pretty awesome huh? Haha me and Stewart just laughed/cried because we had spent like 3 hours doing all of that for nothing and had erased our own whiteboard, which takes a ton of time to re-do. But we did it anyway and yeah, what a great learning opportunity. 
      We have a new family that is coming to our ward now, the son just moved in and reactivated his mom, they're from Brazil! Haha it's so awesome, their English is terrible! It's so fun. And they're super into doing missionary work so we're working with them quite a bit and they've already fed us twice, they're super good cooks too. They speak Portuguese to eachother and we can kind of understand what they are saying because Spanish and Portuguese are pretty similar. It's really funny, if they don't understand us in English we'll say it in Spanish and they'll understand. And there is another son who is not a member who is very spiritually lost and looking for answers, he's awesome. So we're working with him now, but he got sick this Sunday and didn't come :(. And a few days later we went and played volleyball with them, it was fun.
     We had yet another new family come to church. Well, a father and his young daughter. He's cool, has a few doubts about Joseph Smith and stuff, but that'll fix itself. The talks were really great, the Staley's actually were the speakers. But our ward is so loud, because there is like a 3-1 ratio of children to adults, and they sat in the very back and couldn't hear much. So we've made new plans that we'll always have investigators sit up front.
    The other day we were biking and I biked way ahead of Elder Stewart and I turned the corner and I guess he lost me or something because he was taking forever, so Iooped around to see if he was coming and he came around the corner super slow. And he said, "well you missed a good one" And told me about how he was looking for me and didn't see a big dip in the road infront of him and he hit it and flipped over the handlebars. Haha I felt super bad. Best part is that he did it infront of the weird 5 way intersection in our area, so there were plenty of people to witness it. He's fine, just a little scrape on his lil knee is all.
    We checked the mail for the first time since I've been here! Which was great because my home card had expired and it stunk, but you sent me one, so that's cool! And also I got a bunch of letters from the stake youth in Nebraska, which is nice, I got a few email addresses from people which is exciting. And a ton of stuff for missionaries who haven't been here in a long time, so I guess we're not the only ones who haven't checked the mail in a while.
       It was a good week over all. Thanks for writing me! I love you, have a great week!

Here's a few pics from last week when we went to the ocean.

Week 83

Hey Mom! 
     Yeah this was an interesting week for us too, it was the last week of the transfer and we were running around everywhere. We found a family the prior week and they really like us but they live 30mins away so couldn't come to church last week. Then they let us know Saturday night that they had no gas to take their car to church on Sunday morning. Of course right? So we had some fun stressing over how they were going to get to church on Sunday. Sunday morning came around, and nobody had responded. Oh also, we only have like 3 active members where they live and 2/3 of them were going to car pool to church that morning. Also, its a family of 7. And so that was a huge bummer, and then the member driving the carpool called us and told us that he'd take two cars so that they could fit the family. It was awesome, so we called our investigators to let them know and.... their phone was off! So we called the other member there that was going to be going in the car pool and asked her to run over to their house and wake them up so they'd come. And she said she'd try. We didn't really hear that much after that from them until they just showed up like 2 mins before church started! It was such a huge miracle haha. Our members are awesome. 
     The family is really nice, we think the mom has some kind of learning disability, because when we ask her a question, she kind of gives us a blank look. Also her kids don't really know what they should do in church as far as behavior so it was a little hectic. They would talk as loud as they wanted and I would try to hush them. And of course the mom did absolutely nothing. The kids kept telling me, "Hey! She's out in the hall!" and tattling on their siblings to me. I kinda just sat there and thought... wait these aren't my kids, why are they looking to me to take care of them? haha I have a new found respect for parents. And I only had to deal with it for a few hours. The family really loves us though, they call us everyday to ask us how we are and tell us random stuff that happened. It's nice, but we don't always have all the time in the world to talk to them haha.
     And then we are having transfers this Tuesday.. and Elder Stewart and I... are staying together!!! Haha it's so awesome! There are something like 30 missionaries coming into the mission, which is a lot. So they are opening old areas that have been closed down for a while, which means that my district will grow from a 4 man district with 2 companionships into an 8 man district with 4 companionships. So that'll be interesting. I'll have to be more organized at least. I'm actually excited because that means that district activities will be more fun and we'll be able to ball as a district. Speaking of which, my knee is doing a lot better, not quite better yet, still a little swelled and feels like it's bruised, but it'll be okay. I just need to focus on keeping it strong so this stops happening.
  Oh! Elder Stewart went to visit a member that lives pretty far away, and lives right next to the beach. So we paid it a visit for fun. It was pretty cool, it was just a small gulf I guess, but we knew in our minds it was the ocean so it seemed cooler than that. It didn't smell nearly as bad as the Atlantic, so that was good. We saw a bunch of fish jumping everywhere, some of em were pretty big. Then there was this like 10ft pole and I thought it would be cool to do the karate kid thing on it, so I climbed up there first, super scary. I thought I was gonna die, especially standing on one foot. Then I got Stew to climb up there, I may or may not have held his hand to make him feel more safe, and he wouldn't do the one foot thing, he said his body froze and he couldn't haha. But it was fun.
         It was a great week and I'm excited for this next transfer with Elder Stewart. I'm glad Nate's doing okay! have a great week mom! I love you!

 My computer isn't letting me sent pictures, I'll send em next week.

Monday, August 15, 2016

Week 82

   Good week, haha also last week was good too, I haven't gone into a depression or anything. This week has gone pretty well, we have found lots of less actives and knocked on lots of doors where members used to be and met some new people. Door contacting is always really fun, you never know how someone is going to react. Sometimes they'll open and say, "Oh no thanks, we're Catholic" and close the door, or sometimes, "Don't even waste your time guys" Sometimes we'll get the uncomfortable teenager that just has no idea what to say to other humans. And sometimes we'll knock some random door and get a guy that doesn't even let us get a word in, he'll just talk the whole time. It's super fun. Also it's interesting to see how spiritual stereotypes are true. We'll meet a woman and share something with her at the door and she'll feel the spirit and invite us back the next day, come back the next day, husband answers and tells us to get lost. Men... pshh..
      On Saturday we were going to go out to one part of our area and help a member paint their house and then afterwards there was a birthday of one of the children of an investigator family. So we just wore our P-day clothes, turned out they finished painting before we got there. We went to the b-day party and it was their little family and then us. Nobody else. The family is really poor, a single mother with 6 kids. And they let us in and we ate cake, and the kids smeared frosting all over my face. For some reason the family just loves us, we've only gone over and talked to them like twice, but the kids are always so happy to see us. Then after cake we went and had a water balloon fight, which I went with the intention of not getting wet, but apparently when there are six kids and two missionaries it's everyone against the missionaries. Also their back yard turned out to only be like 20x20ft. So there was nowhere to go... Needless to say, Elder Stewart and I got drenched. Most of the time itPreview attachment IMG_0144.JPGIMG_0144.JPG4.6 MB was more of a grab a bucket and dump it on someone war, but there were a few water balloons here and there. Also, when Stewart was filling up waterballoons one of the kids said, "I can tell that you're wearing tighty whities." And it was super awkward and then later one of the kids looked at me and yelled, "You're wearing a muscle shirt!" Haha very observant little people... We just tried to change the subject as fast as we could. It was really fun and we built a good relationship with them. Then we had a member stop by to guide them to the church on Sunday morning, but they couldn't go because the windshield wipers don't work on their car and it was raining pretty good. They live 30mins outside of the city so it'd be bad. So that was a big bummer. 
      Two weeks ago we were asked to go to visit a less active with a member and we said yes and our appointment before that appointment went a little over time and we ended up being like 30mins late! So we felt bad and apologized, the guy who went with us was actually pretty upset, and then our EQ president told us to not do that again. Haha we felt like garbage and we had already fixed our relationship with the other dude, but yeah, so we got jacked by a member. Then the member that was with us at that appointment that made us late to the next one, came up and complimented us on how great the lesson went and everything. Haha it was kind of like a cut us down, raise us up thing I guess. Which stinks because I take pride in being a punctual missionary. That was like one of two appointments we've been late to.. everything will catch up to you sometime. 
      I thought this was interesting, in 

Southern Texas I'm not sure if I've told you about it, but some people tend to have their priorities backwards. Spiritually and temporally. They will have a 65" flat screen but live in a trailer that's falling apart, or in this instance, drive a new Dodge Challenger, but their house will be falling apart.
     Also, up in the northern parts of our mission, the cotton crop is pretty abundant. So I felt the need to pick some, so that I could say that I've done so. "That's stealing!" Nah I'm sure the farmer would just see that I was curious.
        Annnddd... I got bored one day and was wondering what the top of my hair looked like, it's super crazy, like a cinnamon roll or something.  
 That's about it for this week, pretty exciting stuff.. Hope you guys have a great week, I love you!

Week 81

    Haha! I love Devon, he is the Mexican version of me. I've heard about people naming pets after missionaries and I always thought it'd be cool. I miss that family, Cyndi is going to the temple in January! That's awesome!
        This week was a pretty good week, started off on Monday at the P-day activity, we played some bball. We have a pretty athletic zone so it's really fun. This one time I was running down the court with the ball and Elder Puga, my ex comp to mess around pretended to trip me and I stepped wrong and twisted my knee again. That's awesome because it hasn't happened in like almost a year. Exciting to still have that problem. So this week I've been trying to recover from that, the limp is about gone haha. We've seen so many people with terrible limps this week and everytime we see one, Elder Stewart says, "oh look it's you!" Haha he's such a punk. It's ok though, it doesn't bother me too much, just sad when someone wants to play ball on the side of the road and I can't. 
        We've been having some hard time getting people in our area to commit to church. We went to one of our investigators' house and talked about their progression and about receiving an answer. We talked about the sacrifice that God requires in order to bless us with that knowledge and that it requires dedication. We read Ether 12:6, you receive no witness until after the trail of your faith, and talked about how a trial is supposed to be hard. We talked about the consequences if this is the true church and they fail to put forth the effort of finding out, and all these different things. We had an awesome member with us and she testified of how we have to put our faith in God and trust him, and shared personal experiences of herself and her own family. It was a super great lesson and the investigator even told us how much he felt the Spirit. But then all in all, he didn't commit to church and was not there yesterday. It was pretty disappointing but my purpose is just to invite right?
    Lately in the mission, we've changed a lot of things. The last few months we've done pretty poorly as a mission and so our new mission president is making lots of changes. He's changed our work schedule, weekly planning and other things. Einstein's definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result. So trying to work in a different way, even though it's kind of scary sometimes. It's pretty cool and we're learning a lot. He shared with us this thing about circus elephants and I can't remember if I already told you about it. When they are young they chain them to a stake and nail the stake into the ground, like a lead for a dog. So they only have about a 15ft radius from the stake. As a young, small elephant they are not strong enough to pull this stake from the ground, so they walk around only in their 15ft radius. As they grow and mature they are much much stronger, obviously. BUT an elephant has such a good memory of not being able to pull up the stake, it doesn't even try. So even when an elephant weighs a ton, it is held down by this little stake and chain. Which is what we've essentially done as a mission. We are holding ourselves back mentally from having success. So we are changing the way we think, focusing on teaching families, not individuals and other things. I think its a cool concept and we can all apply it to different things we go through in life.
     This was definitely a strange week though. We made plans and did different things to be more obedient and for focus and diligence, and it seemed to work really well, we felt like we were doing better. But came Saturday and we had only found one new investigator the whole week and had nobody committed to church. It was discouraging and we were kind of just wandering trying to think of the most productive thing we could do. We said a prayer and drove to a street where we had a few referrals. We talked to this guy outside who had been drinking a little bit and working on his car. We figured we might as well schedule a return appointment. So we talked with him a little, invited him to church, and set a return appointment. So we called him before church Sunday morning and he answered and said he was getting ready. We drove to his house, he followed us in his truck and it was the weirdest thing. That's the second time we've had a drunk guy we talk to Saturday come to church the next day. Maybe we have a gift for talking with drunk people... haha. I guess it was some kind of miracle, not at all what we were expecting but, a miracle nonetheless. 
    After church we drove out to visit our recent convert and his granddaughter, solved a few of her doubts and ate with them. Then we went to talk to a few potential investigators and we found a family of 7! A singe mom with six kids! If anyone could use the Lord's help right? Two of them are under baptismal age but still, it was another miracle. The kids love us and are one of the first families to be able to remember the name Birrell. I think that means they're something special. 
      Elder Young, a former district leader of mine came to visit the mission yesterday and I got to meet his family and see him again, it was pretty cool. He is a good guy, and he has a younger brother that leaves on a mission in like 2 weeks. Haha his poor parents, just got one back and another one leaves. I think that'd be sad, maybe it'd be nice cause it would kinda equal out haha. 
     Glad to know you're all doing good, I love you! TTYL!

Monday, August 1, 2016

Week 80

Hey Mom! Wow, that's a lot of visitors! I don't know why, but everytime we had visitors over it was nice but then at the same time it likes stresses you out for some reason you know? I don't know, maybe I'm just weird.  
     This week was pretty cool. We took a less active youth with us for a day. We drove to visit our recent convert Fortunato Peralta and another family that lives near him. They both speak spanish, but Stephan, the kid that came out with us, doesn't. It was super funny. They would try to talk to him and his eyes would get really big and we'd just laugh and tell them he doesn't speak spanish. One time Bro. Peralta was talking straight to him for like 5mins (He's an old man that likes to preach his wisdom). It was a cool experience for him I guess, then we went and played basketball at a park according with his request. 
     I went on an exchange this week with Elder Messinger, he's in my district. We had a good day, met some awesome people. Then we decided to call a member and ask for pizza, we did that the last time Messi and I went on an exchange. But we realized that we didn't have any ranch at the apartment so we had to make a trip to HEB. In HEB we met some cool people and we were feeling like talking to strangers, so we talked to a few people and took pictures with them at the store haha. A few muslim dudes and this guy with crazy dreads, he told us he's been growing it for 7 years! It was fun, Elder Messinger is a good guy. 
    We had a zone conference, our mission President talked about "Concupiscencias" translated to english is like concupisence.. I know right that doesnt help at all.. Then we found out it means like carnal desires. Which when one thinks of things that are carnal, almost everyone just thinks of sexual things. He shared lots of scriptures from the bible about it and it talks lots about being selfish and angry and lazy. I like to think of Mosiah 3:19 the natural man, basically that is what a carnal desire is. And he taught us a lot about it, it was really cool and the spirit told me lots of ways that I can improve.
    This Sunday I gave 2 talks! It was great haha. I spoke in Sacrament meeting about Priesthood Ordinances and then I gave a talk about the Holy Ghost for a ward baptism. It was really cool. Ward baptisms are so much more put together than missionary baptisms. We've had some where there isn't even a program, we just write it on a piece of paper for the one directing to read off. Our third hour of church was a combined meeting, it being the 5th week, and it was about hurricane preparedness. Which basically just became a huge game of who could make the most sarcastic joke about being prepared. This week was a disappointing week for investigators in church, we had 0 investigators come. We are starting to teach about 5 families though, and were hoping a few would come. But I feel on Sundays like these that it might have been a good thing they didn't come, because there was no spirit in the third hour class. I guess God knows what's going on.
     We went over to Peralta's again after church, and he wasn't there. His granddaughter was there and she asked us, didn't he come to church this morning? He didn't come to church. Our minds instantly starting thinking about all that could have happened to this 79 year old man that drove 40 miles to church Sunday morning all by himself with no phone. We just kind of stood there not knowing what to say and then he came home. We were relieved, turns out he just went to a friend's house instead of church.. cool man.
     Fun week, glad yours was too, thanks for keeping in touch, I love you! Have a great week!