Monday, December 21, 2015

New Companion, New Gators, and New Boundaries!

Elder Myers left us on Tuesday and he is now up in Huntsville about 30 miles north of us.  We got a new companion Elder Young who is joining us. We are still in a trio! He is from Sandy, Utah. 

We have been using the "A Savior Is Born" pass-along cards and we have had a lot of success with finding new people to teach by using them in our finding efforts. This past week we found 6 new investigators and our mission standard is 2 each week. Not bad for a white guy. 

We had a lesson with Rebecca on Wednesday and we just read through a chapter of the Book of Mormon with her because she hadn't read. After reading through the chapter she was talking about how she has had a lot of people try to talk to her about religion but she was never really interested. Then she said this. "When you guys knocked on my door I knew there was a reason for it, and I have been so intrigued to learn more." How sick is that? She then said that it had been over 17 years that she has been to a church but she feels like she needs to make a promise to God to come. My response was, "Rebecca, the Lord would have you come to His church, will you come this Sunday?" She said I will be there and guess what? SHE CAME!! I have learned that being lovingly bold with people works when people are prepared. Truth is, the Lord really would have her come to His church, so why not say that if I represent Him? I would be silly to not say that. She came to church and she loved it. She said, "I'll be here next Sunday.

We had a district meeting on Friday and it was Elder Burch's first district meeting and President and Sister Mortensen came. He was a little nervous that President was coming, but I love it when the big dog comes around. I used to think he bites, but now I know he doesn't. :) It was really cool because it wasn't my district so I was in there without a companion so when we role played, President and I were companions and we taught together. SO SICK! I love him so much. We practiced role playing extending a baptismal invitation after the first lesson. Elder Burch and Elder Hanks taught us first and then we threw it down. We did something similar to our lesson with Rebecca. We said, "When you come to know that the Book of Mormon is true, the Lord would have you be baptized in His church. So when you come to know that it is true, will you follow the example of Jesus Christ and be baptized by someone holding the priesthood authority of God?" When you are that direct with people and the Spirit is there, they want to say YES! 

After district meeting, we went to lunch with one of my former companions Elder Lythgoe. He and a couple of his buddies were up here for a wedding and so they took us out to lunch! It was good to see them, and Ill see them in Utah next month! 

Saturday morning, the Turners came up here from Katy and they took us all out to breakfast at this place called the Toasted Yolk. It is so good! I have been eating pretty clean lately but it was time to throw it down on some good food. I got this plate of biscuits and gravy with eggs, onions, ham, bacon, sausage, and hash browns. You guys, I cannot begin to tell you how good it was! It was huge too and I ate all of it! It was worth the calories. 

Sunday, we learned of the boundary changes that everyone has been wondering about for months now. There were a couple new wards created in our Stake and they took part of our ward and the Conroe 1st Ward as well. We lost a few of my favorite members in the ward including the Saenz. Robert and Alice were there at the meeting and I went over to them after and Alice was crying because she thought she wasn't going to see me anymore. She almost made me start crying but I reassured her that I cover the entire stake so I will still be seeing them. :) She was happy about that. It will be a good change for them and they are going to meet a lot of new friends. I am excited for them!  

Merry Christmas to everyone! I want to thank everyone in advance for all of the cards and packages I have been receiving! I am so blessed to have my wonderful family and friends. I love you all!! 

This is kinda blurry, but Elder Young put up the lights and the stockings and then Elder Nielsen says hello. :) 

​This is our nice carpet after I vacuumed it. :) 

Thanks for the ornament Mamma!! 

MLC, Seminary, and the Temple

Well, this week flew by! Elder Myers is being transferred so we are really going to miss him, especially me. He is like my son! We have had a great three months together and I know why President felt inspired for us to be companions. We have learned a lot from each other. HE is going to do great things and touch the lives of many! 

Tuesday, we had Mission Leadership Council and it went really well! President Mortensen never ceases to amaze me with his council he gives. It is pretty amazing. We talked a lot about working better with our ward councils and then President threw it down for a while. It was sick. We role played Matthew 14 where Peter walks on the water to Jesus and likened that unto someone who is not sure about their baptismal date. 

After MLC, we had dinner with the Russo's. On our way there, I saw a bumper sticker that said, "All gave some, and some gave all." That really was profound to me at that very moment. I was thinking about that in relation to missionaries. Every single one of us gave something up to be here. We have all left our family, friends, hobbies, and even education. We have all let our comfort zone. The question is are we giving it our all? That is a more and more sobering thought for those who are nearing the end of their missions. I do not want to regret not working hard after I come home, so my promise to you guys is that I am giving it my all! #NOREGRETS 

Thursday, we taught seminary and they are studying the Old Testament. We went through Numbers 20 and 21. I learned a lot from studying and preparing to teach them. I made cake pops and chocolate covered pretzels for them. They were all over that! 

After we finished teaching seminary, we went back to our apartment to get some breakfast and then we had the wonderful opportunity to go to the temple as a district. This past week was one of the best experiences for me because I paid close attention to the symbolism we learn about in the Lord's house. I learned more on Thursday than all of the other times combined. I know in the temple we can find peace and happiness and it is the only place where those feeling will last. 

Friday, we taught zone meeting and I covered the stuff about working with ward council and then the Sister training leaders talked about all of the stuff that President threw down. One thing he said was this.  He was talking to a physiologist once and he told President that, "Shy people are the most self-centered people in the world." That is a big pill to swallow for those who may be shy, but think about that. How true that really is. They are too concerned about what others may think of them so they don't speak up. They related that to missionaries who don't want to go tracting or talk to people. Elder Nielsen and I modeled the role play with the Sister training leaders as our investigators. Elder Elsberry discreetly filmed it and the airdropped it to me. was cool to go back and see what it looks like when we teach. 

We went to Texas Roadhouse for Elder Myers' birthday and it was so fun. I LOVE that place! Their food is seriously the best. Its cool because in Arizona and Utah they say, "Welcome to Texas Roadhouse."  But here, they just say, "Welcome to Roadhouse." :) 

We found a new investigator named Austin on Saturday. We were tracting out an apartment complex and then we found him towards the end of the night. He was really cool. We are going back later this week. 

Well that is most of our crazy fast week. I hope you are all having a great holiday season and may we all remember our Savior and all that He has done for each of us as we celebrate this special time of the year. If you haven't already, check out "A Savior Is Born" at and if you have seen it, share it with a friend! I love you guys and may the Lord's greatest blessing be upon you all. Have a great week! 

We helped Brother Stringer make a chicken coop for his rooster. :) 

We got some ornaments for our tree thanks to Sister Falcon! 

New Gators, Last Zone Conference, and the Temple

This past Tuesday, we went tracting and we were sharing the new "A Savior Is Born" video and talked to a guy named Marshall and asked if we could come in and share it with he and his family and he was like, "Yeah come in!" SO sick. His wife's name is Jennifer and they have three daughters. We shared the video and then talked about the Savior's earthly ministry and then set up a return appointment with them for the next day. 

Wednesday, my companions went with Brother Douglas back over to share the restoration lesson with them and Brother Douglas and Marshall hit it off. They were like two peas in a pod. They both do Ironmans and they just clicked. Meanwhile Chris Saenz and I went over to the Kotak's house and we had a lesson with Raj. 

Thursday, I had my last zone conference and I gave my departing testimony. HOLY COW! It's getting real now. I asked the assistants if I could go last because I wanted to throw it down. I talked first about how I have had the privilege of training a new missionary and it has been the coolest experience for me. I said I told Elder Myers just a few weeks ago that the best advice I could give him would be to follow the rules, then I proceeded to talk about the importance of obedience. I then talked about the Book of Mormon and how that book has literally changed my life. I talked about how much I have changed throughout the course of my mission and then shared a couple paragraphs from Christy's email to me this past week. She said;

 "I remember a Sunday, not all that long ago, when a very annoyed young man sat next to me in sacrament meeting.  He definitely did NOT want to be there; he was there because he had to be.  As he sat there, unhappy and frustrated, the organ prelude to the opening song began.  I opened up the hymn book and offered it to the young man.  He said, "You can make me go to church, but you can't make me sing."  Do you know who that young man was?  It was you.....but it wasn't you.  I mean, it was you sitting next to me, but your spirit hadn't yet learned some of the secrets to happiness.

Now, more than 2 years and many spiritual miles later, here you sit, at the jumping-off place to what is certain to be your next great adventure.....the rest of your life!  And, having served the Lord on your mission for almost 2 years now, you have learned so much and changed your heart so completely that you don't even RESEMBLE the young man who sat next to me in church back then and refused to sing.  Now, you know that the secret to a truly happy life is turning our hearts, minds and wills over to Heavenly Father and letting him make of us what He wants us to be.  The truth is that He can make us into far better people than we ever would have the ability to become by following our own desires and impulses.  He loves us so much that He gave us His Only Begotten Son to make it possible for us to change and become the amazing creatures He wants us to be.  Jesus Christ and His gospel are honestly the only ways to true and lasting happiness and joy in this life and the next. You have learned that for yourself and it's been quite a journey from where you were then to where you are now.  Just think of where you'll be 10 years from now!  As you continue living "after the manner of happiness," your potential for true joy is limitless!  The journey you've taken so far makes me so happy.  I am honored beyond words to have witnessed it."

My allergies were really picking up as I read this and it made it really tough to read when my eyes were watering. After that I talked about how I know there are many reasons why I was called to Houston, but I am certain that one of them is because of President Mortensen. I cannot express how much I love my Mission President and his dear family. He has helped me tremendously with becoming something of what I always wanted to become, but more importantly what the Lord would have me become. I have learned much from watching how he and Sister Mortensen treat each other. Obviously, they love each other, but you can tell that they really 'like' being around one another. I talked about the love they have for all of us and how we have much to learn from them. I closed with a verse in Jacob 5:72 and said that the only thing that is keeping us from the presence of the Savior is ourselves. 

Saturday Morning, we went to the temple with the Saenz for their first time doing baptisms for the dead. The Evans came with us and they were the ones who helped the Saenz find family names on family search. It was the coolest experience ever. I can honestly say that being in the temple is my most favorite place in the entire world. That is where lasting peace, joy, and happiness lay. May we all strive to keep the commandments and the covenants that we have made, that we may be able to enter into the Lord's house. In the name of Jesus Christ, amen. 

P.S. Happy Birthday to my little sister, and my biggest fan. I love you, Buddah, and I will be thinking of you this Friday! :) 

Its Christmas time in the city! We are going to get ornaments soon so don't worry. :) 

A Great Turkey Day!

I hope you all had a great Thanksgiving! We went to four different members' homes for dinner so I just nibbled on some things at each place that way I didn't have to roll myself out the door. My companions went all out though! 

After our last dinner, we went tracting. We talked to a really nice lady who said we can come back this Wednesday and her name is Teresa. We didn't feel super solid about her so we kept on knocking. After about 20 or so minutes we were starting to become a little frustrated because no one was answering and the ones that did didn't want to have anything to do with us. I suggested that we say a prayer, so I went ahead and offered that. I included in that prayer for Heavenly Father to lead us to someone who he has prepared. After the prayer, it started raining on us. It wasn't too bad at first, but none of us had rain jackets so when it started coming down harder we were all soaking wet. None of us wanted to say it, but we were just not feeling it. We kept on going and still nothing. We were just about to go back and then we decided to knock one more house. The lady ended up not wanting to talk to us and as we were leaving we noticed her neighbors garage was open with the light on. 

As we walked up to the garage a guys was like, "It's the Mormons! Come in here and get out of the rain!" We went in and he explained that he had an in-law that was a member of our church. We talked for a few minutes and then he asked if we wanted some food. My companions were stuffed, so I was like "Sure, I'll take some food!" I am willing to take one for the team. I'll gain a pound for a new investigator any day. Luckily, I just had a tiny bit. I wasn't hungry, but I wanted to get in that house! The chances of someone becoming an investigator and taking the lessons increases dramatically just by entering into their home. After we ate, his wife asked if we wanted to come sit down in the living room. Yes, please! We talked about the Restoration briefly and they both wanted us to come back this coming Saturday so we will see how it goes! :) I am telling you, the "Fourth Watch" is a real principle. The Lord does not come right away. He doesn't come right when it gets tough but, rather, He comes after the trial of our faith. 

Saturday, we had a lesson with Kent and Brother Lane came with us. Kent is the one who used to be a professional boxer and Brother Lane teaches boxing so it was pretty sick. We went in and they talked for just a couple minutes then we had a prayer and talked about the Book of Mormon and explained it in depth. Once I understood this principle that "the amount of the Book of Mormon an investigator reads, is directly proportionate to their conversion," I started to teach it differently. That principle has changed my life forever. It changes my studies, it changes the way I discuss it with members and it changes the way I teach it to non-members. Most importantly, it changes the way I will teach it to my children someday. At the end of the lesson, we asked Kent to say the closing prayer and asked him to ask Heavenly Father to know that the Book of Mormon is true. It's not a matter of "if" it is true. We know it is true. They need to ask for that knowledge to come to them as they read, ponder, and pray about it. He stopped partway through and looked at the pamphlet to see what else he should say, so I whispered to him, "Pray about the truthfulness of the Book of Mormon." And he did. If they don't do it with us, the chances of them praying about it on their own are slim and if they don't say a specific prayer it is hard to get a specific answer. 

This Thursday is my last zone conference so I will be giving my departing testimony and I have literally been thinking about it for weeks now. I have put a lot of thought into it because I ask myself, "What do I wish I would have known when I first came out on my mission?" and "What could I say that would be of the most benefit for the missionaries to hear?" I think about that kind of stuff. I will report next Monday on the things I chose to talk about. My time is going so fast, and I can honestly say that I am learning the most in the last few months of my mission. I love it! Have a great week everyone! 

Sending some love from the three musketeers. :) 

Happy Thanksgiving!

We had a sweet week! On Sunday, we had a special MLC with Elder and Sister Packer and that was pretty awesome. Elder Packer said that after all of the studies that have been done with trying to baptize more of the people we find, there is a tool that will show us how to do that. He got us all fired up and then told us that the tool was Preach My Gospel. Mind blown! Preach My Gospel literally has everything we need to succeed as missionaries. 

Tuesday, we had a zone conference with Elder and Sister Packer as well with President and Sister Mortensen. There were a lot of things that we talked about. President talked about the Doctrine of Christ and it was really good. He talked about how our faith and repentance are essential to us as we progress in the gospel of Jesus Christ. Honestly the thing that sticks out to me most is how a General Authority treats his spouse and how she treated him. The way they talked about each other was moving. I pay attention to the details in everything. President and Sister Mortensen do the same things. You can learn so much about how to treat your spouse just by making observations with our Priesthood leaders. It is the coolest thing ever! 

On Wednesday, we had 8-week follow up for all of the new missionaries (Elder Myers) and it was literally my favorite meeting I have had my entire mission! I have been called to train a few missionaries throughout the course of my mission but due to circumstances, this was the first meeting I made it to. We all started out together and President was doing some training and then all of the trainers got up and went into the Relief Society room while the trainees stayed in the chapel. We then went around and asked what is hard, what is good, and if we feel that our trainees could train if they were called to next transfer. It was really cool. Then we went into the gym and all of the trainees go to a different trainer and we look over their outlines for the first three lessons found in chapter three of Preach My Gospel. Then we rotated after each lesson. We had lunch after that and then it was time to role play! All of the trainees went around and start to teach the lessons. We are in a trio so president just had me go around and observe with he and the assistants while Elder Nielsen was being taught. It was so cool for me to listen to all of the new missionaries teach. President had everyone close their eyes and asked the trainers, "If you felt moved, raise your hand." There were a lot who didn't raise their hands and so he told them to start over! Haha I love President Mortensen so much. He is a man of God, and he does not mess around. I love it. 

We have been finding a lot of people but there have been quite a few who end up not being interested. We are here to invite the world, and find the elect. We tracted into this lady named Rebecca and she was literally searching or thinking about finding a new church. She was going through a tough time with one of her sons, and we just talked to her about the pre-earth life. We told her that she can make it through these challenges as she relies on the strengthening power of the Atonement of Jesus Christ. We talked a lot about the Atonement, and she wanted us to come back to talk to her and her family when her boys would be there. We are going back tomorrow! 

We also found a new investigator who was meeting with the missionaries in the past but they just lost contact and then we were going through our area book and found him so we went by. We are planning on seeing him sometime this week. He used to be a professional boxer and Brother Lane teaches a boxing class so we are going to bring him with us. I hope you all have a great week and know that I love you! 

A couple of us having lunch with the 'Big Dog' at 8 week follow up! 

Here is Elder and Sister Packer. So neat to have them! 

Faith and Hope

Alright, I have to be quick today! This past Tuesday, we went on exchanges with the assistants and we had a really good day. Elder Croft came with Elder Nielsen and I and then Elder Myers went with the other assistant Elder Visser. We went finding that night with a member Zach Eberhart and he and I went to a lesson while the other two elders went tracting. Our lesson fell through so we went back to a lady's house named Lindsey who we talked with a few nights prior. She told us to come back on Tuesday if we had time so we said, "Okay." When we got there a member from the Conroe 1st Ward was there with her husband! Lindsey had made us all dinner and then we shared a message when we finished. Good thing we went back!! She is a really nice lady and she works with Brother Fisher from the Conroe 1st Ward. He served here like 2 years ago and met Katie who is now Sister Fisher. They are sweet! We taught the Restoration and then we are going to go back this week. She has a daughter who 12 and she is interested in meeting with us as well!

Meanwhile, when we were at Lindsey's house Elder Croft and Nielsen found 5 other investigators!! There was one guy named Tommy which we have already met with again this past Thursday and then another lady and three of her children.

As we have reflected on why we found 7 new investigators that day we have come to one conclusion. We had the hope to find. Obviously we had the faith to go out and act and say okay lets go tract, but we were actually planning and hoping to finding people. We told each other that we would do whatever we had to and then prayed and confirmed with the Lord. You can have faith and no hope. They are so similar, yet they are different. I love these words of wisdom from Moroni 10:20-23.

Wherefore, there must be faith; and if there must be faith there must also be hope; and if there must be hope there must also be charity.
And except ye have charity ye can in nowise be saved in the kingdom of God; neither can ye be saved in the kingdom of God if ye have not faith; neither can ye if ye have no hope.
And if ye have no hope ye must needs be in despair; and despair cometh because of iniquity.
And Christ truly said unto our fathers: If ye have faith ye can do all things which are expedient unto me.

It is also interesting to me that some missionaries think that being disobedience doesn't affect the work. The scriptures clearly tell us that iniquity leads us to despair.  And if we are in despair we have no hope.  And if we have no hope we have no faith.  And if we have no faith we will see no miracles because miracles come on account of our faith. Moroni 7:37

"Keep the commandments; keep the commandments!
In this there is safety; in this there is peace.
He will send blessings; He will send blessings.
Words of a prophet: Keep the commandments.
In this there is safety and peace."

I love this hymn. I know that as we keep the commandments our faith and hope will increase and our confidence shall wax strong in the presence of God. In the name of Jesus Christ, amen.