Tuesday, October 22, 2013

You're Mormons?

I had to work on my BYU app this week so I don't have much time to write, the library has a 2 hour limit and last week my time was UP so I had to send my letter real quick to even get it out. So anyway, this is my letter for the week, and I'm sending a bunch of pics to make up for it. All I have to say is that this week was awesome, a lot more comfortable and less exhausting than last week! haha I love every second of this. One experience I have to tell you briefly about is a few nights ago when Elder Stevens and I were doing some Faith tracting. We ran into this awesome lady first door we went to and she seemed interested. The intriguing part though, was a few doors later when we ran into the man who at first seemed nice, but ended up being this vulgar anti-mormon idiot. He started arguing at us (we don't participate in arguing haha), spewing some biblically misconceived nonsense that was supposed to confound us, and all of that was whatever until he kept saying Joseph Smith was a liar. I tried to walk away once and my comp kept standing there, so I walked back, listened to a bit more nonsense and stopped him. I told him that I knew Joseph Smith was a prophet,  I know he was called of God, and I know he saw God and Jesus Christ. We wished him a goodnight and walked away as he kept yelling whatever at us. I was pretty worked up the rest of the night, it did strengthen my testimony, and I prayed that night that I could grow even more in my testimony and especially my knowledge of the scriptures. I had no idea what I signed up for. 

The next day (yesterday (sunday (the day after saturday (parentheses)))) Elder Turley and I were tracting again (we seem to do that quite a bit) and we ran into a man who when we he saw us at the door, quickly said "You're Mormon's? I've got some questions for you, come in" It was just like when you watch a scary movie and the girl is about to open the door where the monster is and you keep thinking why would you ever do that run! what are you doing?!?! haha "It's a trap" as batman of madtv would say. So, as the girl always does, we went anyway haha. I have to clarify it's not like a had a real prompting like I shouldn't go in there, but I was just nervous and thought "here we go again" and trusted that my companion knew what he was doing haha. So what followed was actually a civil, hour discussion with this pastor of another faith on our beliefs, specifically on the Plan of Salvation got a hold of and proudly marked and took notes on every page haha. It was like a I was signed up for an hour long class on exactly what I prayed for. He claimed to not be arguing either, and asked a few questions he thought would confound us, but Elder Turley has such awesome Gospel knowledge, he was able to explain our beliefs, why we have them, and back them with scripture. It was terrifying, but I even answered a few questions, and we just had a nice talk. I learned SO much. I wish I could just replay the night over and over so I could internalize all of it, but overall I did learn some, and gained a stronger resolve to learn the doctrine better, and an even stronger testimony of the truth our message. I know that Joseph Smith was a prophet,  I know he was called of God, and I know he saw God and Jesus Christ. Have a good week!

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

I'm in Washington!

The first week in the field is tough, but it's been great! So in between Monday (my last night at the MTC) and Tuesday (my first day in Washington) I got about 2 hours of sleep. It was intense. First off, I started out strong in the airport. My first time being in the real world for weeks haha and I met this nice guy Ben. We ended up talking about church and life for 15 minutes plus, and I gave him a pass a long card, he seemed really interested! It was a great kick off. When I landed in Seattle we had a nice lunch in the Mission President's home, then went to the Church where we had some orientation stuff, and interviews. After all the interviews we finally got assigned companions and areas. There is a tradition where the Trainers and Greenies sit at opposite ends of the chapel, and then when they find out who they are assigned to the y meet in the middle and give em a hug. I am in a quadpanionship since Elder Stevens and I are VISA waiters and either of us could any leaving any day. So I had 3 companions, I gave Elder Turley a hug, then Elder Stevens, then I was about to give Elder Stack a hug, and someone said "You don't want to do that Elder, He doesn't do hugs, we can explain later" hahaha it was a bit intimidating I guess. He apparently just doesn't like being touched hah, great 1st impression. Anyways five minutes later the meeting ended and we had to rush straight to our first teaching appointment! It was a bit scary, but it went really well. We are teaching this man named JT who is engaged to a member Amanda and he is awesome! He watched 6 hours of conference by himself on his iPad last weekend. It went great! 

The rest of the week was good, it's tough and is definitely a hard transition but I'm making the most of it. But, I HAVE to tell you about Sunday before I get off I only have a few minutes left. Weirdest Sunday of my life. Hahaha My area is pretty ghetto. Where I live is just a tooooon of apartment complexes, and it's pretty poor, and then the other half of the ward is pretty wealthy and lives next to a gorgeous view of the Puget Sound, so weird combo really. The First speaker in sacrament meeting was kinda wacko, like a bit harsh, and the 1st counselor had to tell him he was outta time cuz he just kept going haha. He actually did give a pretty good talk though, he made some cool points. Then we went to Gospel Doctrines class. I have never seen so many Hobos in church before, they were so faithful and some of them really neat people. I've also never smelt so much cigarette smoke in church haha, but I one of the apostles once said that's his favorite smell in church v=because that means there are investigators there! This one crazy guy Matthew kept making comments during class. They passed the role around, and he had it for like 2 or 3 minutes, so I peeked over his shoulder to see what was doing and he had written what, if it had been real letters and words, would've made two paragraphs, one on top of the other, on the wrong page. I think the teacher will know he was present when he takes a look at that haha. Then this sweet little Spanish sister, Sister Day gave this awesome prayer at the end, she kept saying "you are the one Lord, you are the one, we need you, we need you, the world needs you, " and it was interesting between those two in class, I gotta log off sorry bye!

Monday, October 7, 2013

Everett WA

So first off I got my reassignment to Everette Washington!! I couldn't be more excited! I know that that is where the Lord needs me, and there are people being prepared for me to teach there right now. I leave tonight at 4:30 am.. so technically tomorrow morning. I can't wait o campo ja esta branco para a ceifa (D&C 4 reference). As stoked as I was this week to receive my reassignment the crowning event of my week was Friday night! I'm so excited for you Squid! Anaheim will be amazing, even though you're learning nasty Spanish ;) haha jk I'm actually excited cuz then we can teach each other span/port when we get back! I still feel like the luckiest elder in the world I've had such an incredible week. When I Mom's dearelder tellin me about Caden's call I gave the letter to Sis. Padilla so I wouldn't be tempted to look at it all day (were not supposed to read them til the end of the day. That night our district decide to have a testimony meeting instead of our additional study. I have to tell you the Spirit was incredibly strong in that room. My hands were shaking a bit as I was moved by the beautiful witnesses of the Savior and His restored Church from my district whom I have grown to love so much. At the end, I asked Sis. Padilla to give me my letter to open, because I wanted to read it in that room while the Spirit was so apparent. I've only had water leak outta my eyes 3 or 4  times in the last few years, but when I read where Caden was going I lost it. ha I love him so much, and I know that Anaheim is exactly where God wants him to be! I'm so stoked for you Squid! My first thoughts were.... "Californiiiaaa, Califoorniiiaaaa, Here I coooooOOOOooOoOoOoOOOoooooooommmmeeeee.!!!" hahha soon enough you'll be "drivin down the one o one... down the fifth over to seventh, but then there'll be traffic so you'll take south instead of tree to beach, passed the traffic on the 304 to 511. jajaja  

So- For All you prospective missionaries who, like every prospective missionary, are wondering what the best thing to do to prepare for a mission- listen up. From my whole six weeks of experiences, here's my 95 cents #inflation. If you really wanna be a good missionary, STUDY the BOM, read PMG and really study it. Then, Go to chapter 6 and start studying and developing Christ like attributes! One of the most helpful things in the mission is charity. I talk about it so much but it's SO important. If we really love the people we are serving, we won't want to waste a second, we'll be more attentive the Holy Ghost to be guided to what we need to do. If we love God and Jesus Christ, we'll want to follow the mission rules, and then be blessed more because of that. If we love our companions we will work better together and be able to teach with greater power and clarity. So that is also part of some of what I've learned about charity this week. The most effective thing in my study, besides reading the BoM and specifically looking for examples of charity, is trying to apply the principle. I pray for it every night, and try to understand the people around me, why they do things, try to see them through God's eyes, and love them for who they are. I have been blessed with greater love for my awesome companion Elder Barrus, and for my entire district and teachers. It would also be great, in order to prepare for a mission, to go out with the missionaries now. Help teach someone, be a part of the lesson. Help someone get baptized, if you help them to that point, the missionaries will likely have YOU do it which would be such a cool experience!  Then, look for the chance to give priesthood blessings before you leave. It will be so good for you to have already experienced that so you're ready when someone asks you for one. Other than that you're on your own. haha Alright everyone I love and miss you all, if you need to send me packages, and love letters, and chickfila my new address will be 

Washington Everette Mission
16124 35th Ave SE
Mill Creek, WA 98012


Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Dreams and Donuts

I'm so blessed!! Just one week til I'm in the field, less than 3 months til Christmas, and Elder Barrus and I are the Zone Leaders now! I discovered the Christmas hymns this week in my Portuguese hymn book. Silent Night is my fav- "Noite Feliz" literalmente happy night haha. Also my favorite words this week are sonho (s-own-y-oo), which means both dream, and donut.. those Brazilians are on to something  and xique (shee-key) which is really fun to say and means fancy. I talked with a native Brazilian this week over skype! It was so fun Elder Barrus and I were talking about where we were from, and he was like "I don't know the U.S. very well, but I really want to go to  Harry Potter World in Orlando" Ta SERIO?! I freaked out haha I was so excited it was hilarious. His name was Guilliherme, he is my age, baptized by some missionaries last year, and wants to serve a mission next year! What an inspiration. It was so cool I understood like 85- 90 percent of what he said. 

I am already cherishing my time here at the mtc, it is such a special place. Some missionaries complain about it being secluded, but I know it's so that we can be as close as we can to God and have no distractions. I love it for that because I have felt so close to God this week especially, and I've been able to learn so fast and so well. I've never felt so edified and spiritually enlightened. I'm understanding things I couldn't understand before, and I know it's because of the special spirit here, and my sacred calling as a missionary that I can understand it. 

I've received a lot of personal revelation through the Spirit here, especially as I've watched talks by Elder Bednar, he is my favorite. I watched another this Sunday about Doctrine, Principles, and Applications. He understands so well how to really teach through the Spirit, and Christ's Character, and love for us.  I have been really interested in charity lately, and as Elder Bednar suggested in his "Character of Christ" talk I got a fresh Book of Mormon this week that I am dedicating to the study of Charity. I'm starting at the introduction page tomorrow, and reading all the way through focusing my annotations and study journal notes on Charity. I invite you all to join me, and start reading again with a cheap BoM so you can mark it up (if you don't have one, the missionaries can give you one), and really study whatever topic you want, maybe you want to learn about faith, or repentance, or whatever. Write me what you learn, and I'll update you all next week on what I've learned about The pure love of Christ- charity. I know that we will be blessed with understanding and enlightenment as we do this, and we can really change our lives. "Actions and behavior don't change actions and behavior", Doctrine (gospel truths- the "why" we do things), when understood and taken to heart change actions and behavior. If we really want to change our lives we can do so by learning about Christ's Doctrine, this is a great way to do that! 

So the other cool thing I have to point out this week is that I get my reassignment (my VISA has still not come) on Thursday, which is the same day squid gets his call, and it is the weekend of conference, and I opened my original call the weekend of April conference, SO cool! I'm actually really stoked to serve in the US for a while, i hope I get called somewhere with a Chickfila! haha or the east coast cuz I've never been there or somewhere where one of my friends is serving! I love you all, have a great week! 

Wouldn't it be awesome?

HAHAHAHAA OK first thing first. So, today I got to go to the real world! I had to pick up my nasal spray from the pharmacy at the BYU student health center so I got to walk a block down from the MTC campus! It was so exciting, I was like "Elder Barrus, I didn't realize how close my siblings were, they are somewhere around here, we are so close, yet so far away!!" and then I was like "and my grandparents live just up the street! Man wouldn't it be awesome if we saw my family right now?!!" Then on the way back to campus, we were crossing the street to get to the front gate, and a silver honda pulled in front of us turning right on green. I thought, "hey look there's my grandpa" then I realized "GRANPA!!!!!! HEY!!!!" and I started waving my arms, and yelling, but he was in the middle of turning and he didn't notice. hahahaha I was so sad, but excited at the same time. Next time you drive by the MTC pay attention grandpa! So, they finally switched up the district leader this week. it was supposed to be after 3 weeks, but I got 4! Elder Lott is our new DL. Elder Hamilton wrote me the nicest letter thanking me for being a good example and DL. 

Also, yesterday I was bummed that I didn't get any mail cuz I hadn't for a few days and the whole district surprised me with a card at the end of the day, because I didn't get any mail, and to thank me for being a good DL. It was so kind I wanted to hug them all, but we're not allowed to hug girls haha (my district is 5 elders and 8 sisters by the btw it's crazy! we have more sisters than any other district I know). They said the nicest things about me, and it made me feel so good about being here, and my efforts thus far. It made me wish I truly dedicated ALL my time focusing on others so I could feel worthy of such kind remarks, I want to work towards that. So this week was Elder Murray's Bday (from our neighboring district). At night we brought in all the food from all our rooms, put it in the middle of his room and had a party. It was crazy! (for a bunch of missionaries keeping the missionary standards at least haha) He opened his presents (recess cups, twix, a brush, and the big one- a camera, all from his family) and we were goin crazy. He had a bottle of Martinellis and told us all to have some. I asked if any one was sick (given my history, it's best that I do in these situations) and of course no one said anything. Then he told me to chug an entire mountain dew for his bday. 7 seconds. I never turn down a challenge, especially food related- you know me. It burnnnnned haha and it was also 5 minutes before bed so i couldn't sleep for like 2 hours past bedtime. Anyway, the next day guess what happened?? Yep. and I'm just getting over it today. Luckily I only missed 1 class. I was sick like Thursday morning til today. Curse you pathetic "dying baby with aids immune system" (that's a direct quote about me from the one and only ryan oldroyd hahah). So it's still going great here, I love this work. I only have TWO WEEKS left and then if (when) I still don't have my VISA I will be reassigned somewhere in the states for a bit. 

Dinkin' Flicka
Elder Nixon

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Who Can Understand?

I've had such a fantastic week. Last Tuesday for devotional choir we sang "Where Can I Turn for Peace". As we practiced, the conductor had us really think about the words, and told us that we will have investigators in the not so distance future who are asking themselves these same questions. "Where is the quiet hand, to calm my anguish, who, who can understand?" When we finally sang in devotional the Spirit was so strong, and it was so beautiful. Grandmas were crying, hearts were breaking, you know the shtuff, the Conductor told us it was the best performance in his 13 years of conducting the MTC choir. Then, on Wednesday I was able to give Sis. Davis in my district a blessing. She had been sick and was having migraines, and so I gave her a blessing, and again the Spirit was so strong I could feel God's love for her as I was blessing her, and I knew exactly what she needed to know. She has been feeling much better since, and was so grateful:)! My District is so close, they are some really neat people. Our branch presidency always comments on how close we are. 

Oh! So I finally found a scale this week and I weigh 161, so like the same as when I left. I try and do push ups/sit ups every night, and run during gym time. I also have been playing volleyball during gym. Everyone ... well to be honest they suck, so they think I'm a volleyball god haha it's fun.. sometimes. Sis. Sargent played volleyball too so it was really fun when she played with me one day cuz I got some decent sets, some kid on the other team was going real hard and tried to block me once, and I drilled him in the face with the ball hahha I felt really bad, the ball went all the way to the next court over and passed the endline. oops. I really miss listening to music, Elder Spangler and I  were remembering all the songs we like the other day and it was so fun but so sad too because we're already starting to forget them all. Oh by the btw, by some obscure powerful force of evil, I got sick last week, which is sooooo insane because i have like suuuuuuch a good immune system. "My body is fine tuned like a microchip, one grain of sand could LITerally shut down the entire system." However, I prayed for strength that I would still be able to function and go to all my classes, and I did! I wasn't a pathetic little newborn baby in solitary confinement like I was out at school, right byuh boys? right. they made fun of me all the time. 

This past Sunday Elder Barrus and I devised this evil plan to go to bed early (10 instead of 1030), and then since we get to sleep in on Sundays (6:30 instead of 6) we would get an extra hour of sleep!!! We were so stoked. So much is wrong with that statement I won't even explain it. So each week in branch sacrament meeting, the Pres. selects one random Elder and Sister to give a talk.. in Portuguese.  I had thought about the topic, but not written much down, so I wrote a few notes at the beginning of the meeting so my mind wouldn't go blank if I got called, which is probably the reason they called me haha. Anyway, at the start of the meeting Pres. looked at me and I just knew. So when it was time he announced that I would be speaking and I went up there, and it actually went really well. I talked for about 5 minutes in Portuguese about Baptism, then bore my testimony and sat down. Spangler asked me how the heck I speak Portuguese so well after I finished, which made me feel really good, and Elder Jackson (he lives a few streets away from gma and gpa, he knows them and Cathy) told me I spoke really well, and conjugated properly, and I just mixed up a few gender rules. That night I watched a talk by Pres. Bednar about becoming a missionary. The idea was to not just "go on a mission" but to "become a missionary" it was so profound! He is probably my favorite speaker now, he's so enlightening! Yesterday Sis Tantillo brought in a bunch of sour candy her mom sent her that she doesn't like. It was awesome. I ate 3 warheads at the same time and then immediately after like 15 shockers. Nothing could have been more satisfying but chickenfila. I then proceeded to map out all of Hogwarts during the 3rd movie on our whiteboard. Good times. Anyways, everything's going great. I hope you all had a fantastic week. I can't wait to hear about Caden's mission call, you better send me a dearelder so I can hear about it right away! 

Portuguese word: tenro (tender)
tenrooooooooooo (tj detweiler style)

Monday, September 16, 2013

This Magical Place

The MTC just gets better and better, in one day our investigator got baptized, served a mission, and then became our teacher at the MTC! It was insane, he just walked into class and we were like Ellison?!?! and he was like nao, Irmao Hickman. THen, we got to hear about the embarrassing things we accidentally said because we couldnt speak Portuguese. hahah It is awesome having him as our teacher though, it really helps since he's been in lessons with us and knows what we each need to work on. (By the BTW he was supposed to be our teacher the whole time, he didn't really get baptized in one day, sorry, i know this missionary humor is hard to keep up with but just hold on.) The MTC works in mysterious ways. My Portuguese is far beyond what I thought it could ever be in 2 weeks, it's so cool! The MTC is this magical place where I get to feel the Spirit all the time, and just study a new language and the Gospel?!? THis is soooo sick, it's seriously like a dream I love it! I love learning languages I just want to learn them all now, when I get back I am for sure taking some french classes to solidify my French, and then I want to learn Spanish, and Italian, and Dutch and seriously every language, learning a new language is the best, and I can't wait to get home and travel after as well, I love learning about new cultures.

I had the opportunity to give elder Hamilton (redhead from Basicallymexico, Texas) a blessing this week, he sprained his ankle pretty bad playing volleyball. It was my first time giving a blessing which made me pretty nervous, but it went well, and he has been healing so fast! Sundays are the greatest around here, we have a lot of time for personal study and to relax a bit (no naps though haha) and then at night we have devotional, then watch a church movie. This weeks devo was given by Richard Heaton who was previously the mission president for Spokane Washington, do you know him Brian? Anyway it was a pretty cool talk on prayer, and then after we got to watch a church movie like always, we watched "The Testaments" it was supes cheesy, but through all the cheese the Spirit was pretty strong, we had a good laugh after about some of the cheesier parts afterwards. I understand why missionary humor exists now, they feed us this cheesy stuff and expect us to still be funny? Lame jokes for days #loveit, "the Messiah has come, monkey, you stay here!" We had a great time dissecting the purpose of that scene, primarily why it was so integral to the movie that the little girl ran back to tell the monkey he couldn't come. Poor Chio (i think that was his name.. his being the monkey..) So apparently, on Sunday I was falling asleep and I started leaning on Sis. Whitney. HA HA HA. I guess I have some repenting to do. Girls are toxic around here, and not the Brittney Spears kind. haha The Zone leaders saw me and were laughing at me. She said I didn't actually touch her, I woke up before I fell all the way over thank goodness. It is crazy how many hours a day we are supposed to highly functioning off of 6 or 7 hours of sleep. Normally missionaries wake up at 630, but that's when our breakfast starts, so we barely get any sleep.

Elder Pearce from the District right next to mine got his VISA and left this morning, lucky guy. I, however, am really content here, I would be sad to leave my District, and my beloved America, If I got my VISA before my 6 weeks at the MTC were over. About 70 % of visa Waiters aren't getting them before they're done at the MTC, so they get reassigned for a while. I've decided if that happens to me I hope I get sent somewhere where I can have a white Christmas, also somewhere where one of my fifty friends serving stateside are serving haha. Anyway, everything is going great, eat some Rakkyo and watch some P+R for me, I love you all so much and I think something special is happening this week? I can't remember ... oh wait HAAAAaaAAAAaaAaaAPPPppYyyyYyy BBbBIIrrtthhHDddAAYYY MMMOooOOoOOooooM?!?!?!
Mischief Managed

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Best First Day

I don't think anyone has ever had a better first day at the MTC! Going in I was praying for 3 things. 1) To feel peace and be comforted 2) that my companion would like The Office haha and 3) that I would get to see Mike! Well, being dropped off I felt so much peace, I said bye to pops, tori, and bri and was ready to go! Fifteen minutes after I had been there I ran into Spicey Mike and he took me through the rest of orientation! He also came to my room that night, and took me over to see his floor. They are insane. There were nerf bullets flying everywhere and candy all over the place, I loved it haha they were some way awesome dudes. I enjoyed it. OH! Also my companion, Elder Barrus (he just graduated and is from Chicago, he's quiet and a really nice guy, we get a long great) LOVES The Office. We talked about it all during lunch. I kept on thinking of "Prison Mike" since everyone says the MTC is like Prison. "The worst part about the MTC is... is.. the DEMENTORS! They're all over da place." hahaha. So I now refer to the MTC as Hogwarts, we have "Gnarnia holes" all over the place, and instead of district f I decided we are district three so we can make the three sign like Catnip does in the Hunger Games. I guess you could say my experience so far is a little Hollywood. 

But seriously, I looOOOve the MTC haha. I have had soo many miracles occur the last few weeks as I've been preparing to serve the Lord it's been incredible! Unfortunately, I don't have time to type them all right now, but just know that the Heavenly Father knows each and every one of us individually and is watching over us, and blesses us when we are doing what's right. I had the opportunity to listen to Elder Bednar's talk "the Character of Christ" Sunday Night. It was incredible. Life changing- to say the least. The main idea was that we all need to stop looking inward towards ourselves, and look outwards to see how we could help others. What stayed with me most was when he said "GET OVER YOURSELF" haha so blunt, yet so powerful. My French helps me a lot with the language, I'm finally starting to be able to put together some sentences on my own in Portuguese. Anyway, I have to go but I love you all and have a great week! Send me Dear Elders ok? sweet.