Wednesday, July 25, 2012

BTW, we had two baptisms this Sunday

     Thank you mom for the greenie package. It made me happy: especially the air freshener. We will really put it to good use in our apartment. Just so you know, dearelders or letters are the best, because Elder Isla doesn't take very long to do email, so he has to wait for me. The sooner I can send out an email the better. I can't believe how fast p-days go. I'm glad for the counsel you and mom gave me about p-day being preparation day first. Most missionaries say that p-day is first a day to have fun so you don't get sick of being a missionary work and all the preparation things are suggestions if you don't have anything to do. If you have too much fun things to do just take care of the shopping, haircut stuff the rest of the week. A little bit different from how I learned it, but it makes me more and more grateful to have been in Mesa and learned what I did. I told the president in my letter my concern about the gym being a bad environment just because of what I had seen other missionaries treat it as and talk about afterwards. I didn't point out specific people, but I did say something-that it had been bugging me. Should I not have said something to him? This week has been better. Like usual, this will be scattered, so here I go. 
     On Sunday, the relief society president walked up and handed me eight referrals. I couldn't believe it; I was so happy! We contacted a lot more people this week. I learned something about the culture here that made me pretty angry. A lot of Hispanic people are under the impression that Mormons don't like Hispanics. This is because groups of white people, including their boss at work, treat them badly, and they notice it as an attack on their race. I wish those people could understand that their selfish behavior is hindering the work of the Lord, but I guess they will find out one day. 
     I felt better at zone conference about our apartment. There are some missionaries that were living in members' homes. They were asked to leave, because the members didn't want to deal with the mess anymore; especially since the man who owns the house asked them to clean it like he always did, and they didn't listen. A missionary gave him a smart remark, and that was it. I'm glad I wasn't one of those missionaries. I can't believe anyone would be that disrespectful. That must be pretty embarrassing for President Hiers. 
     So the reason for the gym, I forgot to mention. The average weight gain for this mission used to be fifty pounds; it's now down to forty after people started going to the gym. I didn't believe it either until I asked people. My companion has gained thirty pounds, one of my zone leaders quite a bit, and the other one 60. So I guess they felt the gym was worth it. I still feel weird about it, and yes mom, the sisters go, too. I guess I'll just have to learn to not be distracted and keep focused, because it is a good stress reliever. 
     It's hard to eat healthy here. I eat really big unhealthy dinners, but I love it. Speaking of food, mom can you go to Costco and get whey protein, or if its more convenient go on to and order Optimum's 100% Whey Protein: the big bag with like 80 servings is the cheapest. Just if you have time. It would help since I usually rush through breakfast. Anyways, at least I eat healthier than other people. I can't believe how little missionaries care about health. Elder Isla, the first week I was there, would eat candy and pistachios for lunch, but today he ate spaghetti, so I guess that's good. 
     In this mission, they have something called the Spirit Sandwich. At the beginning of the lesson, you teach about the Spirit and baptism, then soft commit to baptism, then teach the first lesson, and after the first vision, you remind about the spirit and hard commit for a date three weeks out. It is pretty aggressive, but it's unique to this mission, and I guess it works well. The other unique thing they have is QGC's. We keep track of those daily. It's this mission's version of TTI's. It stands for 'quality gospel conversations' and has to include teaching something and an invitation (so really TTI makes more sense so good work mom and dad). [Side note-TTI is a phrase we adopted from Preach My Gospel that stands for 'teach, testify, and invite.'] We are trying to get more QGC's, but Hispanics talk a lot, so does Elder Isla, so they take like 20 minutes a lot of the time. I guess I should be more patient, but it makes it hard to talk to lots of people. 
     There is a really bad habit the people of Ogden have ESPECIALLY in the Spanish work where they pretend to be interested and tell you to come back, then they just look out the window when you come back and don't open the door. We have set up probably twenty lessons since I have been here where the people just don't open the door when they are home. It wastes lots of time and is frustrating, but I guess that's missionary work! 
     We have this family we are teaching right now: a man and his three daughters. His wife passed away a while back, and he really doesn't want to do anything, but he wants us to come back. I was sitting on the couch one day and his seven year old daughter saw me and ran up and hugged me. I didn't know what to do and kind of pulled away, and she said, "You're scared of hugs, huh?" I said, "Oh, we have a rule. We aren't allowed to give hugs." She said, "So?! My dad gives me rules, and I break them all the time!" She is really cute. I like seeing her. She called Elder Isla and I thing one and thing two. 
     It amazes me how many people here can't get baptized, because they can't get married for [multiple reasons].  [One woman] that is having a baby right now [can't marry her boyfriend because his x-wife won't sign the divorce papers], and I just had no idea what to tell her. I just said pray to see what God wants you to do, because He will provide a way for you to be baptized, but you need to do it the way He wants. Anyways, they run into situations like that a lot here. 
     Oh by the way thank you grandma for the package you sent! I got the cake one and my scripture case it is perfect! Elder Isla and I bought what he calls scripture tattoos this week. They are to help me know what's going on in Spanish scriptures. They were 80% off so I got some. Oh, by the way, Elder Isla refuses to make our own programs, so we need to buy them at deseret book for eight bucks, which is sooo expensive. But if you ever see a charge for deseret book on the credit card, that is good news.      
     Oh, by the way we had two baptisms this Sunday. I had only taught them a couple times, so Elder Isla baptized one and his old companion baptized the other.  Oh, and another good thing-President went to our baptism. It was good to see him. 
     So anyways, we baptized Juana and Ruby, grandma and granddaughter. They have been having lessons for a while, but haven't felt ready for baptism. Eventually, Ruby, (younger one) was ready and Juana still wasn't. We just taught her a few scriptures about baptism being a step and all that other stuff, and it came up she lost a few babies. We explained that she could raise them in the next life and that was pretty much it. She couldn't say no at that point. They are in a tough spot right now. They have two storage units in California that they missed the payments on. If they don't pay it, they will auction off everything in it. The units have deeds and titles to land and cars she owns in Mexico. One piece of land she claims is worth over a million dollars, whether or not that is true I don't know, but regardless she needed $2000 dollars in a week. She doesn't have a job, so we will see what happens. (It made Storage Wars a lot less cool hearing her tell this story.) 
     So something about Elder Isla. He is well known in this mission as the guy who has Finding Faith in Christ memorized. Every pause, line, tone of voice, everything, he can recite it. When I asked him about it, he said, "Oh, it's easy to memorize. Just watch it three times a day for two weeks, and you'll have it, haha." So he quotes that all the time. It's pretty funny how well he knows it. 
     We went over to a sick lady's house on Sunday to see why she wasn't at church. It wasn't well known that she was sick, but while we were there, TEN other members of the ward came to check on her to see why she wasn't at church (she is a recent convert). If all the members of the church were that great, I can't imagine how much retention would improve. I was so impressed with how much these people cared about one another. The son even brought his whole scout troop over to visit her. 
     Zone conference was good. It's his first one. My district leader and Elder Isla said it's the best one they ever had. One part of his included a blitz out to an area where we practiced contacting with real people. We weren't supposed to make it a competition to see who could get the most, but if it had been a competition, we would've won, because we got the most. haha. But anyways, the AP's were smart. They had us all go out to their area, so they ended up with 30 referrals that day. All the other missionaries were mad about it, but I just though that was genius of them to send us there. Anyways, one person even got a baptismal commitment, so that was pretty crazy. 
     CLARIFICATIONS: In the MTC, it was walking too fast that was a problem for that missionary. Also, we have 60 cars and ALL the Spanish areas have a car, sorry for that confusion. I am in a car everyday except p-day. I rush through these so I'm sure there are lots of mistakes. Thanks for correcting them mom. The walking fast thing turned out to help. It turns out Elder Isla walks slower than anyone on the planet. That may be an exaggeration, but we had that parade that the lady [Tara Morton] saw me at. We had to walk back twelve blocks to our car. It took a really long time. It was so hard for me, but I walked as slowly as I possibly could. It made me grateful we are in a car, because it's similar on bikes.  haha. 
     But things have been better this week. We are a lot closer. I am being more patient, and we are working harder and being obedient. We occasionally have hard days, and I get frustrated. Then the next day, we get along, and it will be good again. We are both learning. 
      So dad, I was reading about the atonement and remembered the part where you said we could relate "Watch with me one hour" to our time spent during Sacrament meeting, then I made the connection to study. The Lord must get so frustrated. He only asks for us to study with Him and learn from Him personally everyday, and so many missionaries sleep through it. He probably says, "Seriously, you couldn't stay awake with me one hour?" It made me want to have more diligent studies. Usually my personal study is good, but we need to work on companionship study. We are improving. There are still a few things that bug me, but I try to ignore them. He has this big 'spirit of the law vs. letter of the law' speech he tells me. He says that's what his interpretation is, so basically that means each law in the white handbook has a spiritual law that's more important, so you don't necessarily have to keep all the rules! I didn't quite get the connection, but my district leader swears by that, too. 
     I [struggle respecting my district leader.]  I need to learn to be more passive and just ignore his comments; I haven't been doing a great job of that this week. I guess at least there's room for improvement... Anyways, enough complaining, that just proves how much pride I have for how much I judge him for it, so I need to work on that.
     This week really has been better: lots more working and obedience. I have learned to appreciate Elder Isla as I hear about [other companionship challenges]. Elder Wright, the one I met in the Mesa temple, has really been struggling because his companion really doesn't want to work at all, and he doesn't know what to do. At zone conference, there were a group of missionaries talking about "fun times that they had that were disobedient."  Anyways, I guess I just need to realize that Elder Isla is great, and he is the companion I needed. And he is really great with people and is a good teacher, so I have tons to learn from him. 
      Elder Ward, the convert from North Carolina, has a really great companion. They teach 25 lessons a week and work nonstop, which is good. Elder Ward deserved to have a good companion to show him how it's done. I'm glad I had other missionaries teach me early on that you need to work hard nonstop to be a good missionary. Elder Ward will be a great missionary, and I'm grateful he has such a good companion. His companion actually used to be with Elder Isla. He came up to me one day and said, "Hey how is Elder Isla doing?" and I told him. He said, "Yeah. He has up and down days, but just keep encouraging him, and he will work hard,' so that's what I have been doing, and we have been doing a lot better! We still need to find a LOT more people, but we are trying. 
      Spanish is still hard. I don't understand a whole lot, but I'm pretty confident at speaking. The one thing I have been having a tough time with is music. You are allowed to choose any music based on the white-hand book. All the missionaries take that as you can listen to anything. I was bowling on p-day, and I mentioned to a missionary that I liked country. He said, "Oh awesome! I have an extra CD. I'll give it to you next time I see you." haha, it's kind of tough. Elder Isla has understood though, and we only listen to Finding Faith in Christ in the car. I was with the zone leaders, and they were listening to a rock band. I didn't say anything, because they are my leaders. I felt like it would be know-it-all-ish for me to ask them to turn it off, but I'm really worried I will get a companion that will not be happy if I say I don't want to really listen to anything but church music. But the white handbook says it has to INVITE the Spirit! And I don't understand how so many people can justify that maybe if you try really hard to keep feeling the Spirit while you listen to it, that that is the same thing as inviting the Spirit. 
     Oh, I saw a Brother Haymore today, he used to serve in this mission. Apparently, he is from Elverta Ward, and you were his stake president when he was in seminary. Small world.
I sent some pictures. Hopefully mom can post them.  Take a look at that personality test that we took as a district. The top of the graph is the obedient, rule-oriented type. I decided that's what you were with a little of the bottom part, too. Without fail, the missionaries that struggled with the rules and with me were the ones with longer diamonds as far as their graphs are shaped rather than taller shaped like mine, more lovey-dovey feeling type people who think rules restrain them. It was pretty interesting.
     It turns out they give us $40 less for our first month, not sure why but that means I didn't budget correctly and $120 just became $80 today, so next p-day I will us the credit card.
     Hope Jessica feels better, I'm excited for it, the marriage thing will be a struggle, but I will learn to deal with it. Anyways, I think that's about it. I hope I'm not leaving anything out. If you have questions, let me know. I miss you all so much. By the way, email was a day late because of the holiday yesterday so sorry about that. (P-day is Tuesday.)

Love you all.
Elder Bassett

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