Tuesday, September 11, 2012

"You guys are awesome. I'm glad you are here to make things better.”

Another week has gone by. It was a crazy week. Right off the bat, I went on exchanges with my district leader. He is fantastic. He talked to me all day about looking from others’ perspectives and being a good companion. He is just such a nice guy and really cares about other people. Before bed, we were laying down falling asleep, and he said every night he says something he loves about his companion, and then he said something (I can't remember what it was), but it just shows you he is a good guy. Maybe I will try that one-day.

Our new apartment
Then we moved last week. There are four of us in one apartment. It is a two-bedroom place, which means we have no office/desks and no storage. There are just boxes of stuff sitting in the front room. We have to study sitting in bed, which makes it harder to stay awake and means the other missionaries have an excuse to sit all in the front room together and not study. The other missionaries were told by our housing coordinator to look for another place and this is just temporary, but they want to live together: mostly because Elder Saldaña doesn’t want to be just with me. Anyways, they aren’t looking for a place and just plan on staying with us.

Moving Day
Last week there was a specialty leadership training for all the zone leaders and district leaders. There were two people from Salt Lake that came to teach it all day long. Elder Ward and I were invited to go. I don't think Elder Saldaña was very happy about me going and not him, but we went. It was very intimidating with Elder Ward and I being the only ones there that really didn’t belong, but president said there was a reason we were both there. It was a fantastic training. They mentioned basically things that are done wrong in this mission, and how things are going to start to change. They asked about the mission culture, and I was surprised to see several zone leaders mention some of the problems I have seen like...no inactive work…only baptizing nine year olds...baptism into inactivity...and the biggest problem… “You can be disobedient and still be successful.” They talked about the morning schedule and how important that was. They spent time on the Atonement, teaching better first lessons, stating our purpose, and more powerful invitations. I really liked it, and the idea was to make changes. The cool part was they said a lot of things that confirmed what I had been trying to do with Elder Saldaña, but he didn’t want to do. They even mentioned President Watson at one point, so that was cool. (The guy doing the training was the mission president from ‘district two.’ Great guy.) Anyways, that was awesome. People kept coming up and telling us how lucky we were we got this at the beginning of our mission, so we could change things. One missionary…huge Samoan guy… came up to us and said, “This is why you two are in this mission. You are here to change things. That has to be why you're at this training. You guys are awesome. I'm glad you are here to make things better.” It was good to hear that from him. Then one of the assistants came up to me and pulled me off to the side and said that they know I have been trying my best to be obedient and that it doesn't go unnoticed. He told me to keep doing what I am doing and hold strong and that he knew what I was going through, and he was proud of me. I don't say that to brag, just it made me feel a lot better about everything. A couple times during the training president came up and said, “So, did you two figure out why you're here today?” We said no, and he just laughed and said we would talk later. We asked the assistants, too, and they just laughed and said not to worry about it. Not really sure what that means, but I think we should start figuring things out pretty fast.

It was Elder Saldaña’s birthday the day I left for the training, so that was probably a good present for him to get away from me. He really hasn’t been a big fan of me this week. I don’t know why; I am really nice to him. Anyways, he had ten missionaries over that night for a birthday party, and they didn't leave until eleven. I was just mad; we didn't plan…oh well. The next day, we went back to clean the Hyrum house. I wanted to get it done in one day, but they didn't want to, so it took a couple days. They brought other missionaries to help. At one point, we made a trip back to the house. We weren't even close to being done, and some missionaries locked their keys in the car, so all eight of us just sat there in our old house and waited for the locksmith to get there for those two missionaries. We still had a ton left. We weren’t working at all that day. We hadn’t studied or planned and weren't going to according to my companion, and I just was stressed. I just went outside and kind of had to take a few deep breaths for a few minutes, but the house is clean now-after seven hours of work. I did the whole upper floor, and everyone else did the bottom. Since they were playing music the whole time, I had to be separate from them. I didn't think they did a good enough job: they didn’t clean any windowsills or baseboards on the bottom floor, but at least upstairs got done the right way. It was a stressful experience, but we are out of the house now, so that’s good.

I heard something in the training that made me smile. They said you have to wear your tie during planning...always. That was a no-brainer, to me because in my mini-mission with Elder Masima, I started to take my tie off, and he made me put it back on to plan. Because of that, I won't ever not wear a tie to plan. I'm glad that I had my pre-mission trainers. I haven’t really been applying the things from the training mainly because Elder Saldaña doesn’t want to them, and because usually my ideas aren’t taken well. He doesn’t like me to give suggestions about things, so I will wait until I am with someone else to do them. There is no point in fighting about it with him.

I got to play the piano for an English baptism this week. I played interlude for like fifteen minutes out of the Children’s book and just loved it. I like piano a lot more now; I am not sure why. It is amazing to me how few missionaries play piano…probably only like three or four in the whole mission. I guess I will be playing a lot during my mission. All the primary songs reminded me of mom and just made me happy. The kids should get better at piano than I am. Don't just settle for being able to site read hymns.

I gave my first talk in Spanish on Sunday. I talked about enduring to the end. I fumbled over my words only one time, and I think it went well. It’s definitely a lot harder than giving a talk in English, because I have to think about what I will say before hand, but it went well.

So, funny thing this week: I was playing “The Prayer” by Elder Maxwell and Sister Lopez and someone else in the car asked who was singing. I said he is a friend of mine. Elder Saldaña said, “No, that's Andrew Bocelli,” and I said, “No, that's my friend.” He just said, “No, your friend’s a liar. There is no way he sounds that good.” So he wasn't convinced, but it was cool that Elder Maxwell is pretty much the best in the world!

An investigator kind of dropped us this week. His name is Angel. His wife was baptized a year ago, but he just said he doesn’t want to change or read the Book of Mormon, so we didn't need to come back. but he didn't want to be disrespectful. It was sad. We dropped a couple other people due to a lack of progress, but it will happen.

I decided this week that I just want to help convert one family like the Familia Quiros in our ward. They are such great people. He was baptized a year ago and has been through the temple, bought a white handbook so his seven and ten year old sons can get prepped for their mission, and offers all the time to feed us. Right now, we are teaching his seven year old the missionary discussions before his baptism. We tried to explain that wasn’t our job, but he wouldn’t hear it. He said his son needs to take baptism seriously and understand the covenant he is making with the Lord. During the lesson, we were teaching repentance. The ten year old said, “Yeah, I know! It’s like when the guy at the store accidentally gave my dad five dollars too much, and my dad drove back to the store to give them back the five dollars.” I don't know if I would have been a good enough person to drive back for that, but it was humbling hearing that…especially knowing the type of life the dad lived before his baptism. I really hope to have a family like that in my mission.

Oh, one thing you could send, Mom..stamps. Those are always useful.  I will run out soon…just the forever ones.

So, I was reading the other day in Alma 20:20, and I got so excited that Ammon withstood blows and smote the king’s arm just with his bare hand. I was playing it out in my head how cool it was, and then in verse 22 it said he had a sword. That was disappointing. I was so excited to tell you my discovery about Ammon beating up a guy who had a sword with just his bare hands.

So, there was a time this week we had to run to the emergency room to give a blessing. A three-year-old girl was sitting on her big sister’s handlebars, and they lost control. She went headfirst down a hill and hit her head on a rock. The whole family was there. They had to helicopter her to Salt Lake, because her brain was swelling. The little girl’s six-year-old and 16 year-old-brother just sat there and cried for probably 20 minutes. I sat by the little kid, and he just couldn't stop crying.  I kept trying to get him to talk to me, but he couldn't even talk he was crying too hard. I asked if he wanted to say a prayer with me, and he said no, so I told him that he could say a prayer in his mind, and Heavenly Father would still hear him. There were 15 people that came form the branch right off the bat...really supportive branch; that was cool to see. It was heartbreaking how scared the family was, but I think she will be all right. She is just young, so they were taking extra care (I hope).

So, I am with Elder Jolley all day today. Last night Elder Jolly and Elder Smith were going to other missionaries house for a sleepover. I wasn't going to go, of course, because we all know we aren't allowed to do that, but Elder Saldaña was mad that they were leaving him. He didn't want to be stuck at home for a night with me...and, yeah he said that while I was sitting right there. So Elder Jolley volunteered to take one for the team and stay home with me, so they could go sleepover. So just me and Elder Jolley today which has been really nice. Last night, we talked for a really long time, and he just made me feel better about not having a good week and feeling a little lonely. I realized how small my problems were when he talked about some of the struggles in his mission, and how people used to treat him in high school. He has auditory processing problems, so he doesn't understand everything as well as others, so people on the football team called him the ‘retard’, and nobody wanted to be his friend. It made me realize I have nothing really to complain about, and that other people have a lot worse problems than I do. I need to be more grateful. It has been really good spending time with him today. I told him the pushing the rock story that Mom gave me, because he is having trouble being motivated. He loved it so much. He thought it was the best story ever and made me tell it to him again. Really nice guy.

So anyways: this week no new investigators; we just lost a few; although, we met some lady who isn’t a member at sacrament meeting. She just told us there is no way she will get baptized, but that we can come teach her.

I am excited to be able to eventually use the principles I learned in leadership. I hope everyone is doing well. Thanks for the pictures, Jessica.

Love you all,
Elder Bassett
My Zone 

The one eye squint-too much sun

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