Tuesday, October 9, 2012

As Missionaries, We do ALL we can to keep His commandments

Two huge dogs that ran up to us...there are dogs everywhere since the farmers just let them wander.
 So my insights for the week!

I have always really liked to connect a group of scriptures to each other; let me explain. If you start with one, cross-reference to another and somehow connect them all back together, it is just cool to me. I have always done that; even in high school, I would do it in seminary sometimes. Anyways, so I do that occasionally, and I really like how it makes the scriptures more interesting.

I just finished reading PMG all the way through doing all the activities and scripture studies, and one thing stood out to me. I noticed how often it says the words "do all that you can..." It says it everywhere, about everything. I read through The Book of Mormon, too, and although it has 1000 themes, the ones I picked that stood out to me this time was "If you keep my commandments, ye shall prosper in the land," in some form or another. Since those two books are the main tools for missionary service, I just connected them, and I'm going to say, “As missionaries we ‘do all we can to keep his commandments,’” which, as ElderHolland pointed out, is the first great commandment, to love the Lord, and when we love him, then we will keep his commandments and not do it slothfully. This has nothing to do with my scripture chain things that I do but it is just a thought that was running through my head last night.

So my self-diagnosed OCD has not left me. I realized how bad it was earlier this week. I had spent everyday for about a week thinking about how I want to highlight my new English scriptures, and it was even keeping me up at night deciding what colors to use and all that, because I knew once I started I couldn't go back. Here’s what I decided. In The Book of Mormon I’ll use six different colored sharpie pens (they don't bleed). I am highlighting every reference in a different color to each component of the doctrine of Christ and the atonement. Since that is my purpose, and they are my missionary scriptures, I think it will be cool to have that stick out a little bit more since that is my focus right now. I am just glad I finally decided so I can stop stressing about it. (BTW-Here is the color code: blue = faith, red = atonement, black = repentance, green = baptism, purple = holy ghost, orange = endure to the end)

This has been a bad car week. We drove up to Grace to spend all day finding. We didn't find anyone that day, and we spent all of our time there. We found lots of Hispanics but no interest. On the way up, I got a ticket and on the way down, it was just bad. We were trying to go to the daily-dose-couple’s house. They live in Thatcher, Idaho. It is right off the highway up a dirt road. It was dark out when we went to stop by. She doubted her address would be on the gps when she called us, but it was. I told her, so she said ok. So we took the dirt road the GPS told us to, and it was a little rough…maybe just big enough for two small cars to pass by for the first mile or so. Then it started to get rough, and we weren’t seeing anything. The GPS said keep going, and there were no houses or lights for a while. We couldn’t turn around at all, and it was pitch black out so we kept going. We had no cell signal and by the time we were 1.5 miles in, the road was very rough and there were branches touching both sides of the car at some points. We kept saying prayers of what to do and felt like we should keep going (Obviously the GPS was wrong. There was no house out there.) So, we got about two miles in until there was a road that went off directly to the left, and I was able to three point turn there and barely slide the car back up and turn around, so we could drive out. It was kind of scary just because I was worried we would have to leave the car.
So we talked to the daily-dose-couple and apparently they have people get stuck on that road every year because GPS's take them there. (Why didn’t she tell me that in the first place? Ha-ha) They said it is ten miles long, and it gets a lot worse after the first two miles even if you are in a jeep or four wheeler. So, we got lucky that we made it out. I was just not happy with myself that I just kind of went without thinking. The weird thing is that the road was marked with a street sign, no warning signs, and it was in the GPS. Oh well, we learned our lesson, and we got out after about 50 minutes of four wheeling in a Malibu in the middle of the night. The crazy thing was that on the drive to Grace, we saw four dead deer that were hit in the middle of the road, so you definitely have to be careful driving up there; although, I am not excited about doing it again anytime soon.

Companionship inventory will make you laugh. His only issues? I need to smile more; I'm too serious...never heard that one before! Ha-ha. We are getting along well. He was so happy Jessica and Tyson sent him a package. Sometimes it’s hard for me to be nice to him, because whenever I do something nice he wants to give me a big hug, and it just weirds me out…missionaries are way too huggy. I am teaching him the manlier version of “thank you” with just a fist bump.

So we went to priesthood session of conference: I didn't see anyone I knew from home; although, a ton of other missionaries did. At different times, I ran into about 30 other missionaries from my mission and my mission president. That was kind of ironic that I saw all of them and no one from home. I guess the Lord was keeping an eye on me. We were singing in priesthood, and it was a very weird thought that I was in the same room as Dad was and didn’t see him.

So am I going to hear some mission calls? We were at our branch president’s house for the Saturday morning session. He had some people over, and they were all talking right behind us. It was awkward. I don't think he planned on watching it, but I kind of started to figure out what President Monson was about to say and turned it way up and got really excited. My first thought was, “Wow. This is going to ruin BYU's freshman culture in the dorms."ha-ha. Those poor freshman girls will be stuck with all the RM's. So who is already planning on going? I am expecting I will have a few girl friends that will go now...get your call for December so we get back at the same time! Elder Costello and I were talking and realized this will be perfect. It will ensure that not everyone is married when we get home! Ha-ha. 

So, somebody knows Kiera that lives here I guess? He met the English missionaries and asked about me, but they couldn’t remember his name. Any dea who it is, Kiera? (I ran into Raina's family, too...someone with the last name of Hatch, and she knew who I was.) We watched the Sunday sessions at the daily-dose house. They have two potential investigators living with them, but I just found out they are moving back to Mexico, so we will maybe only get one lesson in with them. We asked all our other investigators to watch. They only could on Sunday, but none of them did. Oh well, maybe we will print some talks out to bring to them.

We have met a few people this week that have been investigators for several years (most Hispanics here have been taught several times). A lot of them say they are waiting for a sign from God to be baptized. It's a different concern I haven’t addressed yet, so that has been interesting to teach people we receive answers in different ways, but so far most of them are not convinced. We don’t have a ton of solid investigators, just lots of potentials: people that we taught once or set up an appointment and can’t find them again. The bad thing is that we have the least amount of miles in the zone (and yet we cover the whole zone) and all our people live really far apart...like 10 miles apart. So we can't visit them too often, because we have even less miles here than I did when I was serving in Ogden. Now I don't blame the last missionary for going over in miles. Not sure what to do. It is ridiculous that we cover half the mission and have less miles than 80% of the car areas.

We are working with one family, the Padilla family. They are excited about baptism, but the wife wants to wait until her son’s trials are over. I still have not taught them a lesson. They have cancelled five times so far. The husband wants to get baptized, but she is making him wait for her. They have a lot going on right now. There is another family that I really like, the Sanchez family. We have taught them twice, and they really like us. We can only visit them once a week, because they live a long ways away and don’t have phones. Daily contact just isn’t possible with our miles out here and most people don’t have phones. We taught them about the restoration split up between both visit, because we spent lots of time addressing their questions. She is very Catholic like most Hispanics and isn’t crazy about changing, but they have felt the Spirit. The hard thing is that they go to the English ward for church, because that is where they were invited. Nobody in the Spanish branch really takes people to church, because most don't go themselves. So they don't speak English but have gone to the English chapel a few times. I want to help them try to get to the Spanish branch, but we need to activate some people first, because it is just way small.

OK. I remembered. Anybody catch the connection between PresidentUchtdorf’s talk about planes and Brian Regan's joke on planes? He talked about how we complain about the size of the bag of peanuts when we are flying over the clouds. Brian Regan mocked complaining about internet when we are flying over the clouds…"It has to go to space and back, GIVE it a minute!"...It made me laugh, but maybe I am the only one who made that connection.

Okay, so back to investigators. There is one girl that is interested. She has still cancelled every lesson, but I think she is genuine and really just has been busy. Same problem, she has been to the English ward and not ours, but she doesn’t speak English. Other than that, we don't have any really solid investigators. Remember, it is kind of starting from scratch, almost with no area book, so give us some time to find people that won’t cancel, and we will let you know. The same members that gave us the referrals are still willing to help, but they run the ward (just these two families), so it’s hard to ask them to do things, because they are very, very busy all the time with work and then on top of that a couple church callings for each of them in the branch. We really need to work on the less actives. I wish there was another set of missionaries with us to try and split the work load. So anyway, I kind of wish we were having more success like the English missionaries do, but we are trying hard even if we can't really get people to be there when they say they will be.

Finding is very different here. I am not sure how to do it without asking the members, but we have already asked all the active members a couple times each. You can't tract, because farms are so far apart and people work literally all day long and get home at eight or nine o’clock from the farms, so evening is the one time that we can really find people home. I am still learning how to work in a smart way here; it’s a very different area from Ogden and even Hyrum.

So Mom, you wrote Elder Poaha-Pali; he was excited. He called me that night to thank you and thought that was so awesome. He said. "…so how many missionaries does she write to in this mission?"...ha-ha I told him that he was the only one as far as I know, but thanks for doing that, Mom. 

With Elder Poaha-Pali, our district leader. He is the Samoan missionary I met at the leadership training last month.
Elder Senn has been great, happy as ever. I push him with English so that he learns even if he doesn’t want to sometimes. We talk to a ton people in English during the day just asking for referrals. Preston is almost all members of the church as far as the English people go. I found a cool scripture to share with people. Most of them work a lot and that’s why they don’t want to go to church. So in 3 Nephi 19:3, the people labored ALL NIGHT LONG so that they could see Jesus the next day. We should treat church as if we were going to see Jesus (the sacrament) and labor all night if that’s what it takes. If it were a matter of seeing the Savior the next day, wouldn't you labor all night so that you could take some time off to see Him? Not going to ask people to labor all night, but maybe just try and kick it into gear during the week and allow Sunday to be the day of rest to go and make time for the Savior.

It felt weird smiling in this setting but it was cool to be here..this is our district and our zone leaders. Names straight across back row then front....Elder Bassett, Elder Costello (he might have taken out his front teeth for my camera ha-ha, wake-boarding accident), Elder Brown, Elder Staggs, Elder Torres. Next row: Elder Senn, Elder Avalos (zl), Elder Ginrich, Elder Heintz (zl), and bottom is Elder Poaha-Pali..and the guy that is buried is President Benson.
So Elder Holland told the ‘Feed My Sheep’ talk! Kind of. He did the feed my sheep talk I talked about but with a lot less yelling which was disappointing for all the missionaries. We were talking about it, and someone said, “Couldn’t he have just pounded the pulpit one time just for us?” ha-ha. It was a great talk with some very awesome thoughts about that conversation of Peter. And I recognized Elder Bednar’s talk from when he gave it in that stake conference in Arizona a few years ago. That one was my second favorite. And I really like President Uchtdorf’s talk in priesthood meeting...tied for second favorite. We watched some of the morning session in Spanish on Saturday, and I realized how bad my Spanish is. They use really big words in conference, man that was a wake up call. There is so much I don't know. The tough thing about Spanish is that my pronunciation is getting better and speaking is too, but my understanding is staying the same. There are still some things that just go right over my head; especially when people are talking about farm stuff and the things they do on the farm; I don't know any of those words and that can be hard to understand.

What else....? Subway is half-off for missionaries here, so that is pretty sweet. There is a New York Deli place (free for elders) that is awesome. It should be on Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives. We will go there one day after the mission, and you can look at the wing wall...ghost pepper wings...all you can eat. If you beat the standing record, you get your picture on the wall; three of the pictures are missionaries. The English members fill in the rest of our dinner days that our branch can’t, so we eat with white people a lot, too, so that’s been nice…lots of baked potatoes! 
From the New York Deli-Menu looks great!
We met a nice elderly couple in Grace. They were watching fox news when we tracted their house, and they invited us in and vented to me for 20 minutes about my generation ruining this country for electing Obama ha-ha. They said Romney did well, so I guess that is good; although, I don't have any idea what is going on in the world right now, so I am not too concerned about that. I think they just wanted someone to talk to. 

I run into a TON of people in this mission that stop going to church because of whatever reason and theirs was that we talk too much about Joseph Smith. I acknowledged that we do talk a lot about him and explained why and taught something and left. It is sad how many people we see like that, and how many more people we talk to that left, because the members are too judgmental, and that just bugs them (while judging the judgmental members for being too judgmental). It makes me happy that I am in the Hispanic culture where they are just members, or they are catholic, and it doesn't get too complicated.

In my last letter from president, he says I will be sticking with Elder Senn for "a while." Very good news, I am ready to stop moving around, and this is the best place to do it! 

Well, I should run. I hope you are all well, and I hope to hear about some mission calls sooner than expected. Love you all!
Elder Bassett

The mountain stream we hiked along during p-day today.

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