Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Elder D MEETS MICHAEL MCLEAN!! -- 2 letters....

Hola mis amados padres y amigos!             19 Dec 2011

            This week has been pretty good.  I really cant complain about anything. My mission is still a great experience and it has helped me personally so much, but I have been able to help others as well.
            This week was just full of random things and events. I went on some exchanges with other missionaries this week, and I learned again how blessed I am to have Elder Castro as my companion. I went on exchanges with one elder who is from Nevada. He is a cowboy, he has some trouble speaking and writing.  He has a really good heart and wants to do all that he can to serve the Lord.  He is just kind of quiet, so I tried to get him to open up, but it didn't work that well. The best part about exchanges is that the craziest things happen. Almost every time we will go to a door that we haven't been able to get in for about a month or so, and we will go on exchanges and have the greatest lesson ever. For example, we to this lady who is extremely nice, but just never seems to have time for us. We knocked her door she let us in! She told us that she was about to get baptized, but wasn't able to because of a problem she has with her leg. We actually invited her to be baptized again and she accepted it! (Basically she has had a few surgeries on her ankle/leg and isn't allowed to get it wet. So that is just the main problem that is stopping her from getting baptized.)
            This week we have been inviting  a ton of people to be baptized. There has been some good responses, some bad ones, and no responses. We won't ever know if they will accept it or not unless we ask them, right?  Inviting, inviting, and inviting.
            There was a really awesome experience that I wanted to share with you all. We were teaching the Reynoso family. We have taught them about 4 or 5 times and we came back for our appointment and they didn't read the chapter that we had left them. We decided it was better for us to read it with them then to move on with the lessons. (Good choice on our part.) We read Alma 34 with them, which talks about the purpose of our earth life. As we were reading, you could just tell that they were soaking it all in. At the conclusion, we asked them what they thought of it. Angelica just kept saying, "precioso, precisoso." We asked her why she felt that way and she just said that she felt something inside her and how that she just knew that this book was something good and that it has something special for her and her family. It was a super amazing moment for us. We were able to testify and help her understand that she had felt the Spirit. It is a good start to everything. We are looking forward to meeting with them again and seeing how they progress.
            We had a pretty awesome Christmas Party with the Spanish branch here. Elder Castro helped narrate the program. We did have one person show up that we had invited.  He came to the Christmas Party and actually brought two of his sons. He had to go out of his comfort zone of his house and into unknown territory, but he did it and enjoyed it. The next step is getting him to come to church!
You Never Know WHO
You Will Meet at McDonalds!
            We had one more exchange this week. This one was with Elder Banta. As I said earlier, the craziest things seem to happen on exchanges. Number one, we went to eat at McDonald's. We figured that we needed to talk to everyone. There was a guy right behind us listening to some music. So we talked to him and he was very nice and we asked him what he was listening to, his reply is what shocked us. He said, "Myself. I just wrote a song and now I am checking it out. I am a singer, songwriter. You may have heard of me. I am Michael McLean." We just were like, "What?  Like "The Forgotten Carols" Michael McLean?" It was so strange to meet some famous brother in a McDonald's. He was on his way up to Richfield to do another show of "The Forgotten Carols". It was a pretty cool experience. SEE PICTURE  Note:  The Mom LOVES the Forgotten Carols and has been to a live performance with Michael McLean.  Wow!  I am so very jealous!  What an honor!
            Well number two is that I ate shrimp gumbo. It was pretty good. I had never thought that it would be that good, or something that I enjoyed, but it was good. At dinner there was the smartest 4 year old I have ever met. This kid probably knows more about the Book of Mormon then I do. He knows almost all the stories in there. You can basically ask him who anyone is and he will tell you their story and what they did. He knows that there are two Moroni's, two Alma's, and who the Brother of Jared is. I was completely blown away. That truly is the next generation of missionaries right there. They are being more and more prepared than ever before.
            NEWS FROM HOME: (This past week, Chad's Uncle Rick was found dead in his apartment in Portland.  Tonja's brother was a great companion to us all when we lived in Corvallis.  He was always great fun!) Well I am really sorry to hear about Uncle Rick. It is tough to hear, but I am glad that you told me. It is pretty tragic the way it happened. Please let Grandpa Swoboda to keep his head up and to not beat himself up. It isn't his fault, and he was able to help him a lot and be a good example. I still remember the trip that we took from Eugene up to Tacoma with him and Dad. That is something that I will never forget. Just Uncle Rick's comments about always having to stop so I could use the bathroom. It still makes me laugh to this day. J  
            I am glad that things seem to be working out for both of you, Mom and Pops. You both deserve it, and that is something that comes from keeping faith and doing what you should. Blessings come through those things. Keep plugging along and all will work out. Well Mom, I still haven't got my packages or my suits. They should come in this week.  I am grateful that you were able to put them together for me and are constantly thinking of me. We are blessed to have this season right now. Christmas is fast approaching and my prayer is that we all can remember the true reason for the season, which is our Savior, Jesus Christ. We know that because of His example and sacrifice for us, that we can live again. We celebrate that He was born and that He lived a perfect life. Let us all trying to press forward becoming more like Him each and everyday!

Live it, Love it, Preach it!  Feliz Navidad a todos!

les amo!    ELDER D
LETTER TWO   Saludos a todos!             26 Dec 2011

This week was pretty good, even though we had to battle against everyone being out of town and all the holiday festivities. We have been blessed abundantly by the Lord with bunch of miracles and great moments.
          We have been trying out this new program called "Being Purified". It is all about becoming out best self and how we cant rid ourselves of all unworldliness. This program it gives us the promise that we will be able to have the Spirit with us constantly and to be more centered on our true purpose as a missionary. It has really been helping a lot. I feel that I have become bolder in my missionary efforts. For example, we had a lesson with one of our newer investigators and he just kept feeding us excuses. So we became super bold and told him that if he didn't want to change now, what makes him think he will ever be able to change. We talked with him that if he knew the commandments and believed in God, it means that he needs to follow completely or it would just be better for him to say that he doesn't really believe in anything. We had never really have never taught this man before and yet we were telling him his faults and he had a sincere desire to change afterwards.
          We had this investigator just go off and started saying how much the church was racist.  It really hit me hard. I felt so bad that she thought that way. I looked back in my own life and I was wondering if someone could think that about me. I have gained such a strong love for the Latino people that I could never say anything in a manner that could be considered racist. I may not be serving in South America or Mexico, but I still have gained a strong love for the people that I am serving. I know they truly are sons and daughters of our Father in Heaven and that they need this message just as much as anyone else. I have come to love their food, their language, their whole culture! I don't know how anyone could not love these people.
          I said last week on how exchanges bring about crazy experiences; well the case holds true this week as well. We went on exchanges with the Assistants and I had a pretty awesome experience. With one investigator, we were reading part of Mosiah 2, and he had his own epiphany. It talked about keeping the commandments and then we will prosper. He thought that is what makes the difference between temporal and true happiness. They both are amazing feelings, but only one brings true happiness. True happiness is only found when we follow the plan that our Heavenly Father has outlined for us. He has given us the promise that if we follow that plan and do all that we can, He will give us the greatest gift which he has; Eternal Life!. It was pretty cool to see an investigator have this change within himself, it helps me realize that I am doing what I need to and teaching with the Spirit that they can learn and grow for themselves.
          The biggest miracle of the week comes from an investigator named Pedro. He just wanted to listen to us, but never really had a desire to change. He then showed up at the Christmas party at the Spanish Branch. We stopped later to see him and we just had a short amount of time, but it was an amazing few moments. I asked him if he read the chapter that we had left him, he said that he did and that he understood it all. I then asked if he had prayed about what he had read. Once again he replied he had and that he had received an answer. So I then asked him what that answer was. He then quickly told me, "That it's true. What I read in the book is true." I was so shocked by his answer. We explained how if he knew the Book of Mormon is true, then he knows Joseph Smith is a prophet and that through him God restored His church to the earth. He said that he believed all of that as well. I was so overcome with joy and excitement that I almost jumped out of my chair. We then committed him to be baptized on the 28th of January and he accepted! It was such an amazing experience and it let me know, once again, that we really aren't alone in this work. This is the Lord's work and that we are only working in the vineyard for Him. I am grateful to be on the Lord's side.
          I am happy to say that this Christmas was truly a WHITE CHRISTMAS! It was not only white because of the patches of snow on the ground, but because we were able to have a baptism on Christmas Eve. It was for a Native American boy named Wakan. (Pronounced WAH-keen.)  It was an awesome experience not only to have a baptism at that time, but that I was the one to baptize him.  Christmas was a way different feeling this year. It was mostly because of the separation from all of the commercialism that accompanies the Christmas season. I could concentrate on the true reason for Christmas and that is our Savior Jesus Christ. I hope that all of you had a great Christmas season and you enjoyed it, because I know that I did. I wish you all the best and a Happy New Year!

Live it, Love it, Preach it!   feliz ano nuevo!   ELDER D

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