Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Week 69: In which lots of kids come to church, I meet a RM from Boston, and we get tamales


Hi! How's it going? Elder Adams here. I only have about 8 minutes to do this, so here goes:

This week has been great! Here are some quick highlights:

Monday - Awesome lesson with two teenage girls named Yahaida and Betsaida. Bro. Nye and his two teenage daughters came with us. Yahaida and Betsaida finally are beginning to understand the Restoration! Yay!

Tue: Lesson with Jobana, a less-active member in Buena. She wants her daughter, Juana, to be baptized.

Wed: Zone Conference! Also, we went on exchanges with Elder Sanchez, our district leader. He's training a brand-new missionary, Elder Alonzo, who arrived only a few weeks ago. I went with Elder Alonzo in Sunnyside. Elder Bird, my old zone leader in The Dalles, was there! It was great.

Thu: Cool lesson that morning with a lady in Sunnyside. She gave us tamales de elote. They were delicious.

Fri: Lesson with Juan and Maria! From my letter to President Lewis: We're teaching two people named Juan and Maria. They're an older couple, and have very Christian (as opposed to Catholic) beliefs. They were telling us about how the Primitive Church had fallen, and were very excited to hear about the restoration and the Book of Mormon. We're really excited to be working with them.

Sat: Lesson with Perla about the Book of Mormon. She liked it a lot, and is doing really well!

Sun: Something like 6 kids came to church... and their parents either never came or left. Also, Jobana came with Juana and her son, Oswaldo! We spent sacrament meeting trying to help the kids be reverent. (Perla came, but only for second hour. Her kids were some of them who were there). We then gave those kids chocolate cake for their good work.
Hey, I thought you might appreciate that I just found out one of the members here, Courtney Stancliff, got home a little while ago from her mission in... you guessed it... the Boston Mission! 

You will also definitely appreciate that she told me who she trained. She trained Sister Gill (who served in our ward in Massachusetts).

Love you all! Bye!

Elder Adams

Questions from Editor Mom

How was your week? - Our week was fantastic! Fantasmal! Phantasmal! 

Is your area still on fire? Are you able to stay on top of it? - Yes, but barely. We're having to do some serious prioritization, and even people we would normally try to work with more have to be simply recorded and shunted to the side. They just don't have as much potential as other people, and we unfortunately can't spend time with everyone!

What is the thing you most want to remember about this last week? - I went on exchanges in Sunnyside with Elder Alonso, a brand-new missionary. He lives with... Elder Bird, my old Zone Leader from the Dalles! It was epic! I didn't think I'd be able to see Elder Bird again.

Are your eyes better? - Yeah, pretty much.

What are you doing for exercise? - Basically, I run around trying to find exercise-things to do. We have a stairmaster. I also sometimes swing Elder Rigby's hammer. Also, I sometimes just run around, occasionally swinging stuff around like swords. Hey, it gets me moving.

Why did the members of your zone all wear black and white to zone conference? Who planned that? - The Zone Leaders planned it.

Real-time Questions from Editor Dad

So are you in Yakima now?  Doing anything interesting for P-Day?  -  Not in Yakima, no. Still Toppenish. We'll be doing bowling, I think.
In previous weeks, you have mentioned lots of investigators, and you only mentioned a few this week.  How many would you say you have, and which ones are most receptive?  Can you name them all?  -  We have tons, I just didn't have time to write everything.

Normal Receptive: Pretty much average, but receptive enough they are investigators
Pretty Receptive: Receptive enough it's actually pretty exciting
Super Receptive: Will probably end up baptized at some point in their lives

Perla - Super receptive
Ivan & Osiris - Super receptive, but hard to set up lessons
Yennifer (19), Juan (14), & Brenda (17). Pretty receptive, new investigators. Brenda has a 3-yr old kid, Yennifer is about to have a kid, and Juan does not have a kid. We gave them cookies because their friend died.
Seferina & Jesus - Pretty receptive
Maria - Friend of Seferina. Normal receptive
Juan & Maria - Super receptive
Mario - Pretty-Super receptive, but still a teenager. His dad, also named Mario, is nice, but may or may not be receptive.
Yahaida & Betsaida - Pretty receptive, but already super active in their random Christian church. That's pretty much all that could hold them back (that includes, by the way, the problem of their parents being super active in said church)
Juana (daughter of Jobana) - So Super Receptive she desperately wants to be baptized, but easily distractable and without a super firm support from her mom (who wants to be active and help her kids, but works on Sundays).

That's everyone I can think of, but it's pretty crazy how many incredible people are in this area! What I sent before was just 1 highlight from each day. Just too much has been happening to write it all!
Can you see Mt. Adams from where you live and work, or is the smoke too bad?  Do you ever get out onto the reservation, away from town?  -  Other area, sadly. We're Toppenish East, covering Zillah/Granger.  We do see it, though. We just don't get deep into the reservation.


Elder Alonzo and me:
Elder Bird!
Map of Mexico and our 3 stalker maps (we printed them out from the LDS meetinghouse locator and taped them together so we can see all the individual houses in each town):

Our stalker maps of Granger and Buena:
Our stalker map of Toppenish:
Elder Chidester, Elder Bird's new missionary (he's being trained by Elder Bird) with a muffin:

Pictures from Zone Conference

Video of everyone waving:

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Week 68: In which we discuss the Special Apostle Power, wish for Temperature Immunity, and meet with many investigators

On Fire
written Sept 11, 2017

Dearest family and friends,

This place is on fire! Literally! Okay, I don't have a lot of time, but I'll do my best. So much going on!

Okay, so Monday we went by a lot of people, and I don't remember anything really spectacular happening. In my planner, it says we got a new investigator, but I can't remember who. There were a lot this week.

Tuesday, we were super busy all morning going by appointments (a lot of them fell through), and we then had dinner with Bro. Lott. He used to be Stake Patriarch, and told us a bunch of absolutely crazy stories from his mission. After that, we had a great lesson at the church with Perla and her two kids, Jose (6) and Evelette (7). They are crazy. We then went to visit two people who were referred to us, Joyce and Russel. They were referred to us by Leroy Elderberry, formerly known as Elder Elderberry. Nearly 40 years ago, Mr. Elderberry was here as a missionary and taught and baptized almost all of the members of a particular family. Now years later, he contacted one of the remaining members of the family, Joyce. He was surprised to learn she was never baptized! He then asked us to go by and offer to give her a blessing, which we did. However, she is in very ill health and didn't want to talk to us at the time, but we talked with her husband, Russel. He's super nice, and knows Bro. Lott really well! That went great.

Wednesday, more miracles. We go by another referral, a man named Juan about in his 30's. We've already met him and his father, who is also named Juan. Juan (jr.) isn't there, but we talk to his mom, Maria, and dad, Juan. They are active in some random Christian church. However, we have learned that people understand priesthood, apostasy, and restoration a lot better if you constantly refer to the priesthood as the "Special Apostle Power". Seriously. I have no idea why that works, but it does. Anyway, we tell them about that and how we have the "Special Apostle Power" again on the earth and it totally blew their minds. We're going back tonight.

Thursday, we go by a less-active named Jobana who wants her daughter Juana to be baptized. It was super short but went really well. Perla missed her appointment (we found out later she actually remembered, she was just really, really, late). We then tried by some other investigators of ours: two kids named Juan and John. I know, it's a lot of Juans to keep straight. Finish it off with English Correlation.

Friday, we do weekly planning, have our interviews with President Lewis, go by a guy who we set up a lesson with named Claudio, tract a bit, steal some food (with permission) from the other Toppenish Elders, and then go to our lesson with Ivan (19) and Osiris (18), his girlfriend. This is in Granger. They're awesome, say they want to be baptized when they know it's true and come to church. They're loving it. We then finish off the night with another lesson, this time in Zillah. President Kendall, the Spanish Branch President, came with us to teach Noe and Norma. They really needed our visit. She has a brother who was in the big earthquake in Mexico and she hasn't heard from him. She's just about beside herself. We share some scriptures from the Book of Mormon, and invite Noe and their son to come to church.

Saturday, we had a ridiculously busy day again. We had a bunch of lessons, did some tracting, ran helter-skelter all over the place, had a great dinner with the Barneys (Gene; there are two families) where we invited them to start a family mission plan, and finished off by going by Perla and re-committing her to come to church.

Sunday, Perla, Noe, and 2 less-active members came to Spanish church! It was incredible! We then tracted near the other Elders' apartment (they live in our area), had dinner with the Claytons (he's the English Ward Mission Leader), and then had several great lessons. We started out with Rosio, where we clipped through the Restoration in 5-8 minutes, and her poor kid was really upset about something. We then taught Erica (24) and her nephew, Mario (11). They're great, and Erica said she'd be baptized when she knows it's true! They have a cousin who's a member here. They loved the Restoration, and really seemed to understand it (thank you, Special Apostle Power). We finished off with going to Buena to a trailer park and talking with a family who are "Creentes Catolicos" (inactive Catholics). They've passed through some seriously tough stuff. Seriously. I'm not going to share just because it's bordering on graphic. We're going back Thursday.

Okay, I think that's it! That's a suuuuper simplified version!

Love you all!

Elder Adams

Questions from Editor Mom

How is the work coming in Toppenish? - It's coming along great, actually! Toppenish is on fire! Not literally, thankfully; I heard The Dalles is, but the last week and a half have been the busiest in my entire mission!

Have you considered getting masks to filter the smokey air? - Not really. It never really bothered me, aside from the itchy, miserable eyes. Breathing-wise, though, I hardly even noticed.

Do you know if the fires are stopped? (I'm glad you got to see the falls in OR before the other side of the river burned.) - I don't know. There isn't really any smoke here any more, but I know that down by The Dalles got completely roasted. Cascade Locks is now a ghost town, from what I heard, and everything except the town itself got scorched out. Sister Lewis showed me a video. It was nuts.

Tell us about your investigators (in the main letter is fine)! - Wow, so much to tell you about! I don't think I'll have time, honestly. It's just been so, so, busy. Main investigators: Perla, Erica/her nephew, Noe/Norma, A ton of people named Juan, Ivan/Osiris (his girl), Jobana, Rafael, and many, many, more.

Tell us about Elder Rigby. - He's great! He's really organized, good at leadership and working hard, and really dedicated. He's basically a powerhouse. I'm super lucky to be his companion. He loves the Gospel, and he's a really active, happy, guy.

Have you gotten any souvenirs from your mission (not something to focus on, but something to consider on a P-Day)? - Not really, no. I'm not entirely sure what I would get. Honestly, if I were to get any kinds of souvenirs, Toppenish would be the place to get them (what with the Yakama tribe and all). Also, yes, we do talk with a lot of Native Americans. We cover both languages in Toppenish and Buena.

What did you talk about in your interview with President Lewis? - Not a ton. He told me he thinks I have the gift of faith. That's cool, I guess. We talked about how awesome Toppenish is, and about how great Elder Rigby is, and that was pretty much it. He brought up one of the scriptures I've been memorizing, though! That was cool. Mosiah 28:3. It's a classic.

Are you speaking mostly Spanish there?/ What are you doing for language study? - Yeah, we're pretty much speaking mostly Spanish here. It's awesome! Lately for language study, I've been translating my lesson plans into Spanish.

Have you read the Book of Mormon all the way through in Spanish? - Uhhh, no. I haven't started that project. I've got some other study-related projects I'm finishing up first (like the lesson plans/memorizing scriptures), but that will come next (if there's any time left!) If I can't get to it on my mission, I think that would be cool to do afterwards.

Are you doing anything fun for P-Day? - Not really, no. This week we're just staying in Toppenish.

I guess that's enough questions for today--lots to talk about, eh? - Yeah, tons!

And one from Dad:
Do you ever call Elder Rigby "Thor" when he is doing his hammer exercises? - Not yet...

Pictures from Sis. Lewis (the mission mom)

These are from President Lewis's visit to Toppenish for interviews.

Sis. Lewis asked each missionary two questions:
If you could have three wishes...
  1. At-will telepathy (or the gift of discernment) to help me with strategy, resolving concerns, being epic, etc.
  2. A perfect memory (best learner, vast amounts of knowledge, and never lose things again).
  3. Temperature immunity.  I’d like to be able to go anywhere in any temperature/climate and be comfortable, be versatile.
What is your favorite tie?
My favorite tie has blues, purple and yellow and looks like the Blue Mosque with geometric shapes/not quite flowers.

Sis. Lewis took pictures of each missionary showing what they carried in their bag.

Monday, September 11, 2017

Week 67: In which we find an investigator behind our first door, my companion swings a hammer, and there is a lot of smoke

Topp Dawgs
(sent September 4, 2017)

Hello from Toppenish! It's a beautiful smoky day here in the capital of the Yakama Nation. The Yakama are the local tribe of Native Americans. Toppenish is the center of the reservation. There are also a ton of murals here, which is cool.

I'm with Elder Rigby, who is super dedicated, a hard worker, and a great guy. He's really fun. He's from Cedar City, UT, and has a powerful testimony of the Gospel. He beats the ground with an 8-pound sledgehammer for morning exercise, among other things.

The area is great! Elders Gallacher and Wright are with us here. They're also Spanish Missionaries. See, Toppenish is just so heavily Hispanic that our two companionships split both the English and Spanish work. We also cover the Zillah ward, but only for Spanish work. So, basically, we are in both the Toppenish 1st Ward (English) and the Toppenish 2nd Branch (Spanish). We split it with the other two missionaries here. Both the Ward and the Branch are great! I'm excited, since I've never served in a Branch before. It's not that different, though, just a bit smaller. There are some amazing and very powerful members here.

Fun fact: Many of my companions and other missionaries I have served around have served here in Toppenish. Both Elder West and Elder Aguirre served in the other area, and they talked about the ward a lot. Elder Ramirez and my MTC companion, Elder Woodfield, served together in our area for a while (Elder Ramirez lived next to us in Othello). I'm super excited!

Now for story time, taken as an excerpt from my letter to Pres. Lewis:

The first door we knock, an older Mexican lady pokes her head out and tells us we have to go around to the back, since the door we knocked was blocked. We then knocked the other door (I guess technically the second door we knocked), and to our surprise, a young lady came out! While wondering what happened to the older lady, we started talking to Perla (the older lady's daughter). Long story short, Perla has been going through a rough time lately, and really wants to start going back to a church and come closer to God again. She especially wants help from God with raising her kids in a good path. After a brief conversation about the Gospel of Jesus Christ, she said she wants to work to quit smoking, go to church, and be baptized! She agreed to work towards the 7th of October for a date. He daughter will turn 8 the 18th of October, though, so that might change.

It was crazy! Perla sadly wasn't able to make it to church yesterday, because of some weird situations and having someone take her car to Yakima instead of simply needing a small ride, among many other things. For sure, there is a lot of opposition against Perla's progress, but she's a determined lady. We know that through the power of Christ she can do all things! We're super excited to work with her. Not even kidding, the first door we knock in Toppenish is answered by a lady who loves our church and wants to be baptized. This transfer has got off to a good start, wouldn't you say?

I know this area is where I'm supposed to be, and I'm super grateful for the opportunity Elder Rigby and I have to serve here together. I know this Gospel is true, more than ever.

Much love and hugs your way!

Elder Adams

Questions from Editor Mom:

The obvious question: How's your new area? - It's great! I love it here in Toppenish; it reminds me a lot of Othello.

Are you finding common ground/things to talk to your new companion about? - Common ground? I mean, a love of the Gospel. We're keeping ourselves super busy just talking about that. Elder Rigby is amazing, a super hard worker, and a very dedicated missionary. I'm loving it!

What are you finding to laugh about? - Um, Elder Rigby swinging a giant hammer for morning exercise, maybe? That's pretty funny, I think, but also super awesome. He straight up bought an 8-pound sledgehammer to swing in the mornings. It's legit.

Do you have a car? bike? - We have a car! It's awesome! It's still a 2017 Toyota Corolla, so no complaints from me ;-)

Are you in the Yakima Valley zone? - Yes, we are! Elder Tapia (yeah, I know!) and Elder Bown are our Zone Leaders.

How are the wards? Are other elders there, too, or are you serving the Spanish and English wards? - Well, great, yes, and also yes. Elders Gallacher and Wright are with us here. They're also Spanish Missionaries. See, Toppenish is just so heavily Hispanic that our two companionships split both the English and Spanish work. We also cover the Zillah ward, but only for Spanish work. So, basically, we are in both the Toppenish 1st Ward (English) and the Toppenish 2nd Branch (Spanish). We split it with the other two missionaries here.

Both the Ward and the Branch are great! I'm excited, since I've never served in a Branch before. It's not that different, though, just a bit smaller. There are some amazing and very powerful members here.

We've heard that there are a lot of fires and smoke out there.  Is that affecting you & your work in any way?
Nope, it just gives me bad allergies. That means I have to constantly pump myself full of Benadryl (it doesn't make me sleepy at all) to keep my eyes from going puffy, red, itchy, and full of hives on the insides of my eyelids. Other than that, though, not really. There is a lot of smoke, though.


(sent without captions or labels)

Pictures of Transfer Day (posted by Sis. Lewis, the Mission Mom)