Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Week 18: In which I say goodbye to Elders Brassanini & Aguirre, hello to some old investigators, and get assigned a new companion.

So, this week has been an interesting one! Aren't they all! It felt about 3 days long, too. Ack! It's hard to believe I'm basically done training. It's also time for transfers again, so people are getting moved around again. Elder Brassanini, however, is finished for good. He leaves this afternoon, and he'll stay the night at the home of President and Sister Lewis, and he gets on the plane tomorrow. It's sad to see him go. Also, my wonderful companion, Elder Aguirre, is being transferred. Nooo! I guess no one can stand me for more than six weeks, eh?

I'm going to share a bit from this last week, and some of the people we've talked to. First of all, we came across someone who used to be listening to the missionaries, or a "former investigator". Her name's Sara. She and her husband had apparently been very interested in the message we share, but it was very hard to meet with them because of their crazy work schedule. We're hoping we can talk a bit more, as she showed some interest.

We also had an interesting little miracle happen with two roommates, Monserrat and Angelica. They were also former investigators, who had been very sincere in their desire to learn more. They had really been learning and doing a lot to know if it's true. However, they shied away after a bit because of the many changes that come with the Gospel. It's certainly tough sometimes!

However, we felt inspired a week or so ago to leave a little note on their door asking if they wanted to hear a message of happiness centered on Christ. A few days ago, as we were walking by, Monserrat yelled out at us, saying they wanted to talk to us and listen to our message. She asked us to come back for an appointment today! We were completely blown away. It's amazing how sometimes little things lead to bigger miracles.

Finally, a few days ago, we had a really cool lesson with a lady named Leonor. We had an appointment with a man named Ivan next door, but he didn't answer the door (or wasn't there). When that fell through, we thought we might try to say hello to his neighbors. Leonor answered the door. Our conversation soon led to a discussion about the Gospel, and we taught her the message of the restoration. She started getting a little distracted with her kid at the end, but she seemed really interested in our message. We're going to check back tonight! I pray that she has pondered on the things we shared.

Now, I'm going to talk a little bit about transfers. I'm staying here, and I'm getting a new companion. Sadly, Elder Aguirre was assigned to be a Zone Leader, not unlike Elder Wunderlich before him. It appears that every single one of my companions is assigned to be a Zone Leader after one transfer. My new companion will be Elder Boren. I'm not sure how to break the news to him about what's going to happen.

Elder Aguirre is just transferring within our apartment, to Elder Brassanini's room! While I'm sad to see him go, it's not going to be too far!

The missionaries here are so strong, and I love this ward so much. We were able to attend both a combination marriage/baptism and a funeral this week. It's truly amazing to see the faith of everyone at both of those meetings. The funny thing is, they're actually both very closely related. In both, people are ending one life and beginning a beautiful new life. Sometimes we may feel we are separated by our loved ones by an insurmountable distance, but I am so glad of the comfort that comes with the knowledge of our Heavenly Fathers plan for us.

I love you all, and I am so happy to be able to continue serving here. It's truly a privilege. 


Elder Adams


Monday, September 19, 2016

Week 17: In which I make new friends, roll in the MAV, and play cello at Zone Conference.

Hola, todos!
[Hello Everyone!]

Esta semana fue fantastico! Estoy muy animado por estar aqui en Wenatchee. Todavia yo necesito mejorar mi Espanol. Pues, esta bien. Pienso que hablo mejor que escribo.
[This week was fantastic! I am very excited to be here in Wenatchee. I still need to better my Spanish. Well, it's OK. I think I speak better than I write.]
This last week was crazy. So much happened, and yet it felt like a maximum of 3 days. Last Monday after emailing, we went out to try to do a lot of finding. That's pretty much been the last couple of weeks. We ran into a person named Nayeli last Monday, and we had a really cool lesson. Everything seemed to go well. She seemed to want to know more, and accepted a return visit on Thursday.

When we went back on Thursday (I was on exchanges with Elder Call at the time), she apologized profusely to us. Apparently, she was just too nice and too shy to tell us the last time she already had a church and wasn't super interested. We talked a bit, and she seemed to begin to understand our true purpose. I think she thought we only do what we do to add new numbers to our church. Not so! At least, that's not our purpose as I see it! As we talked a bit, she began to understand that our purpose is to invite others to come closer to Christ by experimenting on the message we go about sharing. She then accepted a challenge to read the Book of Mormon and ask God if it is true and from Him. It was a really cool lesson. She was still extremely hesitant to accept a return appointment, but seemed open to us coming back at an unspecified time to help answer whatever questions she might have about what she will read. I'm not sure how that will turn out, but at least she's open to try.

We also met a cool lady named Hermalinda Friday. She lives relatively close to a less active member of the church. We had an awesome lesson with her, and we have a return appointment set for tomorrow. I really hope that goes well! She seemed pretty open and willing to learn more. Another person we met was Adriana. When we met with her, she seemed pretty interested intellectually, but she didn't seem to understand that we weren't there to convince her to change religions, but to invite her to ask if the things we share are true. However, she said something very interesting; she said that she loves having the Mormon missionaries over, because we always give a special, different kind of peace to her when we visit.

Hello! That's exactly it! For her, she doesn't seem to recognize when the spirit is trying to testify to her. It's just like she described. It's not just ordinary "peace", but a "special, different" kind of peace. It's a peace that is given to us, not like the world gives peace, not an ordinary peace, but a truly special kind of peace in your heart. Having that with me all the time, having the spirit to guide me, is absolutely essential to being a missionary. It's not about us trying to add to little numbers on a sheet; it's about us trying to share things that are not only special to us, that have made an incredible difference in our lives. I have heard and seen how this good news we share has made an immeasurable difference in the lives of others as well.

We've been rolling around this week in the MAV. MAV is the name we finally gave to the beloved van we share a bit with the Zone Leaders. It stands for Mormon Assault Vehicle. It's only a minivan, so it's not really a true MAV, but since it's the car we use, it is henceforth and forever known as MAV.

This last Wednesday we had a fantastic Zone Conference. We learned how to be better missionaries and better followers of Christ, and we were all able to strengthen each other. I think the funniest moment, though, was hands down the video we all watched about good table manners. It was made in the 80's or so, so it was all a bit... out of date. At least, the hairstyles were.

It all finished up with a special musical number by Sister Baird on the piano and Yours Truly on the cello. At the very, very end, we all heard the powerful departing testimonies of those faithful missionaries leaving in the next 12 or so weeks.

I can't believe so much time has passed! It's crazy that I've been here in Wenatchee almost 3 months (a little less)!

I'm going to finish up with my own testimony that this is really a great work. Seeing the happiness of others is truly one of the things that can bring the greatest joy in this life, especially to help bring the special peace of the spirit into people's hearts.
Answers to Questions from the Editors:
Sister Lewis posted many pictures from zone conference, including a video of your cello performance. Did you play the same piece for your two performances yesterday? Were those performances in different wards?
Did not play the same piece for the two yesterday. Will try to send a recording later. One was in the Spanish Ward (Columbia River) and the other was in the English Ward (Mission Ridge). The two wards share 2nd and 3rd hour, and the Spanish Ward has sacrament meeting after the other 2 hours. So, basically, English sacrament meeting, 2nd hour with both, 3rd hour with both, and Spanish sacrament meeting closing it up.

Where did you get the cello? It doesn't look terribly bad and sounded like it had decent tone and got the high notes.
I got the cello from a member who lives up near Leavenworth. It's a ways away, but he works here in Wenatchee. We just picked it up from his office last Tuesday, kept it at the apartment (got permission from Zone Leaders) practiced some, played Wednesday, practiced Friday night and Sunday morning, and played on Sunday.
Did you get the bike fixed?  Are you happy?Bike, no.  Happy, yes.

Do you need anything besides shoes?
Really just shoes right now.
Does your companion need anything?
Doesn't need squat, just for me to tell you "thanks for letting me come on a mission (from him)"

Are you wearing deodorant?
I'm wearing deodorant, thank you. Why, can you smell me all the way in Massachusetts?

Is it cooling off?
It's cooling off, yes.

And finally... some pictures!

First... many of the missionaries decided to encircle the car of another unfortunate companionship (in the truck).
Yay, spiders! We found this one in our apartment and caught it in a glass jar. We took pictures and subsequently released it.
Elder Aguirre's legendary cooking! Huzzah!
The bushes are infested with many, many spiders...
 ...right next to: Our Apartment! (With complimentary Elder Aguirre)

Me, but in the MAV

A top-secret, exclusive view of a random house in our area! Ta daa!

An aerial view of our area! Yay! Our area is on this side of the river. The two borders are on the outside streets next to the hospital and the college (with the big red track). Basically, our area includes both the hospital and the college, but those are right on the borders.

This is Saddle Rock, from which the previous picture was taken:
 My shoes:

Elder Aguirre organizing the Area Book:
Elder Wunderlich (in back) and his new companion (in front) at Zone Conference:

 Most of the Zone on Saddle Rock:

Bonus:  Video & Pictures from Zone Conference, posted by Sis. Lewis, the mission president's wife.

Spot Ben in this video (hint: he's right in the middle in a gray suit.)

Thursday, September 15, 2016

Week 16: In which we make a box, teach Armando, and party with Lester

Hola, todos!

So, I want to apologize in advance since I unfortunately don't have a tone of time to write this week. I have to do some things to prepare for the upcoming Zone Conference this Wednesday! I'm so excited! It's going to be awesome, and we're going to learn so much.

This last week, we have really been focused on finding new people to teach. Nearly all of our previous investigators have proven nearly impossible to meet with or not very interested at all. As such, we have been trying so many new things to try to find people who are open to listening to our message. Our area really doesn't have many public spaces (such as parks), so really the main thing we do is go around, try to help people out, knock on doors, say hello on the street, and other stuff. Once new idea Elder Aguirre had, though, was to make little boxes where people can put their information and get permission to place them in a couple of the stores in our area. The boxes just say "If you or anyone you know would like to hear a message of Jesus Christ which brings peace, truth, and light, put your name here." - The Missionaries

We've already got one box in one of the stores. It's super cool; the lady who owns the store with her husband would actually love to hear a bit about our message, so we gave her an invitation to an upcoming Carne Asada party with the ward (I was on exchanges, so Elder Brassanini and I were in our area). We'll also try following up with her in a day or two (and checking the box). We also got permission to make another box and put it in the other main store in our area! It's super exciting!

We have been teaching the brother of Dalia, one of the less active members here. His name's Armando. We've only recently been able to start really teaching him, but he's super, super open! He has a HUGE desire to get baptized! As it turns out, though, we since found out that he only spends all his time in our area; he actually lives in the area of the sister missionaries in our district. Elder Aguirre and I are so excited for them!

Finally, one of the new members here, Lester, had his 12th birthday! It was super cool! He is definitely the best, tied for first place. He is way too cool for his age. We've been working with him and his family a bit, since he's really pretty new. My previous companion, Elder Wunderlich, was pretty much his best friend. He was the missionary who baptized him. It was super awesome to be able to see Lester pass the sacrament this last Sunday. The spirit was so strong. He is really spiritually strong, and he has a simply powerful testimony. For Lester's birthday, I bought him a Zebra brand pen/pencil set. Those are the kind I have been using, after all.

This morning for P-Day, we hiked a beautiful mountain called Saddle Rock. It's a really inspirational view of Wenatchee and the surrounding area. Today was a pretty crazy day, so I actually don't have my camera with me (we thought we were going home before emailing and I could get it). So, next week.

I love you all, and wish you all so much joy! There is truly nothing more happy than this the work of helping others.

Much love, all!

Elder Adams
Bonus question from Editor Mom:
Can you envision how being able to play cello could help you in your work?
I am playing cello for Zone Conference Wednesday, and also twice this next Sunday.

Monday, September 5, 2016

Week 15: In which I go to meetings, teach Jesus, and cool down a bit.

Hola, mi familia y mis amigos! Hoy es un dia divertido. Estoy muy, muy animado por una leccion que tenemos esta noche. Yo espero que estera tan espiritual. Estamos ensanando un investigador nuevo que se llama Jesus. Yo se, pienso que es un poco... diferente. Normalmente, a menos que en Ingles, personas no estan llamados como eso. Pues, estoy muy animado por el! Si esperaran, puedo decirle la historia completa en Ingles, pero en un rato. Tambien, estoy tratando a aprender mas Espanol! Probabamente estoy cometiendo muchos errores en esta propia nota. Pues, no me importa. Estoy tratando. Yo  trato constantamente para hablar con mi companero en Espanol, pero es un poco dificil a recordarme, especialmente aqui en los Estados Unidos! Inserio! Pues, yo se que muchos de ustedes no entienden mi Espanol (tambien las personas que puedan leer en Espanol, porque mio es horrible). Entonces, voy a continuar en Ingles.
Hello, my family and my friends!  Today is a fun day.  I am very, very excited for a lesson that we have tonight.  I hope that it will be very spiritual.  We are teaching a new investigator whose name is Jesus.  I know, I think it is a little ... different.  Normally, at least in English, people are not named like this.  Well, I am very excited for him.  If you wait, I can tell you the complete story in English, but in a minute.  Also, I am trying to learn more Spanish.  I am probably committing many errors in this particular note.  Well, I don't care.  I am trying.  I constantly try to speak with my companion in Spanish, but it is a little difficult to remember, especially here in the United States!  Seriously!  Well, I know that many of you don't understand my Spanish (also, the people that can read in Spanish, because mine is horrible).  So, I am going to continue in English.

So, now that you've all had a taste of my rather sketchy and imperfect Spanish, I'm going to revert to using my own beloved mother tongue.
Well, there were quite a lot of meetings this week. Because of all the meetings, we had to have our companionship weekly planning session on Thursday, a day early. Elder Aguirre then had a training meeting for the District Leaders on Friday, and we all had our Zone Training Meeting on Saturday. So, the end result was a ton of meetings and training sessions. Also planning. But it's alright, it was super cool. Also, we went to Cafe Rio after the Zone Training Meeting. That place is actually pretty good.

Elder Aguirre is pretty cool; I personally feel everything is going pretty well. He's from Vale, Colorado. He pretty much never talks about his interests, though. He's just so focused on the work! Some things I've learned are that he came right out to the field directly after high school. He has wondered about being an architect, but wasn't sure it was the right thing for him after taking a few lessons on how to actually do it. He did some wrestling in high school, and is very physically fit. He is very well-versed in both Preach My Gospel and the scriptures. We don't have a ton in common, but he's a great guy, and we get along just great.
We've ended up having to stop teaching a lot of people I've already mentioned. Natalie, Ricardo/Marina, and Kenia have all become impossible to contact. Natalie and Kenia have been avoiding us, and Ricardo/Marina are just never actually home. They are all super awesome people, though! Analy, whom I talked about a bit last time, I do have a bit to talk about. Interestingly enough, though, we haven't seen her once since our first lesson with her... more on that story later. Basically, she knew we had been sent by God to help her out, and decided she wanted to be baptized.
By the way, Sister Clive, the wife of the Ward Mission Leader, has a snickerdoodle recipe that could seriously compete with any others I have tasted. They're a lot softer and chewier, but they just melt in your mouth. I may conspire to send a few recipes back, since I also now have one for sweet sticky rice w/ mangoes. Yep, we got served that. It was delicious. The people here are so nice! We've had apples and pears shoved in our arms. They make excellent snacks.
We've been really working on finding more people that are open to give a little room for our words here. It's not easy, but it's really a great aspect of this work. We've come across an awesome lady named Raquel and a guy named Jesus (I already mentioned Jesus in the Spanish bit). Raquel is super cool, and has a great family a little further down by the river. We've shared with her the message of the Restoration, and she seemed really interested. We've gone back a few times. We're hoping to be able to teach her again tonight, when we can maybe help her resolve some concerns she might have.
Jesus is a really cool guy. He's pretty humble, and he had an experience a few years back where he was in a coma for several days. At one point in his coma, he saw a really bright light and heard a voice tell him his time had not yet come. When we shared with him Joseph Smith's account of his own experience in 1820, it really resonated with him. Jesus apparently got out of jail relatively recently, and isn't sure about a lot of religions because of how many seem to be only worried about getting more money. He saw so many religions all about gaining more wealth, and started wondering if any of them were true at all.
We just told him that he's absolutely right, and that's one reason that a restoration of the church of Christ was so necessary. Jesus said that he now really wants to read the Book of Mormon to know if the things we shared are really true, and find out for himself. He also said that if he gets an answer that they are true, he will want to be baptized. He then invited us back for tonight. Now, here's the mind-blowing part: Jesus is Analy's boyfriend. We're going to be meeting them both tonight, and I know that we didn't just run into Jesus for no reason. It wasn't a coincidence. He was fixing a car in front of Analy's house, and we felt for some reason we needed to talk with him. Maybe, we thought, we could find out what happened to Analy.
Well, that's the coolest story from this week. This week has mostly been walking, looking, and meetings. Oh, and a bit more walking. And meetings. And walking. At least we got another bike now. Hopefully it can be fixed up and we can start using them soon. Also, I'm suuper glad that it doesn't get past 100 degrees on a regular basis anymore. Walking in that kind of heat was awful. Now, it's a lot more temperate.
So, that's my week! Onward! Love you all a ton!
Elder Adams
Special this week: Ben answers some questions from Editor Mom:
What are you studying/reading during personal and companionship study times?
Oh, all sorts of things. It depends on the day. I always try to read in Preach My Gospel and the Book of Mormon, though. Sometimes I study a Christ-like Attribute from chapter 6 of PMG (a great chapter, by the way; you should totally look at it with Dad/on your own this week!). Those are really cool. Also, chapter 6 has a little hidden gem at the back: a little evaluation you can give yourself to know what Christlike Attributes you need to improve on! It's super useful. You should definitely look into doing that.

How much Spanish do you speak--do you speak Spanish all the time, including to your companion? How comfortable is it at this point?
Meh, it's alright. I'm at the point where I can hold my own in a conversation; a bit better than I was at German before my mission. We speak Spanish together a fair amount, but we're also actually discouraged from doing personal study in our mission language. We alternate a bit. We are constantly around English missionaries as well, so we have to speak English more than I wish. We also often enough actually teach in English; the people we teach sometimes speak it fluently and prefer to practice it, but the rest of their family only speaks Spanish or they would rather go to church in Spanish. We don't speak it all the time, either, but we do try to speak it a fair amount. It's super important, too.

How's the weather? Is it starting to cool down?
It was pretty hot for my first 6 weeks here, but it has definitely cooled down since then.

Are you staying organized, so it will be easy to pack up and move when you get transferred?
Actually, relatively so. I just cleaned up my desk a bit this morning, so it's no longer a tornado disaster zone. Everything else is actually quite ready to pack up and move at a moments notice. Neater than at the MTC, that's for sure!