Saturday, November 11, 2017

Week 76: In which we "Fall back", prepare for snow, and bless a house

Another Good Week
(written 6 Nov 2017)

Hello!

Today, I mainly want to talk about Chris and Cassie, two amazing new investigators. They are now preparing to be baptized on December 16th, but they're not sure they can make it. Still, they're willing to try.

Here is an excerpt from my letter to President Lewis, with unnecessary parts edited out:
We found Cris when we walked by him outside his apartment. We went up to him and felt like saying, in essence, "We know you are going through a trial in your life right now, and we want to let you know that God wants to help." We then went on to have a brief discussion about the Plan of Salvation. During the course of the conversation, he told us that his best friend had just barely died. We then shared with him a scripture from Alma about the Spirit World and set up a return appointment.

We called him back to confirm, and learned that his girlfriend, Cassie, was also super interested in learning more. Apparently, our very first contact with him really impacted him. He was shocked, and thought that it was very strange how we first met him and began answering all of the questions he had before he had even told us what was going on in his life. He thought it was very strange, and took it as a sign that he is supposed to take us seriously and get closer to God. Cassie also thought it was strange, and was very interested in meeting us. We ended up rescheduling the appointment so we could talk with them both.

We then went back for our appointment, and had a lesson on parts of the Plan of Salvation as well as the Joseph Smith story, mainly focusing on how he was searching for answers to the same kinds of questions. At the end of the lesson, we gave them a copy of the Book of Mormon and invited them to read a few specific chapters. They agreed. After the lesson, they asked if we had felt anything weird about their house. We weren't quite sure how to answer, as we hadn't really been paying attention. After pausing and listening for a moment, we answered that the spirit there wasn't exactly the best, but it wasn't really terrible either. Both Elder Rigby and I later agreed that the Spirit, while there, felt (according to both of our descriptions) as "muffled".

They then told us about how their two-year old had been acting really strange, and had apparently been seeing spirits in the past few days. We both felt at that moment a very strong impression that we needed to bless the home. We offered to do so, and they both seemed very relieved that we could. I felt Elder Rigby should perform the blessing. He did so.

We then had another appointment last night, and it was incredible! We brought Brother Thorpe with us. He recently moved back to Toppenish because his house burned down. We had a fantastic lesson, and we talked about the Holy Ghost and the Plan of Salvation. They love it, and want to come closer to God.

Vanessa and her family have been out of town for a little bit, but we look forward to teaching them again soon. Sadly, Germaine is ignoring us for some reason. We think she's going through a very hard time with some court cases with one of her friends. Even her husband isn't entirely sure what's going on with her. We're going to give her some time to get through it, since she definitely doesn't want to talk with us right now. Jose Larious is leaving to Mexico for 3 weeks. Jose Campos is picking apples from 5 AM to 10 PM until mid-November. However, even with all of that, some things are definitely picking up here.

It's going to be a great week.

Love, 

Elder Adams


Questions from Editor Mom



Does WA change their clocks this weekend? If so, did you remember to do it? - Yes, they changed, and yes, we did do it.

Are you OK after having been shoved off the porch? Ouch! Do you need to visit a chiropractor? - Yeah, I'm fine. I stayed standing upright, so it wasn't really a problem. It just surprised and angered me and made Elder Rigby afraid. It was interesting.

Sounds like you sometimes work in pretty rough areas. Do you take any precautions to stay safe? Has it been eye-opening, or not so much, since you've seen Soweto and other tough neighborhoods? - It's not anything particularly new to me, considering my experiences seeing rough neighborhoods before. Toppenish is probably comparable to Lowell as far as general toughness level. We don't usually have anything to worry about, but we try to follow the Spirit as best we can with regards to that. Also, if we get a bad feeling about a place or a person, we immediately and quickly work our way back to the car, but in a very roundabout way to make sure no one is following us. We try to vary our routes if we feel it is necessary. Usually, that's pretty hard to do, because there are only a few main roads that get you pretty much anywhere. Still, we try to stay in the light and on more public roads while varying our routes, especially if we feel we are in a bad neighborhood. For me, thanks to you, it's practically instinct.

Has Perla been able to move? - We're not sure. She told us she was living with her sister in Sunnyside, but then, a few days later, when we asked where she was, she told us she was homeless in the streets of Toppenish. She has a car, so it's not like she has no shelter at all, but still. We haven't seen her here, though. We told her to talk to us at church, but she didn't come. We don't know where she is now.

How's the weather? Has it snowed yet? - It's getting really cold. It technically snowed for the first time yesterday, but by the time it hit the ground it melted. We've been told it's going to be unusually wet this week, and temperatures are dropping fast. 

Pictures






Sunday, November 5, 2017

Week 75: In which we strive for perfection, we start teaching a rapper, and I am pushed off the porch

Editor's note:  Want to send Ben a card or letter, or even a care package?  His address is:
Elder Benjamin Adams 
1006 S. 16th Avenue
YakimaWA 98902
United States
 Another week full of crazy...
(written 30 Oct 2017)

Dear Family,

As crazy as it is, I think I'm starting to get used to the insane amount of miracles we are seeing almost daily in Toppenish. Of course, we have our fair share of bad experiences, too, but they are dwarfed in comparison to the mountain of blessings being poured out on us. Yesterday, I even started to get incredibly overwhelmed by the sheer number of appointments and people we have to visit. There's just not time for all of them!

We also had an amazing trip to the Temple Thursday. It was inspiring. We've also started a district "40-day purification". Basically, for 40 days, we're being incredibly strict on ourselves, and we're making a giant list of things to do to be the most obedient, consecrated, missionaries we can be. We're basically trying even EXTRA hard to be perfect. It's going very well! We're still not quite perfect yet, but we've already made a lot of improvement. We even started it out with a fast... while we were at the Temple. It was epic-ly, wicked awesome.

Here are some updates, person-by-person:
Narida - She didn't really want to set specific times for us to go by because she is so busy. As amazing as she is, with as much potential as she has, we just don't have the time to continue working with her.
Yahaida - Sister Ibarra went by today and invited Yahaida's family to a Family Home Evening at the Ibarra home tonight! We're super excited!
Jose Larious/Family - They're doing really well. They couldn't come to church this week, because he had promised to do his friend a favor. Still, he's slowly reading through the Book of Mormon! We're excited to keep working with them.
Perla - She's moving today. It's okay, it's definitely going to help her out. She came to Sacrament Meeting yesterday with some of her kids.
Germaine - We've lost contact for the last week. We're trying to find her. She's still awesome, but it's getting really hard.
Jobana - She's doing well. She accepted the invitation to let us help her find a new job where she doesn't have to work on Sundays.
Jesus Estrada/Family (mainly daughter Vanessa) - They are so amazing! Vanessa and her family came to church yesterday, and they loved it! Vanessa is in 1 Nephi 3, and we're really excited to keep helping them. Jesus, Vanessa's dad, is recovering from some addictions, and they're all super willing to change and follow Jesus Christ even more.
Melody/Jose Campos - He's working a TON. He's gone from 3 AM to 10 PM. Melody keeps missing appointments, so we're not going to go back until Jose is done working such crazy shifts (mid-late November). He's picking apples, by the way.
Eleah - We found Eleah, and she was initially not very open to us talking with her. However, she then opened up and told us she needs peace in her heart because she recently lost her mother figure.
Jesus - He's a referral from Quincy. He is dating a lady who is looking into the Gospel up there. We had a great lesson with him, but when we went back, his mean brother angrily shoved me off the porch after we told him we had an appointment with Jesus. I've never wanted to hit someone as badly as I did then, but you'd be proud of me: I didn't! I read the scriptures and calmed down!
Chris - Chris is amazing. He lost his friend super recently, and was incredulous when we showed up and shared a scripture from the Book of Mormon that helped answer a question he had. He later told his wife, and now they are both super excited to talk to them tomorrow.

We also have many more people with whom we are working, but it's crazy.

I've got to go. Love you all!

Elder Adams
 

Questions from Editor Mom

Hi Elder Benny Boy (just have to remind you that you will always be our Ben. :-) - Hi Mom! You'll always be my mom :-)

What are you doing for Halloween? Do you have to be in earlier than usual, for example? - We can't tract after 5 pm (but we have a member dinner then, anyway) and we have to be in the house by 6 pm. We'll be studying and staying busy until 9.

What made you laugh this week? - Hmm, good question. We met a great guy named Joshua Brownowl. As it turns out, he is a musician with a particular kind of music which he calls "poetry". He played/sang some for us, and it was really... soothing. It's really unique. It's not exactly rap, but it's a strange mix of rap and singing. His "musician name" is Marvalous (no, that's not a typo). Feel free to look him up on YouTube. He played/sang along to us his song called "Beautiful City". It's so appropriate it's even missionary appropriate. I'm not sure sometimes if he's trying to hit micro-tones, but they worked out either way (he may or may not have been intentionally right in between notes at some points). You should definitely look it up so you can have a little bit of the experience we did. He was constantly He's now a potential investigator. We'll be giving him a church tour this next week.

Are you still crazy busy with investigators that have a lot of potential? - Yes. I hit a point Sunday where I was so overwhelmed I wasn't sure what to do, since we didn't have time in our schedule to go by everyone. We are just having to raise the bar even more for who we can visit. Now, we're pretty much limited to people who come to church, we believe will come to church that next Sunday, have a date for baptism, or we plan to invite to have a specific date.

Has Perla been able to move away from her horrible situation? Please tell her she is in my prayers if you see her again. - She hasn't moved away quite yet, because she doesn't have anywhere to go, but she has to be out of her place today (technically yesterday, but whatever). She's moving out right now.

Any car stories? How do you feel about driving these days? Confident? Have you ever scared your companion? - Nope, no car stories. I feel quite confident driving. Elder Rigby says not so much any more, but last transfer yes (because I hadn't been driving for very long again). More than being scared, he wishes I didn't always get super lost and not know where I was.

What is your favorite suit? - Definitely the blue one. I like the black one because it's really loose, but the blue one is definitely my favorite (and fits well, btw, it's just not as loose as the black one).

What are you looking forward to this transfer? - Baptizing people and finding people who will be baptized next transfer.

BTW, I've known about the bat since Dad posted it on Facebook the next day. (No, I didn't go on Facebook, but Sister Lewis told me she read the story and loved it.) I really appreciate the two packages you've sent so far. It's been great! I also got a great package and card from Grandma and Grandpa Adams.

Love you!

Elder Adams

Pictures

 Me, Perla, Jose (her son), Elder Rigby, and a picture of Jesus.
 
 The Temple!

Elder Rigby and me.

Delicious enchiladas at a member dinner with Hermana Roselia Guzman. Yum.

Your guess is as good as ours...


... and a video

 
 

Friday, November 3, 2017

Week 74: In which I recite rejections, mention miracles, and display destroyers


Quick Letter...

(written 23 Oct 2017)

I really have no time, but here's a little bit at least... from my letter to President. Sorry, I know that's a lame cop-out. Before that, though, we have some sad news: Perla is moving! She's probably going to move outside of the mission this week, to Grandview. That means we won't know when she's baptized or be able to attend her baptism. However, she really is living in a bad place right now. It's definitely best for her that she leaves, even though it's sad. Oh, well. It's the Lord's work, not ours.

First of all, President Lewis asked for some common doorstep rejections. Here is what I told him:
1. "I believe all religions are good, and all that matters is your faith in Christ. I'm good where I am, though, and don't want to change religions. Good job for spreading the word, though! Bye!"

2. "I love talking about God, but I'm really busy and work all the time (or: "I'm just about to leave"). Come back another day." When we push for a specific day or time, they then say "Another day." and close the door. 

(This basically means that they don't mind you knocking on their door very much, but if they're tired or don't feel like it, they will just ignore you. In other words, they don't really want to hear, but don't mind being talked at once in a while so they don't feel as bad about not going to church.)

Sometimes people use both.

Even still, this work is God's work, and nothing, not even super lame excuses, will stop it from progressing.

In addition, I told him about our miraculous weekend. We ended up having 6 of our investigators attend the Spanish Branch, not including an amazing number of less-active members! That number also doesn't include Germaine, who attended the Ward (but not enough for us to report her as having attended).


There's simply not room to report on even a tiny portion of what is going on, so I'll simply leave off with some good news about Germaine and a quick report on our very interesting day on Saturday. Friday night, we were with a member when our appointment fell through. We then tried by another person nearby, but they weren't there either. Finally, even though it was not in our plans, we felt like we needed to go by Germaine. She's a member of the Yakama tribe, and feels like she wants to be baptized. However, she missed an appointment and we had some difficulties contacting her. We went by with our member, and when we knocked on Germaine's door, she answered! We had a great lesson. When we asked her why she kept letting us come by, she told us "I feel something different. I believe in God, and have all my life, but I feel something different when you come by and when I pray. I've never felt it before. It's like everything's going to be okay, like comfort or peace, and I feel like I owe it to myself to pursue that and find where it leads me."

We set up an appointment for the next day, Saturday. Saturday morning, we were talking about the faith we have collectively in our companionship, and how we need to exercise that faith to the working of miracles more. Later, Elder Rigby told me he said a prayer in his heart for an opportunity to give a priesthood blessing. Germaine's daughter then texted us, telling us that Germaine was sick and would have to cancel the appointment and meet later on. We still felt, however, that we needed to go by with Bro. Lott, an ordained Patriarch and member of our ward here. We did, and when Germaine came out, she was really, really, ill. She was having trouble walking and was very pale and sickly. She apparently had caught the flu from her kids. We offered to give her a priesthood blessing. She accepted, and in the blessing, we rebuked the illness in her and told her it would be gone by sundown that day. We ended up giving a total of 3 priesthood blessings that day.

The blessing worked! Sunday,  Germaine was well enough she came looking for the church. It took her some time to find it, but she eventually did in time for Relief Society. She got very emotional, but the sisters really helped her out. She wasn't completely better, but she looked a LOT better than the day before, and she could walk with strength. She eventually left early to go check on her kids. 

My testimony has grown greatly of the power of the priesthood, and in priesthood blessings. It's truly incredible. It is true. I close my testimony in the name of Jesus Christ, the greatest healer of us all, amen. 

Love you all! Bye!

Elder Adams

Questions from Editor Mom


First of all, apparently Hot Wheels makes little Star Destroyers! It's now our companionship mascot.


Now for your questions:

Did I ever tell you my favorite color is purple? I like forest green, too, for things like furniture and trees. - You mentioned it, I think last week. Royal purple is my favorite, as well. Earlier, you had told me you favorite color was blue, though.

Also, yes, forest green is generally a nice color for forests.

How was your week? - Milagroso como siempre.

What interesting insights did you gain from your interview with President Lewis last week? - I'm not sure, honestly. We talked about how things were going, pretty much.

What do you love the most about this time of year? - I like the temperature a ton.

Is your ward having a trunk or treat party? - Yes. It's combined with the Zillah Ward. I don't think we're going. If we get investigators to go, we might, though.

Are there any fun activities in the works in your ward? - I think the Spanish Branch is planning a dinner soon. The Ward recently had a really good Harvest Dinner. It was delicious. Also, several of our people showed up.

Have you found or played a cello in Toppenish, or even thought about looking for one? - I've found one in Zillah. I just haven't had the opportunity to play it yet, but I'm working on it. At least we found one, right? First step, check.

What holidays are you most looking forward to? - Definitely Thanksgiving and Christmas. Oh, yeah.

And for your main letter: how are your investigators and the members in your ward doing? - I don't think I'll be able to tell you much about that, honestly. We had some extra assignments to complete during e-mail time today, and we're about out.

Pictures



 

Pictures from Sis. Lewis (the "mission mom")








Thursday, November 2, 2017

Week 73: In which our schedule fills up, mice die, and a spider hangs a rock


Not Room Enough...
(written 16 Oct 2017)

Hello, everyone! This week has been... insane. I'm going to have to be really quick. This week, we found a lot of new people, and a lot more people decided to get serious. We've seen a lot of straight miracles this week, and we both feel very privileged to be here in Toppenish to see them. Our schedule is getting really, really, full. Truly, I'm beginning to understand a little better what it means to be blessed that there be not room enough to receive it. In our case, there is not room enough to receive it... in our schedules! We're totally booked! I'm not sure we can handle many more miracles like that. Quick list of the people preparing for specific baptismal dates and what's going on with them:

Perla Santos - She's doing well, and is progressing. It's just slow, slow, progress. She's still doing great, she mainly needs to start taking our lessons (and lesson times) more seriously (she's often 30-60 minutes late, which, with our schedule the way it is, doesn't work). It's partially our fault for being late a couple of times ourselves, but we've been a lot better. It's just scary for us to try to take members with us to her lessons, because she's not always very punctual... at all. Still doing pretty well, though!
Norma and Noe Cortez - A couple that lives in Zillah. Their son, Juan, has studied with the English Elders there for a long time. They are cool, and want to be better for their families. Norma, however, works on Sundays. That's going to be tough, but she can do it. Noe needs more faith/desire to actually do anything, but they're making some progress!
Jamie Ibarra - She's waited 10 years to be baptized, since she's a foster child in a strong member home and had to wait until she was 18. She's very, very, excited for her birthday/baptism (the same day).
Jose Campos - He's great, and he told us he wants to be baptized so he can change his life for his family! He wants us to teach his whole family next time.
Leo - Nice guy, about our age. Lives with his girlfriend and her mom. Wants to start fresh and change his life, and wants to do what his mom wants (she passed away when he was a sophomore in High School).
Germaine and M'kaiah - Germaine is an awesome Native American lady who feels the spirit when we come by and wants more. She's so excited to be baptized and change her life/come unto Christ.

Excerpt from letter to President:
One morning, we wanted to knock some doors, and we felt like we should knock on a particular street. We went there, and we felt inspired to pray that the first door we would knock on, the person would let us inside and we would share our message, and they would eventually accept a baptismal invite. Lo and behold, the first door we knocked on, a Native American gentleman opened up. We asked if we could come in, and he said sure. We went in, and it quickly became clear he had a lot of honest questions about the Plan of Salvation. We shared how God's plan was restored today, sharing the Joseph Smith story. It was very powerful, and he seemed to really enjoy it. We set up a return appointment with him on one of the few times we have open.

The next people we talk to, on that very street, were yet another miracle. A teenage boy named Isaiah opened the door, and we began talking with him about the restoration of the Gospel and how that can bless his family. His mom came out, wondering what was going on, and we began talking with them both. She told us they were both Christian. As we shared the message of the restoration of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, they kept exchanging knowing, and even somewhat surprised, looks. Towards the end, as we were testifying of the truth of our message, the mom, whose name is Narida, began crying. She told us that she is always amazed about how whenever she and her family is going through a hard time, God always sends someone to help them rebuild their faith. She told us it had happened before, and that, this time, we were the answer to her prayers and needs. We set up a return appointment this week (which is now REALLY full) and are excited to go back! We ended up finding a total of 4 new investigators that morning.

Also, we killed 4 mice this week.

Love you all!

Elder Adams

Questions from Editor Mom

Que tal? - Muy bien, gracias! Que transa?

How has your week been? - Being completely honest, the only way I could describe this past week would be miraculous. It's been absolutely insane. When I think about it, I usually blink a couple of times in disbelief. However, it happened. So, so, crazy. I have no words.

I'll just tell you briefly some of the key indicator numbers for this last week. It's the quickest way to give you an idea of what the week was like. We found 16 new investigators and now have a total of 8 people preparing for baptism on specific dates. That's ridiculous. I've never even seen anything that high. Our mission standards of excellence are 3 new investigators each week and 2 people with baptismal dates. That goes to show what is a nice, high, number for most areas. That includes my previous areas. That's just the numbers, too! Every one of those numbers represents a son or daughter of God. We both feel so very, very, blessed.

Are you happy with having your district stay intact? - Yes, we are super happy! We have a fantastic district, and we look forward to seeing many more miracles.

Still working hard? - You know me, and I've told you a bit about Elder Rigby. What do you think? :-)

What's your favorite food these days? - The delicious kind. I've never really been very picky.

What's your favorite way of contacting people? - Honestly, telling them that we are messengers from God and that the way to have more happiness and have their families together forever has been restored, or brought back, by a modern prophet, like Moses. Or, in other words, God told a modern Moses how we can be more happy and find purpose in life.

Do you have all the key points of the discussions memorized in English and Spanish? Are you comfortable talking about every aspect of every discussion? - Heck yeah! We can teach both in English and Spanish, and we do it all the time. It's really quite natural. The only discussions that are harder are the ones in Lesson 5, but that's because you only teach those in the week or so leading up to baptism. It's about all the specifics about how the church works. We can give that discussion, and we have all the names of the principles down, but we're a little rougher. Generally, though, teaching any of the lessons in either language is pretty much second nature by now for both of us.

Is your favorite fruit still Fuji apples? - Heck yeah! I love Fuji apples! I do also love a good, juicy peach though. It's hard to beat those when bought fresh in season from a farmstand. Other than that, though, yes.

Have any of your tastes changed, as far as favorite meal or dessert? What are they? - No, not really. My tastes are about the same, as far as I am aware.

Do you know your companion's favorite foods, likes, dislikes, etc.? - Elder Rigby loves chicken, spinach, brown rice, eggs, tomatoes, and protein shakes. Also, he likes yogurt high in protein (or anything else high in protein, for that matter).

Pictures

A spider suspended a rock with its web to keep the web taut. Now, that's pretty cool.
Someone decided to make some really honest graffiti.



I doodled this little comic when I was bored. Enjoy!