Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Week 48: In which I say good-bye to Elder Tapia, help Jorge start taking 15 steps, and learn patience

Here I am again...

Earday Amilyfay anday eindsfray,

Aqui estoy otra vez, hablendoles de mi semana. Que aburrido para ustedes. Pues, todavia parece que quieran que les escriba.
Here I am again, talking about my week. How boring for you. Well, they still seem to want me to write to them.

I am still here in The Dalles, and I'm super happy to be staying. We're about to have a cool week. I don't have a lot of time to write, unfortunately, because I planned my time badly. However, I am very excited to use the 15-step program with Jorge. The 15-step program is a program developed by a companionship of missionaries in 1983 to help people stop smoking. It's proven very effective if people who want to quit follow it. It's kind of hard, but we are excited to teach Jorge how to quit smoking if he really has the desire to (as opposed to "kind of" and not really wanting it).

Quitting smoking will not solve everything for him, but we hope and pray that by successfully completing the program he will not only eliminate something holding him back, but will also give the Spirit more room to testify to him of the truth of what we share.

Sadly, Elder Tapia is leaving The Dalles and going to Sunnyside in the Yakima Valley Zone. My new companion will be Elder West.

I love you all!

Elder Adams
I wanted to send you my letter to President Lewis. I thought you might appreciate it.

Dear President Lewis,

Wow. It has indeed been a transfer to be remembered. I have learned a lot about patient endurance with faith, and about living the Doctrine of Christ in every moment for the rest of our lives, not just once. I have noticed something interesting, actually, which you may or may not have noticed with each interview we have. Over the course of my mission so far, as I have striven to live the Doctrine of Christ more fully, I have learned something about each of the first principles and ordinances of the Gospel.

In Wenatchee, I was a new missionary. I was confident that I could adjust quickly, but learned that it's not always easy. I learned to put my head down and work, even when things don't seem to be happening as a result of said work. I learned to trust in the Lord, and that miracles happen. I had my hope severely tested, and I came out fine. I learned about how to be better obedient to the things asked of me. I learned a lot about faith and obedience.

In Othello, I tried to apply what I had learned in Wenatchee. I learned that sometimes, in different situations, it's not as easy to do that as we might think. I learned that there were things that I thought had been a part of me and not that bad that needed to change if I wanted to be better. I had the privilege of watching as Brenda and Crystal went through the often arduous process of repentance for themselves, and I learned much from their examples. In my first few transfers in Othello, I learned about repentance and sacrifice.
Later, I was very touched as I had the opportunity to watch Brenda and Crystal make the covenant of baptism and receive the Holy Ghost. I was amazed to see the huge difference it made in their lives! It completely changed them and their family. They were not the same people. I had been teaching about the power of baptism and confirmation for months, but for the first time   on my mission, and even in my life, I truly was a witness to the power in those priesthood ordinances. My testimony was strengthened immensely, and I learned a great deal about baptism and receiving the Gift of the Holy Ghost.

Now we come to today. I had vaguely noticed the pattern before, but only now did all the pieces fit into place. I realized that here in The Dalles, one of my first goals for the transfer was to develop more patience. It's something I knew I needed to change, and I tried to apply what I had learned previously in Othello and Wenatchee about the Doctrine of Christ to help me with my goal. For several weeks, I prayed every day for more patience, especially with myself. Oh, man. Do prayers ever get answered. I have found that in my time here, my patience with myself and with our investigators has been sorely tried. It has been a real trial of my faith to keep pressing forward and enduring, regardless of how much or little people seem to want to progress. I have had to learn to be more patient with myself, which is something I am naturally very, very, bad at.

After a particularly difficult day, as I was losing patience with myself in my weaknesses and with the situation in which we found ourselves, the Spirit whispered something very interesting to me. As I prayed for help, support, faith, and patience, I had brought to my mind all those things I had learned in the past. I realized that in The Dalles, I had to learn something very special during this transfer about Enduring to the End.

I don't profess to know everything about the Doctrine of Christ. Only He whose Doctrine it is can truly do that. However, I can state clearly and confidently that I understand His Doctrine far, far, more clearly thanks to the time I have had so far on my mission. I have learned, in successive order, a great deal about Faith, Repentance, Baptism, Receiving the Gift of the Holy Ghost, and Enduring to the End.

It is still a process. It will still continue, whether it does so as it has in the past or in different ways. What I do know, though, is that there is a purpose in everything. This transfer has been a challenge, albeit a sweet one. I know better how to teach the Doctrine of Christ thanks to this trial of faith through which I am passing! It's not quite over, but I feel that it is very close. I will keep the faith that I have, and seek for more. Meanwhile, Elder West and I will begin afresh the harvest here. There is a lot to do! I guess that means we ought to just do it.

I am inexpressibly grateful for your support and council, and that of my leaders. I have learned a lot from Elder Tapia, and will be very sad to see him go. However, I also feel a new hope budding up; it is the hope that comes with any kind of change. For that, I am very excited.

With much love,

Elder Adams
Questions from Editor Mom
How are you? I'm sure you will be telling us about transfers this week, so I won't ask, but please remember to share your address when YOU get transferred, so I don't have to mail things through the mission office--it just takes slightly longer. - Yep. Will do.

How's life? Anything funny or exciting going on? - No, nothing funny. Just some excitement with starting a cool thing with Jorge y Andrea...

What is your favorite food these days? - Mac & Cheese and Spam. Also grilled cheese sandwiches with a little Miracle Whip to make them taste even cooler. Also Jorge's Alpastor Quesadillas.

Do you still get exercise, now that you are driving? - Yes. Not as much, but we exercise every morning.

Are you feeling confident behind the wheel? - Yeah, pretty much.

Are the members there helping you? - Yes, they are.

What sorts of work do most people there have? - Depends. Mexican-American or English-speaking? Spanish, it's pretty varied, but there are a lot of people who work in the fields picking fruit. It gets suuuuper busy right about now. It's going to be a little harder to find people at home as a result.

Are there any single adults in the ward or active, enthusiastic teenagers? - Yeah, a couple. In our area (both wards) there is a young man preparing for a mission, and a couple other active youth as well. Our most active singe adult just moved away. He spoke Spanish and was super helpful. :'-(

Love you. We'll be thinking of you [at Disney World]. Thinking of Grandma Linda on The Tower of Terror should put a grin on your face... :-) - Heh. It already did. Love you too!

Elder Adams

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Week 47: In which Jorge's brother-in-law asks weird questions, I order alpastor meat, and I throw out old stuff

[note to self: insert clever title here]

Hola todos! Todavia vivo! Orale. Ha sido una semana muy, muy buena. Jorge y su hija, Andrea, desafortunadamente no asistieron a la iglesia ayer, pero están haciendo un poco progreso. Estoy animado para ver a dónde van con todo. Ellos tienen mucho potencial. Enseñamos a ellos dos veces; la primera fue una lección muy buena, pero la segunda no tanto. Pues, mira: el cuñado de Jorge nos hizo tantas preguntas, y no pudimos contestar todos. La cosa es que tenia preguntas que no tenían ninguna relación con lo que estábamos hablando. Estaba preguntándonos sobre las noticias de hoy, y si vivimos en los últimos tiempos, y si las profecias de Isaias estan cumpleado, y que pensemos de las personas que adoren a Dios y también, al mismo tiempo, la Santa Muerte. Fue una lección muy distraída. Veremos esta semana que podemos hacer para ayudar a Jorge y Andrea mejor.
Hello everyone! I'm still alive! Yeah. It has been a very, very good week. Jorge and his daughter, Andrea, unfortunately did not attend church yesterday, but they are making a little bit of progress. I'm excited to see where they go with everything. They have a lot of potential. We taught them two times; The first was a very good lesson, but the second not so much. Well, look: Jorge's brother-in-law asked us so many questions, and we could not answer all of them. The thing is, he had questions that had didn't have anything to do with what we were talking about. He was asking us about today's news, and if we are living in the last days, and if Isaiah's prophecies have been fulfilled, and what we think of people who worship God and also, at the same time, the Saint of Death. It was a very distracted lesson. We will see what we can do this week to help Jorge and Andrea better.

Here's an excerpt from my email to President to explain a little better where we are:

Jorge and his daughter Andrea show a lot of potential. We are trying to find new angles to help him know how to do better. We helped him to realize that he already has, in fact, a testimony of the Book of Mormon. Now, the main two challenges are to help him quit smoking and get an answer about whether he should be baptized. He told us that he has felt like he is getting closer and closer to that point. He feels as if God is preparing him and guiding him towards being baptized and being ready. It's really exciting.

We have been striving to find more people, as well, and have a new teenage investigator named Brian. He really wants to understand the truth, and wants to read the Book of Mormon and learn from it. It's really exciting. We also started teaching a wonderful lady named Lourdes. She's really Catholic, and also really open.

We're super excited for the coming week!

Jorge also makes some really awesome Mexican food. I really like his quesadillas. My favorite type of meat with his quesadillas is alpastor. When I first met him in his little shop, La Michoacana, I made a joke: "Pues, quiero alpastor con mi torta porque somos pastores, no?" or in other words, "Well, I want alpastor meat with my sandwich because we're pastors, right?" He's so awesome! We all laughed. 

Jorge was studying with the missionaries for a while back, but he never really got an answer if it was true. He also struggled with smoking. However, we have a program that can help him quit! It's called the 15-step program, and it's a really spiritual thing to go through. Statistic-wise, 85% of people who follow it to the letter (it's really hard) quit smoking after finishing the week-long program. A week! Also, 1/3 of those people who quite are baptized because they recognize the hand of God so strongly in that period of time. It takes a lot of determination, though. Two missionaries came up with the program after fervently praying and fasting to know how to help some of the people they were working with to quit smoking.

We're really excited for the next week, because we're going to see how we can help Jorge and Andrea the best. Some exciting things are happening!


Elder Adams

Questions from Editor Mom:
Hi Elder Jedi Master Old Ben Kenobi! - Hello, oh Queen of the House of Adams!
What did you do for Easter? - We ate chocolate. We also did normal missionary stuff. I also played in a special musical number at church.
How are you and Elder Tapia getting along? - We are getting along really awesome super well! He's the coolest guy ever, and a pretty bomb missionary to boot.

[Editor's note: Tammy & Jeff are planning to visit Disney World in the next few weeks.]
Do you want anything from Disney? - Well, I can't think of anything right now. I think I'm good for now.
Are you allowed to come up with creative door approaches in your mission? How do you try to grab peoples' attention? - We are allowed to come up with creative door approaches, for sure! We just try to mix it up. Sometimes we talk about prophets, sometimes about the Book of Mormon.
How is The Dalles? Are you learning to love it as much as you loved Othello? - I love The Dalles! I'm not sure I can love it in the same way I loved Othello, but I certainly love it in a different way. It's kind of like Wenatchee in some respects.
How are your shoes and clothes holding up? - My clothes are doing alright, but both my pairs of black shoes are on the way out.
Are you taking lots of pictures? (I loved the pictures you sent of the Portland temple!) - Not as many as I should, but I'm trying to remember.
Love you. I'm looking forward to hearing from you tomorrow! - Love you too!
Mom - Elder Adams

More questions from Editor Mom:
Happy Patriot's Day! Did you remember that today is Patriot's Day? - Um, actually, no. I just thought it was the day after Easter. Funny that. Happy Patriot's Day, I guess!
What is your favorite Easter treat? - Chocolate. Also deviled eggs. But mainly chocolate of any kind.
What are you doing for service these days? - We occasionally help the Food Bank to unload stuff from their incoming shipments and put it in storage. It's a very different kind of help than last time.
Have you given up on playing cello in your mission? - Not at all! I always try to find a cello in each new area. There are several I've already found here in The Dalles, and I just played a special musical number yesterday.
How warm is it in The Dalles? - Uh, warm. It's getting there.
Elder Adams (a possible palindrome is Mad Leaders)

Questions from Editor Dad:
Is your iPod still working?  Do you still have all of the music we put on that?
I totally have the iPod, yes! I love listening to it. It doesn't work great for the car, though.
I copied a handful of pieces onto a thumb drive and will stick it in the mail with a letter in a day or two. - Great, thanks!
It's great to see you happy. - It's great to be happy!
Here's a question I don't think Mom has asked:  Your Hump Day [half way mark] is only a few weeks away.  Do you have any special traditions in WYM around Hump Day?  Do you plan to mark it in any way? - No.
And one more:  How long has Elder Tapia been in The Dalles?  Do you have any guesses about whether your companionship might be affected by the upcoming transfer? - This is his 4th transfer, so he's probably gone. It's really sad; he's such an awesome missionary and companion!
OK, have a great week! - Igualmente!  [Likewise]

Elder Bird and I doing service on exchanges with a member. We were throwing stuff into the landfill while simultaneously helping someone move. #skill #doubletasking

From Editor Mom:
I hope you didn't get mixed up with the moving and the landfill stuff going on at the same time!
I didn't. We were throwing out some old stuff she didn't need any more. :-) 
[Photos snagged from the Mission President's wife's Blog this week, from the Mission President's visit to The Dalles for interviews]

Ben's district

Ben and his companion, Elder Tapia

Sister Lewis, the mission president's wife, served her mission in South Africa.  She wrote on her blog, "Elder Adams wore his South African tie for me today!"

Ben is writing a "photo note" to his mom.
This is the note Tammy received in a text message from Sis. Lewis.

Ben and Elder Tapia pose with President Lewis.

Ben and Elder Tapia say farewell to the Lewises.

Sunday, April 16, 2017

Week 46: In which Edi reads a pamphlet, we grab Dalila's attention, and Tomas & we answer each other's prayers

Fun in the Sun
Written 10 April 2017
The sun is coming out! It makes me a little sad, because I like wearing sweaters and not being super overheated all the time, but I'm also happy because it's beautiful and people are more willing to open the door because it's not so cold. That's nice, for sure!

This week was super awesome! There are 3 people who I want to really focus on, since they were some answers to our prayers recently. We've been facing some obstacles lately with people we care about not wanting to keep commitments or do the things we know will make them happy and give them the answers to the questions they are so desperately seeking. One of the things you learn as a missionary, I think, is that you simply cannot (or should not) easily answer every single question people might ask you. Sometimes, it is better for them to look for it themselves. That is the way we truly learn.

As we've been praying about who we should stop teaching and for help in finding new people, 3 miracles happened in this area. Those miracles were people who were put in our path, and in whose path we were put. To share about these people, I will again draw from my letter to President Lewis.
We went by Edi, an older referral who had never been contacted. She was a referral from some of the English Elders in this area. She apparently used to be Catholic, but has since switched to being "Christian". We are interested to find out why. She apparently studied religion in college, and is not only friendly, but appears very interested. She's very busy during the second half of the week with her job, and so couldn't meet with us then, but we are going to visit her tomorrow. She read the entire Restoration pamphlet soon after we gave it to her! Her mom is a very staunch Catholic, but Edi and her family seem wonderful! We even ran into her husband, oddly enough, walking down the street. We had never met him before. He is not very religious, but said that Edi is.

We also met Dalila. We found her at her sister's house, who is an old former investigator we wanted to check up on. Dalila has a husband who doesn't speak Spanish, but she is native and perfectly bi-lingual. Her brother-in-law, through her husband, is a member of the Church who lives in Portland. Dalila had never really talked to him about religion, but when we shared the Book of Mormon, she listened with rapt attention and promptly agreed to read it. She seemed extremely open and interested, and something about what we shared seemed to grab her attention.

Finally, one of the greatest miracles that happened this week is Tomas. He lives in Goldendale, and his wife (we think she's his wife, anyway) is a less-active member there. We haven't even met them yet, since they are so far away, but the Goldendale Sisters found them on exchanges with the Sister Training Leaders. Tomas has been passing through a really rough time, apparently, and when they shared Prince of Peace and the Book of Mormon, he was really interested and considered them an answer to his prayers. We are driving up to Goldendale tonight to meet with him. Ironically, not only were the missionaries there an answer to his prayers, but he is an answer to ours.

I am incredibly grateful for the chance we have to help people find this path, and I know it brings joy and peace that cannot be described, only experienced. The Church's recent Easter initiative, Prince of Peace, is an inspired and inspiring collection of short videos and ideas that help us and strengthen our faith as we work our way along the iron rod of the Gospel in the mists of darkness that surround us in these very, very, confusing and confused times. I urge you all to look at mormon.org at the main video, but also at the 8 individual testimonies and experiences shared. They have inspired me as we continue to strive in this work. This next week is going to be awesome; what are we waiting for!

Elder Adams.
No questions from Editor Mom this week, but here's a brief email exchange with Editor Dad.  By way of explanation, Ben recently discovered how to make voice recordings on his camera, and has been sending a batch of daily "voice journals" along with his letters.
I'm starting email time! Also, I will send this weeks recordings starting now, one by one.

Wow, that is pretty "meta".  An email of a photo of the same email. - It's psychedelic, man! Okay, well, maybe not. Still, it was pretty hipster, I've got to agree.

Thanks for sending the recordings, they are fun.  When do you record them?  Throughout the week? - Yes. I was bad at writing in my journal, so I decided to try an experiment and record something every night before bed to see if it helped. It did.

Week 45: In which we teach Fani, go to conference, and I relate an odd dream.

Weekly Email #2,369.7

Written 3 April 2017
Hey, everyone!

Okay, honestly, I have no idea how many weekly emails I've sent. I've completely lost count. Basically, this week was awesome. We've been trying to work with Fani, and she's been feeling a lot better! She really wants to know if the Book of Mormon is true. She is leaning towards being baptized, but she doesn't know for sure if it's true yet. I suppose that's a fair reason. Anyway, we are trying to help her recognize the Spirit better so she can understand her answer. She doesn't really want to go to church until she knows if it's true, which is interesting, because that's honestly going to be something that will help her to get her answer.

We had some amazing experiences this week with General conference. At the Saturday morning session, a young man named Brian came. He's really cool! He loved Conference, and apparently some of his questions were answered. He had had some questions earlier about the Plan of Salvation, and we helped answer some of them. We'll try to keep working with him. Also, Gloria came to the Sunday afternoon session! Gloria is a less active member of the Church. We went to visit her right before the session, and we had a great discussion. She then came to General Conference with her daughter! They are so amazing!

Elder Tapia and I are beginning to focus more on finding new people to teach. I'm super excited for what lies ahead! I don't have a lot more to write today, but I will end with my testimony.

I have learned that the Gospel really does change people's hearts. I know that because I have seen it. I know that there is power in the Priesthood of God. I know that Jesus Christ lives; he has restored His Gospel again on the earth through Joseph Smith. I know that miracles happen. I am so, so grateful for the love God shows us. He is truly our Father in Heaven, and He knows us all very, very personally.

I love you all!

Elder Adams
Questions from Editor Mom:
Wie gehts? - Bien bien, gracias! Y usted?
Good, good, thanks.  And you?

Wie war die Konferenz fur dich? - Me inspiro mucho. Estoy muy agradecido por la oportunidad que tenemos cada seis meses para escuchar a nuestros lideres. Son personas bien, bien inspiradas.
It inspired me a lot.  I am very grateful for the opportunity we have every six months to listen to our leaders.  They are very, very inspired people.

Have you had any close calls with driving through water there? I've noticed Yakima was having some serious flooding. I drove through water on the road once, and my car started to float. It was actually pretty scary. Don't do it! - No, there are no problems about driving through water, although oddly enough, you remind me of a dream I had in Othello. A full 6 weeks before I left Othello, I had a nightmare I was being transferred. I dreamed I was being transferred to one of the (supposedly) most beautiful areas in the mission (in my mind it was Chelan, but I don't know why. I just knew it was supposed to be super pretty there). I was the driver in a driving area, I had a great companion, and the area was indeed gorgeous. It was oddly wooded for the mission, unlike anywhere else, and pretty rainy. The nightmare, however, was that I left Othello in the middle of teaching some amazing people and left the place I loved so dearly. I remember that there was a point where driving in this mysterious new area was dangerous in my dream, since there had been some recent flooding and there were some backwoods roads that were particularly treacherous. I remember in my dream being super sad and telling my companion so, because of my having left Othello and being in this new place, beautiful as it was.

Odd, right? I thought so when I arrived here in the Dalles. It's one of the most beautiful places in the mission, it's unusually rainy, very wooded, oddly so for the mission, and I have a great companion. I'm even driving! I wonder if there was any significance in the dream, but if there is, I don't know what it would be. I'll be sure to watch out and not drive through any water.
Have you gotten more snow? It snowed here Saturday--probably at least 6 inches. - Nope, not anything. It's getting pretty warm.

How was the temple trip? Did you get to see the Falls? - The temple trip was fantastic! We saw the falls, but were not able to stop and get out. However, we definitely saw them. I don't have any pictures, sadly, since we were driving and it was rainy, but they were super beautiful.

Need anything? - Actually, I have a request, perhaps an odd one: Can you please send me copies of my karate katas to help me out with morning exercise? I think that might help me have more meaningful exercise time.

Where did you watch General Conference? What were your favorite talks? Any impressions you'd like to share? - We watched General Conference at the church. I loved Elder Costa's talk, possibly because he said everything we wanted to say super clearly but couldn't do. I also really like both of President Uchtdorf's talks a ton, and Elder Oaks. Of course, there was President Monson's talks, both of which were really enlightening. It was pretty awesome all-around.

Anything particular we should include in our prayers to help you? - Um, nah, you're probably fine. I think just to help us be full of the spirit and become better missionaries. That would help, always. More than anything, do stuff on your own. I was always terrible at that. I know that full-time missionaries can be a great help to a ward, especially in its missionary efforts. However, I feel that in the ideal world, a ward shouldn't need the full-time missionaries to share the gospel with others and bring more into the fold. Of course, it's just a lot easier with our help. The main thing I ask is: when you meet people, invite them to do things! Don't be silly about it, but too often we hide behind the wall of "looking silly" to avoid the sometimes frightening experience of inviting people to the Gospel. Go meet people, and invite them! Keep it up! Pray for missionary experiences, and then create them!

Pretty much.
How's The Dalles? Have you met the Youngs or the Jensens yet? - Actually, Sister Young drove us to the Portland Temple. It was pretty sweet. I also met the Loren and Marlene Jensen's daughter, since she stopped at church to say hi last week! She took a picture and sent it to her parents, threatening that since Loren passes through The Dalles a lot, they might stop and buy us lunch one day.
Editor's Note:  Loren and Marlene Jensen were our close friends (before Ben was born) when we lived in Oregon.  Sister Young is the mother-in-law of one of their daughters, and is in Ben's ward now.
Ich liebe dich! - Igualmente! Ciao!
Likewise, Ciao!

Elder Adams