Wednesday, May 27, 2015
So thanks to the miracle of modern technology, we can email you today! We usually go to the Mt. Washington library near our apartment, but we just went to the church today and used the church Wi-Fi to email using our iPads!!!
This Thursday was our mission iPad training. The last time the whole mission gathered together was exactly a year ago, for the Elder Holland conference, and I honestly didn't think there'd be another opportunity. But it was great! I was able to see all my past companions and that was a really nice blessing.
It was interesting-I expected the conference to be mostly about how we use our iPads. But really about two-thirds of the training was focused on our own personal conversion and how our hearts needed to be in the right place before we could hope to use our technology to better other peoples lives. The Mission HQ people conducting the meeting referenced the talk by Elder Nelson about using technology and how in this age we need to be disciples in a digital age and need to be accustomed to using technology and productive ways, not wasting time and avoiding temptation. I originally thought the iPads to be no more than an expensive gimmick and accordingly was not that excited about getting them. However this gave me a better perspective and helped me to understand why the Q of 12 have made this decision. Using the iPads in teaching has been a bit of a transition. However it's given us a lot more opportunities to share quick messages and to see more people. I've got to say even though the range of apps that are approved are pretty limited, the pamphlets app is freaking awesome. I'm huge fan.
This week M told us that he had been having some stomach pains. He ended up going to the hospital. They took his appendix out! That was a surprise. It turns out it was black and ready to burst so it's a good thing he went in when he did. Ma, it turns out the devil never lets up, does he!? Satan don't kick no dead dogs. Think about it, it’s true.
A note about the Spanish people, last week from Elder G I heard some incredible news. Yesterday the Columbia branch in the Lancaster stake opened. It encompasses all the Spanish members in the Lancaster and York area, and it meets in the Elizabethtown building. At this point I don't know who the branch presidency are, but I have some pretty good guesses. I will have to text Elder G and ask him. This Spanish branch is the culmination of a long time, and lots of prayers, and a lot of hard work. I remember when I first came to the Lancaster walk area; there was a Spanish sacrament meeting that took place once a month. During my time there, as more Spanish members began coming to church we added an elder’s quorum and a gospel principles class. The fact that there is now a branch there is a huge miracle. If I happen to leave this transfer, I had better be transferred to the Columbia branch for my last six weeks. However that's probably unlikely. But I would love it!
This week has been a bit tougher to find investigators. Part of it is that we haven't had as much time as we usually do because of the conferences and meetings this week. We have just been focusing on a lot of service this week, showing the members that we are willing to work hard and to help them in whatever we can. This week that involved mowing an acre lawn, tearing down a patch of weeds and Mexican bamboo, and breaking up several large slabs of concrete. Ha ha tough work! As I mentioned the ward is really great and very young, lots of young families. For a while our bishop didn't have any counselors because one had moved away and the other just had a baby. Everyone here wants to feed us, I haven't had this many meals since Dover. Not helping me with my six-months to sexy.
Keep the faith,
Tuesday, May 26, 2015
Tuesday, May 19, 2015
This email is going to be kind of short, I hope you understand. Today we are driving up to Falling Water! I am really excited. I'm also wearing my Kaufmann tie, so it'll get me in for free. (I wish). Jack Haley’s mom told me if I have the chance to get to Falling Water, make sure I do it, so I am pleasantly surprised it wall worked out! I will have to send a big picture stash next week.
The other thing is that M got baptized: that was great! Really spiritual experience, plus a big attendance from the ward. I confirmed him a member of the church yesterday. On Friday, we had dinner with the senior missionary couple in our ward, the Butlers, and one of the ward missionaries Sister H, and M. And M brought dessert: Cupcakes from Prantls. So I had the "best cake in the world" according to the Huffington Post, and though it was delicious I don't think it quite qualifies for that title, but then what do I know?
This week will be a busy one; we will have a zone training and a mission conference where we'll be receiving iPads. So my next email will come from my own iPad!
The Spanish group is doing fine, I taught the priesthood lesson yesterday. We are trying to find new investigators, which has been hard. Yesterday we drove the dickens out of the way to visit a Spanish guy who asked us to come by, we were met at the door by another Spanish guy who had never heard of this other person, thank you very much, and we were rebuffed. It was in a totally English neighborhood as well, so I'm kind of skeptical. But that is the mission life.
Thursday, May 14, 2015
This week for us was really nice; we were able to stay pretty busy. Honestly looking back it was really just a blur. I guess one highlight was this nuts service project we did. The Ps had all the missionaries come over, and we disassembled a deck, cleared two plots of weeds, dug a trench, built a retaining wall, mixed cement, built a small ramp, and mowed a huge lawn. That was cool! I'd never made cement before. It got brutally hot. At least we were fed a ton of pizza afterwards… missionary life!
Basically the big news is that M is getting baptized! That should be great! The dude is 76, but super full of energy and actually surprisingly healthy considering he had cancer surgery about 2 months ago. He is also a Pittsburgh guru-he knows the streets like the back of his hand, plus everyone everywhere, and he is considerably loaded in cash. (He took us out to lunch at the Capitol Grill, which was a super expensive restaurant). Still trying to figure that out, because he worked as a florist his whole life. But he is awesome. Just a genuinely nice guy, the type of person you'd assume was already Mormon. Teaching him has been a cinch because he pores over Mormon.org and all the links, and so he already understands the subject material beforehand. It's sweet.
Well, life is good here!
Tuesday, May 12, 2015
Friday, May 8, 2015
This would not be the first referral I'd gotten only to find myself part of a school project (or someone else's April Fools prank).
So this week was really good. Just got my feet on the ground really, figured out everything that's going on. It's a big and confusing city, and the drivers are crazy, but it's a good change of pace from sleepy Fredonia!
Let me tell you, rather than a story, an observation that I have come to understand a bit on mission. Re: following the Spirit, it really doesn't make sense, or even seem that noticeable. You have to really be listening and willing, and then you just get the slightest inclinations on what to do or what to say. Then as you act (open your mouth) you understand that it is coming from God. For example, we were talking to this random lady on the street, and she was totally not interested. Got this weird feeling to mention FHE, and for a split second I was really doubtful, because how often do you mention FHE to ghetto folk on the street? But I did, I said, "Even if you're not interested, something we try to do in our church is a weekly family home evening. We believe the best way to have a strong family is to set apart a little time once a week to meet together, teach about the gospel, then play a game together and have a treat. Could we come by sometime and help your family set one up?" And she was ecstatic, loved it, and gave us her number to give her a call. Another time, we were struggling to help a Spanish lady overcome her struggles and get to church, and the words of "Glorious," (the theme from Meet the Mormons) came to my head. (In Spanish, too). “It's like a symphony/ You just keep listening/ Then pretty soon you'll start/ To figure out your part” For some reason, that message of inclusion and love just hit her, she started crying and said it was beautiful.
It's just the small things. But it's pretty cool.
Something else cool about this area is just how many media referrals we are receiving. Pittsburgh is pretty dang rad, we are always busy talking and sharing the gospel with new people. For example, we got a referral last week from a girl who just graduated college name M, she requested a Bible. We stopped by, and she and her friend were really interested in our beliefs, so we set up an appointment with her the next day. We decided it was probably best to have a team-up, just given that we would be teaching two college-age girls. A new guy who moved into the ward had expressed interest in helping us out; we picked him up Tuesday after training- for the Steelers. Yeah, the dude is playing for the Steelers next season. He's built like a wall, 7ft tall and full of muscles. Really cool and humble though. Anyways, we had this awesome lesson with these girls. At first we were not 100% sure of their intentions, this would not be the first referral I'd gotten only to find myself part of a school project (or someone else's April Fools prank) but they were really genuine and sincere in their interest. She had really researched a ton, and came to us with questions ranging from "How has Family Home Evening helped you in your life?" to "What qualifies someone for the Celestial Kingdom as opposed to the Terrestrial?" to "So what would happen to my transgender friend who just got married to another woman?" Ha-ha talk about spanning the gambit! But we were able to offer up some answers that really hit home with them, and the Spirit was really strong. Only problem? Since they just graduated, they're going back home to Philadelphia. So no new investigators there! I really hope they contact missionaries there! I'd send them myself if I knew where they were moving! Oh well such is missionary life.