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Monday, September 28, 2015

Highlights of the Week

Let me tell you some highlights of a week, because I have had so much
fun this week.

- We were invited to a bible study! After contemplating the
possibilities of entering into our own doom, Elder N and I
gunned for it. Turns out it the funnest time on my mission. We were
treated like regulars. There was a lot of laughing, and good input,
and a large amount of hugs. Those I avoided. But we even got a
minister interested in coming to church. That was way cool. We're
invited any time.
- The Hernandez boys went to church! I haven't talked about them, but
they are unbaptized children of Brother and Sister H, who have
been less active for years. We've been working with Brother H,
who really wants to go to church, but keeps the peace with his wife.
But the Hernandez boys loved it, and want to come again! (This is
especially surprising, because they're teenagers)
- Brother and Sister H got me cake and cinnamon rolls because I
was sick! Sister M thinks missionaries are her sons. She's great.
- Transfers this week! I have no idea what's going to happen, because
we get our transfer emails on Tuesday night. I hope I train!
- I have four talks that I call "fire starters". I read them any time
I need an extra boost in personal study. Lynn G. Robbins "Which way do
you face?", Tad R. Callister "The Book of Mormon- A Book From God",
David A. Bednar "And Nothing Shall Offend Them", and my favorite,
Gordon B. Hinckley's "Find the Lambs, Feed my Sheep"

So yeah. I hope you understand that I'm doing well.


Monday, September 21, 2015

The Power of the Gospel and Good Medication

I am tempted not to post this, as I have had the experience of being with
Richard when he has had pain meds.  It is funny, but not fun.

As a missionary of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, I
am to use dignified language to help others recognize me as a servant
of God. But sometimes, a servant of God has to lay it down like it is.
This week was rough. I felt like garbage. I woke up in the middle of
the night writhing in pain multiple times. This was not a fun week.

Sorry, I just needed to get that off of my chest. Luckily, I am
feeling much, much better today. I even had some toast! Which is a
major improvement, because I was taken off of my liquid diet on
Thursday, and the only thing I was able to eat was soup, which
promptly made me sick to my stomach and I didn't have any strength to
get out of bed for the rest of the day. So things are looking up for

Perhaps the most memorable part of this week is the part that I can't
quite remember. Last Wednesday, I went to the doctor for an
ultrasound. When I told them that I was still in pain, they told me
they would give me some medicine to help with it. What they didn't
tell me was that it was a shot of morphine.
Now, if you are a member of my family, then you know very well that I
don't handle pain killers or sedatives or anything stronger than an
excedrin very well. My mother especially has a few stories she loves
to share about me lying in the hospital, filled with medication, that
she remembers quite fondly. Whatever was about to happen was going to
be very embarrassing.
So here I am, hobbling out of the room, my companion and the Elders
giving us a ride waiting for me, and things are starting to get a
little shaky. I told them what happened, and they all smiled. They
knew as well they were in for a treat.
We had to go to district meeting right after the appointment. District
meeting is where all of the missionaries in the area come together to
have trainings and other important things. Me and Elder Nebeker
decided to sit out in the foyer as our district had their meeting. I
remember giggling a little, then flopping onto one of the couches.
The next thing I remember,I was lying in my bed with a major headache.
The district leader and his companion were there with a half dozen
bags of cheez-its.
"Hey there, Elder Hall. How are you feeling?"
"What are you doing?"
"When we passed by you while you were on the couch. You said you loved
Cheez-its. So we brought you some."
"I did?"
"Yeah, and you were also singing this song and drooling all over the
place. You were really happy."
"What the heck?"
Apparently I was singing songs for everyone that dropped by, which
included the Zone Leaders, the Assistants to the Mission President,
the sister missionaries in our district, and the Sister Assistants to
the mission president. I was also very intrigued by how paper felt,
and I was very concerned that my legs were numb. All I remember is
that my legs were numb.
Perhaps the worst part of that story was that I really do love
Cheez-its, but I wasn't allowed to have anything except for water and
gatorade for the next 36 hours. But yeah, my morphine incident has
been the talk of just about every missionary in our district and in
the North San Antonio Zone. At least I was happy.

The moral of this week is, sometimes you get sick That's life. And
sometimes, you get shot with a really good painkiller that totals you
and now you're the butt of a lot of jokes that you don't understand,
even though they are about you. But no matter what, the restored
gospel is here on earth. It's teachings and doctrine is of great
comfort for all those who earnestly search for it. There is no greater
joy to be found in life than in keeping the commandments of God.
"If ye love me, keep my commandments."
I know for a fact that Heavenly Father loves us, and that his only
begotten son, Jesus Christ, is our savior, redeemer, and lord. When we
show our love in righteous action, there is a blessing given to us,
and many times it is stronger and greater than we can ever imagine. No
sickness, no pain, no sorrow, no problem cannot be overcome by
applying the atonement of Jesus Christ in my life. The worth of every
soul is great in the sight of God.

Elder Richard Hall

Monday, September 14, 2015

Ain't That a Kick in the Pants

This week, to quote myself , was "a real kick in the pants." There was ups, downs, lefts, rights, general confusion, complete understanding, pure terror, and absolute joy. If there is a better way to describe the week other than "A real kick in the pants," you tell me. No really, send me a reply email back with a more-mission appropriate phrase.

The week started out fantastic. Tuesday was highlighted by a great zone conference where we got to be trained by President Slaughter and his assistants. Now, I suspect that many a missionary says this about their mission president, but this guy could be an apostle before he leaves this mortal realm. He has this wonderful way of making the gospel so conversational. He has a great way of showing that this isn't a two year mission, but a mission is for life. 

Later that night we had the best lesson anyone could ever ask for. We were teaching the Restoration to a family of four. About halfway into the lesson, the family started to perfectly describe the apostasy and why the fulness of the gospel needed to brought back through a prophet. Elder N and I took a moment to just stare at each other and wonder why everyone isn't as perfect as the Lambert family. When it came time to invite them to baptism, we literally didn't even have to ask. We just brought up the blessings of following the example of Christ when the mother interrupted us and said,
"We'll get baptized."
"Wait, really?"
"Yeah, it'll be great. Everything you say is exactly what I believe."
The bishop, who was present at the lesson, did his best to keep his cool, but after the lesson he drove us to get shaved ice and we had a party until 9:29. It was pretty much the best moment of my mission so far. 

The second half of the week has not been so hot. I mean, yeah, we have had a lot more success and work to do this week than any other week, but Saturday I got sick. Way sick. And there is nothing worse than being locked up in your apartment all day when you know you are missing important scheduled appointments, and you can't do a thing about it because you can hardly get out of bed. I don't have any idea what it is, but it is painful, and I have had it for three days now. It is far from fun. The Mission President even came by just to make sure I was okay, which was awful nice of him. then again, he lives about 20 minutes away from our apartment. It was a good gesture. 

Being sick really takes the energy out of you. There's not much I want to do but crawl in bed and try to not think about the pain. But for some highlights of the week:

- I helped a member move into our ward. He was drafted by the Texas Rangers in the fifth round out of high school. I talked to him for a long time. I looked at some of his old baseballs and trophies. He has the sweetest David Justice figurine.
- I found out that there is a member in Austin that has a baseball field in his backyard, and he lets missionaries play on it on P-days. Are you thinking what I'm thinking?
- It was my brother's birthday yesterday. Happy Birthday Keith!
  - If it wasn't your birthday yesterday, sorry I forgot what day it was, Keith!
- I have only thrown up once since I have gotten sick. Optimism!

I wish there was a greater spiritual fire with this message, but on a scale of 1-10, I feel like a 1.1. 

Have a great week!

Monday, September 7, 2015

I Look Just Like Buddy Holly And you're Mary Tyler Moore.

No, I don't know why I decided to title my weekly letter after a
Weezer song, but I do know why I have it stuck in my head this busy
P-day in San Antonio. This Sunday I was sitting in the sacrament
meeting of the Indian Springs ward when I reflected upon my first
sacrament meeting while on my mission, which was spent in a small room
in the Provo MTC. I was a swell four days out on my mission, and my
mind was filled with information tumbling around in my mind. It
brought me back to the sacrament before I left on my mission, where
even to that day I marveled at the missionaries in their suit jackets,
sitting in the pews and wishing that there was an investigator at
church. I now feel how they feel, and wish what they wish. At the same
time, I suppose that also means that there are young men in the two
wards that I cover that have the same feelings towards me that I had
towards those two missionaries I saw back in Idaho. It reminded me of
the simple, beautiful Buddy Holly song "Every Day".

It seems that every day I am improving as a missionary, bit by bit. I
have gone from a sense of wonder and near surreality to a true sense
that I know what the heck I am doing. In the past two weeks, Elder
N and I have put a hard nose to the grindstone and found 12 new
investigators of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.
That's quite a bit, concerning that 14 days ago we didn't even have 12
investigators to teach. The two of us, as well as the wonderful
members of the church that we look over, have been working very hard
to bring in the white harvest of the field. And I truly believe that
we are finding people who are prepared to not only hear and
understand, but to convert to the glorious Gospel of Jesus Christ in
its fulness.

Recently, we committed a woman to date of baptism, which is beyond
exciting. However, we have two appointments, one with a family of four
and another family of six, where I have a great confidence that they
too will take the great step into baptism, if not this week, then
surely within their lifetimes. To me, it is another testament of the
truthfulness of the church, and the power of the atonement that can
work within every single one of us.

Fun fact, about 35% of all the living member of the LDS church have
been members for less than  15 years. To me it is amazing that almost
4 out of the 10 people that go to church have not been members their
whole lives, but have made an astonishing step of repentance in the
mature years of their lives.

Also at the sacrament meeting that I was describing, we got to talk to
an 87-year old member named N. He speaks only Spanish and shuffles
around in his ancient rattlesnake boots. he told me what was probably
one of the most empowering, sincere, and loving statements that I have
heard not only in my mission, but in my life. He spoke to my companion
Elder Nebeker, because he actually can speak Spanish, and said
"You two are Angels. It says in the Book of Mormon that Angels speak
the words of Christ, and that is what you are doing. So you are
angels. Thank you for what you are doing."

"Angels speak by the power of the Holy Ghost, wherefore, they speak
the words of Christ. Wherefore, I say unto you, feast upon the words
of Christ; for behold, the words of Christ will tell you all things
what ye should do."
- 2 Nephi 32:3

Elder Richard Hall