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Monday, October 26, 2015

Have you ever seen the rain?

So, when I started this week, I got multiple emails from friends and
texts from members of the ward telling me to stay safe and stay dry. I
was really confused because I had no idea why. I knew that it rains
sometimes in San Antonio, but that was just about all of my knowledge.
No one told me that there was the largest hurricane ever recorded was
coming straight towards the Mexico/Texas coastline. I definitely would
have planned accordingly when I fell asleep Friday night. When I woke
up to run to the gym in the morning, it was a torrential downpour. I
think I have been drier jumping into a pool than I was after running a
half mile to the gym with my companion. There we sat there and looked
out of the giant wall of glass and watch rain fly sideways.
That morning we had to go to a meeting at Fort Sam Houston, which is
on the other side of San Antonio. Elder M was driving, and thank
goodness it was him and no one else! Elder M was a race car driver
for a few years before his mission, and he needed every driving skill
he had to make it through SA alive. We plowed through ponds on the
freeway, got cut off by a hydroplaning car (which almost caused it to
crash into the barrier on an offramp), and got the wrong directions to
Fort Sam Houston three times. A thirty minute trip turned into two and
a half hours. By the time we got there, there was no one there. They
canceled the meeting without telling us, which meant we boated across
SA for no reason at all while a tropical storm was going on a hundred
miles inland. Eventually we gave up and found refuge at a Whataburger.
That was an excellent choice to stop. Their A1 Thickburger is

Both the Indian Springs and Evans Ranch ward had their primary
program. If you are not familiar with what that is, ask a member
friend. For being in the heart of Texas, I thought I was serving in
Salt Lake City. Evans Ranch's program featured seventy four children.
Seventy Four! It included a ten-year old playing the harp, an 11 year
old playing the viola, and a whole lot of singing. Overall, the
program was magnificient. It ran beautifully and there was a lot of
visiting families we got to talk to. We are definitely going to follow
up with the families who invited them.

Evans Ranch's primary program was the most amazing thing I've ever
seen until I saw Indian Springs. Now let me remind you, Indian Springs
consists of two neighborhoods. That's it. There was 106 children ages
3-11 involved in the program. 106! Back when we lived in Stockton,
there probably wasn't 106 active members in the ward! I just sat there
for the first five minutes with this dumbfounded look on my face. 106
little kids. My mind is still blown. And not to be outmatched by Evans
Ranch's harp playing  10 year old, there was a string quintet of 10-14
year olds that sounded beautiful. It was the stuff of legends. There
was about 40 nonmembers in the chapel, and we got to talk with every
single one of them. There was even less actives that hadn't gone to
church in years that showed up. It was a miracles of miracles. Wonder
of wonders.

Our mission president directly asked the whole mission to stop
listening to music. No Mormon Tabernacle Choir, no lower lights, no
Alex Boye, only general conference talks. If you were in a biking
area, I suppose it didn't pertain to you. Definitely didn't pertain to
me. But, there are many missionaries that have been very upset about
it, but I think it is a fun challenge. I think the whole attitude and
sociality of the mission will become healthier.

There is this girl whose family just moved into the ward that loves
me. We went and visited them on Friday night and she gave me a bunch
of grapes and danced for me. Hold on. She's six. That helps with the
story. Anyways, I told her that she was so friendly that I would give
her a treat at church.
This Sunday, we walked into the chapel and she waved Elder Hill and I
down to go sit with her family. she kept asking for the treat. During
the sacrament, she drew me a picture of a heart with a big "I love
you" on it. It melted my heart. Until she yelled "Where's my candy!"
in the middle of sacrament. I quietly told her I was going to give it
to her after the program.
After the program I grabbed the two cookies I made for her and found
her in the foyer. When she saw me she said, "I don't care anymore, I
have a sucker." and then lifted up a Cherry Blow pop. She let me eat
the cookies and hugged my knees. how adorable.

The work of the Lord is real, and it is happening. Elder H and I
focused our whole week and planned this week to come wholly on
visiting less active members and part member families. We had an
outstanding experience while walking to an appointment. We were
walking down a street I've never seen been on before and I felt
prompted to stop and see if any members lived on the street. I pulled
up my area book app and found that only one member lived on it, and
the last time he went to church was twenty years ago, and we were
standing in front of his house.
Without hesitation we went up, knocked on his door, and invited him to
the Ward fall festival and church. I don't think I have met someone
more excited to see the missionaries. He said that he's been wanting
to come back to church and bring his nonmember family for the past
year, but he lost total contact of any members. We talked like we were
brothers and the spirit of the lord was present. All we needed to do
was knock.
I have doors to knock on, but there are friends all members have that
have been waiting for an invitation. One of love, one of simplicity.
Missionary work is powerful and impactful. Some of my best friends I
have solely because of the loving invitations of members, and the
earnest work of missionaries. The joy found in family is unrivaled
save for the joy of the restored gospel of Jesus Christ. It is found
in this church. I have seen many miracles by working with part member
families. I have seen the smiling faces of members who have helped
others come to the gospel. And it never starts with an invitation to
church, or to visit with the missionaries. It all starts with a loving
invite.Maybe to a basketball game, a book club, a dinner party, but
missionary will always make your love of others grow.

Elder Richard Hall

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