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Monday, November 23, 2015

When it's Studytime Down South

Perhaps one of the most gratifying and pleasant parts of my day are
the mornings, where after a good workout and breakfast I get to study
the scriptures by myself for a whole hour. Just think about the
wonders and knowledge you can receive by setting apart one hour of
your day to simply reading and taking notes from the Word of God. Only
on a mission of the lord do you have this opportunity given to you so
I wanted to share an exert from a recent study. In fact, much of the
time I laughed during this study.

"I think the greatest lesson I earned from this comparison is how
close pride and humility are together. The only thing that separates
the two is where the glory goes to. However, that one degree of
difference sends the paths of the two traits far, far apart. Pride
could generate from something as simple as getting the two greatest
commandments in the wrong order,  as explained in Lynn G. Robbins'
"Which Way do You  Face?" (October 2014) Or, it could stem from simple
competition. In Preach My Gospel is simply states, "Pride is
competitive." (121) No matter what pride originates from, it can be
simply changed by realizing that your will is not to be done, but the
Lord's. Though simple, it certainly is hard if one is caught in the
tight-fitting robes of pride.
So many times the Lord begs us to "beware of pride" in Doctrine and
Covenants. In the Book of Mormon as well as the Bible pride is pointed
out as the downfall of the righteous saints, the crux of our cycle of
obedience. If it is so apparent that ours and others' path to
salvation is so bent around pride, then why don't we recognize it more
often? Why do we not realize that pride lingers in many of the things
we claim to be trivial? and why don't we change our ways to combat
pride? Because that goes against the very nature of pride. To repent
of even the smallest amount of pride we must need the power of the
atonement to humble ourselves. But pure humility, understood and acted
out, is so beautifully joyous that little will bring greater happiness
in our lives.
That is one of the many reasons people who talk with missionaries and
act upon their invitations are so happy. They are using their agency
to be humbled, to repent, which is something so few are willing to do.
It is probably why our joy will be so great with them in the Kingdom
of our Father. (D&C 18:15) "

I just thought you'd enjoy it. I do.

The work has been exploding in our area. My faithful companion Elder
Hill and I are putting our shoulder to the will and pushing along.
Both part member families that we have been working closely with, the
Millers and the Gidishes, were at church this week, and have committed
to attending weekly. This would be a wonderful boost to the ward if
both families fully joined the church. That would be 9 new members!
That's wild.I think that the Millers are very close, but the Gidishes
need some more time. Still, it's crazy to think that the Gidishes are
attending church as a family. The first time I met Rebecca, the
nonmember wife was cranky and told us to come by when she wasn't
there. But last week she invited us to dinner and we talked about the
church for an hour. To me, it is a powerful testament that all hearts
can change.

And to top it off, we have begun working with 2 less active part
member couples in the other ward. Both of them are in the same
position- the member husband knows the church is true, but has gotten
out of the habit of coming to church, and it is affecting the progress
of the nonmember wife. My hope is that both families begin to read
from the Book of Mormon and make the decision to start coming to
church. As I missionary, we have been doing the best we can to gather
them back into the fold.

On Wednesday, I was sweating a storm biking between appointments and
meetings, but on Saturday it got cold. It wouldn't have been so bad,
but the wind cut straight through me on the bike! Apparently the gusts
got up to 45 mph. And honestly, I could feel it on the bike. Then,
Sunday morning, some Elders knocked on our door. When I opened it, I
got slapped in the face with the cold. Personally, I'm shocked. I
honestly thought that I escaped the cold by coming to Texas, but no!
Today isn't that bad. In truth, it feels like a nice September day in
Jerome. The only difference is that Thanksgiving is in 3 days.

We are moving into our proselyting area! It' be great. We get to cut
about 3 miles a day off of biking by moving to our new apartment. As
well as saving time on bikes, we also don't have to cross the
interstate anymore to get into our area.

If I can leave you with anything, it is that the power of prayer is
real as we remain faithful. Recognize that "remaining faithful" does
not mean "hanging in there until everything works out" As much as
faith is a belief, it is an action. Acting upon faith is simply faith
itself. One of my favorite scriptures comes from Peter, I may have
said it before. "the trial of your faith, being much more precious
than of Gold that perisheth... might be found unto praise and honor
and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ" Indeed, our faith is more
precious than one can believe, and God loves us more than we can

Elder Richard Hall

Monday, November 16, 2015

Leaving the Door Unlocked

Five more weeks in Suburbia! Yes, five, not six. In the mission, a
transfer usually lasts six weeks, and by the end of the time slot you
either move on to a different area or stay in the area you cover. I've
been in Northern San Antonio for 12 weeks now, and I get five more- if
this transfer was six weeks, then it would have ended on December
24th. That would be awful. Just think of the chaos of flying
missionaries home, flying new missionaries in, and jumping into a new
area the day before Christmas. It would be all sorts of crazy.

This transfer day was one to remember. Elder H and I were staying
in our area, but the Elders that live with us were splitting up. One
of the was getting transferred, and the other needed to go to Austin
to conduct the meeting being held up there. Since he was losing his
companion, he took Elder H and I along for the ride.
I finally got to go to Austin! The motto for the city is "Keep Austin
Weird", so you know that I'm going to enjoy my time there whenever I
get the chance. Elder M really wanted to get a haircut while we
were up there. We walk into this trendy salon where who was cutting
hair? Two men, one of them overweight and balding, the other looking
like he just got out of his semi to perm some lady's hair. The only
woman there was a member, who looked fine. But man, it was so weird to
see a guy with a toothpick in his mouth and a trucker cap on chewing
the fat with granny. How charming.

I also found out which ward a friend of mine lives in! We were in a
play at BYU together and when she found out that I was going to Texas
she said that she was from Austin. Now one of my best friends, Elder
Selu, is going to serve in her ward. How exciting! Yeah, but that girl
was crazy. Austin definitely is keeping her weird.

On Saturday we had lunch with a less active family. I felt like they
wanted to stuff us. The father is from Joppas, Mexico, and he made
some of his favorite meals from South of the Border for us. He made us
beans with pork skin and chicken feet, which I must say actually
tasted pretty dang good. He also pulled out some barbacoa and
Sangrias. The final part of the meal was fried plantains with creme.
It was so hard to get on the bike after that meal.

P got baptized! P referred himself to the missionaries about a
month ago, and now he is baptized. Talk about quick work. He loves
going to church and all the Book of Mormon from the time he got it to
the time he was baptized. That's really, really impressive. Some
people are just that prepared.

We've been working with some part member families lately. Three of
them are showing a lot of promise. One of them is the Gidish family.
Brother G is a recently reactivated member who really wants to
baptize his 10-year son, but is afraid of what his would think. He was
really hard to catch for quite some time. We would see him at church,
but he would never set a time we could meet with his family. Finally
his whole family came to church. I don't know why he was so afraid,
his wife loved coming to church! Later that night we dropped by on
them and now we're planning on meeting with them every Sunday for
dinner. I'm down with that! Honestly, I think that brother Gidish is
going to end up baptizing his wife as well as his son if things keep
going as they are.

Another part-member family we've been working with is the Ms.
They just moved into the ward two months ago, and they've been less
active for years, but they want to come back. Currently the only
member of the family is the mother, but her husband almost got
baptized ten years ago! He says that he already believes that the Book
of Mormon is true and that he has a copy of Doctrine and Covenants and
the Pearl of Great Price. The only thing that is holding him back from
being baptized is that he hasn't received a spiritual confirmation of
the truthfulness of the church. I don't know if he knows this, but if
you know the Book of Mormon is the word of God and is the word of
chosen prophets and you still will not except baptism, then what is
holding you back is the commitment to be a part of the Kingdom of God,
because of it's separation from the world.
As much as being a member of God's church is a blessing, for those who
first enter, it is a sacrifice. Think about the divine distance that
separates the glories of the restored gospel to the things of this
world. It takes a while to live in the world and not of the world, but
my goodness it is worth it. You can see it on the faces of converts
when you talk to them about how they entered the church. The gospel of
Jesus Christ in its fulness will bring more happiness into a life than
anything else.
The first steps on the path of discipleship may be scary. It's
something you've never done, it's different, and not everyone around
you is doing it. But you will never get to the end, which is full of
light, and greatness, and happiness, unless we take a step.

I love being a missionary! There is no greater gift of God than that
of salvation, and I am his open hand, reaching out to his beloved
children. L'chaim! He lives! Sing all praises to him!

Elder Richard Hall

A picture of P and Elder H and I. He is both the oldest and
shortest person I have baptized. He's great.

Monday, November 9, 2015

Texas San Antonio Mission!

Monday, November 2, 2015

Puddles of Thought

It's been another wet week in the land of gated communities! Suburban
salvation is at hand as we slip slide in the rain. I never expected
Texas to be so wet, but Holy Noah it feels like Shoah out there.
Riding a bike in Texas rain is a real experience. At first you just
think it is getting humid, then you're soaking wet.

This week we had the opportunity to go our wards' Fall Festival. Both
of them had tons of less active members and nonmembers there that we
got to talk to and get to know. It was a great experience.
Along with the nonmembers there, there was also cute little 6-year old
Ellie Osbourne, who is obsessed with "Missionaries." Every time she
sees Elder Hill and I she skips and yells "Mishinahwies!" and runs up
and hugs me. It's always me. Throughout the festival she would run up
and talk with me, and I just sat there and listened. I mean, right
now, it is adorable, but give it +/- 10 years and that's trouble.

If you ever are wondering where you can start with missionary work,
you can always start with an invite. Missionary work is simply loving
your neighbor. It's one of the most enjoyable experiences you can have
on this earth. We have been working with a part member family in our
ward to get them reactivated. During our PEC meeting before church,
the bishop and other men gathered together and we talked about what we
can do to get the whole family to church. The father was coming on his
own for a while, but he was really struggling because the rest of his
family wasn't coming with him. We've invited, fasted, loved this
family, and we were looking for our fruits of labor.
It was there where we came together, leaders and servants of the Evans
Ranch ward, in humble prayer and asked God for his will to be done,
and that Brother Gidish and his family could come and enjoy the
blessings of the sacrament, and willing church attendance.
In just 20 minutes, we saw Brother Gidish and his family sitting in
the pews of the chapel. They attended all three hours and the
nonmember wife loved it. It was a powerful testament of prayer and how
the action of faith is precious, and brings forth blessings

The other day I was reading in 1 Samuel 15. Of all of the characters
in the Bible, I like Samuel and Saul the most. Samuel had a rough
prophet-ship. He had to deal with these amazing men who threw away all
of the promises of the Lord. He had to watch his people choose the
lower laws of kingship. Poor Samuel. His story is beautiful and filled
with poetry. It is his brief but powerful conversation with Saul that
rings in my mind. "It is better to obey than to sacrifice."

If you can take one thing out of this letter, it is that obedience
brings happiness. It is as plain as that. One of our investigators is
getting baptized next week. I have seen his life make a complete
turnaround since the first day I met him. He told me that the greatest
thing he has felt from talking with us is the sense of direction. The
loving commandments of God give our lives a structure; one built for
success. We will not find a more perfect, a more whole solution to the
problems of the world.

We were going by some part member families this week, when we met a
man that hasn't come to church in fifteen years. It wasn't that he
didn't have a knowledge of its truthfulness, he just was lonely at
church. We talked to him for a few minutes, and his eyes lit up. He
invited us to come back any time, and he's working on coming back to
church. It wasn't because we taught him some truth he didn't know, it
was because we reached out in love. It was quite the miracle.

One of my trainers, the great Elder T, has been called to be the
next assistant to the president. I am so excited for him! He is an
outstanding missionary. His faith was magnificent, his spirit strong.
I am so glad that I was able to serve alongside with him for six
weeks. Now he gets to love and instruct so many other missionaries.

I am now going to go play soccer. Have a fantastic week!

Elder Richard Hall

A photo I took while going to a meeting