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Monday, February 29, 2016

Wonders Wonders, Miracles of Miracles!

I couldn't decide between whether or not to title my weekly after a song in Fiddler on the Roof not sung by Tevye. Because Motel definitely is not the ideal image of manliness or success. I mean, he's a tailor. His solo piece in the musical is a soft tenor frolic in the woods. But hey, it was a good week. 
Also, I'm guessing that less than half of the people I send the weekly out to even knows who Motel in Fiddler on the Roof is. Now you know. Look up the musical. It's my favorite. 

This week was well, full of miracles. At least, to me it was. Miracles are given to those with ears to hear and eyes to see them. The lord has been preparing me and Elder Mendistin to experience a lot of miracles, and we have. I don't know what you call a miracle. John Travolta called it "an act of God", some call it an unexplainable event. In my first area we had an investigator named Miracle and another named Milagros, so we always said we were expecting two miracles at church. But whatever you think is a miracle, perhaps you could read a few of these stories, and see that the hand of God is present in people's lives.

Last week was a good week. We had plenty of good, quality lessons. This week, from Monday through Wednesday, we had one total. It was not looking good. But Thursday, after an inspiring zone conference, Elder Muffstine and I hunkered down, said a prayer, and started over. From Thursday to Sunday, we had enough lessons to double the amount last week. That's close to 20 lessons on days filled with weekly planning, service, and church meetings. It was miraculous indeed. We couldn't throw a rock without hitting someone interested in the gospel (minor hyperbole). But it was a great moment.

Tuesday I was sick. I had a nasty stomach ache and didn't want a thing to do with getting out of bed. It was starting to look like a long week in bed. But you know what, miracles happen. I was laying under the covers that Tuesday night, wondering what tomorrow was going to be like. I thought of all the people that we needed to visit, the appointments that we made, and how if I'm lying in bed, there can be no one else that was going to take our place. I fell asleep pondering about my commission to serve. That Wednesday morning, I got up with no pain, no problem, plenty of energy. Maybe it was a bug, maybe the pain was going to leave no matter what I thought or prayed or said, but I called upon the lord, and something happened.

Thursday night we had a touching lesson with the Baranowski family. Sister Baranowski is Jewish and hasn't felt any desire to join the church. Her husband, a recent convert, has had some heart problems and hasn't been able to come to church in a while. But that night we shared with them family search, the church ancestry program. P B's face lit up with childlike joy as she went through her own family tree, and saw all of her ancestors. Bob laughed to see he was related to so many people, and that many of them had their work done for him already. He now wants to seal himself to his parents, and seal his parents together. And Pat wants to do it with him. 
We were shocked. "Sister B, do you know what you just said?"
"Yes, I want to do it with him."
We didn't get the chance to tell her that you first have to believe in Christ before you can think about getting to the temple, but it was a special moment. She wants to make it to the temple.

We got to finally meet and teach little K N, a 10 year old child of record yet to be baptized, but man does she have a fire to be baptized. Unfortunately, her parents are not active in the church, but man, that girl is amazing. She said she'll do what it takes to be baptized. She said it would bring the family together, and help them love each other more. It was one of the purest testimonies of baptism I have heard in my life. It was short and sweet, and downright a miracle to me. I pray that as we begin continuously teaching her, all may be well. 

We had a meeting with all of the missionaries in the north Austin region this week. There was about 45 of us all together, all in different areas, all out for different times. But as I began to look around, I saw Elder B, my MTC companion. Then I noticed Elder W, who was in my district in the MTC. Then I saw Elder H and Elder W. They sat next to me on the plane ride to San Antonio, and then I realized that 11 missionaries that came out with me were in this little batch of missionaries. Out of the 200 missionaries in the field, here we were,  all together. This group is special. We all have this immense love for each other. I remember the moment I saw Elder W giving him a giant hug, and holding it for a while. Then I saw my other friends, Elder S and Elder C. Then Elder C, then Elder M, then Sister F. We're like a big family! The amount of immediate and unconditional love I have for all of the missionaries that came out with me is well, a miracle. I think that all things with love is a miracle. Love is a powerful thing. If I could describe God in a word, I guess it would be love

Elder Hall

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Shin-Kicking Filipinos, and Other Unplanned Event

Firstly, I would like to thank everyone for the birthday wishes. It's always good to hear from friends and family. My favorite letter of the week came from my favorite California friend, N, who used my birthday as an excuse to tell all about how the Yankees are going to be good this year, and how Aaron Judge is already in the bigs. Well heck, N, I love you too.
Go A's.

But really, my birthday was great. The elders in the apartment made me blueberry muffins and sang to me. My parents sent me a cake and some frosting. But this one woman at church couldn't hold it in. She asked me when my birthday was two months ago, and I told her, suspecting she would forget, but no. Elder M and I were walking over to the main Sunday school class to pass around the dinner calendar when she ran up to me and squeezed out, "Happy Birthday!"
I mean, this would have been fine, except the whole of Old Settlers' Ward young women popped right out of their classroom at the same time. Sister W continued to tell all of them it was my birthday. One by one, came the "Elder Hall! Come over to our house today, we'll make cookies for you!" "Oh my gosh! Have you been sung to yet?" "This is so exciting! Are you 21 now?" "Come to our house and we'll have a birthday party!" 
Here I was, trying to avoid any attention being drawn to me at all cost, and this happens. I felt like I was in some sort of bizarro reenactment of Gemesis 39. It's not that you can't celebrate your birthday on your mission, it's just that celebrating by having a bunch of teenage girls ask you to come to their house is the worst way possible to do it as a missionary.
In case you were wondering, I did not accept any of the invitations given to me. But I did get a s'mores cupcake from a returning active that night. That was delicious. 

Last week started out with a bang. A bang to the knees. We had about ten Elders playing volleyball on hardwood last P-day, including a Elder T. Elder T is this little Filipino from Houston, Texas who gets about up to my armpit but can grab a basketball rim. He was on the other side of the net when another missionary set the ball for him. He went up to spike it and I went to block, and as I was going up he kicked me in the shin. Man alive did that hurt. It would have been fine, but I landed a little funny and my foot was numb for a minute or two. The adrenaline of playing volleyball kicked in and I didn't feel the pain, but the next day you bet I was feeling it. Felt just like a hairline fracture. It wasn't enough to be unable to bike, but it was plenty enough for me to feel it. The stairs were the pits, though. It feels pretty good now, but man. Those little Filipinos. 

Tuesday was filled with all sorts of chaos. We were biking up the busiest street in our area before it was getting too dark. Everything was fine until when Elder M's front tire blew. And man, that thing was gone. While we were trying to figure out what to do, night flew in and we were stuck on the side of This road. Elder M kicked a rock in frustration, which ended up hitting an owl. We flashed a light on it, and turns out it has a broken wing and was already almost dead. Awesome. Luckily, we called this animal trainer to help out, and she was able to take of it. She wasn't able to give us a ride though. 

Friday was filled with miracles. I was on an exchange with Elder D. Firstly, Elder D is a rockstar missionary. He has such a great way of balancing fun with work and being efficient. I love it. We had an awesome lesson with Bob B. Bob is an 84 year old who has been meeting with missionaries for a long time now, but has never had the desire to get baptized. He's been having back pain for a long time now and hasn't been to church in months. But not any more! In the space of 45 minutes, Elder D and I gave him a priesthood blessing, helped him understand authority, and got him to pray about baptism. This Sunday we entered into the church and saw him in the benches waiting for us. It may not have happened on that one night, but we think he'll accept our invitation to be baptized very soon.

The C family is doing great! K C is especially progressing. Just a few weeks ago he would ask tons of questions during lessons and get confused with some Mormon vocabulary, but since he accepted the invitation to be baptized him and C have had no problems. All three lessons we had with them this week went crystal clear, filled with the spirit. They even came to church all three hours! To me, it is a testimony of how God blesses those who take steps of faith with a sure knowledge. Sometimes we had to take the leap before we find the ground, but we'll never get to the other side until we jump. 

Saturday morning we went to the church to practice a special number I'm doing in sacrament meeting soon. Elder M and I walked into the foyer and found ourselves in the middle of a Women's conference! Whoops. We couldn't go thirty feet without an "Elders! Can you move this for me?" "Elders, help put up the tables!" "Elders! Move these gigantic palm trees into my Super Duty!" Bad timing on our hand. By the time we were done, there was no time to practice! I guess we'll have to figure out another time to practice. Elder Hall's golden pipes are a little rusty.

There was a heck of a lot of things that happened this week that did not totally go to plan. At the moments notice we were forced to adjust, and you know what, it happened. And you know what, I loved it! As much as order and exactness are needed, there are times you have to pull off the run n' gun. I'm loving it out here. This is paradise restored. This is where all the fun happens. Miracles are happening every day. We have the faith, we need to expect greatness now. 

Elder Richard Hall

Monday, February 15, 2016

Good Times and Sunshine

To my beautiful lifelong friends,

It's been a great week! There's been some great things happening this
week that I'll get to remember and cherish forever. One of them just
happened! I was buying some pretzel bites with Elder M at the
HEB after grocery shopping, and this college-aged girl asked us what
Mormon missionaries do. I told her a little about our Christianity and
how we serve others and was about to get to the Restoration when she
cut in, "and are all of you are cute as ____?"
"Uh, sure."
"Oh, you can come over and talk to me any time."
I don't think we're going to, but that made me feel a lot better that
I was going to buy pretzel bites solely so I could eat the frosting
I am healthy. Trust me.
Well, sort of.
To start off this email, I just want to say: I love being a
missionary. When the first presidency said that more joy awaits you an
you have ever experienced as you labor among His children, they
weren't kidding. Yeah, I had to overcome some fears. Yeah, I still
have to get rejected more than an empty credit card, but hey. It is a
matter of perspective. Are we looking down or are we looking up. Just
remember forever goes both ways from where you stand.
Tuesday we finally got to have a lesson with the Bs. R is
loaded. He owns a cement company in Texas, and his house is probably
the size of Campus Plaza back in Provo. But man is that guy humble. I
loved sitting down and talking with him and his wife, Kasha. Ryan
completely believes the Book of Mormon to be true and Joseph Smith  to
be a prophet of God? So why isn't the son of a gun baptized already?
Well, mainly it is because of his wife, Kasha. He won't do it without
her, and she is afraid to read the Book of Mormon. This is something
that happens with a lot of people. If they read the Book of Mormon, if
they come to church, they might receive an answer that the church is
true. And if that happens, then what they first believed in May have
to be adjusted, or they must walk a path of discipleship that does not
line up with that of the world. It might just be too much work.
Luckily, K loves missionaries. And luckily, her husband has a
marvelous fire for the gospel. K was courageous enough to accept
our invitation to read. Awesome! The next step is to get them to
church. They already agreed to come to a baptismal service. That is
way exciting
One of my favorite things that missionaries do is teach children. We
are teaching a kid who is getting baptized on the 5th of March. Her
name is Jessa. Her parents were baptized only a few years ago, and
moved into the Ward just recently. They want their kids to have the
same experience they did, so we go by and teach Jessa the lessons when
we have time. She is way smart. For having been in primary for 2
years, she knows a heck of a lot. We asked her what the Plan of
Salvation was, and she basically told us all you need to know about
agency and resurrection. It was great. Last night we were teaching her
the gospel of Jesus Christ last night. She's totally ready. Her
parents are great. Before we left her parents asked if we left any
"valentines" back home. Elder M said no, and then pulled out
a three pound link of salami and said, "THIS is my Valentine!" Oh
Elder M, always surprising the crap out of e strangest
situations. If he wasn't so dang funny he might be weird. Nah, he's
When I said I didn't, you'd have thought Jessa was going to tear up.
Tender hearted little girl. It's alright, I told her, I'll just steal
Elder M's for lunch tomorrow. She was a little confused.
Saturday night was special. We got to teach D for the first time
in a month. He wants to get baptized after he reads the Book of
Mormon, which might be a while. He may be one of the top programmers
at Dell, but he reads English very slowly. If you met D, you would
understand why he feels like he must read the whole thing before
baptism. It isn't that he lacks faith, or wants to go through a
system, he just wants to make sure that what he is learning is 1000%
truth. Good thing he came to the right place. And he loves it. He told
us that when he finishes, he wants his whole family baptized, and to
have their own copies. When we asked if there was anything we could do
for him, he said "giving me this Book was the best thing you could do
for me." It was a simple yet touching remark. You could feel the
What gifts do we have that we do not appreciate? What are the things
of God that are so readily given to us and we do not use? I know that
before my mission, it was my family. But perhaps for others it is the
Book of Mormon. And for others, it may simply be the shoes on their
feet. But whatever it is, we show love through actions, we should
gratitude through consistency. Each day I get to go on a bike. At the
beginning of the day, I always hate it. Give me a piece of plywood for
a companion, send me to Siberia, put the apartment next to a Kingdom
Hall, just get me off that bike. But after a few hours, I get use to
it. I feel the spring air flow through my body (p.s. It's 70 degrees
here), wave at cars, bike through beautiful parks- it becomes
pleasant. Life is to be enjoyed. Life is to work.

Elder Richard Hall

1. This is Nixon the Corgi. He has 13,700 followers on Instagram.
Probably the most famous thing I have met yet on the mission. Look him
up at Nixonthecorgi
2. My favorite Valentine my mom sent me. I felt sad that it said
"friends forever, and then there was no one on the card but Batman. So
I put a T-Rex next to him to make Batman feel better. Missionaries,
always worried about feelings.

Monday, February 8, 2016

The Grace and the Grind

Monday, February 1, 2016

There's crying over spilled milk, then there's taking Adderol over spilled milk

I don't know how to spell Adderol
In case anyone wanted to know, the title to my email is something that
was said during a lesson we had with some less actives. They were
talking about mothers in Utah who were taking anti-depressants so much
because their family isn't perfect enough. It reminds me of a phrase
that I coined while in my last area- the "suburban crisis." In the
suburbs, the things you fret over are very real, but are hardly
detrimental at all. They include getting a new lawnmower because your
front wheel is broken, getting the right frame for the giant family
photo, or not buying a gallon of Blue Bell for the week because you
decided to diet. In my last area these were all concerns I heard over
the dinner table, discussed with real concern. They have traveled over
to this area, and I feel like it relates to now some people feel about
their own discipleship. These spiritual suburban crises happen all too
often with members. The mom is praying urgently for God to give her
son strength to not get a C in Physics. A dad frustratingly wonders
why they haven't been having family home evenings lately. Two siblings
get in a fight because one hasn't been to the temple in a few months.

Do these really happen? are these real concerns? The answer to these
are yes. To the people in these situations, these concerns are very,
very real. There are people whose paths of discipleship run a narrow,
shipshape course. They are advanced in their knowledge, full of wise
council and discernment. Their acts of sin are heinous, defeating,
saddening. Is there any way, that even the greatest of the great
members of the church can still be righteous. Is there anything

The bishop addressed us on the fifth Sunday of the week. He talked
about failure. It seems to be that people in the LDS church, more so
than those out of it, have a tremendous fear of failure. Perhaps that
is why BYU is one of the most stressed out colleges in the nation. It
isn't the school or the curriculum, it's the students. They put the
weight on themselves. Which don't get me wrong, it is impressive to
see such a powerful, self motivated group of people. God loves a
humble, industrious people. But the feeling of self worth lacks with
some saints in the church.

Like A man in our Ward. He is an amazing man. He is going to medical
school at UT, has a beautiful wife and two kids, afforded a trip to
see his mission president father in Australia. This guy is a champ! He
sat us down and made us do a companionship study for a lesson he was
going out with us to. However, he pleaded his own insufficiency in an
elders quorum lesson, and talked about how sometimes he feels separate
from God's will at times.

Are you kidding me? There is a about 6.9 billion people who don't have
the same spiritual depth and knowledge as this man. So few people are
in such a position of confidence and success as this man, and yet he
still feels the pangs of failure. Heck, it is even the fear of
failure, I can't even tell how he failed yet.

This spiritual suburban crises comes from a great understanding of
God, and a great understanding of the natural man. We are carnal,
sensual, devilish, even as the dust of the earth. Full of hate and
envy and all these awful things. God is great. He is charitable, full
of love, mercy, patience, knowledge. In fact, he is perfect in his
ways. The stronger you come to know the nature of the godhead compared
to the shortcomings of the natural man, the greater the distance
between the two subjects. There's this gap that becomes a canyon, then
a trench, then an abyss. How can we ever conquer this? As hard as we
try to choose the right, something goes wrong.

Let us never forget the atonement. Let us never forget that Christ is
our lord and savior first, not an advisor or a failsafe. He comes
first and foremost in all things. He is the perfect leader,
knowledgable of all things we do. He knows we suck at a lot of things.
He also knows that we are trying our best, and the best is enough.

Calm down. God knows you, he loves you. It reminds me of a pillow my
bishop at home has in his office. "I know everything about you, and
we're still friends!" Don't worry. Do your best at discipleship. Do
your best at life. When your best isn't enough, breathe, figure out
what needs to change, and do it. If it still isn't enough, the. You're
looking at the situation the wrong way. Sometimes you'll never be
enough. But you'll always be enough.

On to what happened this week. He had a whole lot of great lessons. A
less active is going to kill a hog, give it to a returning less
active, and they're going it roast it together in an active members'
backyard. It's going to be great! A former investigator just begged us
to teach his family the lessons all over again. Awesome! We got to
bond with an investigator because he was afraid to come to church. I
got to learn a convert's changed idea of repentance, and discover what
I can do to help others feel more accepted at church. It was a great
week! Every week is a great week!

But let's get this straight. God loves you. You are enough. Do your
best, remember what you learned in primary. Repent daily, it will
bring you great joy. Happiness comes from helping others.

Elder Richard Hall

Picture Time! I haven't sent pictures I'm a while, so here is a few
1. The street with two limousines. Always has two limousines parked
next two Each other. Fun times.

2. The mansion. Our area is a bunch of suburbs, and then out of
nowhere there is this beautiful mansion. Pretty great spot.

3. The district! Great photo.

3. The district! Great photo.
4. The crew! All the elders in our apartment. My companion is on the far left.