And if it so be that you should labor all your days in crying repentance unto this people, and bring, save it be one soul unto me, how great shall be your joy with him in the kingdom of my Father!
- D&C 18:15
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I remember having a special training with the former mission president
of the Boston Massachusetts Mission my second transfer. Elder N
and I were sitting there, getting our minds blown away by a brother
who was fresh off of the mission field. But one of the most powerful
things he said was when he discussed how he worked with disobedient
missionaries. Why were disobedient missionaries disobedient? Was it
strict rules, struggling testimony, anything like that? No, it was
because they weren't busy. When they felt like they had nothing to do,
they felt they couldn't apply the rules anymore. Very interesting
Well, I am here to tell you I have been obedient to the rules, because
I have been busy. Between the three wards that we cover there is too
much space in between and not enough miles on the car-
Wait, before I go on, I just have to say this. We have a car! Yes, a
real car with an electric motor with a steering wheel and air
conditioning! First time in a long time. It's good to be back
Anyways, there's a lot going on, so we have to be wise with our time.
This week we began to teach a new family of 6. They have met with
missionaries on and off for about four years now and haven't been
baptized because they've had a hard time keeping commitments. Elder
Yale and I decided to drop by a few weeks ago and they scheduled an
appointment. We were on a triple split that night, so Brother Parker
and I taught them. Turns out they've been wanting to meet with
missionaries again and are preparing for baptism and confirmation! It
was one of those moments that you never dream of because the dream is
too good. It was the best. My favorite moment came when I asked them
plainly if they believe Joseph Smith was a prophet, to which they
said, "Yes he is." Well there you go. If they are not even members,
and their testimony of Joseph Smith is sound, then you know that this
is a special family. More news on them soon.
We also have begun teaching a 9-year old who will be baptized with his
8 year old sibling in July. I didn't even know this family existed
until the Pflugerville bishop shot us an email halfway through the
week. The situation is a little interesting, but after meeting with
the kids a few times we can tell that they are ready for baptism. They
have been regularly attending church with some of their extended
family, and I guess their parents finally jumped on board with having
On top of that, we have started the lessons with the returning active
Bice family, to help their children prepare for baptism. We plan on
having the three kids baptized and confirmed in the next month, and to
get the parents ready to attend the temple by next June. I love this
family. I hope that they can endure to the end.
A woman came to church for the fourth time in the past month or so.
She is best friends with our organist. She came to church this week
instead of driving to Houston to put flowers on her fathers' grave.
She is what we call, "All In." It was touching to see how happy she
was to be here, in the front row of a packed chapel, smiling to the
sound of the organ.
These are just a few of the many people we are working with.
personally, I think these people have been prepared specifically for
this time to partake in the first fruits of the gospel, and to enter
into covenant with their God. Very exciting times.
This has simply been a week of miracles. Next week, I'll have
surpassed my year mark, which makes me feel much older than what I
really am. But be prepared for the annual mission recap, where I'll
highlight the best parts of my mission, as well as the most memorable
parts of my mission. Can you believe, that this is day 361? A year ago
Elder A was out for only 10 months this time around. Elder T
was still in Randolph, and I was still umpiring baseball games!
That'll be a great email.
And before I go, I wish my Dad a belated Father's Day. My Dad is a
very goofy man, and it is part of what makes him great. I love you,
This week we had our transfer calls. I cannot believe it has been six weeks since I've had transfer calls. I feel like I've been with Elder Y for only a few days. Surprise! It's been three weeks.
This transfer is a little strange. Eder Y and I are staying together, but we are gaining a new companion, and who is it? No one other than Elder C. We are still covering the two wards we were covering before (6 more weeks of Torchy's Tacos and Round Rock Donuts), and we gained an additional area, the Pflugerville Ward. We do not know if we have a car yet, which would be good to know, because there is a whole town between us and Pflugerville, so we would like to have something a little more powerful than than a bike to get us there. It is going to be a fun time, since we already have plenty of work to do. Honestly, I was expecting Old Settlers Ward to have their own set of missionaries and Stony Point Ward would get their own, but I guess God has some different plans. With this, I'll have had two more areas than I did 2 months ago, but never have moved. This also means that I'll spend about a third of my mission serving in the Round Rock area. Slowly but surely, I am diversifying my mission. This also gives me the chance to do something I've never done before: go to three sacrament meetings in one day, in two different buildings. The Pflugerville chapel is 8 miles away from the Stony Point Chapel, and the services start only an hour and a half before Old Settlers sacrament. If I thought that serving in two wards was a handful, this will give me a shot in the arm. I feel like I'm a Utah missionary, pinging around different chapels, working with 2000000 members, it's a heck of a time.
This week we starting to work with a lovely less active family of 7 who just moved into the Ward. The only members are the parents and the oldest, and they have three more who are of baptismal age. The reason why they haven't been baptized is almost too silly to discuss, so I won't. But, the whole family came to church this Sunday and had a great time. The family joined the church only a few years ago, but fell off of the beaten path very fast. Their testimony is strong, but it amazes me sometimes to hear some of the reasons why people choose not to attend sacrament meeting. It was only a few Sundays ago that I wrote, "Please do not let myself go less active! I don't think I could live without taking the sacrament, and uplifting the saints." Activity is the genius of this church. Everyone needs it, not everyone partaken of it. I am so grateful to be able to work with this family. I can see the kids in little baptismal jumpsuits already.
Next week is stake conference. It will be the first stake conference I'll have on my mission. I've found myself without a gathering of Zion due to timely transfers and other little things like that. So this will be a fun experience.
I feel like there is all too much to write. On one of those miraculous days of this dispensation, Joseph Smith wrote very little in his journal. In fact, it was a small sentence that said (and I paraphrase) "Today the hand of God has touched the saints of Zion." And even with that small of an entry we know the details of that day very clearly. Perhaps you will find out the details of this week without reading them. Who knows what will be said after what is written.
Fire Water, and such Last week we contacted this drunk man, who we didn't realize was heavily intoxicated until it was too late. A word of advice for everyone reading: don't drink. There's just too much risk in it. We should simply stay away from these things, and let out body be filled with happy things, like grapes, sunshine, and deep fried cookie dough. When we said goodbye, he started to follow us. Luckily, his stupor left him to a waddling pace. So we sauntered off to our appointment. In contacting, you meet a lot of different people. Some of them are very nice and warm, some are rude, some are completely and totally ready for the restored gospel. Such as it was with Matthew. We were getting back on our bikes in an apartment complex when a man was walking by. I felt prompted to talk with him, and I did. All I could get out was, "Hey, how's it going today?" When he replied "Good, good. I really need to talk to you guys. Actually, I'd love to talk with you. But I'm in a hurry right now. Come by my apartment in the mornings. I live at 17101. My name is M." And then he was off. I looked over at my companions at the time, and said. "Well, that was pretty easy." We tried by a few times, but never caught him. Finally, Wednesday he referred himself online. We met with him Thursday morning. Turns out he wants to be baptized into this church. He reads from the Book of Mormon and has lots of Mormon friends he talks to. We were dumbstruck. Let it be known, this never happens. We set a date for baptism, set expectations, and then started the lesson. "So, what do you know about the Restoration?" He then gave us a beautiful recount of the Restoration, including a restored description of the Priesthood. We didn't really know what to do. So he said he'll get baptized in a month, and we'll meet with him twice a week until then. Holy cow.
Rain Water, and such Tuesday we got caught in the rain. And by caught in the rain, we mean drenched head to toe. The rain started to trickle, and we thought, "We'll just contact this referral and then go to dinner." Nope. Should have just gone to dinner. I could have jumped into the ocean and have been drier. We parked our bikes under an oak tree and walked over to the house. At this point it what pouring. We then looked and looked and looked for that house number, until we realized it didn't exist. Lightning and thunder ensued. This was also the loudest I've ever heard thunder. My mom is probably thrilled to hear about this. The weather can be unpredictable in Texas. There have been many nights where we have found shelter, but that night we were long from anywhere. Sad day. The weather has been rather rainy and full of lightning. There has been quite a bit of thunder, and it has been fun to fall asleep to the rolling thunder.
Font Water, and such Ri T was baptized, and I baptized him! It supposed to be his dad, but at the last minute I was asked by him to do it. It was my first time baptizing anyone, so it was quite the experience. R is technically a convert, but he was baptized along with the children of record, which included the stake president and his son. It was a little intimidating to perform the ordinance with him and his son watching over us at the font's edge. Doing something as special as baptizing someone in front of a powerful man. Very special. And the boy's family was just so excited to see their brother with them, wearing his finest shirt and tie at church the next day. Very special. The one part I did not enjoy at the baptism was my waist. It's a lot greater in circumference than when I first bought my baptism pants. They were tight. My companion felt bad for me, so he offered his. Surprise! They were the exact same pair. So if you think that I look a little hefty in the photo added below, it because my proportions have changed, but my pants haven't. Oh, the life of a missionary. The C girls, who should have been baptized way back in February, are finally, finally getting baptized next month as well. We set them with a date last Wednesday. Their father is very excited, and is all in. After returning from a long time of less activity, he now sits at the front of elders quorum class, and his girls have a blast at church. What a great experience to watch.
The Water Cooler A Douglas L. Callister quote came to my mind during testimony meeting yesterday. It has been ringing in my ears since I read his 2007 conference message about a month ago, after an investigator told us he denounced all the things he believed in the church. "If you want to know that you know that you know, a price must be paid. You and you alone must pay that price. There are ordinances that are done in proxy, but none for the acquisition of a testimony." Knowledge is an important gift in this world. We must come to our own knowledge of all things.
Elder Richard Hall
1. My company and I,The T, and some random kid with R. Also, another note: I am taller than my companion, in truth, but I look shorter in this photo. No idea why.
The beginning of this week was like taking a bag of sand, tearing open the top, tossing it into the air, and seeing how much of the sand stayed in the bag. One can only hope there is still sand in that bag after what it has gone through. Amazingly, a lot of sand stayed in the bag. The centripetal momentum must have made an impressively consistent vector strong enough to withstand the incongruent trajectories of gravity and wind.
Monday Elder Wwent home and my other companion, Elder S, went home as well. Leaving Elder T and I looking at each other and wondering, "how long will we be companions?" The answer: not long enough. The two of us grew close in the few days that we had spent together. sometimes friends are made the strangest of times. I am putting in a picture of the two of us after our final day together. We spent five days as companions.
For now, I will talk about my new companion, Elder Y. I met him on Wednesday at our mission president's last zone conference. He is from Washington. Just a little shorter than I am, but a little tanner than I. No worries. Just got out of training. He is a Spanish speaker! And he is pretty good at it. Pobracito, Tuesday night he got a call from the assistants to the president that he was being emergency transferred to Round Rock. Wednesday morning he showed up, coming from Del Rio, Texas. Del Rio is literally the furthest point possible you can get from Round Rock within mission boundaries. It is 4 and some odd hours of freeway between the two, as well as two of the biggest cities in the United States. President S could have chosen any of the 140 Elders in the field closer to me than he was, but that was not in the plans. As far as I can tell, my new companion is here for good reason. And I am glad that he is here. He is a great person and full of service. He knows what to do and is very optimistic. I'm proud to be his companion.
Next Saturday we are having a baptism for one of the T boys. He is super excited, and the best part, his dad is going to baptize him. It is a wonder to see this man, who was less active only a few months ago, have the ability to baptize his son in worthiness. What a blessing to watch this repentance process.
There has been a massive amount of food sent to our apartment since Elder W took a spill. Why? I guess when a missionary crashes on his bike and goes home, it is the or perfect time to make food for his companions, even after he's gone home. Hey, I'm not complaining. There has been some amazing food brought to our door. In fact, we were having a hard time saving it all. At one point, we just had too much to throw in the fridge, so we cracked open the fridge and switched up the usual breakfast items. I had chocolate cake and Sprite, and my companion had Gatorade and roast beef sandwich with potato salad. It wasn't so much because that's what we wanted for breakfast, it was mainly so we could make room in the fridge. Some other things at members have brought over and we're trying to eat: an extra large Costco pizza, two 12 packs of Gatorade, chicken soup, banana pudding, cookie dough, ice cream, milkshakes galore, lunchables, and Hoody's subs (which is the best place to eat in Round Rock. If you go to Round Rock for a Texan experience, get Rudy's, Torchy's and Salt Lick somewhere else. Hoody's is the place to go. It is amazing. The best sandwiches you'll get. Absolutely great). There's just a lot of food. Good thing I'm trying to gain weight. Yes, I understand I am absolutely spoiled. In truth, all this food came not because we begged, or asked for any of this, it is not because we pretending we were helpless missionaries, it is because the members of the church in this area love missionary work, and they want it to be successful. We are the image of missionary work. They truly care for the work of salvation and have a desire to serve, and so they serve us. It is wonderful. In this area I have found a higher effectiveness of missionary work, lasting bonds of preaching the gospel. It is amazing to see what an impression one can make on another's heart.
I want to end this buckshot email with a thought I had during my personal study this morning. I was reading from the Book of Mormon and thought to myself, "I love this book. I am so thankful I can read it every day. It reminded me of an invitation a stake president extended to the congregation. "I challenge all of you to read the Book of Mormon every day for the rest of your life." I was thinking about how wonderful it was to do so when I realized in panic, "I didn't read from the Book of Mormon yesterday!" I was saddened, almost depressed that I missed a day where I didn't read that amazing book, when I remembered that I shared the story in Helaman 5 with our dinner appointment that night. Relief rushed over me as I realized that I still was keeping the challenge extended for another day. I have a testimony of The Book of Mormon. If you don't, get one. Why? Because it's message is filled with more hope and peace than any other message you can hear. It is written for us to know who God really is, and how he deals with his people. Thank God for the Book of Mormon. And Joseph Smith is a good guy too.
Elder Richard Hall
1. Elder T and I, in a photo where I look completely and fully like a missionary. 2. My new companion and I