Monday, December 28, 2015

Christmas Miracles



A photo of Elder King's Christmas haul this year!


The happy tidings of Christmas have truly spread throughout my whole body it seems.  The Christmas miracles POURED in like egg nog over and open fire.  Christmas Eve & Christmas Day spent with the Latter Day Saints felt like home.  The Acton family had us over for Christmas Eve dinner where we crafted Tamales for most of the evening.  We read the Christmas story to finish the night and sped home just in case our coal was being placed under the tree early.  BUT TO OUR SURPRISE SANTA DELIVERED IN FULL this year.  He brought 8 pairs of Star Wars socks, a "air Mormon" shirt, some serious sweets and a gift card to Taco Bell.   But let me tell you the cliche missionary favorite story of the day.  After our endeavors on Christmas Day having a swell afternoon with the senior missionary couple in our ward we drove home to change and we saw a man sitting alone by the bus stop on Christmas... We had to stop the Michael Buble for a moment and greet this man.  We brought a Christmas DVD & some other foods for him to check out and he replied "your presence here really is good enough for me" and with a smile and a laugh told us ”Merry Christmas and to stay safe”... That really warmed and tugged on the old heart strings as my companion & I were warm and cozy all day... And this humble man just wanted a visit from someone.  I think I have to give a weekly shoutout to my family back home.  They definitely are the best.  I mean sometimes I question my Dads sanity but I still love him :)  A little Sabbath Day miracle for you all... One of our investigators named Romeo dropped off the face of the earth for the past three weeks. In our first lesson we invited him to baptism for the 16th of January and he accepted!!!   However, no contact since that day :/ UNTIL YESTERDAY!!  We had our talks prepared for this particular Sunday and we're headed out the door to teach a lesson before sacrament and locked our keys in the apartment.... The keys to our car.  Therefore, we sat in the garage for 20 minutes until a ride showed up to take us to church.  Guess who showed up to sacrament in the middle of our talks? ROMEO!  He walked in after going to the wrong church and talking to another bishop.  He showed up at church with questions from his reading and inspiration from the Holy Ghost that his answer to the truthfulness of the church will be blunt!!  Well.. In class we were taught the LAW of chastity! Couldn't be more blunt than that. The spirit touched his heart and tears came down! He knew that was it!! He even mentioned he was nervous for his baptism!  Elder Jewkes & I have had a pretty great week.  We are learning again and again the importance of obedience. Occasionally we think we can slack off on the rules.  I’LL ADMIT IT.  Every now & again we think we can take some of the mission rules lightly.  Every time. It. Leads.To. Spiritual. Darkness. Or in other words... We lose revelation & the joy of The spirit.  The Lord gives us rules for protection! I have never felt so vulnerable in all my mission so far.  Keep all the commandments! They are for your well-being, your protection and will grant you more strength.  Not physical buff strength but spiritual gains.  One more Christmas week miracle.  I ate eggnog fudge. Hope you had a wonderful Christmas week.  The church is true.

Friday, December 25, 2015

Christmas Skype with Elder King!!!

Merry Christmas 2015!  We were so excited to get to talk and Skype with Elder King today!  He was in a very festive Christmas mood (it may have been the egg nog!).  We opened gifts together and laughed and talked.  He got all of our packages (whew!) and we got all of his gifts (Dad got 2 old country music records and Mom got 2 U.S. history books -- classic Braden gifts!!!)  He also sent us temple recommend holders with the Portland temple picture on them and a WVM Christmas tree ornament.  It was so great to have his smiling face in our house today - even if it was only for a short time.  He is happy and healthy and LOVING the mission.  Best Christmas present ever!

Monday, December 21, 2015

Christmas Greetings From the Heart of Babylon



Christmas Card from the Elder's!

 Christmas is coming up and we took a Christmas picture by the Christmas tree to send "gay happy tidings" all around. The Springwater YSA Christmas program happened just yesterday and the amount of Christmas tidings was immense.  Everyone we meet seems to do their best to fill us with homemade sweets made right from the Celestial ovens.  The Christmas spirit in Portland is manifest by the various gentleman’s clubs / hookah lounges.  What a better way to spend the holidays?!  A major miracle happened this week which I must relay to you back home.  We searched for a man named Sax this week.  After an evening of searching with no luck we decided the address was faulty... The next evening we needed to grab some milk late at night & go to the bathroom so we went to the nearest Walmart.  We grabbed all of our items and headed to the checkout stand where we found a nice gentleman by the name of Sax checking people out :) yes this was the very man we were looking for who moved from France two months ago.  Sax was confused as to how we knew his last name but he was really excited to find us.  We went over for the new member lessons to find his non-member cousin ready to listen to all this Mormon jazz too.  Merry Christmas Miracle for Elder King & Elder Jewkes. This week we actually found two new investigators to invite to the waters of baptism.  Some real Christmas gifts coming in the form of baptisms this year.  Another great gift was attending the Portland temple this week.  On Friday we were allotted a temple trip at 10:30 AM.  The timing of this session was fantastic so I actually stayed awake during the session.  The whole zone was in attendance and after we had to grab a little grub at Olive Garden to finish the magical experience.   My companion Elder Jewkes was baptized Catholic when I went on.  HAHAHA! YES a member of the Catholic Church brought out the holy water and just laid it on him during a teaching appointment.  After being baptized he was presented with a gift of "glass goblets" the finest glass goblets in all the land.  But, soon after this Elder Jewkes was accused of being a serial killer from Chicago by the same man who just baptized him!   I am upset I missed this magical occurrence. I happen to be on exchanges in one of the only walking areas in all the mission!  My chicken legs feel like death today. What a lazy sack of missionary I am! I hope you all know Christmas in the mission field is a Christmas like no other.  Just the whole Christmas season is incredible teaching others why we have Christmas.  Listening to Michael Buble Christmas also is awesome... Don't get me wrong Momma King and Poppa King know how to deliver during Christmas time... But don't think missionaries are ever deprived out here. My goodness we are so blessed. Been drinking egg nog every night and telling everyone I see about the Savior of the world is pricelessssssss.  We just bought our gifts for the white elephant exchange and I have decided to go with a can of dog food!!! Lucky for my zone I am a great gift giver.  Merry merry Christmas and attached is a pic of our apartment’s Christmas card which some of the elect will be receiving back home.  LOVE LOVE LOVE YOU AND  MERRIEST of Christmases.

Monday, December 14, 2015

Portland!

Elder King and Elder Jewkes getting styled right!



The first week in Portland was JUST peachy.  Have seen at least 6 or 7 strip clubs and only about 3 churches (including ours).  Have chatted with more people in half a week than I did in about a month of working in the forest of Castle Rock.  Met a man who worships Thor and is a little bit frightened for the new Star Wars movie.  That same day we met a few members of the YSA ward where we are serving.  The next day we had a great meeting down in Vancouver with a bunch of other missionaries that took up a good chunk of our day.  Been preparing for like 3 different meetings that we had to train at and also we had to compile stake reports for correlation with the new stake.  This took around 5 hours to complete because we really sucked at figuring everything out.  When we finally finished the reports looked DANDY!  We were all ready to print them Sunday morning before the meeting.  We showed up at 8:45 to print and the printer was out of paper.  The printer froze and after 5 hours of work we could only get three stake report packets ready to share.   Usually you need around 10... BUT GUESS WHAT? Amongst all our stresses / grief & foolishness only two people were at the stake meeting this time.  It seems as though when you do what you're supposed to & try your best the Lord makes things simply.. Work out!  We also had a baptism! The elders serving here before us lined up a baptism this last week so we could swoop in for the kill.  Taewoo Kwon entered the waters of baptism just this past Saturday.   One of the great tender mercies of the Lord happened when Bobby (one of our investigators) showed up at the baptism to see what it is all about. Bobby then came to church the next day & wants to have all the lessons. He specifically asked "how can I get to the Celestial kingdom?" & WE HAD SOME STUFF TO TELL HIM! Bobby is GONNA get baptized soon mark my WORDS.  Speaking of that we stopped by an investigator named Tyler that is looking for changes in his life.  He told us he wants to start over again and wipe away some old sins. WE ALSO HAD SOME SERIOUS STUFF TO TELL HIM.  He wants to be baptized on the 16th of January.  Good things happening here in Portland.  Today my beloved companion dropped his I pad on the ground after 17 months of successfully not doing that.  The rage was explosive.  Chairs were thrown and things were punched.  Poor guys mom told him "now remember for Christmas this year we are buying your I pad for you." WHOOPS!!!!!! He is the best companion though.  Not a whole lot to report on.  Got a Michael Buble Christmas album and I am sounding / looking more and more like him every week.  Slowly, but surely I will have his physique.  Merry Christmas to all, look for our Christmas card.

Monday, December 7, 2015

Glad Tidings and Stuff

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Elder King at the annual Longview Nativity Festival!
Christmas has indeed come around and we have been feeling that special Christmas spirit even out here in Castle Rock.  Although the knocking of doors seems to be a little crabby in the cold and rain, the egg nog tastes just as good.  The festival of nativities for the Longview stake occurred this weekend!  Travelers from lands far round about showed up to witness the birth of Christ in ceramic fashion.  A few of our investigators made it down to this festival and when that happens we are allowed to go through ourselves!  In the middle of this nativity festival we found the sword of Frodo hidden amongst the sets. WE ALSO came across the sword of Aragorn.  (pic is proof!   I'm not lying I swear!)  A few GREAT THINGS happened this week coupled with a few BITTER SWEET things.  I shall start with the GREAT.  On Tuesday this week we went to teach one of our investigators named Jeff about obedience and baptism.  But, Jeff wasn't ready for baptism in our common-sense minds, after we prayed about what to teach baptism just popped into our heads.  We felt good about the 9th of January as his day to enter the waters.  During the lesson we really had to pay attention to the spirit prompting us for the invitation to be baptized.  Jeff expressed his feelings about needing further assurance from the Holy Spirit... when he suddenly said "he was feeling the spirit and the love of God at this very moment"  BAM! INVITED to be baptized and accepted.  Jeff even came to a baptism the next day to check out the procedures and so forth.  The spirit will never lie!  It will only testify of truth.  During our weekly planning session we were apparently ready to branch out for some fancier food.  The usual fast-food or oatmeal packets weren't going to cut it.  The local sushi joint seemed to be the popular vote.  Most of us have barely eaten sushi before... & we decided to get 4 different rolls, then share one with another.  After having the best meal of our lives the kindest lady in the world decided to pay for all of our food!  She specifically told the waitress to tell us "happy holidays the bill is covered" (definitely not revealing her location)  well, the waitress walked right up to us and said "the lady on table 1 wants to pay for your food!”  Luckily we got to thank her personally.  Free Sushi and a full stomach/heart.  Picture attached below.  Elder Lloyd (the elder waiting for his visa that has been living with us) left to Sweden just yesterday night and it sorta.. Really.. Sucked! He is an awesome missionary and really made me laugh.  He also taught us a plethora of words to say in Swedish that you just really shouldn't say to anyone at all. We had a Christmas celebration / exchanging of gifts right before he left.  We opened selfie sticks, dog treats, books about motherhood, Star Wars trading cards and the Barbara Streisand Christmas album.  The festivities around here are getting wild.  Also,  BIG NEWS… I am getting transferred indeed! Transferred down to the adventurous lands of Portland.  I shall be serving as a zone leader over the Portland YSA ward.  Hoping to bring many young single adults into the fold of God.  I will be companions with my VERY own Grandfather (he trained my trainer!) Ricky Jewkes.  Pretty excited for a new adventure.  SAD to leave the good Castle Rock ward and my favorite elders whom I live with.  Although my companion teaches in his sleep quite often to wake me up it stinks to go.  Portland truly hasn't seen weird until I roam the streets.  Another great week.  Hope everything back home is swell as can be.  
Eating sushi with the companion!

Monday, November 30, 2015

Thanksgiving Delights

Thanksgiving dinner with the Davis family



A grand week yet again in Castle Rock.  The Castle Rock ward delivered big time to delight the missionaries serving here.  We started off the day by rendering some service to Sister King.  In hopes that we would work some of the grub off that would soon be consuming.  After an hour of wood hacking we left Sister King to travel and see Sister Bradley who had prepared some Thanksgiving Wild Cherry Pepsi for us.  Sister Bradley accidentally made ham a day early and got upset about forgetting which day Thanksgiving was... Therefore, she cancelled her Thanksgiving day plans.  Luckily we were there to succor her distress from the cooking of ham a day too early. The visit to Sister Bradley concluded and we were off to prepare dinner at the Davis home.  Tamales galore!  The Davis family took their Thanksgiving holiday and invited us over to grub out and play card games... for this I could not be any more grateful.  Wanderers in a strange land and we are provided for each day.  Cared for on special holidays.  One of the best days of my mission thus far.  The week was filled with good service.  Service and member visits seem to be more fruitful than tracting.  Once it gets dark around 5 the native WARSHINGTONIANS assume it is very late in the evening.  Tracting past 6:30 is like tracting when the Seahawks are playing.  You just don't do it.  Brother Hillesland’s wife again fed us after doing service.  Her Vietnamese noodles seem to always hit the spot.  Wish I knew what she was saying when she talks though...  My kind legal guardians sent us a Christmas tree to spice up the shindig we live in.  The aroma of vanilla fills the room and the light of a Christmas tree lights it up. We have been sipping much cocoa and nog by the heaters.  A little too much.  The nog may be making us slightly intoxicated.  A quick little miracle I would like to share.  We tracted Camleot Drive the other day and found 3 or 4 potential investigators.  Just those nice people that tell you to come back in a week because they don't want to talk to you on the doorstep in the cold.  We take them up on it though and we went back to Camelot Kingdom a week later.  We caught Brandy outside.  We talked for about 25 minutes in the cold weather about the restoration and the purpose of life.  Brandy was willing to offer the closing prayer out in the cold and told Heavenly Father that she really needed to hear the message we shared today as tears fell down her face!  A really great experience all due to looking at a list of former investigators, praying and showing up at Camelot Drive to tract it out.  Miracles never cease!  Just look, pray and ask for them.  Good week as usual.  Setting up for the festival of nativities down here which occurs every year in Longview.  Huge event for the community and we have the GREAT opportunity of setting up and heaving many large pieces of scenery to increase the size of our muscles.  CHRISTMAS MUSIC IS ON THE MIC!  Scotty Mcreery Christmas album is real good.  I would recommend purchasing it.  Included at the bottom is a posterity picture.  My grandpa (who trained my trainer) my son (who I trained) and my grandson (who my son trained). 
Posterity Pic!

Monday, November 23, 2015

Vietnamese Noodles and Ward Choir



Another week has yet gone by in the Castle Rock area and I most likely could not love serving a mission any more than I do now.  But I say that every day.  A few miracles happened this week with a few rough patches as well.  The rain and 40 degree weather put a damper on door knocking this week.  We were feeling bold again and tired of sitting in the car all so we went out to knock a few doors and looked like we jumped in the Colombia river in about 30 seconds.  You would think the good people of Washington would react much kinder / sympathetic in the pouring rain.... But these folks don't seem to care in the slightest.  All the missionaries say the more you tract in the rain the better your life will turn out to be.   I'm hoping to score a Lord of the Rings pinball machine at this rate.  Got to do some serious service this week moving lumber and moving furniture.  Someone in the ward moved and one of our investigators had us over to move some lumber.  After the heavy heaving his wife Yun fed us some very authentic Vietnamese noodles to quote "chow" on.  Noodles with thanksgiving turkey in the middle is actually delicious.  I just wish I could understand at least one word she was saying to me!  Just yesterday we participated in the ward choir and were called upon to give short talks because the original speaker cancelled.  Following the ward choir performance which was greatly enhanced due to our attendance we bore testimony.  My companion hasn't been this happy in the 4 weeks I have been with him.  I am certain it was because he was finally the center of attention.  The Castle Rock ward is amazing. We had 3 investigators show up to church whom we weren't expecting.  While we sat up behind the pulpit due to choir... We almost started fist pumping and yelling when one of our investigating families walked in.  We haven't heard from them in two weeks.  The in-laws moved in and said they aren't comfortable having us over.  THIS DIDN'T SEEM TO STOP THEM.  They said we will just go out to eat now :)  After church we weren't sure what to do... Therefore, we prayed.  WE felt the need to go check on a single sister in the ward.  We pulled in and gandered upon a no trespassing sign with details of a few of the amendments... I definitely did not want to enter the premesis but luckily Elder Furlow was courageous.  He said we better just go in.  Well, this lovely sister had recently remarried and her husband is not a member of the church.  He happened to be studying Genesis in the bible and had many questions.  Elder Furlow studied Genesis this very week.  God doesn't do random.  I am very happy to say on Thanksgiving we will be scarfing with one of the best families in the Castle Rock ward.  The Davis family converses with us about larping and playing the harp.  We will be dining on Tamales and pumpkin pie. Always a great week.   Always miracles.  Took a few pics of the endeavors this week.  Camelot definitely wasn't a
castle.  It was the exact opposite.
Elder King and Elder Furlow
Camelot???