Monday, March 13, 2017

Trunky, Tantalizing and Triumphant

Ryan and Summer-  March 2017

What a week ladies & gentlemen.  You wouldn't believe the good times to be had by all this week and you wouldn't believe that I will probably see you all in 1 week’s time.  I think I would say to you that the miracles never cease to occur on your mission.  They begin at the start, continue through the middle and endure to the end.  The river is flowing with chick fil a sauce (the river of my life). We had a baptism this week for the Garretson family.  Yes, this is the continuation of the underwear man story.  Ryan is fully clothed and a member of the church now working towards the priesthood.  Miracle #1:  Ryan & Summer’s baptism.  We began filling the font with LUKE warm death Vader temperature water to make the experience as pleasurable as can be.  By 4 o'clock all was in order and the program commenced.  I baptized Summer first and then Elder Pabst baptized Ryan.  We unfortunately did not unlock the door leading to the bathrooms and changing rooms for the men.  So, while the sister missionaries were teaching the restoration lesson on the other side of the font / door enclosure we had to swim back across the font and run through the women's restroom to get back into the main hall and eventually find our way to the men's room.  The ward mission leader came back and assumed we were up to no good.  NONETHELESS, we finished our man dressing preparations and returned to the meeting.  Then Ryan stood up to bear his testimony of the church and declared to the congregation, "this church just makes sense.  I have been looking for God my whole life and I finally found him".  Then Summer followed with her thoughts, "the feeling in our home has changed so much... (& then tears streamed)". The spirit filled us, along with the desire to eat post -baptism sweets.  Next, we had a young ward missionary / priest – aged young man / who just received his mission call, play a special musical number that was Ryan's favorite hymn he found via YouTube.  “Nearer my God to Thee.”  Pictures were taken and smiles shared. On Sunday,  I confirmed Ryan and Elder Pabst confirmed Summer as the newest members of the church. What a special day.  They received some written testimonies enclosed inside a copy of the Book of Mormon from my family members back home and they told us that they cannot wait to have their youngest (1 year old son) who's birthday happens to be on the same day as the baptism, be the first missionary in either of their families.  :).  Next magical marvelous miracle:  After church we went home to grub on Winco food before embarking for the day and within 30 minutes we found a returned missionary inactive member of the church working on his dirt bikes in his garage. My companion treats dirt bikes better than me (kidding), so they had some things to talk about. This young man has been thinking about returning to church lately and we were lead right to his door.  Let me tell you how:  Last week we invited 10 or so members of our ward to fast with us for a miracle.  For a family we could teach and potentially bring into the church.  We found the family within a day!  Or so we  thought... the family we found decided to not be interested!  We were going to visit them and ended up talking to this neighbor that happens to be an inactive member wanting to come back.  He even knows where my hometown of Pleasant Grove, Utah is.  This week we also went out to dinner with both of our recent convert friends Fred & Austin. We went on an exchanges to Astoria the town where the Goonies movie  was filmed.  We spent an evening helping our mission president move an elliptical machine into his home.  We ate good food and drank soda.  We just had a great week.  It's been a great mission.  It's been a wonderful life.  Anyone considering a mission, I would say that you gotta do it.  It's the best experience and the most rewarding period of growth you could ever imagine.  It will change the way you think and make you and mold you into the best person you could be. My life is forever changed because of these north westerners with their rain, granola-ness, Priuses, and moss ridden homes - cars - and even people.  So long and farewell.  I don't know if I will write next week because I will be preparing to come home.  But I will just give you a big hug instead when I get home.


Monday, March 6, 2017

Unicorn, Hippo, Horse?

Sisters Mortensen and Twitchell???

This week’s email includes a game.   Try to figure out what animal looks like a "unicorn hippo horse" by the end of this feast of spiritual miracle mania.  I can't believe it's two weeks until I  come home and it feels like I just started figuring some things out.  I will make sure to share with you some stories you shan't forget.  BTW the reason I am doing the game has a story as well. Miracle #1 on the list includes a miracle of feasting and fasting frenzy.  We felt a moment of inspiration on Saturday afternoon and we texted 9 members for assistance in finding the elect.  We asked all 9 if they would fast for us tomorrow to find a great young family interested in being baptized and remaining active in the church forever.  All agreed to fast!  We started knocking doors on a street around 6 o'clock and got a couple quick rejections and we just about left... when we felt something tell us to stay. We kept knocking and three doors later we knocked on the door of a burly looking country boy.  He greeted us with a friendly hand shake and listened to us bear our testimonies for a few minutes until he said, "Yeah guys, I'm a member and have been for my whole life.  My wife and I just had a baby and we are looking for a church to raise our kid in".  How’s that for an answer?  We are going over for dinner and a lesson next Sunday.  We then decided to call these members and text them to tell them of this glorious bounty.  The work is REAL GOOD.  We realized we just really don't have to do all of this on our own. Miracle #2: After a long day of talking to missionaries, having mature conversations with E Pabst & talking to all sorts of people we found a bounteous tender mercy.  We offered a sincere prayer for someone to find that simply needed our help.  We prayed, we felt the spirit and we went!  The very home we knocked on said they had zero interest. We thought we should knock some of the neighbors’ doors to figure out the reason we felt inspired to come here.  We knocked one door, and then heard some movement in the front of another house across the street (keep in mind this is 8:50 at night). We spotted our target!  Someone was walking in the front yard and we walked up to this young fella and asked, "Has there been something on your mind lately?"  And he said, "Suicide". We quickly told him our message and it brought a smile to his face!  Now we will be in contact with him for future lessons.  Miracle #3:  Expect some pics of a baptism next weekend!  Ryan & Summer will be baptized at 4 o'clock this Saturday at the Vancouver Stake center.  Bring your chips, bring your kids, bring your best dress and enjoy the show.  We enjoyed a dinner at our 2nd counselor in the mission presidencies home located far, far up in Kalama where the sasquatch most likely lives.  We went to Costa Vida and did some name tag swaps for the week. The answer to the question I asked at the beginning of the email is… a rhino.  A member of the ward showed us a picture of missionaries serving in South Africa and told us a story that rhinos are kind of like roaming dogs are here in the U.S.  In fact, you just might see one as you walk around and knock doors in South Africa on a mission.

Monday, February 27, 2017

Life is Great

With Ryan and Summer at the visitor's center in Portland.

Life is great.  Let me tell you why it was so great. First things first:  we had wonderful zone conferences this week (which happen to be my last) and only a few tears trickled to the old church carpet flooring that smells like old musk.  Second things second: we experienced a couple miracle manias.  Miracle #1 continued story of underwear man Ryan + his wife Summer + the cute kid named Ashton.  We took them to the temple visitor’s center this week for a tour of the grounds and some insight on eternal families. BACKGROUND INFO : up to this point only Ryan was committed to a baptismal date on the 11th of March. As we planned for the tour we received a prompting to mention "a year from when you both get baptized you can be sealed in the temple". We mentioned that a few minutes after walking in and Summer was clearly thinking about that comment.  About 5-10 minutes later she looked at us and said, "I think I want to be baptized when Ryan gets baptized",  then they both looked at each other and said "We want to come down to Salt Lake to get sealed so both of you can come in a year with us". SAVE THE DATE!  My life will be fulfilled on March 11, 2017 when Ryan & Summer get baptized into the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.  Austin Reid came to the temple tour with us as well and committed to a date to come do baptisms for the dead.  All-the-while wearing his cowboy hat & boots.  Miracle #2 (mega miracle mania mega shark-nado miracle) Austin Reid is a recent convert and newly called ward missionary. (ALL YOU MEMBERS OF THE CHURCH PAY ATTENTION OK?). We asked Austin to pray about an area we should work in or a street within the ward boundaries.  He prayed and selected Idaho Street and said, "I am envisioning a yellow house I think". We prayed and pleaded on behalf of the Lord and went to Idaho Street and wouldn’t you know it - 3 yellow houses in a row.  First house.. knock knock knock...  new investigator to the church. Second house... knock knock knock... new investigator to the church... third house... knock knock knock... no one answered, but if they had, they probably would have begged us for a Book of Mormon.  Austin received revelation through prayer.   Miracle #3 is that two birthdays were celebrated this week.  First, was Sister Kent in our ward.  We celebrated with some of our favorite members that slave away to cook us fine dining meals on wheels featuring diet Mountain
Dew.  Second birthday was one of the members that we love, who cooked for the previous dinner!  She invited us over along with 10 friends for a birthday dinner yesterday.  She also came back to church about  two months ago and just received her first calling.  The work is real good.  Do you ever pray out loud and just talk to God like talking to your father?  (Sometimes I do make fun of my father, but I usually try not to make fun of Heavenly Father). But my companion & I began praying aloud in separate rooms before bed and I really feel every person in the world ought to just try it.  Just try talking to God and being honest with him OUT LOUD.  Even if it feels dumb.  My parents sent copies of the Book of Mormon with testimonies included and I think I cried like a baby for the first time in a long time.  Can’t wait to give them out to some special people in Vancouver.

Monday, February 20, 2017


WWII object lesson with graphics!

You ready for some stories & good times?  This week Elder Pabst & I enjoyed the work.  We attended some meetings and a baptism.  We had a couple of adult conversations (only a couple).  Now we are max chilling enjoying the fruits of p day and a hard weeks work.  Feeling grateful today as I think about the week.  Fred Manlulu our recent convert received the priesthood with tears in his eyes this week.  He showed up early to church to set up the room we would be teaching in to fulfil his new calling as a ward missionary.  We spent all Saturday out teaching with a recent convert named Austin Reid.  We taught a lesson at 11 o'clock in the morning to a kind young lady named Susanna.  We met Susanna two or three weeks ago walking around in the rainfall at approximately 8 o'clock pm.  She was coming home from a hard day's work and as she got out of her car we walked by.  We told her who we were and her cousin happens to be the ward mission leader in another ward.  As we met with her Austin came and her cousin came.  Tears were shed during the lesson as she told us her experiences with God.  After the lesson Austin followed us to the family history center.  Austin found a few new things and he will be attending the temple soon to be baptized for his ancestors.  Lisa Davis a returning member came as well she has found a stack of names to take to the temple.  She decided to come back to church a few weeks ago and now is taking hundreds of names to the temple.  Austin followed us to Chick Fil A for some lunch before we headed to teach Sharly Wright.  Shar is an investigator we found many many months ago and things stopped with her progression for a while.  We stopped teaching her until this point!  She texted us earlier in the day and said she wanted to talk about the Book of Mormon.  When we sat down for the lesson Shar told us when her son read the Book of Mormon to her a few days earlier she felt something she has never felt before... she said she was overwhelmed and just "knew what was being said was true" she then told us of her Native American heritage.  As she studied the BOM and her native heritage she made a special connection... she told us, "I believe and know I am a member of the 12 tribes of Israel.  If the BOM is a record of the native Americans I am a Native American.  The native Americans originated from Jerusalem!  They are god’s people! ". It was one of those moments where you sit and stare at the person you're teaching and just want to yell "YESSSSSSSSSS YOU GOT IT! Let's go fill up the baptismal font". Austin then followed us to the church because someone asked him to perform a baptism.  Cassandra Cardenas entered into the waters of baptism.  She is being taught by the sisters in our ward and she asked Austin to baptize her.  Austin has only been a member for a month now.  After the baptism we sat down with Austin and Fred to have a lesson for both of them :). Ladies and gentleman Austin has only been sober for 100 days.  (He would be okay if I told you). And this is the miracle of the atonement of Jesus Christ.  Elder Pabst & I have a new tradition of watching a church movie on p day and sleeping / emailing.  We took the tradition a step further by getting diet Mtn Dew before we come home from grocery shopping and have a beverage while watching movies.  The work is good.  If you're wondering about the man who answered the door in his underwear and wanted to be baptized.  Yes he still does and his wife and he attended the baptism of Cassandra and they loved church on Sunday. They even think I am from California because my wind swept hair style. I know I never talk about negative things I suppose no one remembers those anyway unless it is elder Pabst saying that he doesn't like Red Lobster.  Elder Pabst & I gave and delivered a training sermon on the mount about thinking outside the box.  We used the example of the WWII d day invasion on Normandy as an object lesson concerning thinking outside the box.  Compliments of Elder Pabst check out the white board drawing.  He drew that while I narrated the battle and acted like I belonged on the history channel (which I do). I think I have found my career path.  P.S. Went to Red Lobster on Valentine’s Day with Samantha Hall a wonderful returning member that is one of our best friends. Also Austin came.  (Picture with the yellow mustang).
Valentine's dinner at Red Lobster!

Monday, February 13, 2017

Miracle Mania

P-Day Gang!
Ahhhhh the work is so good.  The work is so dang good.  I usually just want to crack a funny joke to get into my email but I'm just feeling beyond grateful for the good week.  My stomach is full and my heart is full because we fasted and then to break the fast we may or may not have eaten our whole body weight in Mongolian food.  (Which is really good and makes me feel like Ghengis Khan).  Miracle moment #1:  A week ago we traveled to a distant land (a new apartment complex) and we felt for the first time in 6 months that we should knock a door or two in the scariest complex in the area.  GUESS WHAT?  It was remodeled last week and now the apartments look presentable.  We knocked many doors... JUST BEFORE WE THOUGHT TO LEAVE we had the feeling to knock on one more door.  A man opened the door and hid behind the door! He told us he was in his underwear and couldn't visit with us now... but his wife has been pestering him about finding a church.  He said we could come back during the day sometime.  When we left, we knew something there was different besides the fact he didn't have pants on.  In accordance with the feeling we returned back in another week.  He opened the door and let us in immediately!  We sat down and figured out that he just moved here from North Carolina and is looking for a church.  He prayed recently to have success in his marriage and received an answer.  He came to church the next day!  YEP!  He accepted an invite to baptism on March 11th.  His only kid turns 1 on March 11th.  We had no idea until after we prayed and invited him to baptism.  We recruited every active member of the ward to pray for this man and his family.  We invited them to pray for this family that they would have a wonderful time at church and feel welcome.  We knew we needed it and on Sunday we prayed probably 6 or 7 more times and with all that accumulated prayer... it worked.  They texted us after church saying "thank you for knocking on the door... we loved church".  The last thing they said to us before they left the church building was "we will see you next week".  I think I will share with you one more miracle moment. You remember Austin Reid from a couple weeks ago?  He was recently baptized and I was able to baptize him.  He was asked just this last week to baptize someone else in his ward.  He was actually praying "to know Gods will for him and to be able to do it". Within the same week, he was asked to bless the sacrament for the first time, say a prayer over the pulpit in sacrament for the first time and to BAPTIZE someone else within a month of being baptized himself.  We also sat with him for 30 minutes after church because he also fulfills his calling as a ward missionary. Have you ever felt so happy, so good?  Kind of like you inserted a syringe full of icy hot cream and injected it into your heart?  I've felt that all week I've just been ready to burst.  Even typing now feels icy hurt burnage in my soul.  The work is true. Things like this do not happen randomly.  God would not lead us to precious souls like this and provide a way for them if this church wasn't the exact church to bring them fulfillment and eternal life. God would not lead them in this way for less than eternal life.  I think my companion & I are going to go and buy 1970s suits from Goodwill DI store and grab some groceries from Winco before we run around like maniacs for p - day.  If you are thinking about serving a mission...stop thinking.  Just go.  This is your answer - just go.  You will find what you need and what God wants for you.