Sunday, January 8, 2012

Happy 2012 from wa-tac

Hey guys!
Writing to you all from a soggy, wet, cold Btown pday.  It is nasty outside.  Not a torrential downpour but enough to make you groan.  It's a very wet cold so it's not the best.  The newest finding that i love lately are handwarmers.  They look like those little packets inside of shoeboxes when you get brand new shoes.  Except they get really hot and keep your hands warm in your gloves and pockets.  (or feet if you put them in your socks at night like I do)  If any of you have some lying around, feel free to send them my way!
(Side note: Um,...we watched a members' kids play fruit ninja on xbox kinect.  Um...Waaayyy sweet!!!)
How was everyone's NYE?  Can you believe that it is 2012 already?  2011 was a blur.  President didn't want us missionaries out and about at night, for good reason.  Lots of crazy drunks and just regular ol' crazies out in the streets.  Especially in Btown.  There may or may not have been a stabbing.  But! Don't worry we were fine and safe.  President said that we wouldn't be doing our normal 5-7's and that if we didn't have any set appts after 6pm that he wanted us to return back to our apts.  We finished our last appt at 5:45 and then headed home.  That morning, Brother Large, aka Mr. Venison, called the elders and asked if all four of us missionaries would be willing to speak in Sac mtg new years day.  It was a blessing that we had to be in early on Saturday night, because then we had a lot of time to prepare.  Elder Gowans, our district leader, and Sis Welch hate public speaking so they wanted as much time as possible to prepare.  Elder Christensen and I are more of improv speakers and wrote our talks as bullet points.  That night sister Welch was on a roll and took like 2 hours to write her talk.  I, on the other hand, roamed around the apt for those two hours thinking of what I should speak on.  We did it all general conference style.  No assigned themes or topics, but rather trusting that the Spirit would inspire our minds with the topics that we should address the ward with.  I leafed through the many journals that I have already filled since being on my mission, issues of the Ensign magazine, and the scriptures.  Nothing.  Not a drop of insight.  I wasn't too worried about it. 
Sis Graves made us a bag of New Years goodies.  The best restaurant style tortilla chips that you can buy at a store found only in Washington and some salsa.  A bunch of noise makers and little toys and junk.  Candy.  Little plastic champagne glasses and some Martinelli's.  So fun.  We took it over to the Elder's apt across the parkinglot and had a little missionary NYE party on the landing outside their front door.  It was so fun! Haha we were just laughing and eating snacks and making a racket and it was just fun.  We rang in the the new year at 10:30 pm.  Partyyy Harty.  Sike.  I was so tired and I knew that I was going to be setting the alarm earlier than 6:30 so that I could work on my talk.  Our ward went from 1pm to 9am so I was going to have less time than usual.  Still wasn't worried about my talk.  Right as I was about to fall asleep, a bunch of people started screaming happy new year outside our bedroom window.  It was not midnight and they were way wasted.  Everyone in Bremerton lights off fireworks on NYE cause they aren't illegal to buy in stores.  People bang pots and pans out here too on NYE.  Kinda ghetto but funny!  So needless to say it was not an easy sleep.
I woke up in the morning with the hymn, "The Iron Rod," pumping through my head.  Voile! I had my talk.  I had just read about Lehi's dream earlier in the week as I am starting my third time reading the Book of Mormon since starting my mission.  It was also on my mind because, Robert, an investigator we had dropped earlier in the transfer due to his lack of progression because he was unwilling to read the BOM, called us and said he had read the BOM!! MIRACLE.  In just a week he had almost finished chapter 10.  So we went over there are read 1 Nephi 8, 11, 12, and 13 which talks about the meaning behind Lehi's dream.  Plus, our investigator, Mark, was going to be there.  He had "goofed up" as he likes to call it, the day after Christmas, and started drinking again.  Every time he has little slip-ups he beats himself up about it.  Then he feels guilty and doesn't return our calls or avoids seeing us because he feels he let us down.  But by a miracle, after we dropped off some church DVDs outside his door on Saturday, we saw Mark walking down the street.  His green and orange Miami dolphins jacket gave away his position as we saw him walking towards us about 2 blocks away.  MIRACLE. 
All of our talks turned out great.  We really were able to walk away having gained a lot of the members' trust.  They were able to get more of a personal feel for who we are, what we are about, and what kind of missionaries we are. Sister Welch talked about "how big is your love?"  About how much the Savior loves us and how big is the love we have for Him and therefore how much do we love His children.  Elder Gowans spoke about having the courage to open our mouths and proclaim the gospel, bear our testimonies, and invite people to come unto Christ.  I spoke about securing our place along the Iron Rod and then going after the one.  Sis Welch said that she saw Mark wipe tears from his eyes when I was speaking.  I wrote my talk just for him.  It will be a bonus if anyone else in the congregation got something out of it.  I talked about how we often overlook the fact that Lehi had to walk through mists of darkness and a dark and dreary waste before he made it to the tree.  That we all have to go through hardships and trials before we experience the joys.  Testing and darkness before the miracles and light.  That how many minutes after an investigator accepts a date to be baptized does an old temptation seem twice as hard to resist?  Or how many doubts fill our minds soon after we choose to repent and then follow/serve the Lord.  Elder Christensen spoke on "members are the means" which is one of the lines from one of our mission recitations.  That we can't do the Lord's work without the members.  There was a great power in all of our talks working together to inspire members to assess their testimonies and feel encouraged to help in doing missionary work.
Our investigator, now recent convert, Karen was confirmed on New Year's day, and she said that after she heard all of our talks she better understands and appreciates missionaries and the work that we do.  Before our talks, she viewed us as well trained salesmen and now she sees us as disciples of Christ who are on His errand.  Pretty cool, eh?
Another quick plug/update about obedience. Our 40 min phone call adherence worked.  So, we have two districts in our zone.  One is obedient and one is....less obedient.  The obedient district all had a baptism the week of Christmas!! MIRACLE. 
So here are some of my resolutions:
-Take care of my health.  I had been told in a blessing that I recently got that I need to make a conscious effort to take better care of my health.  The blessing specifically mentioned taking the time to prepare and eat adequate meals.  To take the time to eat in general.  Usually we don't eat a whole lot cause we're busy or we just eat snacky things cause we don't want to spend the time or money prepping/cooking.  I heard that same counsel from several different sources over the past week, including from this past conference address from Elder Boyd K. Packer who had mentioned something along the lines of "those who are more in-tuned with their bodies can draw nearer to God."  So true.  If you think about the kinds of attacks that Satan sends our way of temptations he puts in front of us have to do with our bodies and how we treat and view them.  Drug, alcohol, food, sex addictions.  Tatoos.  Hating the way you look.  Being obsessed with how others view our appearance.  If you hate your own body image and how you perceive yourself, it's probably going to be a lot harder to believe that you were created in God's image and that He loves you.  So today for the first time on my mission....I went grocery shopping.  Like for food to cook.  Not cereal and milk.  And!! We have been running in the morning.  My comp hates it but she is learning to like it.
-I'm going to finish the BOM hopefully at least 3 more times and I want to read the entire Bible as well.  Scriptorian in the making.
-Speak kinder, softer, more loving words.  Less of pseudo-swearing (ex: crap, freak, etc. you'd be surprised how many missionaries still say that).  Not listening/participating to gossip.  Being more positive.
I really liked this quote from President Spencer W. Kimball that was shared with us in RS on Sunday: "The cultivation of Christlike qualities is a demanding and relentless task--it is not for the seasonal worker or for those who will not stretch themselves again and again."  I want to be more and more Christlike everyday of my mission.  To go to bed at night and wake up in the morning just a little bit better each time.  Totally plausible.  What are some of your guys' goals? 
Well, I better get going.  Things are good here in Btown.  Just trying to love and enjoy my mission more and more than I already do.
Sis Baylon

(an investigator)

 (missionaries cars)

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