Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Long awaited update... to come

It's just not been easy, my friends in family, to bring everyone to date. Had it been so, you know I would've had much to say far earlier. We've been working very hard, riding about ten miles a day on bike (everyday #legday) in the heat of the day that indexes to one-hundred-and-nine-degrees because we have lost the privilege of a vehicle due to a miscommunication. I, in my naïveté, had not been
informed neither considered a factor which should have caused me to budget our allotted miles much more carefully (pulling a #keaton). Before I knew it, we had driven an additional four-hundred miles more than our limit. Almost twice as much as we are allowed. Thus, using the car has not been even sort up for consideration. The bike I have been using, I learned recently, has a plethora of issues and is hardly considered functional. Thanks be to God for placing Brother Michael Chavez, a member of the ward, in my path. Brother Chavez possesses bikes left behind by missionaries, fixes and enhances them, and gives them to missionaries with bike problems. It's his hobby, and my huge blessing. My Piece Of Scrap, bucket-of-nuts bicycle was traded for a much better, red, shiny bicycle. In lieu of the absence of previous updates, I have the demonic bicycle to thank, the hellacious exhaustion, and the following excuse:

The most recent Monday began as a normal preparation day. Elder Andrasko and I scheduled to help the sister missionaries move from one apartment to the next for a few hours. I've learned "moving a few boxes" is code for organize, clean, and move every square inch of the habitation to another; I should not have been surprised the effort took us four hours even with the help of another elder companionship and the mission housing coordinators. Of course we made it fun, and the housing
coordinators insisted upon buying seven missionaries burgers and shakes at the local fast-food 'Spangles' joint. Of course, we could not refuse. After the meal, however, our preparation day was spent. Many emails were not written among each of us. Directly after our late lunch, we had a dinner. So, I ate (and drank) one burger, a plate of fries, lemonade, the bun of a burger belonging to a gluten deathly intolerant Sister Anderson, a shake, the forsaken remainder of a Sister Tim's shake, a prime-rib steak, cranberry juice, and key-lime pie in the space of two hours. Never before had I experience pain from overeating like this before, but I enjoyed every minute before the pain fell upon me.

I would like to talk about our first-place investigators, Crystal Cain and Javier.

Crystal Cain -

Crystal is in her late thirties, early forties. Crystal divorced Brother Seth Horn (a recovering alcoholic returning from inactivity) many years ago. Crystal has three children: Elijah 12, Rebecca 8, and Richard about 5. Elder Madson, myself, and Elder Andrasko were all very intimidated by Seth's arnings of his ex-wife. However, it was clear we must contact her.

In our very first meeting, we brought a freshly returned missionary: formerly Elder Kendall Winterhalter serving in a Spanish-speaking California mission for backup. The lesson was wonderful! All of us discussed baptism by reviewing the Baptismal Interview Questions. Crystal wants to support Elijah and Rebecca by being baptized with them. Crystal is so kind. Unfortunately, we fell prey to another's unrighteous judgement. But as Pahoran states in The Book of Mormon after being falsely "censured" by Captain Moroni, "it mattereth not."

Our second visit was an excellent lesson. Elder Andrasko, Kendall and I committed Crystal to read 3 Nephi 11, the crowning moment of The Book of Mormon, when Jesus Christ first appears to the Nephites. We answered Crystal's myriad of questions from the chapter. The conversation was moved by the Spirit concerning a "a small voice [that] did pierce them to the very soul" (verse 3). It's so refreshing to converse rather than lecture! The Spirit definitely present, we discussed all doctrines of the restoration subsequently.

Our third and most recent visit too was a great lesson in which we discussed Enos and the questions
she procured while reading the chapter we left to her following visit number two. The doctrine of Christ (faith, repentance, baptism, the gift of the Holy Ghost, enduring to the end) was taught and happily received By Crystal. The Doctrine and Covenants was introduced in response to a misapprehension of the practice of polygamy within the church. As we did so, Crystal's desire for a testimony of the restoration deepened.

Javier -

Javier prefers 'Javi'. He hates Javier, but I'm using it for the sake of the preserving as many memories as possible. He's about thirty years old, employed, looks after his niece and living with his mom. Javi is from Mexico. He came to America for a visit, but found himself without a way to return to Mexico. Sixteen years, Javi has lived in the United States and speaks impeccable English. Javi enjoys theatre and often auditions for local theatrical productions.

It's difficult to have spiritual lessons with Javi. I've not discovered what is going on in his home quite yet, but he will not let us inside. After the first three visits, we have never knocked on the door to this very day. Of course we visit with him often, but before we reach the end of the stretch of driveway, Javi clambers through the front door to meet as on the porch. I don't know how he does it. He must feel a disturbance in the force or something. When we try to have a stand up lesson on the porch, Javi's adorably overbearing three-year-old niece, Anasophia (on • a • so • fee • uh), starts pounding on the translucent screen door. "Javi! Javi! Javi!" I can't help myself from being distracted. We play the 'I'll hand it to you, and you will give it back or I'll cry' game. A classic!

Something happened to Javi when he finally agreed to church. Again, Kendall Winterhalter saves our
bacon by providing a mode of transportation. Javi was really skeptic at first, but after some spiritual classes and fellowship, enjoyed church so much, he came again! My jaw hit the floor when I saw Javi at church for the second time. Not because of his attendance, but because of his appearance. In Javi's first time to church he was wearing a casual outfit so insouciant I cannot recall what it was. But this time, Javi cut his hair, donned himself in a sleek button-up shirt, dress slacks, shiny shoes, and
a tie impressive enough a draw the gaze of even an elder missionary. He carried himself nobly, and had a great big smile on his face behind his
gold-rimmed aviators. Just before the end of the third hour, Javier shares with the class an experience that stupors us all. He began to describe a dream he had in which he was baptized a member of a church. When he awoke he spoke to his mother who divinely said, "I just want you to choose a church, and stick with it. I'll support you all the way." Javi's mother is not a member, but I believe her words were inspired of the Holy Ghost.

Javier and Crystal are looking to be baptized in August.

Heaven knows it's not been an easy time. God is helping me to not be such a pansy, I suppose. But without a doubt I see His hand day-to-day, the blessings are immense! Oh how the foolish hearts of men see not the grace of God until they
have been humbled even to the very depths of humility, which humility brings us to our knees and opens our spiritual eyes. Endure, team, because Heavenly Father has sent us His son, our Savior Jesus Christ, and concourses of angels to bear us up through the best as well as the worst of times. Thank you all for prayers, thoughts and concerns. I love you all. God bless you!

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