Monday, August 29, 2016

...climbing to new heights

Since the beginning of this week I've been trying to wrap my mind around these callings I've been given. On preparation day, Elder Murdock, Elder West, Elder Andrasko and I went to the mall to check out an enormous Halloween store. There was an animated werewolf there, as big as me, that would growl and roar Elder West immediately began to handle in jest. Elder West put his arm in the rubber mouth of the werewolf and vied for attention. When the rest of us rolled our eyes and payed him little mind, Elder West lost interest and started to walk away. The werewolf had started to lean forward, more and more. I thought it was an intended design that the werewolf come closer, all of a sudden, to frighten a passerby too near. It started slow, then moved rather quickly. It wasn't until the snout of the werewolf was to the floor with a loud CRASH that we had realized Elder West tipped it over in his foolery. Elders Murdock, Andrasko, and I casually did an about-face and casually walked away while Elder West fumbled with the now not-so-frightening werewolf mess. He hustled to join us red-faced and flustered. Luckily no staff confronted us or kicked us out of the store! At our dinner appointment, Elder Andrasko and I received a call from the mission office. We were to prepare to take a couple of the brand-new missionaries to work for a few hours.

The following day, sixteen Elders went to a Bionic Burger to celebrate the end of the transfer before so many of us were assigned different areas. When it came time, those of us called to do so drove to the mission office to pick up the new missionaries.

I had the privilege of working with Elder Wood! It's not often a missionary is taken to work his first day by the said missionary's trainer. Although, I was instructed to not breathe a word of being the one to train him. It was really fun to work with him. He's a hardworking missionary. We had a great time. In fact, this week has been a blast!

Elder Wood is from Queen Creek, Arizona (Gilbert area). He is about 5'9" 130 lbs, enjoys ballroom dancing, quoting movies and comedy TV!

We've gone from having no car from result of depleted miles, full-time car, to sharing the car again. Hopefully the situation with the car doesn't switch again now the companionships are all in proper order. When Elder Wood and I went to the residence of the sisters (who by the way, are Sisters Wall and Pederson), the members they live with asked us to cut a useless cable on their barn in the backyard. "You can come some other time to do that. We need to get a ladder." Seeing an opportunity, I simply asked where the tool that was to be used to cut the cable was located. It was given to me and I leapt to the roof. The deed was done in just over three minutes.

Friday was an averted disaster. The zone leaders, my bosses, informed the the zone to attend a short meeting. However, I was not made aware it was required of me to have prepared an hour-long district meeting. That's not a good feeling, let me assure you. I improvised for a straight hour. We made goals as a district, discussed methods of obtaining new investigators, and role-played street contacts. The meeting was soon over, and I hadn't realized how fast time went. Victory! After the meeting, we all had lunch. When I finished eating, I had an urge to pull a Shoulder Angel. Elder Michaelis happily obliged. This one is for you, Alekken!

We've had some pretty excellent experiences this week. For one, Elder Wood and I were led by inspiration to a man named Mohid (moe • heed) Shah (shaw). Mohid was busy at work trying to change a tire in the parking lot of an apartment complex, clearly struggling. We offered help and he immediately accepted. With three pairs of hands, the job was completed quickly. In the time we worked we taught Mohid about Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ. Mohid is Hindu and has little-to-know knowledge of the Savior. Fortunately, Mohid is willing to meet with us again to learn more. It's exciting to teach someone like King Lamoni. When asked if he believed in God, King Lamoni responds, "I do not know what that meaneth." In the Kansas portion of the termed 'Bible-Belt', it is not often we meet someone like Mohid. We plan to share this scripture from Alma 30:44 with Mohid the next time we see him Elder Wood has suggested:

"The scriptures are laid before thee, yea, and all things denote there is a God; yea, even the earth, and all things that are upon the face of it, yea, and its motion, yea, and also all the planets which move in their regular form do witness that there is a Supreme Creator."

I add my witness Jesus Christ is the son of the living God, and this world would not be so without the divine power and authority our Heavenly Father has. He has created us, He has a plan for us, He gave this world and His son for us. For that I am so grateful.

Much love, gratitude, and prayers from Wichita, Kansas. All of my thanks, and all of my love!

Monday, August 22, 2016

brand new, out-of-the-box...

Another Monday has come, and they just keep coming faster. Transfers are upon the Kansas Wichita Mission, and I bring tremendous news. Elder Andrasko will be leaving. He's going to serve in Junction City as a trainer. I will remain in Rolling Hills as District Leader. My companion is a brand-new, out-of-the-box, mint-condition, green missionary. I am a trainer! The new missionary's name is Elder Alexander Wood. I couldn't be more excited for what the future brings. I am honored to be entrusted of the Lord this portion of Kansas to lead, and even more humbled to know He has trusted me in training one of His chosen servants. I'm in such stupor of unbelief, all I feel is sacred responsibility. I am not frightened, I know the Lord is with me. Here to guide me, here to lift me up, here to give me the help I need. "I can do ALL THINGS through Christ which strengtheneth me." For that I am so eternally grateful.

I had a wonderful time Monday evening with the Grant family. The last time we had dinner with them, they showed us their 'foam-pit', a corner of the basement they have piled a great amount of foam. Somebody threw foam at somebody and a foam fight that lasted about half-an-hour ensued. It all ended because my nose started bleeding. Of course, now it's just a running joke the Grant family tried to kill me. This time, however, after dinner their little boys wanted to play slaps. Oh how they had no idea what they were about to begin! I have been brutally, cruelly, been crippled in the beautiful game of slaps by uncles who loved to win and had no intention of allowing me to win against them. This is the Michael Jordan principal: Michael Jordan was the very best basketball player of all time. He would play ball with his older brother, and this older brother would beat him every single time. Because young Michael was always receiving a challenge, he was always pushed to be better. Needless to say, I dominated in slaps. Thank you Michael Jordan. Of course, when the five-year-old played with me, I had to let him win. So it turns out I'm not as competitive as my uncles. In a solemn manner, I testify to you the Michael Jordan principal is truly called the atonement of Jesus Christ. I have learned so much of the atonement and the enabling power thereof. The atonement of Jesus Christ is NOT just a redemptive power, but a power that helps us to CHANGE. Change is good, change is Christ-like so long as the change is helping us to become more like our Savior.

I have studied some interesting chapters in the Old Testament. My favorite story within it's pages is that of Elisha (not to be confused with Elijah) healing the highly-respectable Namaan, the leper. I did some peering around this story found in 2 Kings and became familiar with chapters four through six. Within these chapters I learned of very serious repercussions of famine. The people, in order to survive, would eat the head of a donkey (an unholy animal, the head being the most inedible part), dung of Dove for what small nutritional value it offers, and even resort to the eating of forbidden flesh. The things people would do in order to quench the pangs of hunger! It brought me to think of the forty-day fast of Jesus Christ before His ministry. It brought me to think of that miserable Satan who temped our Redeemer in His weakest time. I encourage those who feel weak: don't give up! Our Savior is there, and He knows what it is like to be tempted in moments of weakness.

Here's a funny story. Elder Andrasko and I were talking to this young woman with a high-energy puppy named Oscar. Oscar was so excited while we were speaking to this young woman who's name is Bailey, we found. So excited, in fact, Oscar blew her dress way, way up. Elder Andrasko and I averted our eyes, in sync, at just the right moment to avoid building the awkward moment to be awkward. That dumb Oscar. Now I wouldn't dream of Bailey contacting us about reading 3 Nephi 11 because of what happened. Oscar is lucky he's cute.

We had the amazing privilege in participating in a baptism of a sweet young girl named Maren Crosby. Maren has just barely turned eight years old and has decided to become baptized. This event sparked many memories of my baptism. I would like to share my recollection. When I had recently turned eight-years-old, my parents asked me, "Do you want to be baptized?" It did not take long for
me to answer, "Yes, I do!" My answer was an affirmative one because of a few reasons. One, I thought being baptized was cool! Two, I just assumed everyone who went to church was baptized eventually because it's the true church. Who would ever deny that it is? Three, I knew it was the right thing to do. I wanted to follow the example of the Savior who, at the time, was a legend my parents told me often. A mythical man that lived long ago, died for me, suffered for my sins. Of course my wonderful parents taught me the Savior lives, but I believe I've not had quite a strong testimony that He lives and He breathes and He is there! I remember stepping into the water of the font in the Stake Center in Hyde Park. The water was warm. I thought, "Wow this is something really special." I felt a colossal aura of anticipation belonging to my wonderful friends and family surrounding me, watching through the glass. I remember going into the water and coming straight out, surprised at how fast it all had happened. My father's misty eyes met mine and I knew he was proud. I knew my Heavenly Father was proud too. I remember the confirmation that followed. I remember shaking everyone's hand that participated in confirming me a member. I reached my hand out to shake my father's hand and he batted it away, stooped down, and gave me a huge hug. I remember how loved I felt. I am so blessed to have experienced this. This memory flooded to me as Maren had her special day. She is blessed too. We all are blessed to have wonderful families to support us. If you don't have that family to support you, you are that family. Continue in your valiant work in constantly building others up.

I love you, all of you! You have my eternal gratitude! Thank you again for your prayers.

Monday, August 15, 2016

The power of prayer is real...

This week we had the first zone conference with our new president. Of course, the vehicle was not in prime condition for the inspection that occurs during this seven-hour long conference so we wasted no time in cleaning up the car and vacuuming the snot out of it. I've never cleaned a car faster in my life! Yes Mom, I will be a lot faster at cleaning the car when I get home. Sending me away for two years just might be worth it! I was pretty anxious for this conference in particular. Elder Andrasko and I were to role-play a door approach in which we would teach the restoration in a very short period of time. It turns out I had no need to be nervous because when the time came, the Spirit carried me through the entire thing. I did not know what to say, but when my mouth was opened, the Spirit spoke. It was a wonderful reminder that we need not fear what we need to say, as long as we testify of the Savior and this divine gospel. When we have Christ on our side, it really is easier.

Unfortunately, Javi is out of town this weekend because a father-in-law of sorts has passed away from illness and old age. Continued prayers for him are very appreciated by me, Elder Andrasko, and Javi even though he doensn't know it yet. In good news, in our most recent visit with him. Javi says when the funeral is over, and all the craziness in his life comes to a close he wants to be baptized! How exciting!

We've been working with a lot of less active members of the church this week. One such member in particular, Lawrence Aguirre (uh • gear • ee) provided an amazing experience I would love to share.

As soon as we begin teaching Brother Aguirre, the discussion begins to crescendo with angst and contention. A war of words instigates. Shots are fired. Fire kindles in the room. The heated discussion continues between one of our wonderful members and this Brother Lawrence Aguirre. The words of Brother Aguirre become hurtful, full of anger. I feel the Spirit withdraw from the room, and my desire for the Spirit to re-enter comes bubbling to the surface. I try to find a strategic time to speak, but can not find a gap in the argument. I can't take it any longer. I interrupt, "Brother Aguirre, I must request we say a prayer before we continue. I will offer it if you do not mind." I proceed to pray as hard as I can with all the faith in my soul. "Please allow the Spirit to find the way back to our hearts as we share our message with Brother Aguirre who so needs the wonderful blessing of our true testimonies." With the "Amen" said, the Spirit returns in a flash. The room is peaceful, and still. The voices of our member and Brother Aguirre immediately gentle and soft. Elder Andrasko and I bear testimony of the wonderful blessings from attending church. As we do so, Brother Aguirre breaks down. He tells us he's tired of not being at church, no longer does he want to continue to be estranged. With this, Brother Aguirre gives us his word he will come to church.

What a blessing this is! What a wonderful experience. The power of prayer is real, the Spirit has amazing power to soften hearts and open souls to the power of this great message!

I would like to share a tender mercy I received.

When Elder Andrasko and I were at the grocery store, I made it to the check out line when I realized I left my wallet in the car. I sprinted out of the store and back, embarrassed. When I returned, the cashier says to me, "This man has bought your groceries for you." Elder Andrasko looked just as surprised as I. We went to shake the mans hand and give him a great big, "Thank you!" It is as though with such small blessings and tender mercies Heavenly Father is saying to us, "I love you."

I love you my cheer squad! Thank you, thank you for all your wonderful prayers for me and Javi, keeping Kansas in your mind, and being proud of your very own Elder LaMont. I am eternally grateful to each of you, as always. Much love!

Monday, August 8, 2016

Wonderful, wonderful news!

Wonderful, wonderful news! Crystal Cain and Elijah Horn, mother and son, were baptized and confirmed members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints! I performed the baptism and Elder Andrasko confirmed the both of them the following Sunday. Crystal has to be baptized twice because she had an air bubble in her jumpsuit, but the baptism was perfect the second time. Elijah nailed it on his first attempt. It's been an amazing journey for them. Elder Andrasko and I couldn't be happier for them. The baptism went very well, and the confirmation was powerful. Elijah has received the priesthood. He's the newest deacon in the Rolling Hills ward. Elijah even accepted an invitation to collect fast offerings after church!

It's amazing to me to experience inviting the Spirit to Crystal's home. We met Crystal in an attempt to help Elijah obtain a desire to baptized just three weeks before her baptism. The Lord works in miraculous ways! Not only was Elijah bolstered in his testimony, but Crystal herself gained a testimony from the lessons.

Elder LaMont, Elijah Horn, Crystal Cain, Elder Andrasko

Elder LaMont, Seth Horn (Elijah's father), Elijah, Crystal, Elder Andrasko

This picture is why you should never leave your iPad unsupervised at meetings. Even if it's just a quick trip to the bathroom. Everyone, this is Elder Stock. He's a pretty cool guy. I went on splits with him for a short evening. Elder Stock is quite an excellent role-model.

Elder Andrasko and I clowning around. He's hiding behind a box. Neither of us are quite sure what instigated this foolery, but of course, it's always healthy to mess around just a little bit as long as you're being obedient!

A 'His and Hers' garage! I am so curious to know what the inside looks like. Interesting social experiment anyone?

This is Javier Cervantes, or Javi. While we were teaching him on the porch, Javi's face lights up and he says, "Hey, you want to see my Chameleon?" Who is going to say no to that question? Of course, not Elder Andrasko and I. The Chameleon's name is Sabali, which means 'patience' in Bambara. Bambara is a language from Mali of West Africa.

On the subject of patience, heaven knows I could use a lot more. Patience is learned when it is tried. All of us are built that way though. We all know how a diamond is created! Enormous heat and pressure! We are so blessed to be provided crucibles in which we rely on the atonement of Jesus Christ to become stronger, to become more like Him, to become that which our Heavenly Father knows we can be. We have met a great amount of new people this week. Many of which continue to show interest in the wonderful message we bring. I am so blessed to be called of God in this area at this time. To proclaim this beautiful message as a representative of His son. I am so privileged with this opportunity.

Monday, August 1, 2016

Painting, Chewy, and a party in the rain...

Wednesday we went to the Epperson home to put a dent in the basement painting project. All we really did was half a wall of primer and began the edging by taping because we didn't have a lot of time. Here are some pictures of the experience:

I thought this sign was cool, and so true!!

Elder Andrasko found a 'Wendy wig'. He didn't seem ashamed as I
pointed the camera in his direction so I snapped a shot.

And here's a closer view (:<

So this is Brother Greenlee demonstrating to Elder Andrasko and I a Chewbacca mask. This is no ordinary mask. As you open and close your mouth, Chewbacca's mouth moves too. Depending on how wide your gape is, Chewbacca will make different sounds. I just thought this was the coolest thing in the world.

Elder Andrasko in a Chewbacca mask

Yours truly in said Chewbacca mask

Now understand this: I really don't know what's going on yet, but Elder Zurcher (my previous companion in Hays) sent me some pictures and a brief email saying William Green baptized someone named Annie. I don't know who Annie is. In fact, the only people I recognize in these
pictures are Elder Zurcher and William.

Annie and William Green

The Hays sister missionaries with Annie, William, and perhaps some
relatives or friends

Hays district with Annie, William

Words can't describe how happy I am that William Green has been baptized, has received the Aaronic priesthood and is now baptizing! Unbelievable! Not quite seven months out and already the lives I've touched are building the kingdom of God in their own way. There is no way to accurately describe my feelings.

Sunday came and Crystal Cain came to church with her family: Elijah, Rebecca, and Richard. I sat with the Cain family and Elder Andrasko sat with Javi. He came to church too! Crystal and Elijah are to be baptized this weekend, August sixth. Javi still needs more of a shove from the Holy Ghost to get his rear into gear. Not to worry, Elder Andrasko and I will be working on that! Hopefully next week I update with some baptismal photos! YAY!

This grotesque display has been found in another missionaries apartment. On the kitchen wall! A bug collection. I don't understand some elders. Eew.

It was raining especially hard one night. I learned just how much
Elder Andrasko loves storms. Crazy nut, he is.

Elder Andrasko's hair after partying in the rain. This kid needs a haircut.

Sister Pinkerton and I taking a selfie as we are entertained by Elder
Andrasko's party by himself in the rain.

Guys I love you so much!

 I love Kansas! 

I love my mission!

                                                I love life!

 All of you are so wonderful, and I am so grateful for all your prayers, thoughts, concerns, messages, encouragement; the list just goes on and on.
Wouldn't be here without it! Much love from Wi-Chee-Tuh!