Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Week Thirty Six - Transferred to McKinney, A Car and Elder Malpartida!

Well, I want to start off by apologizing to y'all for not sending an email on Monday. The library was closed, and we had lots to do! So emailing was just possible that day. But here I am! And I think I have quite a bit to tell you. I feel like so much has happened since the last time I emailed that I can't remember any of it! So it's a good thing I have my trusty journal with me today!
So like I said last Monday, we went to the Perot Museum of science and nature. I was really looking forward to taking bunches of pictures, but of course, as soon as I took my camera out, it died. So sadly, I don't have much to show for that trip, but it was still a good time! We got to race a cheetah and a t-rex!
Tuesday was interviews. My interview was short and sweet like always. President Durrant gave a training on problem solving. Apparently he is tired of everyone coming to him with their little problems. He said he disagrees with only one thing in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, and that is how sheltered and pampered kids are. President asked us who earns Eagle Scouts? Unanimously, everybody said "MOMS". And I'll be the first to admit that I would not have gotten my Eagle without my parents! Whether it be parents, youth leaders, bishops, teachers, we have someone holding our hand every step of the way. He blames this for the cause of all his winy, dependent missionaries that don't know how to solve a problem. It is somewhat sad, yet true, and I got a lot of what he said. While I don't consider myself to be a winer, I definitely wouldn't consider myself to be a good problem solver either, and I could easily make a few changes and improvements. President Durrant earned a fine living simply by being a problem solver. Problem solvers are successful and appreciated. Everybody likes a problem solver! I want to be companions with a problem solver, I want to be in groups with the problem solver, I want to work with problem solvers, I want to marry a problem solver, I want to teach my kids to be problem solvers. I need to become a PROBLEM SOLVER!
Now that I look back on the week, most of it just consisted of eating. Sadly, the highlights of my week were mostly big meals. However, a few nights ago we got a text message from Luis Moren at 1:40 in the morning, just asking us if we were awake. Of course, we weren't. Luis is a young, cool kid that Elder Crockett and I found, we started teaching him, and he was progressing real well. Luis was my favorite investigator in Lakewood! He was different than everybody else I ever taught. He was respectful of our time, communicated and let us know when he wouldn't be able to make it to an appointment, he was dependable, he was smart and was actually getting it. One night, out of the blue, he texted us and said that this wasn't the path that he wanted to take. I was heartbreaking, but I just left it at that. He asked for space, so I didn't push anything. He had our number and the Book of Mormon, the ball was in his court. So the fact that he texted us last week was a very good sign and made me ecstatic! It made me feel good to know that when he was going through a hard time, he texted the missionaries of all people! So I hopped all over that chance and told him I was leaving Tuesday and wanted to come say goodbye. He let us come over on Monday. He wasn't doing too good. He looked pretty bad. I could tell he was in pain, doing things that he knew he shouldn't be doing. While we never got it out of him what exactly is going on, we had a great lesson with him, and we are back in with him! He agreed to start visiting with us regularly again. He said he feels better just from talking with us and that we are the only ones that actually listen and understand him. I have come to love Luis. If Luis got baptized, my mission would be made! And I truly believe he will be.

Transfer calls came late Saturday night. We were one of the last ones they called and I was going bonkers waiting for it! But here I am now at the McKinney library sitting next to Elder Malpartida! So Sunday and Monday I spent the majority of the days saying bye to people and packing. I couldn't believe I had to pack. Moser Garden apartments were my home! It was weird and stressful to pack up and leave. It was bitter sweet. My whole time in Lakewood I have been ready for a new area, but as I was actually leaving, I was a bit sad. I had the privilege of getting to know some incredible people, serving with great companions and friends, and making great memories. The Lakewood chapter is definitely one I won't forget. Nearly a quarter of my mission was spent there. That's loco! It is very frustrating to be leaving right now. Elder Haskell and I had so much going on! Far more than I ever had my previous 5 months there. Sometimes I ask myself why? But then I have to remind myself that God is wise, he knows what he is doing, and he has a plan for my mission. I trust that Elder Haskell to take care of business without me.

So my new area is McKinney. I serve in a Spanish branch and my area is the whole stake. This stake is BIG! But do you know what that means? CAR! I'm in a car, I'm driving, and it feels oh soooo goood. My companion is Elder Malpartida, a goofy little guy from Peru, but he lived in New Jersey for 3 years so he knows English fairly well. He is 21 and only has 6 weeks in the field. But he is easy going and funny, and we shouldn't have a hard time getting along.

Yesterday was my first day in McKinney and it was quite alright! The apartment was an absolute disaster, so we cleaned for a couple of hours. Then we went to a tool shop where our branch mission leader works, as well as another member. They are a couple of cool dudes. They are constantly joking and I never know when to take them seriously. The one seems to be a great mission leader, much more involved than anyone in the Lakewood ward. Apparently the branch is super gungho about hastening the work, and that will obviously be a huge help. We had a dinner with a lady named Hermana Mondragon. She has a big fancy house. She is married and has 3 kids, one of which is serving a mission in Houston. But, get this, he is the only member! So she is just like you, Mom! A missionary mom that is not is not of the faith! She has had missionaries over for dinner nearly every Tuesday since her son has been gone, and that's 22 months! She is super nice and loves missionaries. Her answer to everything is "si dios quiere", or basically, "all in the Lord's timing". She likes to talk. A lot. It nearly made my brain burst from listening and concentrating so hard to understand her 100 mph Spanish for 2 hours! I struggled with my Spanish yesterday. I don't know if it was because now that I have a native Spanish speaking companion people use more advanced, regular Spanish rather than dumbed down gringo Spanish, or we just talked to abnormally fast and hard to understand people, or my Spanish is still just not quite up to par.

But after a day in McKinney, it is quite obvious that this will be very different than Lakewood and I am excited. With a native Spanish speaking companion and a Spanish branch, I will be much more immersed in the language and I will hopefully make big strides in my speaking ability. Lakewood was very dense and concentrated. McKinney and its surrounding areas are more spread out. We drive a lot. We smelled skunk like 6 separate times last night. I feel weird. I am a little stressed and uncomfortable. I forgot what it felt like to change areas. New companion, apartment, area that I don't know, members that I don't know; this is a big change! But it will just take a little bit of time. It's a good change. Somewhat of a fresh start, I guess you could say. I feel rejuvenated and ready to go!

-I have now gotten a letter from both you and Dad. I don't remember when though. Yesterday, the day I left, Elder Haskell called and said I had four letters in the mail. Not sure who from, but he said he would forward them to me.

-600 S. Graves apt. #1905

McKinney, TX 75069

-I'm set on treats. I packed all I still had from Christmas. Rick Rodriguez, the guy we had Thanksgiving dinner with and took us to the Blue Fish restaurant, took us to Trader Joe's and insisted we get more snacks. So I am set, probably until Easter!

-the only things that come to mind that I could use right now are a new journal (if you can, the same kind that you sent me last time, either black or blue) and a camera memory card. One is full, and the other one might be close, but I'm not really sure. On top of that, just send me your love and that's all for me!

Welp. I think that is about it. Much love.

Elder Williams

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Week Thirty Five - Eight Months Out and The Perfect Haircut!!

David and his new haircut!

Celebrating Elder Haskell's one year anniversary!

Dallas Temple on a gray, rainy day.

David in front of the Dallas Temple.
Buenos Dias!
   Another great week is in the books.  The last 7 days were successful, productive, and fun!  We had great numbers, 5 investigators at church, people are progressing, and I'm just feeling good!  Either the Lord is blessing us greatly and making things easier, or I just might be starting to figure things out!  Probably a mixture of both, but most likely more the first than the second.
   We taught a good amount of LTMP's this week.  (Lessons Taught with a Member Present, and we are encouraged to have as many of those as possible)  It's been hard to use members here the way we should, mostly because my past experiences with members coming out with us for lessons.  Every time we have a member join us, nothing happens.  Nobody is home, they cancel, they lie, and we just have no luck!  It ends up being embarrassing, I feel like a failure, and I feel bad for making these guys waste their time, driving us all around town in the cold for nothing.  But this week, every time we had a member with us, everything went according to plan!  We even had Brother Romney come out with us finally.  It sure was nerve-racking to teach a lesson with an ex mission president!  But it was a good learning experience, he said we did good, and he only made one suggestion!  So that was a relief. 
I had the chance to go to the temple a couple of times this week to help the English Elders out in teaching lessons.  They have a couple of investigators that are so so close to baptism, so they took them to the temple to try to "seal the deal".  I got to bare testimony and feel of the profound spirit that is only found in the Temple.  It is fascinating to see the reaction of people entering the temple for the first time, especially nonmembers.  We went with a 17 year old boy, who was baptized a few months ago, and his mom that is supposed to get baptized this Saturday.  The boy was in awe, and said it didn't even feel appropriate to talk.  The Spirit is powerful.  I <3 Temples.
   Yesterday we had 5 of the 6 same investigators at Church that we had the previous week.  I sat next to William in Sacrament Meeting, and I had to tell him to turn the sound off on his Nintendo DS 5 times!  I should have just told him to turn it off, but I was scared haha.  I get the impression that he is on his DS for the full three hours of church, and that will change next week.  But at least he is coming!  Daron and Cheryl came to church again.  Daron was in a pimped out royal blue suit.  I need to get me one of those!  Our other investigators were a 10 year old boy named Joe, who we have a baptismal date with for the 25, and a lady named Marie, a friend of a less-active whose mom is more active.  Yeah.
   Knocking experience of the week:  Yesterday afternoon we were knocking a street that was borderline; it was somewhat nicer houses, and we couldn't tell if it was Hispanic or White.  Most of them were white, and as I have said before, white people are very blunt and honest and quite rude to us missionaries.  We approached a house with an open door, but nobody in sight.  Once we got to the door, we found a very pregnant lady sitting on the couch.  She appeared to be sweating and I wondered if she was just about to go into labor!!?  But I didn't want to make any assumptions, so I just did my typical shpeel and introduced ourselves as "the Representatives of Jesus Christ that have come to bring her everlasting joy and eternal salvation through a very very special message that Christ's Church is once again on the earth in its fulness and He wants YOU to be a part of it!"  She responded with the following:  "I'm tired, I'm in a pissy mood, and I suggest you walk away from my door right now."  And tired and pissy she was!  What I wanted to say was "Perfect!  Tired and pissy people are the ones that need our message most!" Or maybe say "You don't scare me" and try to make her even more pissy, but I figured that wouldn't be very Christlike, so I wished her a happy day and carried on.  I love missionary work! 
oh, and by the way, that isn't really my typical shpeel.  I'm not that cheesy!  How do you spell "shpeel"?  Is that even a real word? 
   Well.  I got a haircut last Monday, at a random, ghetto, Hispanic salon.  I was nervous, but it just might be the best haircut I've ever had.  I'm sorry, but I don't think I've ever looked so good in my life!  Daron told me I look like Matt Damon.  Haha!  I tried to get a picture to capture its beauty, but it just didn't do it justice. 

-Transfer calls are next Saturday.
-Today we are going to a museum.  A less active member got us all $15 tickets to the Perot Museum for free!  So we will be there all afternoon, so pizza probably won't work today.  I will let you know when a good Monday comes up.
-We went to Applebee's for lunch to celebrate Elder Haskell's year mark, and I tried to buy him TacoBell, but he never lets me buy anything for him! 
-Did Grandma and Charlotte send two separate packages or just one together?  I know I got one that I thought was from both of them, with a CD and popcorn and an orange and stuff. 
-Yes we can wear cologne, but I rarely do.  But the stuff you sent me smells good and I will use it for special days.  Does cologne expire?
-Jess has been in Africa.  I think he might be back in town by now, but we haven't heard from him. 
-I did hear that the new Mission Presidents were announced and that ours is President Taylor, but I don't know anything about him.  But that's still exciting! 

Welp.  That's all I can think of.  That's life in Dallas and I am enjoying it.  Love and miss you!  I never stop thinking about y'all and praying for y'all.  Have a great week! 
Elder Williams

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Week Thirty Four - "There is Power in Kindness and Friendship"!

David and his little Christmas tree, presents and stockings! 

This e-mail from David really got to me.  We have tried to teach our kids the power of kindness since they were small.  Dave and I always told them to treat people with kindness because you never know what difficulties they may be facing at any given moment.  We taught them to be friends with everyone at school, even the kids that maybe didn't seem to have a friend or were difficult to be friends with.  David has diligently practiced this since he was small and he is still making us very proud! 
Greetings to my beloved family and friends,
   I am happy to hear that all is well back home and y'all had a fantastic New Year's!  The first few days of the new year have been great!  We had a very successful week.  We didn't teach as many lessons as normal, but the lessons we did teach were good, spiritual lessons with some solid people.  We are starting to see some people take steps toward progression, and also recognize those people that won't be going anywhere.  We are getting some progressing investigators!  Things are picking up. 
    We taught a lesson to a 16 year old girl the other day, and at the end we asked her if she had any questions.  She had one:  "Do y'all play sports?"  Pffff!?!?  After listening to the mind blowing message of the Restoration, that is the only question you have?!  I just don't get some people.  And some people just don't get it!  But what can you do? 
   We were knocking doors the other day, and came across an older Catholic lady.  She told us she wasn't interested, and said she was busy with her daughter who is struggling with health problems.  You can't do anything but respect that, but I just offered to say a prayer with her before we left.  She accepted, and by the end of the prayer, she was crying.  Did she change her mind and let us in?  No.  But it was obvious that it made an impact on her.  That right there is a seed planted.  Who knows where it will lead to, but it solidified a valuable truth in my head.  You never know who people are, what their circumstances are, what they are going through, or what they need.  You can never underestimate the power you have, the affect you might have on someone, or the difference you can make in someone's day or even life.  There is power in kindness and friendship.  There is power in words and in prayer.  It's like the quote you shared with me, Mom.  Everyone we cross paths with will have an impact on us, whether it be positive or negative.  Let us all strive to make a positive impact on all those we come in contact with. 
   Yesterday was easily the best Sunday of my mission so far; at least as far as church goes.  We had 6 investigators at church!  SIX!  That's twice what I had on my next best Sunday!  We are teaching a lady from El Salvador named Lucia, and her 11 year old son William.  Lucia tells us all the time that she wants her son to be baptized and learn the Gospel, but she doesn't quite understand yet that it is just as important for him as for her!  But she works on Sundays, and is currently building up the courage to ask her boss for Sundays off.  But William has now come to church the last two Sundays.  The first Sunday, we thought he was 12, so we got some of the young men to take him to class with them.  In the next hour, we were trying to find him to check up on him, but he was nowhere to be found!  The last place we checked was Primary, and sure enough, there he was sitting on the front row next to kids a quarter of his size, and they were singing the Hello song to him.  "How on earth did he end up there?!" we thought to ourselves.  We were worried and felt bad that he had to suffer through that, but he came out of Primary with a big smile on his face.  Elder Haskell asked him if he wanted to go home or go to three more hours of church, and he said three more hours of church!  It wasn't until yesterday that we found out that he was only 11 and primary was where he belonged, so that was a relief.  William is a very timid kid, and the only time we can really get anything out of him is when we talk about his Pokemon cards. 
Two of the others we had at church were Daron and Cheryl, a couple that we found and will soon have to hand over to the English Elders.  We met Daron Saturday night, but couldn't even teach him a lesson because he just talked our ears off!  But Daron is the definition of a BFG.  He is an absolute teddy bear.  He is huge, benches 700 pounds, but is super humble and wouldn't hurt a fly!  I sat next to them in Sacrament meeting, and Cheryl was filled with lots of loud and unnecessary "amens" in the middle of people's testimonies.  It was awkward, and I was hoping that she would catch on and realize that we don't do that, but the ward understood.  Then they both got up to share their testimonies and I was TERRIFIED!  They grew up doing church differently and I just wasn't sure what to expect, but they both only took about two minutes and shared great testimonies.  What a relief that was!  They were already expressing desires to be members of our church.  They called me their angel and expressed great gratitude for us missionaries.  Cheryl was crying throughout the meeting, and they both participated in classes and really enjoyed it!  They are "golden investigators" if I ever did see some. 
We had a whole slew of children that belong to a less active that came to church yesterday for the first time in a long time.  We had a member bring her less active daughter's friend that we will start teaching on Tuesday.  And a few months ago, Elder Crockett and I had a lesson with a man that was married to a lady that was just recently baptized, and he was desirous to be baptized as well.  Sadly, they got in a big fight, and he left to Corpus Kristy to stay with family.  Now, he's back!  And more serious about baptism than ever!  Things just seem to be falling into our lap right now. 
   I bore my testimony in Sacrament meeting yesterday.  The first time I did that since Grand Prairie!  I didn't realize it had been that long, and although I bare my testimony daily, it is still very hard to do it in that setting.  But I've made a goal to bare testimony in every Fast and Testimony Meeting this year.  Only 11 more times to go! 
-I received Dad's letter, but not Mom's yet.  I think I got a few more Christmas cards as well.  I can't remember if that was this week or last.
-New Year's Eve was a pretty typical day.  We helped someone move, and they bought us CiCi's for dinner.  Then we found a bunch of thug kids playing basketball down the street from the church and invited them to the church to play us on a real court.  Maybe not the best way to spend our night, but it was good church exposure.  Now they call us and want us to come play all the time.     New Year's Day was a typical day as well.  A cold and slow day knocking on doors for the most part.
-Weather here is very up and down.  One day we'll need our jackets, the next we won't, and the next we will need our jackets, coats, scarves and earmuffs, and still be cold!  Saturday was a beautiful day, yesterday was miserably cold, and today looks sunny but cold.  You just never know here! 
-Pizza on Thursday at 3 or 4 our time wouldn't be a bad idea.  Yes, Haskell likes meat lovers!

S/O to my favorite English missionary in the whole wide TDM, Elder Munday.  He has been here with me in Lakewood since day one, and we have formed quite the friendship in these last 5 months.  He is a great example to me, a strong Priesthood holder, confident in the Gospel and knows how to teach better than any missionary I have ever witnessed.  Yet another great and true friend for life that I have made along the journey.  Love ya Munday!

A great start to 2014, and my weekly updates will only get peachyer!  Love ya!  Miss ya!  Have a good week! 

Elder Williams