Monday, February 24, 2014

Week Forty One - Some Awesome BBQ, Finally and Five or Six Kids, At Least!

David, Elder Malpartida and some hermanas at Cain's after lunch!
   I am super sorry to hear about Susan.  I cannot imagine how the closest people to her are feeling right now.  Susan is the last person I expected to hear after reading that you had some sad news to share.  You are right, a tragic event like that really is eye opening.  It is in times like that when the Gospel and the Savior can be our biggest help.  I will definitely keep Chris and Susan's family in my prayers. 
A weekend trip to St. George doesn't sound half bad right now.  And neither does a weekend alone with the pups!  Glad to hear you all had a peaceful, enjoyable weekend. 
   Elder Malpartida and I had a decent week.  The highlight was on Friday when we had a Zone Conference, and we were blessed with the visit of Elder Stanley G. Ellis, a member of the 70, and we had the privilege of learning from him and his wife.  He gave a talk in General Conference about a year ago called "The Lord's Way".  It was a great conference and I learned a bunches of good stuff!  It is always neat to see guys like him (meaning 70's and Apostles and probably the First Presidency) in a less formal setting than the one you typically see them in (meaning General Conference).  They all have so much personality, they are super funny, and you just wish you could be in their presence at all times.  They are incredible examples of  devoted disciples of Jesus Christ.  Meeting people like Elder Ellis really just shows ya how much further you need to go, how much more you need to change, and what you can reach in this life.  It gave me a clearer picture of the kind of missionary I want to be, as well as husband, father, friend and disciple. 
They have 9 kids, 28 grand kids, and still have the energy of a 35 year old!  After meeting them, I have decided that I am going to have a big family, 5 or 6 kids at least!  I just think the neatest thing in the world would be to watch your children grow up in the Lord's way, the more children the neater!   
   We have an investigator that works at a restaurant called Hutchins, and apparently it is in the top 50 BBQ joints in the country!  He hooked us up with a free meal and ooh baby was it good!  I remember everybody telling me before my mission that I would be getting plenty of good BBQ here in Texas.  Now that I think about it, I think that was the first BBQ I've had my whole mission! 
   We had dinner with an older couple the other day.  They like to feed missionaries and invited us over.  They are converts of 25 years or so, and they shared their conversion story with us.  She was easy, and desperately wanted to be baptized early on.  He, on the other hand, was an ex marine, tough guy, and one of those people that argues for the fun of it, just because they are so stinking good at it.  So when the missionaries(a senior couple) came over, she made him sit in, and he looked at it more as an intellectual game than anything.  The sister missionary would usually end up leaving in tears because he was so ruthless in his arguments.  He read the entire Book of Mormon in three nights, only with the intentions of finding more stuff that he could argue.  But basically, what it came down to, is he said that there is absolutely no way that somebody with a brain could read that book and not know that it came from God.  There are more details that make the story better, but I don't want to write it all.  But I love hearing peoples' conversion stories.  It makes you see that God really does know his children and knows what they need, that he has a time for everyone, and it's different for everyone.  You can learn a lot from conversion stories, especially as a missionary.  I already knew that the Book of Mormon was the keystone of our religion, and ultimately the key to conversion, but now I KNOW that the Book of Mormon really is where the power lies! 
   We taught the Restoration to an old Hispanic Evangelical couple this week.  When we first met her, she had some misconceptions about the Church, and I had to convince her into letting us come over to clear those up, using the Bible.  When we got there, she answered the door, giant Bible in her hands, ready to go.  We showed her and her husband verse after verse in the Bible supporting all the points of the lesson.  We didn't bash, they accepted everything we read and said, and I thought it went really well.  In the end, they basically said "Yeah, you might be right, you might be the true church, but we are members of the Evangelical church, and at least we are better off than the Catholics.  The Catholics need you guys more than us" gotta be kidding me!?   Then, after even more convincing, I talked them into letting us come back.  We have an appointment with them tomorrow.  Who knows how it will go, but the purpose of missionary work is to give the world it's chance, and I honestly feel like I gave them the best chance possible.  What more can I do? 
   Welp.  I don't know what more to say.  That's about it for this week.  No questions this time?!  That's a first.  But thank you for the pictures!  Toby hasn't changed a bit, Dad's looking better than ever, and Tom needs to go on a date.
Does Tom eat anything you put in front of him now?
Love ya!
Miss ya! 
Until next time!
Elder Williams

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Week Forty - Valentine's Day and Patience!

Buenos dias!  So yeah, I couldn't email yesterday due to the holiday.  We tried to email at the office of our apartment complex, but they kicked us off after a half hour.  Sorry you had to wait an extra day, but I really don't have anything crazy to tell y'all.  We had a very typical week.  We taught a bundle of lessons and found some great people with even greater potential.  The weather has been just splendid the last few days, in the 60's and 70's!  So there were a ton of people outside, and we had a good time trying to talk to as many as we could.  People seem to be a lot more open when they are outside rather than being able to hide behind a door. 
      Our one solid baptismal date went to Mexico this weekend to pick up his 14 year old son, so we are going to have to push his date back a bit.  But this could be better, because now we can baptize his son too!   But he lives in a garage, and the family that lives in the house doesn't really like us or him, so I don't know why he is living there.  He doesn't want us in his garage, so we usually have our lessons sitting in our car when it's not at a member's house.   It takes a while for him to get it, and as bad as I wish I could just throw him into the font and baptize him already, he's going at his own pace, and he will get there soon.  Patience. 
   Valentine's Day was nothing special.  A young member in the ward made us and the sister missionaries lasagna and garlic bread for dinner.  Thank goodness I didn't have to go to Applebee's with Elder Malpartida on Valentine's Day!  We will use our gift cards soon, but I just couldn't go on a day like Valentine's Day.  Elder Malpartida is super excited to go.  He's never been!  So, one missionary Valentine's day with an elder as my valentine down, and only one to go!
   Well, it is good to hear that all is well back home.  Uncle Ken is healthy and still got game.  You should have sent me a picture of Tom wearing the jacket!  I don't remember what it looks like, but I do remember buying it and planning to wear it for some special occasion, but I never did.  I'm glad Em was treated well too!  You should make a list of movies I need to see when I come home.
-Camera is working just fine.  It's crazy to see the men of the house so hairy!  And even Toby had a Valentine?!  That's my boy!
-I also received a card from Emilee and Grandma and Grandpa.  Thank you!
-The oatmeal balls were really good!  I was wondering if they were some sort of healthy treat, but they tasted too good to be healthy.  So I didn't really notice any increase in energy, probably because I wasn't looking for it. 
-We love the socks and it will be easy to get away with wearing them.  There are lots of missionaries that don't stick to the solid blue and black sock rule.
-Air fresheners are working perfectly.  I love coming home to a fresh smelling apartment! 
-Driving is alright.  I think we will make it through the month only because it's a short month.  It's just so hard to limit miles in such a big area! 
-Has Tom gone on any dates yet?
I think that'll do it for this week.  Thanks for all you do for me.  Your prayers and support and love really do make a difference!  I love you all and miss you all more than you can even comprehend.  It's like 12 feet above your comprehension level, at least.  No joke!   Have a great week! 
Elder Williams

Week Thirty Nine - Enjoying Stake Conference and Sending a Puppy Home (Not!)

David, Joe and Elder Haskell at Joe's baptism - David's first!

David, Elder Haskell, Elder Malpartida, Elder Munday - the best missionaries, ever!

Joe's baptism and his family, David, Elder Haskell. 
Hi Fam! 
   All is well here in McKinney!  We had a decent week.  It was cold and miserable weather all week, but despite that, I'm happy.  Saturday I had the privilege of going back to Lakewood for the baptism of Joe Flores.  He's 10, son of a long long long time less active.  It felt so good to finally have a baptism!  I haven't been happier in all my mission than I was on Saturday!  It was also fun to go back and see Elder Haskell and Elder Munday.
   So we have one solid baptismal date for the 22nd of February for L.L.  He is in his 50's and has come to church 4 times.  Monday was our first lesson with him since I've been here, and we tried to teach him the Plan of Salvation at a members house.   He might be the hardest person to teach ever.  He talks constantly, telling all these random, irrelevant, pointless stories, he's cracking jokes when we are trying to be serious and spiritual, and he just doesn't get it.  We ended up teaching the first two points to the Plan, and then got sidetracked onto his baptism, and we spent 2 hours trying to explain to him what makes this upcoming baptism different than his first 3.  Ugh.  It was exhausting and frustrating, and I still don't think we got it through to him.  Then he got sick and we couldn't talk to him for the rest of the week, so we are going to try again this week! 
   This weekend was Stake Conference.  It was really neat!  Sadly I can't remember ever going to Stake Conference back home.  I always took Stake Conference a break!  Now I wish I would have gone.  The stake president is President Packard, which is Landon's uncle.  He is a boss!  Unfortunately I only got to hear one of  his talks, because during his other one, there was a wild goose hunt for one of the members of the Spanish branch, a 20 year old boy with down syndrome named Raul.  Apparently he causes lots of trouble, goes missing a lot, and get the police called on him weekly.  He always calls me "burro" and my companion "policia".  Why?  I have no idea.  So he went missing during the meeting, and the entire Spanish branch was looking for him for about an hour.  He was finally found just sitting by himself in the congregation.  Ha!  Anyway, President Packard gave an incredible talk on Vision.  As members, missionaries, and member missionaries, we need to have a godly vision, not a natural vision.  In reference to the Good Samaritan, too many people think "what will happen to me if I help this man?" rather than "what will happen to this man if I don't help him?"  .  The same goes for sharing the Gospel!  Rather than thinking "what will happen to me if I invite this guy to church, or give this guy a pass along card?  Will he be rude?  Will I be embarrassed?", we need to think "what will happen to this man if I don't give him a chance to hear the joyous message of the Restored Gospel?  Will he just carry on with his miserable life, waiting for someone to come along and offer him help and give him hope?"  You just never know people's circumstances, their reaction, or whether or not God has prepared them.  We really do need to talk to everyone!   Another powerful moment of the meeting was when one of the speakers asked all those to stand that were converts due to an invitation from a member.  The number of people that stood up was incredible!  So many members are now members, simply because someone had the courage to invite.  "We make no apologies in sharing the Gospel!" is what one of the counselors to the stake president said over an over and over again.  It's true!  We cannot be afraid or even hesitant to share what we have! 
   The big news for the week:  we met a man from the Dominican Republic this week, and he is potentially a really solid investigator.  He is successful, well educated, very family oriented with 5 young kids, and not too satisfied with the Catholic Church right now.  We didn't get the chance to teach him a lesson, but we did get to meet his family and his two dogs.  He has two grand pyrenees, and one of them is pregnant!  He is very willing and almost insistent that he gives us one of the puppies.  So, in about 3 or 4 months I will be sending a grand puppy Pyrenee home for Toby.  Don't worry, they are great dogs, very gentle and protective, and don't get too big ; )
-I did receive your package on Wednesday.  It got hear quick!  I tried the earplugs one night, but they fall out.  I had to put 4 or 5 pairs in through out the night, because I could never  find them in my bed!   But a member gave us some nasal strips that stop snoring pretty good.  Elder Malpartida doesn't like to wear them because he claims they make his nose break out in pimples, but I tell him he doesn't have a choice.  But everything else in the package was great and exactly what I needed!   Thank you Mommy! 
-pizza got here just fine and we very much enjoyed it.  Thank you Mommy! 
-I think I do remember hearing about Elder Powell's family, either from you or him.  What part and when? 
-my camera had the lens error, and then Elder Haskell played around with it and did the same thing you did with it, and it worked for a while again, but then the lens error came back, I tried playing around with it, pushing the lens in, and I couldn't get it.  So maybe everyone has the touch but me!  So it worked, then lens error, lens error fixed by Elder Haskell, then lens error unable to be fixed by Elder Williams, then lens error fixed by mom.  So idk.  If you think you fixed it, I'll trust ya.  You make the call. 
Love you all!  Have a great week and a bonita Valentine's Day! 
Elder Williams

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Week Thirty Eight - Back to Lakewood for a Baptism and a Rough Week....

Hey fam!  I don't really have much to tell you this week, for a change.  This week was kinda rough.  It was just one of those weeks where almost nothing seems to go your way.  The littlest things just pile up and pile up until you want to scream!  It was just one of those weeks where nobody seemed to have time for missionaries.  Every body we talked to:  "mucho trabajo, no puedo, muy ocupado, no tiempo, ninos, hijos, trabajo, ocupado, trabajo ocupado trabajo ocupado" alright alright I get it!!!  What is so frustrating, and I wish I could change so badly, is that people have lives.  They are caught up in the things of the world, and the adversary has them convinced that they either have no time for, or they want nothing to do with missionaries.
   Despite the frustrating week, there were some positives, and I did learn some things.  What I realized this week is that I need to be more bold, clear, and upfront about the message we share.  It is my responsibility to help people understand the importance and essentiality of the Restored Gospel.  Because if you don't have time for missionaries, you don't have time for God.  We are talking about SALVATION here!  And guess what?  You do have time.  Because there are over 15 million members of the Church that are busy with work and school and kids and everything else!  The only difference is that they understand the importance of church attendance, living the Gospel, and putting God first in their lives, because they have experienced the blessings that come from doing so.  As we do what God asks of us, He will provide better than we can provide.  People that say they don't have time are lacking the desires and just don't get it.  I know that if people would just give the missionaries a chance, and give our message a chance, give the Book of Mormon a chance, there is no way that they would not receive their own personal witness from God of the truthfulness and importance of the Restored Gospel.  I promise everyone I talk to that blessings will come from doing what we ask.  Why it is so hard for people to simply just HOPE that that is true, and give it a chance, I will never know.  Who doesn't want more blessings?!
   So, as you can probably see, I am a little bit frustrated.  Some of you may think that that right there is a little bit over the top, and maybe it is, but just maybe it isn't.  Being a missionary is frustrating, but it is so very worth it, too!  Because I learn things.  Another thing that I learned and realized and saw this week, is that I don't want to be a worldly person.  I have witnessed on my mission more than ever before that the natural man and the things of this world do not bring happiness.  While I am still a very worldly and very natural man, I have never wanted to overcome the natural man more than I do right now.  I've got a long way to go, but I am progressing.  That is the great thing about life, it's all about progression, and the Gospel helps me do it! 
Another reason why missions are so very worth it, is because there really are people out there that God has prepared, people that do accept missionaries, people that do have desires to learn and change, people that do have the hope to give us missionaries a chance.  Elder Haskell texted me this week and told me that one of our investigators in Lakewood passed his baptismal interview and will be getting baptized this Saturday!  So I will have the privilege of going back there on Saturday to see it.   Woohoo! 
   The Texas Dallas Mission apparently piloted the "JustServe" program for the whole year of 2013.  I never knew the details of it, but I just know we were encouraged to do 10 hours of service a week.  Now it is over and I am mad.  You are right, it is such a good way to use our time, especially during the slow hours of weekdays when everybody is at school and work.  I really think knocking does more harm than good for our image.  We knocked a dominantly white street this week and they were brutally rude, as always.  It seemed so fruitless!  Service is the best way to win the hearts of the people.  But who knows what the future entails for the Texas Dallas Mission.      
   So last night we were eating dinner at our ward mission leaders house.  He has four kids that are super cool.  The youngest is 4 and named Adli.  He was bugging me the whole time we were eating dinner, trying to get me race him.  He was going nuts waiting for me to finish eating!  Finally, I was down to one last bight of my dessert, and I had half a cup of soda left.  I was stuffed and struggling to finish it all, and I was resting from eating when he took the fork out of my hand, ate my last bite for me, and chugged the rest of my soda.  Haha!  I thought that was hilarious.  Then I had no choice other than to leave him in my dust. 
-I didn't get to watch a lick of the Super Bowl.  We didn't even realize it was Super Bowl Sunday until it was nearly over!
-It has been cold lately and it rained yesterday, but nothing too crazy. 
-I slept a little better this week.  Still no earplugs, but I told a member about Elder Malpartida's snoring, and she said she has something for me as well as something for him to solve the problem, we just haven't been able to go over to her house yet. 
-I am in a Spanish branch, which is smaller than a ward, but yes, it is all Spanish. 
-Senior companion is nice.  It's a little difficult not knowing the area or the members too well yet, but my companion is easy to work with. 
-All car.  Our area is huge and constant hills, but we might have to ride bikes towards the end of the month if we run out of miles.  That would be brutal, but it might happen this month haha
-My camera lens won't come out and it says "lens error".  I sent it home on Thursday with a few other things, but they said it won't get to you until this Thursday.  So please just send the camera back when you can with a new SD card.  And you know what would be neat?  If you took a few pictures of Toby or the house or the fam on the new SD card before you sent it to me.  You know what I mean? 
-Elder Haskell tells me I have a package from the Hinton's waiting for me at the Lakewood post office, so he is either going to forward it to me or I will get it on Saturday when I go for the baptism.
Well I think that'll do it for this week.  I sent off a letter to y'all the other day.  I got an email from Brynn today about her call.  I am so excited for her!  Christopher is in my prayers, as well as the rest of you.  Have a semana maravillosa!
Elder D. Williams

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Week Thirty Seven - Tender Mercies, Landon's Aunt and Feeling the Spirit!

David and Corrine Packard, the Stake President's wife and aunt of Landon Lambert!
Sunday night, I had an e-mail from Denae Lambert, David's best friends mother.  Her sister, Corrine, who lives in McKinney had run into David at church that morning and had sent her this picture!  Her husband is the stake president.  It's just a small world!  
Greetings family and friends! 
   What a week I had!  So much has changed so quickly and it just feels weird.  But change is good.  I've now got the change of scenery that I was ready for and I am excited to make the most of my time here in McKinney!  McKinney.  I don't know how to describe McKinney.  It's definitely not Lakewood, and it's definitely not Grand Prairie.  There are parts of it that are more country, especially out in Princeton, another city that we cover.  Parts of it are really spread out, parts of it are old and historic houses, parts of it are really new and modern. Down town kind of reminds me of main street, Park City.  There is a little bit of everything here!   It's big, and there is still a lot that I haven't seen yet.  People here are nice.  The Hispanics here seem to have more money, good stable jobs, and normal families.  I am hoping that means they are maybe more intelligent, easier to teach, and more dependable in setting up lessons and keeping their commitments.  We have a decent amount of investigators right now.  A few that I still haven't met, but nobody seems to be really close to baptism.  But that's okay, because right now I have the attitude that I am exactly who everybody needs right now, and I am the one that will spark that fire within them and help them get over that hump of doubt, worry, misunderstanding, and lack of desire. 
   I am serving in a Spanish branch that covers the whole stake boundaries, plus more I believe, and there were 25 or 30 members at church yesterday.  They are great!  Presidente Garcia asked us yesterday if our meal calendar was full, if we had food in our apartment, and if our shoes were holding up.  We get fed 5 times a week, members are willing and wanting to be involved in the work, they give us referrals, they love missionaries!  The branch practically revolves around missionary work.  I was asked to introduce myself and share a brief message/testimony in Sacrament Meeting yesterday.  Could have gone better, but could have gone worse.  It is weird being in an all Spanish church service again, but I could not complain one bit!  So yesterday, after church, we were standing in the hallway talking with the Spanish sister missionaries, and I saw a lady that kind of looked like Denae Lambert, and I knew that the Lambert's had family in the stake because I saw his cousins mission plaque, who is serving in Thailand right now.  So I saw this lady, but I wasn't sure enough to say anything to her.  But sure enough, she came up to us and said something.  Haha!  I think it's funny how long it took for me to cross paths with one of them.  No time at all! 
   Elder Malpartida is great.  He's hilarious.  I cant' think of the word I want to describe him.  He reminds me of a child.  His sense of humor is super super simple, he gets excited over the littlest things, he is easy to please and easy to make laugh.  He is very genuine and has a pure, innocent heart.  The other day I asked him how to say "sexy" in Spanish, and his answer was "Elder Malpartida".  I love him and I don't think we will have any problems getting along.  The only problem that I have with him is that he is the worst, loudest, most consistent snorer I have ever heard.  Every single night I have to yell "ELDER!!!" 6-10 times to wake him up, but it's no use.  He wakes up, very confused, and begins to snore again 20 seconds later.  So between that and sleeping in a new bed, new room, new house that has just thrown me off, I didn't sleep too well this past week.  I am going to try to find some earplugs today.  Any idea where I could do that?  
   We do service once a week here, and it is BINGO with 4 or 5 old people.  It is a blast.
   I had two experiences this week that I think are worth sharing.  The first one happened Saturday at Subway.  We went for lunch.  In front of us were two middle aged men that were brothers.  They ordered like 8 sandwiches, so they felt bad that we had to wait for that.  But we started talking with them, just small talk,  and it turns out that one used to work in the moving business and he loved moving Mormons because he got paid more money to move all of their food storage!  But it was just a nice, friendly talk that never got to a Gospel topic.  Any who, they left and I just went on with ordering my sandwich.  When I got to the cash register to pay, the worker lady told me that my sandwich was already paid for.  Whaaaa?!  Apparently the guy whispered to her to pay for ours with his card.  I was just amazed.  It made my whole day!  The guy was just doing a good deed to do a good deed; without me knowing, didn't give us the chance to thank him, and I probably never will!  I guess I'll just have to pay it forward.  I just love seeing tender mercies of the Lord like that.  You don't see enough of that in today's world.  There really are some good people out there! 
   The other experience happened last night.  We had a lesson with a lady from Honduras, and the Elders had taught her one lesson before I got to McKinney.  Elder Malpartida told me that she was Pentecostal, knew her Bible really well, and talked a lot.  That made me nervous, because I don't know my Bible well!  Nevertheless, we went in there, and talked a lot she did.  It was very frustrating and patience trying to listen to her for so long.  I amazed myself at how well I was able to counter and respond to what she said by using the Bible.  But after a minute, she started talking about fiestas and celebrations during the Biblical times for Jesus, the importance of getting to know and understanding the culture of Jesus Christ and those that lived during that time and in that part of the world, and she said that we all need to learn Hebrew so that we can truly understand the Bible.  It didn't take long for my brain to fry from trying to keep up with her Spanish, and it didn't take long for me to realize that she was talking about unimportant and irrelevant stuff, so I just stopped trying to keep up, and I just waited for her to stop talking so I could share a scripture.  The Spirit helped me to find and prompted me to share 3 Nephi 9:22.  I told her she was complicating things and simply needed to "come unto Christ as a little child", willing to follow Him, keep His commandments, and live His teachings.  She didn't' like that.  The lesson ended up being contentious at times, but the Spirit has never been so obvious in a lesson for me.  I have never felt the Spirit work through me so strongly.  It helped me find multiple scriptures, I bore testimony powerfully and confidently, simply and clearly, and although it was a tough lesson, I felt like I handled it as best I could with the help of the Spirit.  Did we leave with a baptismal date?  Absolutely not.  We actually left kind of on bad terms; we were both fighting for the last word, and after being there for 2 hours I just wanted to get out of there!  So we left her with a Book of Mormon with our names and number in it, told her to call us if she wants.  Many times as a missionary, the only thing you can do is leave them with the ball in their court, and let God do the rest.  But I left there feeling good and satisfied.  Working with the Spirit is fun!  It was a big testimony builder for me, as well as a confidence booster.  I was quite bold and I felt like I laid down the law.  It felt good.
   I have know idea if she will ever pick up that book, but I just want to share my love for the Gospel.  I love it and it really is that simple.  Of course, knowledge and understanding is a good thing, but sometimes it can get in the way.  Alma 37: 44-47 talks about the easiness of the way.  Mosiah 3:19 talks about becoming like a child, as well as many other verses.  God is perfect, fair, and simple.  He is not the author of confusion.  His plan favors US because he loves us that much.  I love the simplicity of the Gospel.  The Gospel gives me hope and helps me along the path to reaching my potential and becoming the man that God needs and expects me to be.  I owe it all to the Gospel.  I love sharing it and am so grateful for the opportunity that I have to do so. 

-We drive a Chevy Malibu I believe.
-Yes there is an Applebee's as well as probably just about anything else.  We cover a big area, so the chances are good.  We have a Golden Corral right next to our apartment....
-Today is miserably terribly bitterly chillingly cold!  The two days before that I needed not a jacket, and the two days before that were like today!  I don't get it. 
-My camera might be broken minorly.  Hopefully it is an easy fix, but I might be sending that home soon, along with some mission memorabilia.
-I could use some cheap, fresh and cleaning smelling candles.  Our apartment smells very strange. 
-I have a wart that has been driving me bonkers.  If you can get a hold of some good stuff to take care of it, that would be greatly appreciated. 
-If possible, I would like you to send me the printed talk called Perfection Pending, by Russel M. Nelson. 

I believe that is it.  Love and miss y'all more and more everyday!  Have a splantastifical week and come closer to the Savior while you're at it!  g2g.  Until next week!
Elder Williams