Monday, March 24, 2014

Week Forty Five - "You Got Twenty Minutes, Tell Me Something Uplifting."

Jackie and David fighting over a scooter!

The fence....before they built it.
Hey Fam,

   I had a very good week.  The weather was nice, we worked hard, no problems, and being a missionary is just starting to become rather pleasant.  It gets easier and easier all the time.  I feel like I am almost 100% adjusted, and this is just life now.  Time is going by crazy fast, and I spend less and less time thinking about time and home; and more and more time thinking about investigators and the work.  While I am still hungry for baptisms and success, I feel content with the missionary lifestyle.  It's amazing what time and persistence can do.  
   So our week was pretty typical, with the exception of food.  I told you last Monday that we were going to eat buffalo for lunch.  The members that cooked it talked it up a lot, but really it was far from anything special.  We were also fed cow tongue one night for the first time in my mission.  It was cut up into bite size pieces, and you could see the taste buds on it, and I'm quite sure I got the very tip of the tongue!  It wasn't bad, if you put lots of salsa on it; but the salsa they had was super spicy, so I couldn't handle much.  I think they were going to try to feed it to us without telling us what it was, but somebody asked, and the cat was out of the bag!  It would have been easier to eat if I didn't what it was, but I survived.  I was also fed some of the best homemade cheesecake ever.  TWICE!  We made it so obvious that we liked it so much, that they made another one later in the week and invited us over to come eat it.  They call it "WOAH" because that is what people usually say after their first bite.  Sometimes I feel like food takes up a bigger portion of my mission than it should, but missionaries love food!  And the members in this particular area love feeding us!  It is rare if we don't eat at members houses five times a week; and they would feed us seven times a week if they could!
   I believe I already told you that the same nonmember feeds us every Tuesday night, and she has a son named David that has been serving in the Houston mission.  Well he comes home tomorrow, so last Tuesday she asked us to help her make some "WELCOME HOME DAVID!" signs.  It kind of brought on a mixture of feelings, and she wants us to be at his welcome home party on Wednesday.  That's going to be weird!  
   We had a specialized training on Wednesday, where all the Spanish missionaries in the mission got together.  It was fun to see all my amigos, it was very insightful, learned a bunches, and I love President Durrant!  He is a very inspired man.  
   We met a guy this week named Wally.  Biggest hippie I've met in all my days in Texas.  He has pictures around his apartment with him and his friends shirtless, long hair, gnarly staches, and shotguns.  He told us that he was the biggest pot dealer at A&M back in his day and got rich off of it.  When he opened the door, he had some old hippie music blasting, and he looked like somebody that was about to slam the door right on our noses.  To our surprise, he invited us in and said "I love my God!  You got 20 minutes, tell me something uplifting."  We stayed for an hour and a half and had an awesome conversation.  He is very open and super funny.  One of those guys where Elder so and so is too difficult, and insists we tell him our first names.  He is a lot smarter than he looks, and asks a lot of really good questions.  It was nice to have a conversation like we did.  I'm sorry, but no Hispanic has ever made me think as hard as he made me think.  We have had two good chats with him so far.  They aren't really lessons, they just go wherever he takes them.  It is lots of fun to talk with him, and I am hesitant to pass him on to the English Elders, just because he is so stinking cool!  He is a very interesting man to say the least.  I love meeting wacky people!  
   We had an investigator show up at church yesterday for her first time, in the middle of sacrament meeting.  She walked in and practically yelled "buenos dias!" in the middle of someones talk.  Haha!  Her name is Marta, and she is pretty wacky herself.  It was incredible to see the members take her under their wing and make her first Sunday at the Mormon church an enjoyable experience.  Thanks to them, I am confident that she will be back and baptized soon!  
   There is a member here that was a nurse, and is super into natural oils.  She made some sort of concoction to put on a wart I have on my finger, and it is the most fowl smelling stuff that could ever go through your nostrils!  It smells like vinegar, lemon juice, armpit sweat and moldy gym socks!  I've only been using it for three days, so it is too early to tell if it is working or not.  I'm just praying that I'm not rubbing this stuff on my finger for nothing!  

-We can put on p-day clothes to do service if necessary, but with unplanned service opportunities, the only thing we can do is tuck our ties into our shirts, roll up our sleeves, and do our best to keep clean!  
-I am sleeping much better now.  The snoring definitely hasn't slowed down, but recently I actually read the instructions on the side of the ear plugs box, and they work great when you use them correctly!  Lesson learned.
-I haven't seen Sister Packard much lately, but I did meet Kurt Heldt's brother yesterday in the church library!  

It is crazy to think that Rachel will get to Texas at the end of this transfer!  When you gave me the news it seemed so far away!  Missions are crazy.  I love it.  That's all I can think of for this week, so until next time!  Love and miss you all!  Have the best week of your life!  

Elder Williams      

She Said Yes at the Happiest Place on Earth!

David and Em and Ironman!

Em and David at Cinderella's Castle.

The happy couple!

The ring!  Beautiful!

Emilee and David had planned a trip to Disneyland for David's birthday.  The week before they left, David took Dave to dinner while Em and I were at our pottery class.  I had a feeling that he may want to talk to Dave about asking Em to marry him and I was right!  He wanted to get our blessing before he popped the big question - what a guy!  So his plan was to ask her the first day they were there in the park, but he didn't know exactly how he was going to do it.  He ended up asking her on the Dumbo ride!  And, of course, she said yes!  We were so excited for them and are so happy for the two of them.  David is a wonderful guy who treats her like she deserves to be treated and we couldn't ask for a more wonderful son-in-law!  They ended up having a wonderful time in Disneyland and I am so happy that they will always have that happy memory in the happiest place on earth! 


Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Week Forty Four - Building a Fence and Painting a House!

Now this is the kind of week back home that I like to hear about.  Em's getting married!?!?  I figured this was coming soon. That is so crazy exciting I can't believe it!  From what I have seen, David is a great, genuine guy that knows how to treat a lady.  I approve and have absolutely no worries there.  Dad, your news, on the other hand, is not so pleasing.  I am sorry to hear about the pains you have been having, and now I feel terrible for taking it so lightly last week!  Have Tom give you a blessing and suck it up.  I will keep you in my prayers as well.  I would imagine that running the church ball tournament would be quite the hassle.  Certainly not my cup of tea.  But you will be blessed for your diligent service and efforts!  Tom, can you do any flips yet on the snowboard?  Hop on the lift with some chicas tomorrow and ask them on a date!  Mom, isn't that just the most convenient thing ever?  We can watch conference in the comfort of our own home and even pj's if we want!  What a great blessing that is, and I hope all will take advantage of that.  I am stoked!!!  Oh, and thank you for the relieving news about Toby : )
   My week was good.  Nothing quite as exciting as an engagement, but I if I were to pick a mission equivalent for an engagement, it would probably be an accepted baptismal invitation, and we did have one of those!  It wasn't a "heck yeah I'll get baptized!", but it wasn't a "no" either, so we can work with it.  We have a few semi solid baptismal dates right now, but they are still pretty far off.  We worked well with members this week, took a few steps forward, a couple back, but we've got some good things going for us right now. 
We had some good service opportunities this week.  We helped some members build a fence, and it was a smashing good time!  I got to break down the old fence, use some macho tools, and get my hands dirty.  It reminded me of working with dad.  We also came across some guys painting the outside of their house, so we helped them for a couple afternoons.  That too reminded me of working with dad.  They were impressed with our work ethic and told us they have more work for us.  I didn't get a single drop of paint of my tie, shirt, pants, nada!  Elder Malpartida wasn't so fortunate.  But they accepted an invitation to hear our message, and we are going back on Saturday.  Nice family with some great potential! 
   The weather here was good for most of the week, sunny and the perfect temperature for shirts and ties!  Saturday was the first big rainstorm of the year, and it was loco!  Gutters and some streets were flooded, and a few stop lights even stopped working!  And then, as if it couldn't get any better, there was a stunning double rainbow to top it all off.  I love Texas storms! 

-Pizza can wait.  We are really well fed here in McKinney.  The other day I weighed 190!  My companion has been told 3 or 4 times now that he is looking chubbier than when he very first got here, but nobody has said anything to me yet! 
-The elders in the area play basketball most P days, and we have gone a couple of times, but  I'm not really thirsting after any b ball right now, and we usually have other things going on.  Today a member is cooking us buffalo meat for lunch!\ 
-I think I am good until Easter.  I still have half a bin full of treats from Christmas! 
-Driving the car is going well.  Definitely enjoying it on the cold and rainy and windy days.  Elder Haskell told me about his bike.  We would lock our bikes on that very tree that they got stolen off of all the time! 

Well I think that'll do it for this week.  I hate to say it, but emailing is getting kind of old, and it is hard to think of stuff to tell y'all!  So either I have been having some boring weeks lately, or I am just numbed to the missionary life now.  I'll try to make something crazy happen this next week!   Love and miss y'all, and I pray that everybody will have the best week of their life!

Elder Williams

Week Forty Three - Baptism in Lakewood and the McKinney Hermanas!

Baptism of Dre Young in Lakewood with Elder Munday and Elder Haskell!
   I love hearing about everybody's week, even little things like the dog church updates!  Was that the first time he saw John there?  Did Dad go down when the dog hit him? I wish I could have been there to see that! I saw a lady playing fetch in a field with a chuck-it stick and her big dog, and then there was another little dog just sniffing around, showing absolutely no interest in the ball.  It brought back some very precious memories.  I fear that Toby won't be the same dog when I get back, and he will have slowed down a lot over two years.  Please tell me that won't be the case!?!  Em, send me some pictures when you get back!  Glad Tom is staying busy and making money so that he can take lots of girls out on dates.  Mother, I wish you safe travels and a good time! 
   Hermana Macy and Hermana Asay are the sisters here in McKinney.  We have dinner at members' houses with the hermanas almost every night, and we go to lunch with them along with the other elders in McKinney a couple times a week.  They are super cool!  Hermana Macy actually went home last week back to Hawaii.  She is probably the coolest Sister missionary I have ever met.  Incredibly happy and fun all the time, yet mature and focused at the same time.  She was always thinking of others, seeking opportunities to serve and make people feel good, and truly Christlike.  She had a big impact in the area, and everyone was sad to see her go.  She took great interest in the fact that my mom was not a member, so when she asked for my home address, I wasn't sure what they were going to send you!  But I trusted them, and I am glad you enjoyed what they sent.
   On Saturday, we carpooled back to Lakewood with Elder Munday to see the baptism of Dre Young.  I don't remember if I told y'all, but in Lakewood we started playing basketball every Saturday afternoon at the church, and we would invite all the youth we saw throughout the week to come play on a nice, hardwood floor indoor court out of the cold.  After a couple hours of play, we would take everyone on a tour of the church, and then have chicken nuggets and orange drink after it all.  Sometimes we had up to 20 hoodrat kids in the gym, and we would always play the 4 elders against whoever else.  They all get a kick out of Elder Munday, this 6'7" English white boy that has an obsession with Lebron James and talks trash like there is no tomorrow.  It was a great time, and Dre is a result of Saturday afternoon basketball against the Elders.  I never had the chance to teach him, but I did develop a friendship with him, and I like to say that I contributed to his humbling process as I took him to school on the court every Saturday.  Hehe!
   We don't do bingo anymore.  When President Durrant found out that his missionaries were wasting there time calling out numbers for old people, he lovingly and sternly invited us to stop immediately and find a better way to use our time.  Haha!  So this week we went to the Habitat for Humanity here in McKinney for the first time with some English Elders, and it was the best service I've done my whole mission!  We bundled, labelled, and organized wood siding, and moved giant slabs of marble counter top.  Busy, manual labor, hands dirty, and didn't require hardly any brain power.  That's my kind of service right there!  I actually felt like I accomplished something, unlike Bingo, where I would always wake up to the old folks giggling at me because they caught me sleeping.  So we have plans to go there at least once a week now, if not twice.
   Thanks for the quote, Mommy.  Best I've heard in a while!   
-Yes we went to Applebee's, and will probably go there again soon!
-There is a coldstone in Allen and Plano, but nothing in McKinney.  If you sent it to me, I could probably find a way to use it.
-I use Spanish a lot more here in McKinney.  Elder Malpartida and the ward members help a lot.  Spanish is still coming along well!
-I don't know where I will be watching conference, but I am hoping I don't have to watch it in Spanish. 
-I can't think of anything I need at the moment.  Thanks! 

I have two questions of my own:
-Is Gavin one of Tom's mission companions?
-Where are you going to watch conference, Mom?
That's all I can think of for this week.  I will try my best to make this week an exciting one so that I can have lots to tell you next Monday.  Love and miss you all!  I pray that the Lord will bless and guide you all in all that you do, and that you can have the best week of your life!

Elder Williams

Week Forty Two - Mission Bucket List: Conquer Fear of Snakes - Check!!

David and his new bull python friends!

David and Elder Malpartida having some fun!

Hey there Fam!

Sounds like y'all had a good week and have some fun plans in the near future, stuff is happening, and life is picking up and rolling on in the right direction for you all! It is hard for me to picture Tom eating real food. I guess missions really are magic! I will keep Em and Mom in my prayers as they are traveling. So I was not able to email on Monday due to icy roads. It rained ice on Sunday, so the roads were super slick on Monday and the majority of the mission was forbidden to drive, even though all the ice was melted here in McKinney by about 4 in the afternoon. I just don't get this Texas weather. The majority of last week was nice; it even got up to 80 degrees on Saturday! And then Sunday out of nowhere it dropped down to 17, with snow and ice. Right now we are in the 40's, and I think it is only supposed to get warmer from here, but you just never know! I am looking forward to rain and storm and tornado season that is just around the corner!
We had a decent and typical week here in McKinney. Transfer calls were Saturday, and we didn't receive a phone call, so I am sticking around for another one with Elder Malpartida. And that's what I was expecting, so I am okay with it. I went on an exchange on Tuesday with my district leader, Elder Belnap. He just got done with being a zone leader for 6 months, so he is very wise and experienced and I learned a lot from him. He has also had Elder Crockett and Elder Haskell as companions in the past, so it was fun to exchange our stories and experiences with them.. hehe! We teach English classes every Wednesday, and usually nobody shows up, but last week we had two teenaged brothers from Honduras come. They came to Texas for their sister's wedding and baptism. They know absolutely no English and it is hard to teach English! But they are cool kids, they are getting involved with the youth of the branch, and hopefully they will be baptized before they go back to Honduras! And if not, Elder Hansgen will take care of them.
So we have had two lessons with the Evangelicals since the first one that I told you about. The second one was a week ago, and I really wasn't sure what to expect, and I wasn't expecting too much, just because it took so much begging and convincing to get them to let us come back. So we took a member with us, and all I wanted to do was get a Book of Mormon into their hands. I started out by asking if they had any questions, and they said "nope, you cleared up all my doubts and questions last time". And I was like "WHAT?!" That definitely wasn't what I was expecting to hear. So then we taught them about the Book of Mormon, we gave them one, and they promised to read it without any problems or hesitations. I was stunned, and I felt really good when we left. So then we went back on Monday, they had their Books of Mormon in hand when we got there, and I was expecting a miracle. I was ready for them to tell us that they read it, they loved it, they received an answer, and they wanted to come to church on Sunday. Then they broke the news to us, and politely told us that they liked it, but want to focus on the Bible, and can't really see themselves changing religions. I was devastated. We were there for two hours trying to convince and persuade them once again, and we got a semi solid return appointment. I don't know why I am trying so hard with this old couple; something just won't let me give up on them! I left there feeling quite discouraged. The thought came to my head "WHAT IS IT GOING TO TAKE?". I don't really know. But then a quote came to my head from President Spencer W. Kimball: "The greatest reason for missionary work is to give the world it's chance to hear and accept the gospel and open the doors to eternal life." At least I am giving people their chance, and I will continue giving people their chance to the best of my ability, whether they take advantage of it or not!

-McKinney is becoming more familiar now. I only need the gps every now and then, so that is a good feeling.

-I know I don't get enough exercise, but as far as I can tell, I'm not getting fat yet. We have a fitness center at our apartment with a treadmill and a few machines, and we go a few times a week, but we still need to do a better job of taking advantage of that.

-I wouldn't mind more of those oatmeal balls. You can send them with the next package, but I don't really need anything at the moment.

-My camera is working great!

I think that's all I've got to say for this week. Love and miss ya!

Elder Williams