Sunday, September 28, 2014

Week Seventy - Breakfast With Jess and PRO Rings!

Hey Fam!

   Another week has flown by already, and we are now in the last week of the transfer!  So transfer calls will be this Saturday. . . I have no idea what to think or what to expect!  Waiting on transfer calls can sometimes be excruciating, but all will be well!  This week was interesting.  There was a fun branch activity saturday night, Noche Hispana Cultural, where there was lots of music and food and dancing.  Elder Alkonis caused some ruckus when he went out on the dance floor and innocently danced with a few peeps.  Some members made a big deal of it, others loved it and wanted to see more, and the rest kind of joked about it.  We heard some reeeally funny comments and jokes about it the next day at Church.   I think he learned his lesson.  
   Elder Truman and Elder Meads, the Elders that we live with pranked us super super super good this week.  It ended with my second ever phone call to 911.  I wanted to be mad about it, but they played it all so well that I could do nothing but pat them on the back for it.  The best part about it all is that Elder Meads recorded the whole thing on his voice recorder!  It was hilarious.     
   Jess Johnson took us out to breakfast this morning, which was nice!  He hasn't changed a bit; super intense, talks about history and other things that go way over my head, shares his crazy conspiracy theories with us, and tells us how to be successful in life.  He is crazy, but it was the best breakfast I have had since the last time he took us out to breakfast in January!  So I am not complaining.  
   This week we had a Specialized Training with half of the mission (that was a big meeting!)  It was great to see all my mission buddies, and it is funny to see how missionaries have changed and gained weight hehehe!  I'm trying, but I have actually lost about 10 pounds in this past month.  Anyway, the meeting was great and incredibly spiritual.  President and Sister Taylor are really good at letting us know how much they love us.  Sister Taylor can't hardly say anything without getting emotional, and it is just the cutest and sweetest thing!  But after listening to them I really just wanted to give them both a bear hug.  With the exception of my parents, I don't think I have ever felt so loved by anybody!  President Taylor sort of came up with this thing called "PRO", which stands for Pray, Read, Obey.  He came up with a design for it and put it on a ring and we all got PRO rings!  He talked about importance of PRO in our lives and the difference it can make if we can make those three things a priority in our lives.  Absolutely brilliant and I am 100% on board with it.  Hey everybody, Be a PRO!  That was one of the highlights of the meeting.  As I was sitting in that specialized training, my heart was filled with gratitude for the opportunity I have to serve a mission.  There is honestly nothing better.  Making and seeing friends and old companions, feeling loved by your mission president, singing "God be with you 'til we meet again" to missionaries that are leaving, life and gospel lessons that are worth more than gold, being spiritually uplifted and all that good stuff!  Serving a mission is so worth it in every way that you can possibly think of.  I just couldn't be happier right now!  

-I got all three packages!  Thank you for everything!  
-Transfer calls come this saturday, and transfers will take place the following Tuesday.  I will let you know what happens!  
-District leader has been nothing special.  I wouldn't say I like it, but I don't hate it, so all is well!
-If the socks are supposed to keep my feet from sweating, I wouldn't say they are doing their job.  But between the spray and the oils, it is slowly slowly getting better I think.

Thanks for the update on everyone!  I loved to see the pictures from the trip!  Y'all will be in my prayers!  I hope everybody has a great week!  

Elder Williams

Week Sixty Nine - More Training and Prayer is Real!

Elder Alkonis, Moises, and David! 

Elder Alkonis, David, Moises and his family! 

"The Goons I live with!" 

Buenos dias y feliz Lunes!

     Elder Alkonis and I had a pretty decent week!  We had a baptism on Saturday of a kid named Moises, the son of a recently re-activated recently converted lady in the branch.  We made the mistake of letting the members take care of the program and everything, and the service didn't go too smoothly, which was frustrating because as missionaries we just want everything to go smoothly so that it is a pleasant and spiritual experience for everyone.  I've learned by now that very few things go smoothly while serving a mission, and when they do, it is a tender mercy of the Lord.  So while I wanted to be frustrated, I just had to keep telling myself that he was baptized by the Priesthood authority of God, and that's what's important!  It probably wasn't even that bad from the perspective of everybody else; but either way, lesson learned!  
     On Tuesday we had what is called the Follow-up Training Meeting, where all of the new missionaries and their trainers get together to talk about how the first three weeks have been, what we can do better as trainers or trainees, as well as a spiritual boost to keep trucking along with all we have.  It was a good meeting.  It was interesting to be on the other side this time, because just a little over a year ago I was the lost and clueless one being trained at that meeting!  But we all learned a lot and got some free pizza.  President and Sister Taylor are incredibly spiritual and loving and always have the right things to say!
     So the investigator that we are really focusing on right now is a lady named Angelica H.  I forget what I have already told y'all about her, but she is a strong and faithful woman that is in a very difficult situation.  Her husband is very controlling and pretty much locks everybody in the house when he is home and takes everybody's phones away.  Luckily he works a lot, but for the past three Sundays before yesterday, he hasn't worked and has kept Angelica from coming to Church.  So Elder Alkonis and I, along with the relief society president, prayed our hearts out all week that God would provide a way for her to come to Church without creating problems with her violent husband.  And who do you think we saw walking into the chapel yesterday?  Angelica!!!  And after much convincing, from both the Elders and some of the hermanas in the branch, we got her to stay for all three hours!  It was a sweet feeling to see her in Church and have our prayers answered.  PRAYER is REAL.
     So that was pretty much our week.  We actually got a day or two of semi cold weather with some misty rain!  I even had to put a jacket on at one point, but it was quite refreshing!  It has been a hassle with our bikes this past week.  Another flat tire (Elder Alkonis this time), and some days it is just not possible to accomplish everything we have to do on our bikes.  So we have probably been a pain to some of the members, calling for rides and what not, and I can't stand it.  On a mission, you are constantly depending on other people, especially when your on a bike, and it is so frustrating!  I stress out over it quite often, but the Lord always seems to provide a way!  

-Elder Truman and Elder Meads are both still living with us.  It has been fun, and it actually hasn't really gotten in the way of the work like one would think.  We have fun when we are together, but we get work done throughout the day.  Elder Meads has been a zone leader for a big chunk of his mission, so it has been nice to learn a few things from him.  I love mission buddies!
-Elder Alkonis 19, a little over a year younger than me.  
-Yes I got the socks you sent me, along with a random and goofy little beanie. . . what is up with that?  And why did you spend so much money on socks?!  They work pretty well, but I wish I would have known how expensive they were before you bought them!   But thank you!
-I see Sister Wyss only on preparation days.  For preparation day here in the Richardson Zone, nearly the whole zone goes to the stake center to email in the family history center and play sports.  President and Sister Taylor live in the Richardson Stake, so sometimes they come play sports with us, and last week they even brought everybody sandwiches from Jason's Deli!  They are just too awesome. 

I am happy to hear that the trip went well, but I am still waiting on some pictures. . . !  That's kind of a relief to at least have an idea of what happened to the package.  Super stange!  but There is nothing that I can't live without, so no rush.  Thanks for all you do!  I have the best family and friends.  I love and miss you and pray for you all!  Have a great week!  

Elder Williams

Week Sixty Eight - Exchanges with Elder Crockett and Elder Sheffer - Just Like Old Times!

Elder Alkonis, David, Elder Sheffer and the other Spanish AP!
Howdy Y'all!

You are in Oregon right now and I am so jealous!  But y'all have probably been jealous of me for the last year that I've been in Texas, so I guess that's fair.  Elder Alkonis and I had a decent week.  Our main priority of the week was helping a nine year old boy get ready for baptism, which was quite difficult because he has some major ADD, but he had his baptismal interview yesterday and will be getting baptized on Saturday!  So that's exciting.  I had to go on a couple of exchanges this week, and the funny thing is that they were with my very first two companions in the mission field - Elder Sheffer and Elder Crockett. Haha!  It was neat and funny to be knocking doors with them again, and to catch up and see how we all have changed.  I can't remember if I already mentioned this, but Elder Sheffer is one of the Spanish assistants right now.  He is still a very interesting kid, but he has very impressive spanish and has come a long way.  I learned a lot from him!
  So on Friday I believe it was, we were riding our bikes when I got a big fat nail in my bike tire. . .  : (  So we started walking to the bike shop, all along praying that somebody would be kind enough to stop and offer a ride to these two fine young men.   Sure enough, after about 5 minutes of walking,  a kind and friendly less active member saw us and offered to take us there.  That was a lifesaver because it was the hottest part of the day and I was carrying my bike on my shoulders because the tube got caught in the spokes or something and the bike tire wouldn't even roll!  I love seeing tender mercies of the Lord. When we got to the bike shop, the guy that works there started talking to us about Utah and all of his experiences there.  He said when he was in his prime, he had a friend that wanted to go on a vacation. To decide where they were going, his friend closed his eyes and threw a dart at a map of the U.S., and sure enough, it landed on SLC!  As they were driving there from Texas, they stopped in a little town called Moab for the night.  As it turns out, they fell in love with Moab so much that they never even made it to SLC!  He ended up buying a home there, lived there for years, as well is in Draper, until he got hit by a drunk driver in Temple Square, of all places, and had to move back to Dallas so his family could take care of him.  But we ended up talking for a while as he worked on my bike.  When he rung me up, I was expecting to pay like 20 - 25 bucks for a new tire, tube, and whatever else, but the guy gave me a monster discount and only charged me $7!  Yet another tender mercy of the Lord.
   So other than that, we just had a typical week with some really good lessons.  I can't think of anything else worthwhile to to y'all.

-I didn't receive anything in the mail this past week.  I'm worried too!  Can you check the tracking number on the packages?

Have fun on vacation and send me some pictures please!
    --the exchange with the aps

Week Sixty Seven - The Power of the Restoration and Four in an Apartment!

David.  On his bike.  With no hands.... 

hno Garcia aka "the branch GIANT"... in spirit. One of my best friends from McKinney!

Family Home Evening at the Garcia's, last night in McKinney.

Kassandra(investigator) and Clarita Garcia(going to Germany on her mission in October!)

Gustavo, homie from McKinney! 

The apartment in McKinney!

McKinney apartment!

Kitchen in the McKinney apartment!

The trio!
hna Garcia made me pinky promise that I would come back to visit them!

Greetings loved ones!

Elder Alkonis and I had a busy and interesting week.  Garland is starting to become familiar.  We have a really small area, so it shouldn't take too much longer.  
   The English Elders that overlap areas with us, Elder Truman and Elder Meads, are both from Vegas and they are a real hoot!  Their apartment got bedbugs a couple of weeks ago, so on Tuesday they moved in with us and it has been a party ever since.  They are probably some of the best friends I've made on the mission yet.  I don't think I have laughed as much and as hard as I have this past week since the MTC!  So having them in the apartment with us has definitely made this last week an adventure to remember.  
   Thursday was 50 CENT CORNDOG DAY at SONIC.  So you better believe we took advantage of that and made a few stops there throughout the day.  I ended the day with 10 corndogs.  Due to late and unplanned appointments, we were unable to make our last trip to SONIC at the end of the day to reach our goal of 15, but apparently they do it three or four times a year, so I will have another chance.  
   So yesterday we showed up to Church about ten minutes before sacrament meeting to find out that the four Elders of the branch were the speakers.  That was a pleasant surprise.  But we filled up the time and I thought it went quite well considering the circumstances.  We also had to do a primary sharing time, which was kind of fun!  My mission has made me come a long way.
   So one of our investigators right now is a lady named Angelica.  The missionaries that we replaced had just barely found her days before they left.  The first time we met her was days after she was in a bad car accident.  We walked into her house and she was laying down on a bed in the front room, covered with big and severe bruises.  She told us that a chiropractor told her that not a single disc in her spine was in place!  She said she really wanted to cancel our appointment, but at the same time, she really wanted to meet us and listen to our message.  That was the first good sign.  We had a great first lesson with her.  She had lots of questions and has a sincere desire to better her life and come closer to God.  We told the RS president about her and her situation, and she immediately got involved in helping and supporting Angelica.  She went over that Sunday with one of her counselors to meet her and see if she needed anything.  She took Angelica's kids to school in the mornings and picked them up in the afternoons for the first few days of school.  She passes by and sends her text messages regularly to check up on her.  Talk about a good member missionary!  Members like that sure bring a big smile to our faces.  Our second appointment with Angelica was on Saturday.  We gave her a blessing and she accepted an invitation to be baptized on the 27th of this month without hesitation.  We have a really good feeling about her!
   On Monday we had a neat experience when we knocked on the door of a lady named Maria H.  She tried to give us what we get just about everyday, and it goes about like this: "Oh I've talked to muchachos like you before, I'm Catholic but all churches are good, it's all one God, I appreciate what y'all do, but I do not need your message."  That probably sounds familiar to a lot of you reading.  It would have been easy to just give her a card, walk away and leave it at that, but I got a little pushy and convinced her to give us 10 minutes of her time.  We started to share the Restoration with her and she was surprisingly focused and genuinely interested.  As she listened to the words of the First Vision, she got emotionally and began to cry, and she said that those were very powerful and beautiful words.  The Spirit has been present many times when I have shared the First Vision with people, and I know that other people have felt the Spirit as it has been shared, but never have I seen the First Vision bring anybody to tears.  Normal words do not do that to people!  There is nothing neater than feeling the Spirit confirm and testify of the words leaving your mouth, and then seeing the impact it has on other people.  It was just another confirmation to me that what we share is TRUE, and all people need the joyous message of the Restoration!  I am proud and grateful to be able to say that I have a testimony of the Prophet Joseph Smith, the Book of Mormon, and the Restoration of the Gospel and Church of Jesus Christ.

-I have not yet received the package.  Hopefully today!  
-A counter would be nice to be able to count all the people that I contact per day!
-As district leader I give district meetings usually every Tuesday, I report numbers to zone leaders Sunday nights, and I give baptismal interviews to the investigators of the missionaries in my district.  I did that for the first time this week and it was kinda weird, but pretty easy.  Then I also just serve and support and encourage the missionaries in my district, and I'm also supposed to set somewhat of an example.  And I go on exchanges!  So nothing too special.  
-Sister Holm is a lifesaver!   
Have fun on the trip and take lots of pictures!  The Zach you met at Braxton's homecoming I'm guessing was Zach Adams.  I was a freshman when he was a senior.  I'm surprised he remembered me!  But that's neat that you went and got to see Braxton!  Tom is sounding like quite the thrill seeker this days and I'm loving it!  It is good to hear about life in the 801.  I love everybody! 

Elder Williams