Monday, November 17, 2014

Week Seventy Eight - New Companion and Completing a Sister Mission!

New companions!  David and Elder Berardy!

Dinner with investigators! 

Dinner with investigators! 

Hello Fam!  

   This week was FREEEEEZING!!!  And I don't really have anything to share with you other than transfers.  So yeah, transfers were tuesday and it was wack!  There was a chapel stuffed full of missionaries, and everybody there was getting a new companion, and nobody knew who their new companion was going to be.  So it was very exciting, but quite nerve-racking as well, as you could probably imagine.  They announced the new companionships using a slideshow, going zone by zone, and your picture would pop up with your new companion next to it.  And my new companion is Elder Berardy!  He came to the mission with my last companion, Elder Alkonis, and was trained by one of my old companions, Elder Patton, in my last area, McKinney.  So we get to talk about the good ol' days in McKinney all the time and it is fun.  Elder Berardy has decent Spanish, but what I love about him is that he is super motivated to learn and master spanish, and he has no shame of talking with everybody.  You can still tell that he is pretty new to the mission lifestyle, but he is learning quickly and he is a great missionary!  He is always super happy and loves to be around people.  Elder Berardy is pretty much a stud.  Half American, half Filipino, and born and raised in Hawaii.  He surfs and cliff dives and has basically lived the dream life for the last 22 years.  He has already graduated from BYU Hawaii, and he has a degree in exercise science, or something along those lines.  He loves sports, is super laid back, and had 1300 followers on Instagram!  So that's my companion.  I think we are going to get along quite well together.  

   On Wednesday, the Hermanas that I came out with went home.  That's sooo crazy!  I have now completed a sister mission.  Hard to believe.  

This week was miserably cold and difficult, but we did have some good things happen.  We had a zone conference, where we got together with three other zones and heard some uplifting words and inspiring trainings.  Good stuff!  

We are teaching a family that is super Christian and love love love their Bible.  We have spent a lot of time trying to help them understand and accept the Book of Mormon, and I think we are making some progress.  They really really like us, and they had us over for dinner on Thursday, and they wanted to take pictures with us afterward.  Ha!  After dinner we had to go to a branch activity, but we didn't have a ride.  They then offered to take us, and their plan was to just drop us off at the Church, but we talked them into coming in for just 5 minutes.  So we walked them around the building and explained a few things to them, and we were about to walk into the cultural hall where the activity and the members were, but they didn't want to go in.  But right in that moment, branch president found us and got to talk to this for a minute.  Then, as we were walking them to the door, another member came out and started talking to them, and then another, and somehow the members convinced them to come into the cultural hall and stay for an entire hour!  I love members : ) The activity was a family history activity, and Angelica came and found out that her father was married 11 times!  So that was kind of interesting. But other than that one family, we are trying to work with a few part-member families, but it has been difficult to get any real commitment out of them.  Typical.  But things are going alright, and it should warm up a little bit this week.  Just doing my best to stay positive and do all that is asked of me.

-we haven't a Christmas tree, that I am aware of.  
-not sure why they changed the way transfers are done, but I think they are going to continue doing it that way, but try to get the calls to us a night or two earlier. 
-still district leader : )
-I have not yet bought any new bedding, not sure if I will.
-I have not been warm enough, but I don't know what else I could do to be warmer.  I do wear the long johns that you sent me, and I bought another pair this week.  They help.
-I haven't thought of anything else I need for Christmas.

Thanks for the updates on things back home.  I miss you all and love you to Kolob and back!  


Sunday, November 16, 2014

Week Seventy Seven - Basketball With President Taylor, Baptism and Transfers!

Elder Alkonis, Ashley and David at her baptism! 
Zone conference!

Hey Y'all!

   Our week was good, a couple rough days of rain, but we survived, and the last few days have been rather pleasant.  

Monday, after emailing, we got to play a few intense games of basketball with President Taylor, as well as the bishop of one of the wards, and a recent convert that played on the Guatemala national basketball team.  We played 4 on 4, viejitos against jovenes, 5 game series, and the jovenes one!  Mostly because of Elder Truman, who is 6 foot 8 and played basketball at Snow for a year.  But we played 5 close games,and President Taylor has still got it!  He is a lights out shooter.  One of the games he ended it by nailing a 3 right in my face!  I was honored.  But in the end, they couldn't keep up, and they might be coming back today for series # 2.

Angelica and DeeAna are doing great.  We had dinner with them twice this week.  They are true CONVERTS!  DeeAna went to a different church yesterday with a friend, and she told us that she likes ours better because it just makes more sense.  She's 10 years old!  Already figuring it out.

On Thursday we had a zone meeting, and Elder Alkonis was asked to give a five minute training.  I would like to quote the opening and closing lines of his training:  "So when I do things like this, I tend to teach false doctrine.  So if you hear any of that, don't be afraid to speak up.  However, if you see any spelling errors, you can keep those comments to yourself."  Closed off by saying:  "So I believe in this.  Doesn't mean I always do it, but yeah.  In the name of Jesus Christ, Amen."  That's Elder Alkonis for ya!  The last half of the zone meeting we talked about the Atonement and the importance of deepening our understanding and strengthening our testimonies of the Atonement.  In the first chapter of Preach my Gospel, it reads: "As your understanding of the Atonement of Jesus Christ grows, your desire to share the gospel will increase".  That is an interesting concept, and I think too many of us have a very shallow understanding of the Atonement, and we should all spend more time studying it.  What a blessing it is to have a knowledge of the Atonement!

Saturday we had a baptism!  Ashley is 10 years old and she is the cutest and sweetest little girl ever!  She is super funny too, and lots of fun to teach.  On Monday we witnessed a miracle.  The zone leaders were on their way to Ashley's to do the baptismal interview with her.  We showed up first, and she was asleep. . . this was our biggest fear because she is the heaviest sleeper ever!  One time we watched her grandma try to wake her up for a half hour and make no progress.  It is next to impossible to wake her up!  And her mom didn't even want to try to wake her up because she was sick and didn't get much sleep the night before.  So we were just going to call and ask the zone leaders to try to come back later at the end of the day, but they insisted on doing it right then as soon as they showed up.  So we started praying that all would work out.  The zone leaders showed up, we went to the door, and to our pleasant surprise, there she was, wide awake and walking around!  She was able to have her baptismal interview, she passed, and she was baptized Saturday by her uncle.  MIRACLE!  There was also another little boy baptized at the same time, someone that Elder Crockett and Elder McBride have been teaching.  The baptismal service was supposed to start at 4:00.  Ashley showed up 15 minutes early.  What a relief that was!  But then, her uncle didn't show up until right at 4:00, the speaker that was supposed to speak about the Holy Ghost didn't show up until 4:20, and the other boy that got baptized didn't show up until 4:35!  Unreal.  I wanted to pull my hair out!!!  Nothing ever seems to go smoothly for baptisms.  It is terribly frustrating, but in the end, we are just happy that it happens.  : D

So yeah, President Taylor threw everybody a curve ball Friday night by announcing that transfer calls would not be made until Monday night, and that we weren't even going to be told who our new companions would be, or where we are even going.  All they are going to tell us is if we are leaving or staying, and the new companionships will be announced Tuesday morning at the chapel in front of everybody!  I don't know why it is being done this way, but it is pretty exciting!  But at the same time, I have been dying to know these last three days!  A lot of missionaries are quite upset, because these complicates things with goodbyes, packing, and finding rides.  But President Taylor is an inspired man.  I don't have a big problem with it.  I just want to know!  Elder Alkonis and I already have two transfers together, so we are expecting a call.  No idea who is going and who is staying, and I don't want to make predictions.  I'll let you know next week!  

-President Taylor said a month or two ago that iPads will be coming at the beginning of the year.  No date yet, and I don't think it is even a for sure thing.  Missionaries in this mission have been expecting iPads pretty since I got here, so many guesses on when they would be here, and still nothing.  So who knows?!  I think the iPad hype has kind of died here.  We'll get them when we get them.  

-Every apartment I've been in has had a cd player.


That's about it for this week.  Thanks for everything!  Love you all!  Until next week!  


Elder Williams

Week Seventy Six - Halloween, a Baptism and Dinner With the Darquea Family!

Dinner with the Darquea family!

Dinner with the Darquea family!

Elder Alkonis and David at DeeAna's baptism! 

Elder Truman as President Taylor and David!

Howdy Y'all!  
   Elder Alkonis and I had another great week here.  We had a baptism!  DeeAna is 10 and the daughter of Angelica, the lady that was baptized five weeks ago.  As we first started teaching Angelica, DeeAna wasn't really interested and just wanted to stick with what she knew, which was Catholicism.  But when DeeAna saw her mom get baptized, she changed her mind, and Saturday was her big day!  We are pretty good friends with those two now.  We were able to go over there nearly every day of this past week to prepare DeeAna for her baptism.  DeeAna has two older brothers that are real chumps, and she told us this week that we are now like her cool, nice brothers, and that felt really good!  Angelica is doing great since being baptized.  She is already reading something from the Church, whether it be the Book of Mormon, Doctrine and Covenants, or the Teachings of the Prophets.  She is smart and just gets it.  She understands and accepts anything we teach her, and she is really embracing the whole Mormon thing.  She came with us to a lesson for the first time the other day, and she is even giving us names and addresses of her friends and family in her home town to send missionaries to!  She should be getting a calling here pretty soon to be an English class teacher.  I've really been able to see the change that the Gospel has brought into her life, and I could not be happier for her and her daughter!  

   Halloween was fun!  At 6:00 the whole zone had to be at the stake center.  We had a testimony meeting and we got to hear the testimony of every mission in the zone.  We have a pretty great zone.  After the zone meeting we just played volleyball for the rest of the night.  So not your typical Halloween, but it was a good time.  Other than that, I can't really think of much else to tell you.  We taught quite a bit, we got the members out with us a lot this week, and we are just working hard to have one more baptism this next week to end the transfer well!  I've had to break out the jacket the last few days, but it is still quite pleasant outside with a jacket on.  No complaints here!   

-I got two packages from mother, and one from grandma and grandpa.  Thanks for everything!  I am now set on snacks for the next little while! 

-I haven't bought any new bedding.  If I do it will be right before I leave the area.  

-Bed bugs haven't been a problem at all this week.  Happy to have that taken care of!  

-I had lots of bites, just itchy little red dots.  No big deal!

Did you get my letter with the art project in it?

Sorry it's a short one this week.  But I want to thank everybody for the love and support.  I love you!  

Elder Williams

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Week Seventy Five - Happy Halloween and Missing Utah!!

This really made me laugh because Hermano Darquean is one of the kindest, most innocent people I know.  He said he has never even seen the movie because it is too dark for him.  He tried super hard to pull it off, but I couldn't stop laughing! 

I want to thank you for the update on things back home.  It sounds like you had a good time with the missionary parents the other day.  Sister Wyss's mom sent me a picture!  I don't get to hear much about baseball here.  I think partly because the Rangers didn't do as well as they should have this year, and also because Hispanics are way big into soccer, more than anything else.  So that is super exciting!  It is hard to believe that the World Series is here already.  And even harder to believe that the Royals are in it!  I remember a couple of years ago when James Paloukos told me that they were his favorite team, and promised me that the Royals would be good in a few years.  Who would have thunk! 
   A little more about Lance - that was one of his 12 "uniforms".  He has them in all sorts of colors and patterns.  He claims to be the chief designer for the S.S.A. and has been doing it nearly all his life.  He told us that he is always outside of Kroger showing off his uniform and looking for attention.  And boy does he get it!
   Elder Alkonis and I had a decent week.  It wasn't anything too special though. Every body we are teaching right now are women.  I don't think we are teaching a single man!  What's up with that?!  But we did make some good progress with one of our investigators, Lily, that we found almost two months ago.  She is just barely over coming cancer.  She is very humble and soft spoken, and very sweet.  She goes to another church, but doesn't feel like it is satisfying her spiritual needs entirely.  The people at her other church told her not to read the Book of Mormon, and she told us that she feels something deep inside that urges her to keep reading.  The Spirit, duh!  So she said she is going to keep reading.  She also came to Stake Conference this weekend with a member and liked it a lot.  I have a good feeling that tells me she will be baptized one day, but I think it will take a while.  Another one of our investigators had their interview yesterday and will be getting baptized this Saturday.  Woohoo!
   So this weekend was the Richardson Stake Conference, and every single talk was about missionary work!  President and Sister Taylor are in this stake, and we got to hear from the both this weekend.  They are superb speakers.  Sister Taylor has a heart the size of Texas!  She can never say anything at the pulpit without crying.  Normally that would be kind of annoying, but she is just so loving and sweet and genuine that it touches your heart every time.  I don't know if I have ever met a woman so passionate about the gospel.  
   We also had the branch Halloween party on Friday and it was lots of fun!  Hispanics are funny.  In Hispanic countries, the tradition is el Dia de los Muertos (Day of the Dead), which is celebrated on the first of November.  It is a day to worship the devil and is a very evil day.  So lots of members didn't come, others refuse to dress up, or let their kids dress up, and they just don't like Halloween.  Lots of people we have talked to lately ask us about Halloween and tell us that it is a very evil day.  One of our new investigators is from Guatemala and she told us that one Halloween/Dia de los Muertos years ago in Guatemala, she was walking passed a cemetery when she saw a lady dig up a grave, pull out a dead body, open up the head and eat the brains.....Kind of hard to believe, and maybe I just don't understand the culture, but all I want to tell these people is "lighten up!"  It's all about where your heart is, folks. There is nothing wrong with dressing up like Mario or Superman and getting lots of free candy.  
   Saturday night Elder Alkonis and I discovered the most horrific scene of my whole mission.  Elder Truman and Elder Walters finally moved out on Saturday.  So as we were rearranging the beds, Elder Alkonis discovered a little bug on the box spring... Yup.  You guessed it.  BED BUGS.  Elder Alkonis let out a shriek and starting freaking out and immediately took the box spring to the dumpster.  The feeling you get the moment you discover that you have bed bugs is a terrible feeling.  I want to compare it to the feeling that you get when you hit a car.  NOOO!   and you want to say some colorful words, but you don't because you know better.  So that night we had a hard time sleeping, and Sunday we spent a big chunk of time finding more and then blazing our whole apartment with a heat gun to kill them all. I feel like we did a pretty thorough job, but Elder Midgley from the mission office is coming by today to treat the apartment more.  So that was the scare and frustration of the week.  Do bed bugs even exist in Utah?  I want Utah!
-I don't know how President Taylor is with the hair policy, but my hair doesn't do gel well, and helmet hair looks unprofessional! so as long as I'm on a bike, this is how I'm doing my hair until he tells me otherwise. 
-I don't know how President Taylor feels about missionaries being picked up by their parents.  But I have given a little thought to that, and I think I would prefer to have the traditional experience of arriving at the SLC airport with my family waiting for me.  Is that okay with y'all?
-I will send you a Christmas list!
-My feet are all better!  The doctor told me to use the medication until it is gone to prevent it from coming back, and I finish up the pills tomorrow.
Thank you all for the emails and love and support and prayers.  I love and miss everybody!  I hope everybody has a spooky but safe Halloween! 
Elder Williams