Full-time Missionary

Missionary in the Utah Salt Lake City South Mission for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints from August 2015 to August 2017

Sunday, July 31, 2016

So Much Potential

July 25, 2016

So last Sunday was super good, A. came to church! Later in the evening we were riding down the hill looking for a house and we passed it by a decent amount and I just thought, oh well we will just stop by another time, but then the thought came that we needed to stop by now, so we turned around and went back to it. When we knocked, a less active guy about our age named C. answered and let us in. We shared a simple but powerful video on the sacrament with him and when it ended he just said "wow, that was awesome." Haha. Then he asked if we were just going around sharing that video with everyone today and we said no, and he said that it answered his prayers that day. He has been sober from alcohol and drugs for about 3 years but just turned 21 and has been struggling a lot with the temptation to just be able to go buy what he wants. He said he had been praying for strength and that he knows he needs to attend church to receive it.

Monday was a normal pday, that night we did a family night with a couple families that had teenagers preparing to receive their patriarchal blessings, it was super cool.

Tuesday we had District meeting which was even stranger than the last, the zone leaders attended the other districts meeting so it was just 2 companionships. Haha. Nothin too special happened the rest of the day... We just found more potentials! So much potential.

Wednesday we started exchanges and I went with elder Alfonso to his area, and elder Sandino came to be with elder Simmons. It was a pretty good exchange. Always a great opportunity to improve.

Thursday night was pretty hectic, we had a few lessons and I had to do a baptismal interview for one of the other elder's Investigstors, K., a 9 year old who was way excited about everything. It's kinda weird doing interviews cuz it's the only time on your mission you are
ever one on one with anyone but your companion.

Friday was the usual stuff till about 2:30, then we taught a potential we have been trying to get with for a little while named E.  The lesson went super well! He soaked up everything we taught about the Restoration of the gospel and when we invited him to be baptized he didn't even hesitate to say yes! He has had a rough life and has been prepared by the lord to receive the restored gospel. He then readily accepted the date we gave him as well!  Then we had dinner with a family that was pretty dang weird... But they did feed us ribs so that was killer. Then they said they were gonna take us into the basement and I was pretty sure they were gonna murder us and chop us into little pieces to feed to their gerbil, but I was wrong... They had a full on music studio down there. Apparently elder Simmons can Slay the drums so he and I had a sweet jam sesh with me on the guitar and the dad on the bass until dessert was ready. After dinner we taught J., she has a ton of good questions. Then we taught some former Investigators. Right when we got out of that lesson I got a call from the Zone Leaders telling me that J. from my last area was getting baptized Saturday! So awesome!

So Saturday I got a ride to the baptism from a Ward mission leader, the baptism was so great! When I walked in the room J. had the biggest smile on his face, and after the baptism he came up to me and just told me how grateful he was for me being persistent to teach him. It was great. After the baptism we went out and worked and set up some
good potential lessons.

Sunday was great, C., J. and E. came to church! E. loved it, and the family we sat by invited him over for dinner that night with us so we all went over and had dinner and a lesson. E. opened way up about his life and how he just needs the change in his life. It was so great. He basically bore his testimony on how he already felt like he was becoming part of the Ward family. So sick. I know he is one of the people we were sent here to teach. Love this area.

--Elder Ray
Elder Ray and Elder Simmons in South Jordan

Last P-Day with West Jordan Zone

Elder Ray and Jonathan, at his baptism

"Just Needed to get the Ball Rolling"

July 18, 2016

This week was great. We are starting to find success here, just needed to get the ball rolling!

Monday we had dinner with T. The day before he and elder Simmons had one of those 'Brutha' connections and set up dinner on Monday. So we went over and ate some mean bbq, then after dinner he takes out his phone and calls his brother M. who lives in Tallahassee Florida, puts it on speaker and tells him he wants for him to listen to our message. So we taught M. the restoration over the phone, and invited him to be baptized on August 6th. He accepted! So cool to see the spirit touch someone heart even through the phone. After dinner we went and met a couple, she is a member and her husband is not, but they both are completely active. His reason for not joining is that he
doesn't wanna be told he should investigate, he wants to come to that conclusion on his own, haha. Super nice guy tho! He will get there eventually.

Tuesday I conducted my first District Meeting, it went really well. Our district is so small with only 6 elders total and no sisters or older missionaries, so the meeting flew by. That night while out making visits with a ward mission leader we were walking down the sidewalk and he stopped, paused, then turned around the way we came and we knocked on a door, got in, and were able to share a message with an active family who just said that they were having really tough day spiritually and we literally answered their prayers. Best feeling ever!

Wednesday morning I went to a District Leader Training Meeting with all the district leaders in the mission to be trained by President Lansing, his wife, and the Assistants. It was super good... Wow. President Lansing spoke of when he was in the MTC talking to Elder Bednar, he mentioned how he felt like the fat kid picked last for dodgeball and Elder Bednar said "We select the best missionaries to send to Zion. As goes Zion, as goes the church. We send special missionaries to Utah so they can have these extra special experiences in Zion, then after two years we send them home so they can become the next generation of leaders in their own areas." Wow. Scary.  After that meeting we started exchanges with the zone leaders, and I went to their area to be with elder Koo from South Korea. Brought back so many memories of elder Kim! Haha. Elder Koo finishes his mission in 3 weeks, then 9 days later flies back to start BYU. Hasn't seen his fam in 2 years and only gets 9 days with them. Crazy! He is a great missionary. I learned a lot on that exchange.

Thursday was good... Nothin outta the ordinary.

Friday rocked. After all the Friday morning stuff we went out to work and oymed a kid named D., picked him up as a new investigator and put him on date. Then we had dinner, and we set up an appointment with two strong potentials. Then oymed two people to find the guy was a less active member and his wife is not a member, so we got into their house, taught them, and put her on date for baptism. Whoop whoop.

Saturday we then taught the two people we set up an appointment with and picked them up as new investigators. So we picked up 5 total this week. The ball is now Rollin!

-Elder Ray

Seth with Elder Mestre and Elder Richardson,
District Leader Training
Elder Simmons
Elder Simmons trying Nielson's Frozen Custard 

"Bless the Chicken that Laid these Eggs"

July 11, 2016

This has been a great week full of new things. Monday we got the transfer call and I spent most of my free time packing. I was headed to the Oquirrh Lake stake in Daybreak. We went and said goodbye to a couple people that were home during the day because at 6 (due to the holiday) we had a zone meeting for the rest of the night. The meeting was honestly exactly what I needed before I started this new transfer, we were trained all about how we needed to be "equally yoked" as companions to work hard together and be effective. (https://www.lds.org/media-library/video/2013-10-1111-equally-yoked-together?lang=engI am definitely going to miss the Binghak Creek stake. So many good people and memories. If all goes well I will be able to return for a couple baptisms this month which will be great. But I know that once again the lord has put me where he needs me to be so that not only can I help others, but so I can grow myself.

Tuesday started the new transfer. Moving all my stuff was so crappy... But I guess that's what happens when you inherit a gym from a Tongan. My new companion is Elder Simmons, and if you've ever seen the 'pre blessed food' video on YouTube, the black guy blessing the eggs, that's a pretty good idea of my companion. He is one funny kid! He has
been out for about 7 months and came from Illinois, but grew up in Mississippi. So combine the absolute deepest voice you have ever heard in your life (I mean it) with a southern accent, and you'll understand why I have to translate for him occasionally. When we both got to the new area and 10:00 am rolled around we went out to work. We quickly
realized why the area got white washed. There is only one investigator in the stake, and yet there is so much potential! At noon we met with the zone leaders and went over some of the expectations of being a district leader And how I can serve the missionaries in my district. Immediately following that, I went and gave my first baptism interview to one of the zone leaders investigators named D. Man... D. has it rough right now, he wants to get baptized and wants his son to baptize him, but his sons wife won't let him because of something she got offended about years ago. A few years ago dougs wife was on her death bed and wanted a cat to be with when doug couldn't be there. So D. bought her two kittens. When his daughter in law found out about that she was furious because she was heavily allergic to cats and now couldn't come in to the home. She won't forgive him for it.
I don't have a whole lot of exciting things to tell about... This week was really busy but mainly with us just going to leadership in the Ward to get referrals. We are constantly finding out about Non Members in this stake.

Wednesday night we taught our only investigator, J. J. is in her mid 50s, her husband passed away about 5 years ago to a heart attack. He was a less active member and while he was alive she had suggested they both start attending to bring God into their
relationship. A couple weeks ago the previous missionaries met her on the street and talked to her a bit about gods plan for families, and then later taught her about the plan of salvation. We taught her about the restoration and the spirit was so strong! She is so open to everything we taught and was constantly saying "Oh really, I didn't know that!" But despite the spirit she felt she couldn't recognize it as her answer and didn't accept a baptismal date. She will get there though!

Thursday morning elder Simmons had an appointment with the doctor and so I spent the morning working with the zone leaders in our area. It was nice to have a car in the area so we worked down at the bottom of the hill. Later in the day we had a zone meeting, our zone is so small...

Friday we had weekly planning, then after lunch I got to do Friday call ins. Brings back memories of when I was companions with a district leader and got to sleep a couple hours after lunch, except this time I was on the other end of it. That evening we taught a less
active family that we dropped in on, sad to see the ways people creep into inactivity and disbelief. Don't slack!

Saturday we spent all day contacting referrals without much luck, so many people are out of town! And Saturday night we got a call from a high counselor reminding us that one of us were to speak in church at 9am Sunday, and so I had about an hour to prepare for that before bed time. Sunday I gave the talk and it went super well, the spirit helped a bit. Then we spent the rest of the day split up going to different church meetings. A good day all in all. That night we swung by an old couples house. S. is 96 and still kickin, his wife J. is 93 and kicking even harder. But S. is not a member and so we tried to share with him a bit about what happens when we die. But sadly being as old as he is he wasn't too keen on listening.
Good day nonetheless! I look forward to what this area has in store for us.

Have a stellar week.

-Elder Ray

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

"Heart, Might, Mind, and Strength"

July 4, 2016

Hey. So this week rocked.

Monday night the spirit led us to a door I had almost given up on, so we knocked and J. answered, and let us in. J. is not a member, his wife M. is a less active member. A couple months ago M. was going through a rough pregnancy but got through it, a month ago J. was diagnosed with diabetes, and two weeks ago their 3 year old daughter was diagnosed with leukemia, and they have found multiple other medical issues with her since. After being told this we testified to them that God has a plan for their family that allows them to be together for eternity no matter what happened. We taught them the plan of salvation, and invited J. to be baptized.  He is on date for baptism on the 23rd of July. After that we saw A. who was doin great. Then we taught B. and M., two Evangelical Christians who weren't 100% sure what they believed (they kinda argued over their beliefs in front of us) and yet they still tried to bash with us and tell us we are wrong. Haha. Some people aren't ready to accept the gospel, that's all I gotta say. 

Tuesday was another good day, after dinner we taught N. (my Filipino convert) who is so awesome! She is such a great spirit. After that we taught A. and A. and their family. Then we taught A.. He was so ready by this point! He asked me to baptize him and elder Kremer to perform the confirmation and give him the gift of the Holy Ghost.

Wednesday we had exchanges, I left my area again and went into the Spanish area with the district leader, elder Jimenez from Ecuador. Haha he's a funny kid... The night was pretty hectic cuz we had multiple lessons in his area, and we also had to do A.'s interview, but it all went well. 

Thursday morning before leaving the apartment I said the prayer and for some reason prayed that we could find an opportunity to perform physical service for someone that day (which I usually don't say). While driving to lunch we saw a lady whose car had died at the stop light and wouldn't start, so we quickly pulled into a gas station and parked, then ran over and pushed her out of the road into a parking lot. All I gotta say is man I'm outta shape. But I do testify that the lord wants us to serve, for "when we are in the service of our fellow beings, we are only in the service of our God." And so I invite each of you to pray for an opportunity to serve someone today, and then willingly jump on the opportunities that present themselves, and recognize the blessings that come from doing so! That evening we taught a few less actives as well as KD (the recent convert girl I baptized last transfer). 

Friday was long, we didn't start proselyting till 3:30 or so. Right after weekly planning and lunch we went to the mission office to meet the new mission president! President and Sister Lansing. I'm super excited, they seem like great people. That night we taught A. one last time as a non member. 

Saturday morning A. was baptized a member of the church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. Being in the water with him was such a neat experience, You know when you're at a park sitting on a bench watching kids play and you see a little kid jump off a swing and land flat on his face and you just can't stop smiling cuz it was hilarious but you don't wanna laugh out loud? Coming up out of the water, A. had a smile on his face just like that. Ear to ear "can't help it" smile. It was so cool! When we walked into the bathroom to change he just looked me in the eyes with the same smile and said "thanks man.It really was a killer baptism.

Sunday just everything fell into place. A. got confirmed a member and received a gift of the Holy Ghost, and all of his wife's family were there. It was probably the most spiritual fast and testimony meeting I've ever been in in my life. Right after A. was confirmed, his wife S.'s dad blessed Adam's two kids, C. and G. Also, B. (a less active I've been trying to get to church for almost 5 months) showed up with his family. After the blessings and sacrament, everyone gets up and bears such powerful testimonies! One of S.'s sisters gets up and bears her testimony, saying that she hasn't done that in over 10 years but had a voice nagging her in the back of her head telling her she needs to, so she gets up and bears her testimony on how wonderful the church's Addiction Recovery Program is. Which is exactly what B. needed to hear, given that he got out of the hospital a couple days ago detoxing from alcohol. Everything worked out so perfectly, I know God knows each one of us and had our lives laid out so perfectly, all we need to do is keep doing our best to live the gospel and all will work out. After that Ward we went to J.'s Ward, but they never showed. But we got a text from them that said they had to take their daughter to Primary Children's Hospital because she wasn't doing well that morning, and that they were attending a sacrament meeting there! After that we taught C., who is on date for baptism on the 23rd. And then just to top it off tonight we were able to take B. to an ARP meeting.

"My brothers and sisters, the first great commandment of all eternity is to love God with all of our heart, might, mind, and strength--that’s the first great commandment. But the first great truth of all eternity is that God loves us with all of His heart, might, mind, and strength. That love is the foundation stone of eternity, and it should be the foundation stone of our daily life." 
-Elder Jeffery R. Holland.

-Elder Ray

Elder Kremer and Elder Ray at A.'s Baptism

Elder Kim and Elder Ray

Elder Ray and Elder Hilsberg

Pday Bowling

Sunday, July 3, 2016

The Bishop Truly Holds the Keys

July 27, 2016

Dear fam,
This week started with a great day. After pday we went out and had a great talk with B., who we are working with to get active. We got him to set up an appointment with the bishop so he can try and stop smoking and drinking. Right after that we got a text from S.A.'s wife, saying he wanted a blessing cuz his gums were hurting so bad, so we helped him out with that and were able to use it as an opportunity to teach more about the priesthood.

Tuesday was great as well, we had a zone conference all day long. At the end, lots of missionaries gave their departing testimonies before they go home, including president and sister Chambers who go home at the end of this week. It was kinda surreal, because they were here when I got here and you sorta expect them to be with you the whole way but I guess their time is up just like mine one day will be. That night we split up and went on visits, I went and taught C. and S. It went super good, we helped her get excited about gettin baptized. Her only problem is she can't seem to make it to church. We drilled on that for a bit and she said she won't miss from now on. Then after that I went with a different Ward mission leader to B.'s meeting with the bishop. And wow, did I gain a stronger testimony of that calling. The bishop truly does hold the Keys to watch over and protect the people in each Ward. In that meeting we were able to uncover that the reason for B.'s excessive drinking is that he is trying to numb the pain of the death of his wife 16 years ago. I can't believe I didn't think of that sooner because nearly every time we've met with him he brings up February 16 2000. They were in a car crash that B. believes he could have prevented if he had reached over and grabbed the wheel to prevent a head on collision. But he didn't, so his wife died, his daughter was injured seriously, as was he when he was launched head first thru the windshield. Horrible, and he blames himself for the whole thing and ever since he has sought relief from the bottle. So we are gonna make sure he gets some professional counseling to get over that burden in his life. 

Wednesday/Thursday we went on exchanges, I went with elder Austin to the Spanish area again. Fun stuff. We taught some crazy people... Friday we had some good lessons, we taught H., a less active who wants to baptize his son soon. Great guy, just needs to come to church. So we committed him to do that. Then we taught J., another less active. Then had dinner with a really weird, quiet family. We got in and all the food was on the table ready to go, so we ate in 10 minutes, tried to talk for 5 but that did work, so we shared a message and went home and napped for the rest of the dinner hour haha. Then we taught A. and J., A.'s a member, J. is not. We helped them move into the apartments a month or so ago. It was a great lesson and you could tell J. felt something but he just couldn't open his heart and follow the prompting of the spirit. Then we taught A. and S. again. A.'s lookin great!

Saturday was a crazy busy day, we set up so many lessons! I think I talked to more people Saturday than I had ever before. Sunday, A. and S. came to church, and so did H. No one else did though. That night we taught A. and S. and went over the baptism interview questions to get him ready. We also gave him about 10 ties cuz he hasn't worn one at church so we figured he didn't have any. I love so much when the people we teach just keep progressing and we can see the change in their personalities and spirit. He really has repented and prepared himself for baptism, and I can't wait for him to take that step!

Party on dudes.

-Elder Ray