Monday, April 30, 2012

Week 15 in Sterling Park

It has been quite a great week here in Sterling. We have had lots of really great success! We found 3 new people to teach! First off was an older man who lives next to a member of the ward here. We had stopped by their home to drop off a Book of Mormon for them to write their testimony in and they mentioned that the man next door was quite a bit older and could use someone to talk to as well as someone to mow his lawn so we headed right over to his house and he was pretty excited to see us haha. He let us right in and was more than happy to just sit and talk with us about religion and various things. He is a super cool old guy haha he is 90 and has been a Methodist minister almost his entire life, he was in WW2 and he was a professor of history for 40 years! How cool is that? So he had all sorts of awesome stories to tell us and he showed us a huge train set thing he had built in his garage from scratch. It was like an entire city with various buildings he had hand made with stuff he had found around the house and he had some super old antique trains to go around and through it too, some of which are worth more than $500 a car! He said he would definitely like us to come back and read from our "Mormon Bible" (The Book of Mormon haha) and his Bible haha so that should be sweet. Then later in the week at about 8:45, so right before we were going to head in for the night, we knocked on the door of a man who Elder Anderson had met on the street on an exchange about a month ago who was a member who had fallen away many years ago. He had since lost contact with the Church and wasn't on the ward list. We had knocked on his door many many times before but this time he was there! And man was he excited to see us haha. His eyes got all big and he said "Gentlemen come on in!" So we came in and he introduced us to his wife, she was not a member but she was always very curious about our beliefs so she had lots of questions haha. Just earlier that day though we had just "happened to" have had both a husband and wife in the ward write their testimonies in a Book of Mormon on the first two pages and we were carrying it around with us. So we had a really great lesson about the restoration, during which the husband was very excited to share everything he remembered about it too, and at the end of the lesson Elder Anderson and I both felt very strongly that they needed to have that specific copy of The Book of Mormon that we had just gotten earlier that day. So we gave it to them and they were really glad to receive it and even more glad once they found out their neighbors had written their own personal testimony in it as well. So all around it was a very very cool experience. Then on top of that we went and helped a member with some yard ward about one o clock today and their weed wacker had just broke so we rode our bikes down the street to pick up one from a woman we do yard work for weekly to use instead. After we had finished up with the members though we were riding back to the ladies house to give her her weed wacker back (I had it across my handle bars and we were both in white shirts and ties still so it was quite a strange sight haha) and this guy we rode past was like "What are you guys doing with that thing? You selling it or something?" So we told him we had just finished doing someones edging with it so we were just returning it back to a friend of ours. He then asked "Well how much are you guys charging?" Of course our answer was we don't charge haha and he was like "You're kidding me? You'll just trim my yard for free?" So again of course our answer was yes haha so we helped him trim up his yard and he said he would definitely be interested in us stopping by his house sometime to share our beliefs. So overall it was a great week of success here in Sterling! The Lord has really blessed us with great people in our path this week! I hope everyones week well back home! I'll hopefully let you guys know of some more great experiences next week!

4/23 email- Lots of Rain.

Well it's been quite a good week here in Sterling Park! We had lots of lessons fortunately so that was good. But man it has been very rainy! People keep telling us about the crazy thunderstorms they are supposed to have here in VA but I've yet to see one haha. They have been our forecast for all weekend though and so far I've yet to hear thunder haha just lots and lots of rain. So we've been pretty soaked. Which you would think would make people a little more likely to let us in when we knock on their door but so far it hasn't seemed to make much of a difference haha. We sure have been getting the most out of the bikes though. Elder Anderson absolutely hates riding the bikes but we do it anyways haha. It seems to really surprise all the ward members that we see that we are on bikes too. I guess from what we hear they haven't had Elders who get out on the bikes much in quite some time. I don't see why they wouldn't ride them though, from what I can tell they just seem to be lots faster than walking and for the most part lots less work too haha. EA (Elder Anderson) really disagrees with me on that one though haha. We are really having a rough time getting our investigators to progress though. We have lots of appointments with them and stay in contact with them regularly but it's like they just never want to keep up with any of the commitments we leave them. We keep trying our best though. Oh and I almost forgot, last night we had a pretty intense lesson with a couple of less active people in the ward that we have been doing our best help get back to church. All in all it went well in the end but man did it take some serious directing by the spirit haha. There's no way we could do anything we do out here without it haha. Something that started off the lesson on a different note though was the person we were there for telling us that there would be someone coming over in a few minutes to talk business and that we could just stay and watch. Well right as that was said the doorbell rang and before you knew it we were 15 minutes into a presentation on some pyramid scheme about getting us to sell some online product and start our own websites so this lady could make more money and she could guarantee us each "400 bucks a month, EVEN in the first month!." It was probably the most awesome deal I've ever heard. Fortunately enough once we told her that EA and I don't use the internet hardly ever she stopped trying to sell us on it and switched to the people we were visiting haha. It was such a scam. The lady was soooo shady too haha. Nothing beats getting offered the "deal of a lifetime" though. So overall it was a pretty good week here. No major break throughs by any means, but we're getting there! Hopefully we'll start to see it soon enough! I hope everyone had a great week wherever you all are though! I'll talk to you guys next week!

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Staying in Sterling Park with Elder Anderson!

Well transfers came and went and here we are! Elder Anderson and I will be here in Sterling Park for at least 6 more weeks! I thought for sure I was getting transferred haha. This is the first time I've
stayed with a companion more than 6 weeks and the first time I've been in an area for more than 3 months haha. We are both super pumped about being able to spend some more time here. We were the only companionship in the entire zone that stayed together though haha. So I'd say we got pretty  lucky haha. It has been quite a solid week here though. We are rolling out our new mission plan in our ward here for passing out 20 copies of The Book of Mormon each week. The thing that makes it a "ward mission plan" though instead of an Elder Gronning and Elder Anderson plan haha is that we are going to be having the families in the ward provide the Books and write their personal testimony of how The Book of Mormon has helped them out in their lives. So that when we pass these Books out it's not just some 19 year old kid passing them a book telling them it's changed their life, it's something more personal, with someone who lives in their neighborhood testifying both of it's truthfulness and divinity as well as how it has blessed their life. So it should be pretty sweet haha. On top of that we have been blessed with finally some progression of a couple of our investigators! Two teenagers we are teaching who are brother and sister had planned on coming to church with us this past Sunday, but instead when we stopped by the brother told us he wouldn't be able to make it, but his sister's friend was there and said she would like to go but wasn't sure what our church was all about (She thought we had multiple wives haha). So we were able to teach her all about the Restoration and gave her a Book of Mormon. She was so excited when we gave her the Book too haha. Her immediate reaction was "Oh my gosh! Really? Are you sure?" haha I guess she, like a lot of people, probably thought that we charge people for copies of The Book of Mormon haha. So both of them showed up at church and they loved it! The friend of the girl we had been teaching met her soccer coach there who turns out is a member of our ward haha and they both found a few friends they knew from school there too! So it was a sweet experience all around. Also the girl, who we have been teaching for a few weeks now, expressed her interest in being baptised as a member! But she
said she wasn't quite ready to commit to anything yet, she felt like there was more she wanted to learn first, which we told her was totally fine and we would be there to help her learn all she wants to know beforehand. So overall it was a very exciting Sunday! We found out some awesome news from President Albright too this past week over text. We will be having Elder Bednar of the Quorum of the 12 Apostles come and speak to our mission on may 5th! How cool is that? Haha so really in total it was a great week here! I hope everyone had a great week as well! I will talk to you guys next week!

Pictures from Elder Gronning

Elders Gronning & Wloka

Pday's are made for golfing!

Elders at Christmas

Love that missionary!

Elders Johnson & Gronning
Washington DC Temple

Dinner at a member's home.

Elder's apartments

Elder Gronning & Lauren at her baptism.

Pday golfing!

Elders Gronning and Anderson

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Last week of the Transfer! Happy Easter!

Well it's been a pretty solid week here. No crazy exciting stories really though haha. Just a pretty good week. We had a good couple of lessons with some investigators of ours and watched the first little bit of conference with them to get them Motivated to watch it so that was pretty sweet. 
We also got to give a lady a blessing for her to recover from a surgery she had just gone through. That was a great
experience, I love it when people let us give them blessings haha. It was one of Elder Andersons firsts so I had to walk him through how to do it a bit but he did great. The lady immediately afterwards said that it was really quite a sensational feeling she felt when we were blessing her. She said it felt very warm and comforting to her (which was sweet because she was very skeptical about us having the authority to perform the same blessings the apostles gave in the new testament haha). So we were able to tell her about how that feeling was the spirit and talk about that for awhile. Overall a really cool experience. 
Easter was great though! I hope everyone back home had a good Easter as well. It's always strange because holidays out here don't really feel like holidays haha they seem to just come and go like any other day. But we had a nice family from the ward invite us over for dinner and fortunately I had some good letters and packages from you all to read that made it feel like Easter as well haha. Oh one crazy experience though I had Easter evening at the departing missionary fireside was I ran into a guy I had went to high school and graduated with! What are the odds of that? His name is Zack Stone and we had both sort of known of each other and seen each other from time to time but we ran in different circles so we never really knew each other. He joined the church just a month ago though and is stationed out here at the Marine base. It was awesome to see a familiar face haha. We were at the departing missionary fireside which missionaries have to bring investigators or recent converts to to be able to go, and so one of the missionaries who covers Zack's area had just happened to bring him with. Such a cool experience haha. 
Like the subject says though we've got transfers this week :( I'm hoping I stay with Anderson at least one more transfer, he's a great guy. But I will probably get transferred clear off to somewhere new again haha. I've yet to stay with a companion more than a transfer or stay in an area for more than two transfers so if I stay this time around I'll be breaking all sorts of personal records haha. So I'll have to let you guys know how that goes. Well I hope all is well with everyone wherever you are! I'll talk to you all next week! 
Oh and here's a link to a video the church released for Easter about the last week of Christ's life, very cool but very sad.

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Conference Weekend!

So our highlight from the past week was definitely general conference! Man wasn't that awesome? I've decided that as a missionary I must just be a much better listener haha I think I took like 11 or 12 pages worth of notes this time compared to my previous record of 0 haha. A lot of those talks really stuck out to me and I'm going to do my best to apply them to me as much as possible. If any of you guys missed any sessions of it I'd definitely watch them when you've got some time on Outside of conference though we had a pretty good week overall. Unfortunately not a ton of progression by our investigators and we actually had one end up in jail for a bit haha. But we had an
awesome lesson with these two teenagers we are teaching and they watched conference on Sunday too. I really think they are starting to see how important the Gospel is and especially how it can help them both have happier lives, so super cool haha. Also this week we had a plethra of lessons with less actives and recent converts. Especially a good amount with these two people who were baptised on Christmas eve last year and have since fallen away. So that was great. Unfortunately I didn't get any good April fools jokes in this yeareither :( so lame! I've got a sweet fake solid ceramic egg that Lauren gave us that I've been waiting to get Elder Anderson to try and crack but the opportunity hasn't came up yet... so it'll be a delayed April fools joke haha. thank you to everyone who sent me packages this week too! I'll be able to send you guys more personal thank yous as well but I can't say thanks enough for them. It really means a lot to me.
Well I suppose that really that's about it from this past week haha. I hope all is well with everyone back home! Oh and before I forget I have a quick little favorite quote from conference that is from
President Uchdorff "Sometimes we must step blindly into the darkness, having faith that God will place solid ground under our feet when we do." Well once again I hope everyone has a great week and I'll give you guys an update next Monday!
A real quick little video that I found this past week during our time I thought you guys would like:
hopefully that works haha.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

1/4 of the way!

Man tell Shell congrats on the Math test! That's Awesome! If she keeps that up she'll have the grocery stores begging her to be their scanner when she debuts her career haha ;) Glad to hear the bishops youth
discussion went well. I'm sure Dad did an awesome job teaching it too. I know he doesn't think it but he really is a great speaker haha. I find myself sounding like him a lot when I teach people or speak in meetings haha. Which is sweet, but I totally do it subconsciously and then I realize it as I'm talking haha. Isn't it crazy to think that I've already been gone 6 months though? Well almost I suppose, but
still haha. It feels like I just barely got here to the mission and I'm already almost 1/4 of the way through it! haha.
No sight of the Easter Package you sent yet though but thanks in advance! I'm sure it will be awesome :) Tell the Gibson family thanks for their letter too for St. Patricks day and just let them know that my letter back to them is on it's way shortly haha.

Updated Washington DC South Mission Map

Each Stake, or Mission Zone is represented by a different color.
Purple  Ashburn
White  Centreville
LimeGreen Fredericksburg
Lt.Pink   Oakton
Green  McLean
Orange   Annandale
Peach  Mt Vernon
All the wards are outlined in red.