Monday, June 25, 2012

Last Email From Sterling Park

Well Transfers have come again and this time it's finally come my time to leave Sterling. It's been awesome being able to spend so much time here though, it really is a great place. It's crazy to think that 1/4 of my entire mission was spent here haha I feel like I have only been here like 1 month tops! I wish I could stay longer but it sounds like the Lord needs someone else here instead. It shows how good of a missionary Elder McGoffin is though because he'll be taking over the area after only being here for a total of 5 weeks! He'll do a great job though. This transfer was a little bit different than normal though because of the Albrights going home this transfer, so they shortened it to only 5 weeks instead of 6 and lengthened the next to 7 weeks to make up for it. So wherever I go next I'll be there for atleast 7 weeks I guess haha. It's definately sad to see the Albrights go though. They have touched so many people's hearts during their three years here. We had a departing fireside thing with all the missionaries this past Friday so everyone would get a chance to give them a hug and say godbye. That was really awesome, such a spirit filled meeting. The Assistants to the President (AP's) put together a huge picture of the Washington DC temple for them that was made completely out of all the pictures of each missionary in the past 3 years and each baptism that had happened while they were here as well. It was incredible! I think Sister Albright put up a picture of it on the mission blog. Then on Sunday night we had our departing missionary fireside for the missionaries going home this transfer, including the Albrights, that everyone was invited to (members, non members, missionaries, anybody who knew the Albrights). There were only 10 missionaries going home including the Albrights but the entire Chapel was filled and so was the full gym behind it. Clear from the podium all the way back to the stage peoplehad come to say goodbye to these 10 missionaries, man it was awesome! All the missionaries who were leaving gave great words of advice. I had servered around almost all of them at one point or another too so it was really special actually knowing each of them. It will definately be hard seeing each of them go, along with the Albrights. This week we will have President Riggs come in from AZ though and I'm sure he will do a great job as well. I'm sure there will be a ton of changes coming though haha. It should be a week of lots of new things happening though! Tuesday I'll be in a new area with a new companion and Thursday we'll get a brand new mission president! So it should be a pretty crazy week all around haha. Well I hope everyone had a great week as well! I'll have a lot to update on next week for sure haha.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Happy Fathers Day!

I hope everyone had a great fathers day weekend! Especially my Dad haha. I'm a bit short on time this week because all the library computers were full today so I'm stuck with only about 20 mins of email time today :( but I had one awesome experience I had to share from this past week. It was about 5 o clock on Fri and we had just gotten home and changed into some service clothes to go help out a guy with some yard work and we got a knock on the door (weird for missionaries to be on the other side of the door haha). It was a guy in a button up shirt, a tie, and a clip board, so our first thought was that he was either a Jehovah's witness or a sales person (a bit ironic I know because that's what everyone assumes about us too haha) But we answered the door and he seemed pretty surprised and was like "Oh hey Elders!" and so we got to talking to him and asked if he was a member because he seemed pretty familiar with missionaries and he told us his name was President Williams. It wasn't a name that sounded familiar by any means but he then asked us if he could tell us a story from his mission, we of course said sure. We were both pretty sure he was still trying to sell us something though haha. But he said he had served in the late 80's and was GQ'ing (asking people "Golden Questions") at a restaurant with his companions. They didn't have a lot of luck but he felt very strongly impressed that he should talk to the girl behind the cash register about the gospel and give her a Book of Mormon, so he did and she said that they could come over and teach her sometime. Well he was transferred out of the area shortly afterwards but a little while later he heard that she had been baptized! Always an awesome thing for a missionary to hear haha. So he finished up his mission and went back to BYU Provo and about a year later he got a wedding invitation in the mail that this girl was getting married in the temple in the Salt Lake area. So he went to their wedding and all was well. So a longer while down the line, about 20 years he gets called to the Washington DC North Mission Presidency and a little bit into his term there he finds out that this girl's son is serving in the Washington DC South mission and he needed to go and meet him. Well he then told us that that girl who he gave the Book of Mormon to was my Mom, Julie Gronning, and the guy she had married was his missionary companion and my Dad Mike Gronning! How crazy awesome is that?! So we talked for a little while and I made sure to let him know that he had changed my life and the lives of my family forever because he listened and acted on the promptings the spirit gave him. It was an amazing experience, he was able to give me some pictures he had of when he and my Dad were companions in the mission field and told me how great of a missionary my Dad was. It was so awesome! It really strengthened my testimony that the spirit prompts us to do things that may seem small at the time but can change the lives of others forever. It also strengthened my testimony that the Lord calls us to serve where we are truly needed the most. Had I never been called to the DC South mission I don't know if I would have ever been able to meet president Williams and give him thanks for the happiness he's brought to my family through his service. Well I am out of time now :( so I've got to get running. I hope all is well back home though! I love and miss all of you guys!

Monday, June 11, 2012

Service Service and More Service!

Well it was a great week for service! And a hot one too haha. We had unplanned acts of service come up almost every day this week though. Saturday alone we did just a little over 12 hours of service divided amongst 3 different people haha. It was a very rare occasion. We are "called to serve" though so I imagine that is just as much a fulfillment of our purpose as teaching lessons. Kind of a bummer though because to the mission president and the other missionaries it just looks like we didn't do anything all week because we reported very few lessons taught to them for the week and the mission doesn't track service hours so it just looks like we took the week off :/ when in reality it was one of our most strenuous weeks yet. My bike is fixed though! Good old CTR bikes said it wasn't covered on warranty though, but the part was only $25 so it wasn't a very big deal. It turns out that thing is called a derailer and is a pretty rare thing to brake without biking on some pretty hardcore mountains, but somehow it still broke off haha. We were able to get it put on incorrectly pretty easily, but to get it to work the way it's supposed to we had to run it over to a members house and have him fix it for us haha. It's all back up and running now though! The definite highlight of our week for sure though is that we had a family we are teaching come to church for the first time! Which was awesome! Unfortunately we were surrounded by crying babies where we were sitting though and it was a special sacrament meeting in commemoration of modern day prophets, which normally is a really cool thing, but for their first time going to church they both said afterwards that they felt we put too much focus on worshipping the prophets instead of God :/ that and they heard somewhere that we fast every Sunday so they were starving by the end of sacrament meeting and needed to go home to eat something :/ But after we explained that: we just ended up in a bad spot and there's usually not that many crying babies, that it was a unique sacrament meeting and usually we put our main focus on God, and we only fast once a month instead of every Sunday; they said they would be willing to give it another shot and stay for all three hours next time around haha. On the plus side though the ward did an excellent job of coming up and introducing themselves! They had a few people talk to them about maybe setting up a time to have dinner together with them and the people sitting in front of us turned out to be people that they had met before because they were neighbors to their Uncle! So all those things were very nice haha. Hopefully nice enough that looking back on it they will see it as a good experience and recognize the special spirit felt there. Well that's about all for this week! I hope all is well with everyone back home or wherever you all are!

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Excellent Week in Sterling!

Like it says up top, it has been an excellent week here in Sterling! We had probably a record number of lessons for the area in quite some time and found 3 new people to teach! All around way cool haha. We had quite an adventure getting to the library today though haha. We were on our way over when we saw a guy parked on the side of the main road here (Sterling Blvd, very busy street) with his hazards on, so we stopped to see if he needed any help with anything and he said his car had just ran out of gas. So we pushed his car up the street a bit and down onto a side street so he was out of traffic and offered to run and grab him some gas from the gas station, but he didn't have a gas can haha. So we hopped on the bikes and ran to a nearby member's home to grab an empty gas can that she had, that it turns out didn't have a lid, and then my chain came off on the way back haha. So no big deal got that put back on and we kept going to the gas station. Well we got the gas can filled up all nice and strapped it to Elder MCGoffin's backpack (still no lid) and headed back. We got about 1/4 mile back up the road though and about simultaneously he has gas all over his back all of a sudden and my bike's back tire makes an explosion sound of some sort and comes to a stop. Turns out my rear gear changer totally snapped off and got caught in the spokes. So my bike was pretty much just done at that point. So with my bike broke and Elder McGoffin smelling like gasoline we walked back to the guys car and got it filled up enough to start haha. The awesome part about the story though is that we were able to talk to the guy about the church and he asked us lots of good questions. So we gave him a Book of Mormon and a card with our number so he could call us and asked if we could come over and teach him more sometime, he said no haha, but still he said he would read from the Book and pray about it, which is awesome! So that made it worth it for sure. He probably won't go home read the whole book and want to join the church next week or anything, but I believe we planted a seed. So that someday when the missionaries knock on his door he'll remember talking with us today and then maybe he'll let them in. But that did take away from quite a bit of our email time today :/ so that's about all I have time to write today haha. But I love and miss you all and hope that all is well wherever you are!

Sorry for the late email 5/30/12

Well I wasn't expecting it at all... but here I am in Sterling for another 6 weeks! Haha. Which I am pretty pumped about. The bigger surprise though is that the reason I stayed here is so that I could train again! So here I am with my new companion fresh from the MTC Elder McGoffin! Elder Anderson is just right across our border in Herndon now with a new companion who I don't know, but I'm sure he will do great there. So actually odds are I'll be here for another 12 weeks to stay with Elder McGoffin during training haha. Even if I only stay in Sterling for the next 6 weeks though I will have been here for 6 months now! an entire fourth of my mission haha. EMG (Elder Mcgoffin) is a great guy though. He is from Loreno Texas and about 10 months ago his family moved there from Springfield Virginia. Which is in the mission haha. So that's pretty cool. He might even end up serving in his home ward at some point! So far we have been blessed with some really good success though. We have been knocking on doors like crazy! We knocked for probably about 3 hours straight on Tuesday haha. Which reminds me, the reason this email is so late is because we had our P-day moved so that we could be out finding people while everyone is home for memorial day weekend. Which turned out awesome because we found a new investigator Monday evening and we are going back to have another lesson with him on Saturday! Plus on Tuesday we had a very spirit filled lesson with a girl that we have been teaching for awhile now, about the restoration of the Gospel, and at the end of it we asked her if she would like to be baptised and she said yes! But she doesn't feel ready yet, she feels like she needs to correct her life a little and learn more before she becomes a member, so we set a goal with her of a date that we would help her to be prepared by so that she could have a goal in mind and the day we are shooting for is June 30th! So that was way exciting! It had been a really long time we had met with her and we thought for sure that she just wasn't interested any more but thanks to the spirit she felt during the lesson she has decided that she wants to do whatever she can to be closer to God! Way sweet! Well that's about it for this week. More in just a few days on Monday! It sounds like everything is going great back home. I am way jealous of those in the Virgin Islands right now! It looks so nice there, and here it's just way sticky hot and humid! Well I love and miss you all.