Monday, September 30, 2013

Possibly my last email from the mission field! 9/30/13

Well it's crazy to think that my mission is coming to a close, it's the beginning of my last week here as a missionary and man am I blown away. It's flown by! I don't know what the plan is for next Monday 100% but I know we have to drive up to the mission home at some point and drop me off, so that's why I say this might be my last email, hopefully it's not though :)
The past week has been a great one, the Lord is really blessing me with a good end to my mission haha. We got to teach quite a bit of lessons and are hoping to teach even more this upcoming week. Probaly one of the craziest lessons we had though was with the new person we are teaching named "Meeka" (shortened from Shameeka). We met her the Saturday before last in some very ghetto apartments in the area, she has had a rough past that she is very open about and is looking to change. She told us all about how she had worked as a stripper from the time she was 16 until just a few years ago (she's currently 26) she realized that wasn't the life she wanted to live after a a private show she was told by a man that she can't "expect to make nowhere it in life without no Pimp" and so she should come work for him. It was at that point she turned her life around and get back into church but her first Sunday back she felt very judged and unwelcome because she could hear people whispering that she was just some "Holy-Ho" and so she want's to be a better person and get back into going to church but feels like she will keep being judged if she came back to church.  Well that's the very shortened very censored version of the story we got on our first visit with her, hopefully that didn't offend anyone, as a missionary people just open up and tell you all sorts of crazy and not so socially acceptable things so it makes it hard to tell what things are alright to repeat in a public setting and what's not after awhile haha. But anyways the reason I tell you about her is because, she was very very pregnant when we met her last week and this week we got to teach her in the hospital while she was having her baby, the baby's daddy isn't really around anymore as far as we can tell, so she wanted us to be there for support. It was definitely one of the craziest settings I've ever taught someone a lesson haha but she told us just to keep teaching her about the plan of salvation because it would help calm her down while she was going through her contractions. We ended up leaving about 3:30 because she was starting to be in quite a bit of pain and sure enough at 5:00ish the baby was born! Her name is Legend, and she's a very cute baby. That was definitely the craziest story we had happen to us this past week, I'll attach a few pictures of it. The rest of the week we had lots of great experiences teaching people too but for the sake of space I'll just talk about that one.
I have absolutely loved my mission. There's not a minute of it I would change. It's been so sweet to see the gospel effect the lives of the people here and help them to do better. It's been just as awesome to see myself grow in my testimony and conversion to the Gospel as well. I feel like all throughout my life I've had a testimony of the gospel, I've never really doubted the truth of it, questioned it yes, but never really doubted it. The difference to me now it that I feel truly converted to the gospel and know the things I need to do personally to hold onto that conversion. There is a very big difference between just having a testimony of the truth and being converted to the truth. The first can come very suddenly, it can be based off the knowledge of a true gospel principle, and it can be obtained by any son or daughter of God in any time period or any place in the world. Conversion comes only through living the gospel and implementing it in our life. I feel like through the past 2 years little by little I have been able to experience true conversion and boy is it an incredible thing. I hope to continue to experience that all throughout my life. I know this church and gospel are Christ's. I know that God loves every one of his children today just as he always has. Because of that he allows us to grow through sufferings and trials here in life, as hard as I'm sure it is for Him to watch us go through them and as easy as it would be for Him to take them all away, He doesn't, because He loves us enough to let us grow through them. If you don't know that for your self, I testify that you can know, just as I do. I know that God's church has been Restored here in our time and that any person can find that same truth for them self, all it takes is a sincere and heartfelt prayer to God with real intent to act on the answer he gives. I have loved my mission. I'm sad to see it end, but I know that it's all part of God's plan. I love and miss each of you guys and I can't wait to see you next week!

Monday, September 23, 2013

Good times and allergies!

This week was another good one as always here in the mission field. It was a lot less busy than the past couple of weeks so that was very nice. Man have allergies been kicking my butt though! We're starting to transition to fall here so all the leaves are changing colors and falling off and man for some reason it has been driving my sinuses crazy haha. I definitely didn't have them this bad last year, but nothing a little allergy meds can't fix!
We had some great success this past week following up on the potential people to teach we found last week that were just too busy to meet at the time. We found a nice couple named Teresa and Randy that loved the lesson we had with them about the Restoration of the Gospel, they said they would definitely pray about it and let us know how it went. So that was sweet. We also met a young African American woman named Meeka. She has had a super rough past but said she wants to make big changes in her life to start doing what she should be doing. That's always a comforting thing to hear as a missionary haha. Probably the biggest change we've seen this past week in someone we are teaching though is with this guy named Erik. I've talked about him a few times in emails before, but just a quick review, he is 26 has two young kids and has had a very rough past relationship with his ex-wife who has done everything in her power to take his kids from him. He's always believed in God but just doesn't know where he's at right now, he feels like he's been left behind. Well this Sunday he came to church at his own free will for the first time ever, and although he's not the kind of guy to flat out admit it, he loved it and felt the spirit for the first time in a very long time. He asked us to come by later that night and man he was just a totally changed person, it think it was the first time in the 3 months I've been here that we've seen him legitimately happy, it was sweet!
Well that's the update for the week here. Not too many things out of the ordinary but enough to make it a great week! Well I hope each of you are having a great week wherever you are! Crazy to think I'll see a lot of you guys in just 2 weeks. 2 years flies by! I love and miss each of you though and I'll talk to you next week!

Monday, September 16, 2013

A Fantastic Week in Chesterfield!

Well this past week was our "Mission President's Challenge" week. Meaning that this past week there was a competition mission-wide to see what companionship could find the most new people to teach in a week. It was awesome! As zone leaders we were asked to go work for 2 hours with each set of Elders in our zone which put us at 20 hours of knocking on doors this past week with Elders in their areas haha, busy busy! Because we wouldn't be able to do hardly any work in our areas we were told to count how many people we helped find in other areas towards our total for "the challenge" meaning that we had to be the ones to actually meet them and teach them. Well our zone kicked butt at that competition! Elder Collie and I were able to find 43 new people to teach with other missionaries and the zone all together (about 44 missionaries) found a total of 133 new people to teach! We reported that into the Assistants and President last night and they were totally blown away haha. I guess the missionaries here just really took it seriously and tried their hardest! The week before last our entire zone only found 24 new people and that was about an average week. So for that to multiply by 5 in the course of 1 week was incredible haha, they said that we found more in our one zone this week than the entire mission put together found last month! Crazy! It was hardly anything us or the missionaries in the zone were doing though, that was very plain to see. The only thing we had to do was put in the effort and the Lord did the rest haha. It was incredible just how prepared people were to receive the gospel in the past week. You can tell the Lord was really prepped for "the Challenge". I can think of at least 5 times off the top of my hear where people just waved us in right when they saw us and were excited to hear the news of the Gospel. There were times every day where someone would tell us we had came just at the right time, or that they just knew we were sent by God to their house that day. A woman even came up to Elder Collie and one of the missionaries we were with Tuesday and said that when she shook their hand she could feel the spirit and knew that they were angels sent from God. What an awesome week it was! The only downsides to it are 1: Everyone in the zone BUT us has tons of new people to teach haha, we only got to spent some time Thursday and Sunday night within our own area boundaries so we only found 1 new person haha and 2: We drove our car about 700 miles in the past 7 days traveling around to each area haha, which for the entire month we are only allotted 1400... So we're going to have a very hard time staying under that now. The plus side of spending so much time driving though was that we got to see all the different places in our zone that we had never been to just because they were so far out. if you're curious just how far out in the sticks we were you can type in the cities we were in on google maps. We live in Colonial Heights and we traveled to Lawrenceville, Emporia, Wakefield, Hopewell, and then of course up north to a few places but all those were in the city so nothing too exciting. Well I better get going and finish up this email. It ended up a pretty long one, sorry about that, but it was one of the best weeks of my mission so far for sure! We got to see God's hand in everything we did, it was so sweet. Today we are going to go golfing with President Wilson so I have to be pretty quick on my email time today, but golf will be sweet! I hope each of you are having a great day as well! I love and miss you all lots and I'll see you soon!

Monday, September 9, 2013

Another Good but Busy week in Swift Creek!

Well like the subject says it has been another great week here in the life of a missionary! Lots and lots of meetings though haha. Definitely the thing I dislike the most about being a zone leader is just all of the meetings. Wednesday was the Mission Leader Council (I think I've mentioned in a few emails before about my lack of excitement in those meetings) it went for about 8 hours, and then on Friday we had our Zone Meeting, always good times as well haha. So as good as those two meetings were, I'm glad they are over with.
In between the meetings though we were able to get some good teaching appointments in, that's always pretty sweet. We have been starting to do this thing with the people we teach called a "Baptismal Calendar" where when someone sets a goal date that they would like to feel ready by to be baptized we say okay, now lets talk about what the things are that you personally feel uncomfortable about right now with baptism, then we use this blank calendar sheet to schedule days to teach about each of those things, goals to start living certain commandments they are struggling with, and the times  and dates we'll be having church and other church activities they should attend. It's super effective and really helps people see what they need to do to feel ready for baptism. It helps them have a nice road map to follow and it helps us teach to their needs rather than just general lessons. It's awesome! So this week we've started implementing it with a few of the people we are teaching and it has worked great. We helped a lady we've been teaching for awhile quit smoking this past Saturday with it and so far it's going really well! We made her a poster and brought it to her office so she could put it up on her desk so that people at work would stop asking her to go out and smoke with them. She loved it! We took pictures with her when we did it so i'll attach that to another email. Her boss loved it too, he hates that she smokes haha. So he even went so far to say that if she stops smoking he'll give her 1 weeks paid vacation and a $300 bonus! So he's been helping us quite a bit too.Way awesome.
We've also found a few new people to teach this past week, quite a but actually, which was much needed. 2 of them, a husband and wife in their 80's named Aida and Will, we knocked on their door and they opened right up and said "Yes! Y'all have come back to see us!" They said a couple of missionaries visited them 3 or 4 months ago but never came back to visit, they love the Book of Mormon and all the things that we taught them so far. they said they'll be coming to church this next Sunday and will pray about being Baptized on the 5th of October. It was solid how they answered to the invitation to be baptized too haha her husband Will is recovering from a stroke so he can't really walk anymore, so her immediate response was "Well you see, I know Will wouldn't be able to because of his stroke..." then she paused for a second and said "Actually you know what, where there is a will there is a way, and if God wants us to do that then he will provide a way for it to happen. So yes we will pray about that and Jesus will provide." So solid! People give us excuse after excuse but really she's right, when it is in the will of God he will provide a way, no matter what.
Being a missionary rocks! Well just a few experiences I wanted to share. The Gospel works awesome miracles in peoples lives and it is so sweet to witness it first hand. I hope you guys are all having a great day wherever you are! I love and miss you all and I'll talk to you next week!

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Pictures from Elder Gronning(finally sent his SD card home)

Elder Skinner, Ben & Elder Gronning

Elder Rasmussen, Giacominis, Elder Gronning

Washington DC Temple

Elder Gronning loves golf

Elders Rasmussen & Gronning

Elders & the Giacomini family

Elder Gronning likes to fish

Happy 21st bday Elder Gronning!

Elders Collie and Gronning at the zoo

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Looks like I will be spending the rest of my mission in Swift Creek Ward!

Well transfers came and went and there were no changes here! Which we were both very stoked about haha. I'll be the first companion Elder Collie has had for more than one transfer haha. I'm also super pumped I didn't have to move all my stuff and relearn an area for my last 6 weeks here haha, that would have been super lame. We had lots of changes to the zone though so even though our area didn't get effected at all it was still a very hectic week for us haha. But all in all it was still a great week. We found a few new people to teach, or at least we thought it was a few haha, we started teaching a Mother and daughter on Tuesday and then came back for a return appointment on Thursday and found out that the Mom was actually already a member of the Church and just hadn't been to church in a really long time haha, which explains why she knew all the answers in our first visit with her haha. Her daughter is very interested in becoming a member of the church though and they were both able to make it to church this past Sunday and really liked it! So hopefully they continue to progress well. The night after transfers (Friday) was Elder Collie's birthday and so we got to to some celebrating, big celebrating actually haha. since Saturday was BYU's football game against VCU and Elder Collie played on the team, the coach got a hold of him and our mission President and asked if we would be able to come to dinner with the team and if Elder Collie would be able to speak at their fireside later that night. Well President Wilson said yes and wanted to be the one to take us! So we got to spend the day with President Wilson and the BYU football team, it was awesome! Man did I feel tiny though haha. Everyone of those guys are just HUGE, I didn't reach probably 75% of their shoulders haha. Every one of them knew Elder Collie though and was super stoked to see him. No doubt it was a very emotional night for Elder collie haha. The fireside was great, super spiritual, we got to hear Coach Mendenhall bare his testimony and it was incredible. such a well accomplished coach and he talked all about no matter how well any of their games go, their first priority will always be demonstrating Christlike attributes to the world as a team and bringing people to the Gospel by doing so. Then he added "and of course people are going to be lots more likely to take us seriously if we win, so we're going to keep doing that too" haha. It was a great night but a long one, we got back to the house at like 11:30 and then went to a baptism first thing in the morning haha. Good back to back events for sure. The baptism was definitely the highlight of the week and went very well. The only downside is that we flooded the church quite a bit... haha. The first time they filled up the font for a baptism here it took 6 and a half hours and it was about knee deep, the next time it took four hours and it was just right, the next time it took 2 and a half hours and it was just over the top, and this time we had the water running for probably an hour and 5 mins and water was running down the hallway haha. So that was kind of a panic situation haha. Luckily no one was mad and we got it all cleaned up, but man were we freaking out haha. Tina is now a member of the church though and loves it! So like I said, all around a great week! I hope all of you had one just as good! I love and miss you all and I'll talk to you next week!