Monday, October 19, 2015

Roller Coaster of Emotions

Orange, TX Oct 19, 2015

" Hey, so this is the first time I'm going to write every night and record all the important things that have happened on my ipad. The next couple weeks could be rough unti I get the format right. The scripture I chose to ponderize is Jacob 7:5. It basically says after all I've been through, he had no power to shake me from my faith." Good stuff. Now to the meat of my email.

So my p-day consisted of spending a lot more than I should have on food and I also thought about how it is a ripoff in these apartments because they make you pay for the washing machines and dryers. It is $1.25 for one or $2.50 for 2 and times that by the number of washing and drying is 6.25 per week-and that is not counting the soap you have to put in. Man that is messed up! Today we have zone P-day. Our whole zone met up and we played volleyball for awhile. Then after that the Evans had a family night where we could invite our investigators over to play games and sing songs. We also hear a short lesson and eat. It was way good! We built a Huge fire cause in Texas if you build a small fire, they will throw you in it to make it bigger! We cooked hot dogs and I ate 7 of them. A lot of people came and the Evans are having that every other Monday, so that should be way fun.

So if you haven't figured it out already, each paragraph is a new day . Today was hard cause my companion prayed for trials. This is now the 3rd time he's done that and all three days have been hard. We met a Wiccan. Basically they are witches. It wasn't my turn to contact, but long story short, I think she put a spell on my companion. I am writing this email and laughing because I am so dang funny while sitting in my comfy half broken chair sipping warm apple cider.

I like to start out each day with'so deal with it" We went to Orange County Services and helped people and got fat because they have all these cakes there and they are so tasty! I am eating like 5 pieces of cake and un loosing my belt. On a more spiritual note, we were trying to see this person, but she lived in a gated apartment. So, like any missionary would do, we climbed the fence. Just kidding! We waited till someone typed in the right code and drove right behind them and tried to visit a guy but he wasn't home. We were walking and saw a lady sitting in a chair on the top floor. So we taught her outside because her husband wasn't home and it was honestly 94 degrees outside and 98% humidity. As I was explaining the rest, sweat poured down on my face and by the end of the lesson she started to cry and tell us how our message makes so much sense. She thanked us and said that as we taught, she felt a feeling that she has never felt before and committed to baptism and her daughter did too. After we taught her, we were riding and the manager of the building came out and asked how we got in. We told her we went to see our new investigator (the person we just met) and she grunted and drove off. We contacted one more couple and taught them a lesson and the same thing happened and they committed to baptism. So Alma 26:12 : 'Yea I know that I am nothing; as to my strength I am weak; therefore I will not boast of myself, but I will boast of my God, for in his strength I can do all things; yea behold many mighty miracles we have wrought in this land, for which we will praise his name forever." 

So here in Texas is this claw truck that goes around and grabs peoples garbage. It is honestly the coolest thing cause it is like a life size claw game. We kept making toy story references like, 'the claw' and that was the highlight of the day.

So for some exciting things we saw: A six toed cat and some interesting people...lets leave it at that. The other elders got their 7th blown tire (biking area) in 1 month. A record. We visited Rochelle(person sitting in her chair a few paragraphs up). At first I was scared becuse she hadn't answered any of our texts, so I thought it was going to be like the average-I am not interested anymore. But when we came to her door she was happy. She said she told her husband what we taught her and he was excited cause she was excited. She said he had a lot of questions. She said she didn't text back because they were talking about the perfect day for us to come over and teach their whole family! Orange is super religious and I was wondering why it seems like every other person is a Preacher or a Deacon because we met another one today. I then remembered that there are 83 churches in Orange, so that pretty much means every other person you meet will be involved in a church position. Yay, it is so great :( 

We had interviews with the mission president, Elder Drake. He is one of the funniest guys I know. After that we taught a lesson and then went to a BBQ that one of the members hosted for us to invite our investigators. We had a lot show up and let me tell you Texas BBQ is waaaay good. We had another lesson after that and another member took us out to eat again and we had way good pumpkin pecan pancakes. I have probably gained another 10 lbs from today, or in other words I am biking a lot tomorrow.

We had scrimp n kern with Brother Daily and listened to old time country on the way down. Man nothing beats old time country. It's so chill and puts you in a good mood. Good ole Hank Williams. If you don't know who he is, look him up. He also gave us a big bottle of figs. We went to dinner at a members home and it was one of the best dinners I've had. Not because it was a super good meal, but because it was an emotional roller coaster. So we were eating and this family is super funny. We were joking around when suddenly Sister Bergeron stops and is staring at the wall right next to us. We look and on the wall is this huge, huge, huge cockroach! I mean this bug is massive. He is staring us down so Brother Bergeron gets up to kill it and when he gets close, the cockroach takes off and flys (apparently they can fly in Texas, who knew?) Anyway, he takes off and hits Elder Knebel right in the face. Then he flies at me and I freak out and drop to the floor as he flys right over me. Honestly, I was scared for my life. I thought it was the end. I ran to an open part of the house. While all of this is going on, Elder Knebel is screaming like a girl cause he just got slapped by a roach. I am in the corner of the house half crying and laughing. I don't know where the member family went. After all that chaos. we shared a message with them and they expressed some problems, so we gave them each a blessing. So that was the night I expressed all the emotions one can experience. 

For this weeks lesson on how to be a Texan: The new word is 'arrange' or as we yuppies call it 'Orange". My personal favorite, 'Man, theys got you in Arrange? Man, you's all over da place, man. I mean what da chances of Arrange? That's crazy yo." That was a quote. I'm not trying to make fun of people down here, they do enough of it by themselves. They are such sweet people. 
Love your homie,
Elder Saunders          glasses sent by Elder Saunders Dad for Halloween... Where is Elder Knebels glasses picture?
Who made this yummy toasted cheese? Elder Saunders or Elder Knebel?
a bit of rural Orange, Texas

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Don't Know What to Call This One

***Please read the previous Sept 28 post and Oct 5 post and this one- Mom got behind.... sorry!***

Oct 12, 2015

" So after this my emails should be a lot easier to read because I now have an ipad so I can just write in it day to day instead of trying to remember things all week and it becoming a jumbled mess. First of all I would like to start with how prayer works. So...the ward has stopped signing up for feeding the missionaries and we have been forced to eat the food which we have. It isn't bad but we were running low so I don't know about Elder Knebel, but I didn't want to starve so I prayed and said, "God, it would be good if we got more people to feed us." We passed around the lunch calendar on Sunday and... we got one more person that signed up but I didn't think much of it. Then we were tracting and were talked to this old guy and he said his son passed away 3 days ago. We were talking to him and he said, " Y'all know I'm having a BBQ in a couple of weeks in my sons honor. You seem like cool guys so why don't y'all stop by and get some to eat. I cook super good burgers from my secret recipe." He said his kids want to know the recipe but he wouldn't tell them(then he proceeded to tell us the secret recipe) After that we were talking to a person and she stops us mid sentence and asks if we like Boudin ( note from mom: googled boudin and it is rice, onions, pepper and meat stuffed into a sausage casing-cajun)  She then grabs a full bag of it and gives it to us. Then we were talking to a guy washing his sports car and he told us to come by later this week and he would take us out to dinner. Finally, we were teaching an investigator and she brought out some chips and salsa and told us that the next time we come over she will cook us something. So the moral of the story is, God answers prayers, even the dumb ones. Another example of this is the other elders were praying for a couch because they don't have one and 3 weeks later a guy asked them if they wanted two couches!

Our investigators are good. One of them, with a baptism date, told us that he just recently had a beer. We were like you said you hate beer. He was like, yeah, but it tastes good with wings. We retaught him and he said he would stop everything cause he really wants to be baptized. Quick side note-I really have trouble with the Young Single Adult Elders. We have had 3 people with a date that we turned over to them because they were younger than 30. I know that it's not about the numbers but we honestly do the work and they just get free baptisms. Its like doing a whole test and somebody writes their name on it....Back on topic-We have two others on date and both are really solid and want to be baptized.

The other day I had another exchange with Elder Lawrence. He is such a chill guy. His area bikes so my rear was way sore and my calves felt like rotisserie chickens. It was super hot because it always super hot down here. 

Next day we had a training meeting down in Houston which sucks and it sucked even more cause we had to drive there and the miles counted so now we are down 200 miles until the next month, so now we have to bike to places we would drive so we don't go over.

We fed a homeless guy at the end of the day. Elder Knebel was prompted to go to this house but no one was home. We were going back home when we saw this kid walking down the street alone at 8:45. Elder Knebel was like "You're going to to give him a Book of Mormon" and I was like, No, it's late and he's probably on drugs." So we went back and forth. Elder Knebel was driving so he pulled by him and rolled my window down and I talked to him. I actually had talked to him before and he said it is so cool because he spent the night in jail and was praying and he wants to go to church now. I gave him a Book of Mormon and he committed to church.

Now for how to be Texan: Say, "It'll be a minute" for everything like driving to Washington , It'll be a minute." Buying a house, "it'll be a minute" or I'm going to be rich, but it'll be a minute. This concludes how to be Texan for this week.

Now for my cool non spiritual experiences. I met a polygamy family who wants to go to church. Some people in my apartment broke into the apartment storage sheds. They broke the locks off of seven  of them and they tried to break ours and couldn't break the lock and moved on. WE know this because our door is jacked up and our lock is too. It was still locked. My mom sent me some more pants but she up'd the size on my pants two waist sizes so now I'm self conscious. ( Note from mom: 2 pairs of pants were perfect and the third slightly bigger-sorry son ) 

Bye y'all,
Elder Saunders                my apartment in Orange, Texas 
                                          notice the awesome Christmas lights in our Apt.
                                          P-day in Orange, Texas Oct, 2015

Good Ole Texas, One Month In...

Oct 5, 2015

" So just to make myself clear, I can actually speak really hick if I want to. The problem is that I don't know how to spell a lot of the words down here and I think I sound really stupid, so I'll just stick to modern English. Some things that I forgot to mention is that before coming down here, I thought that Popeyes was going to be on every corner, but to my surprise it's on every other corner. Subway is on every corner? I guess it is really big in the south. We went shopping again. That is probably the saddest part on a mission is when you come to the conclusion that shopping is what you look forward to each week. Kidding? Not kidding...Elder Knebel and I found these two air mattresses so now my bed is 3 layers big and is actually quite big! The problem is that the second layer keeps moving so my bed ends up lopsided during the night, but it is so comfy!  

Now I will start with my journal entries. They are edited down because I write a lot and it is late at night when I write in my journal. Late at night is 10:30 on a mission. Last Monday we biked everywhere because we only had 30 miles for 3 days, which is very little. We found out on Tuesday that we did the math wrong and we actually had 130 miles! We were contacting this potential investigator in these apartments and we forgot our bike locks and the person lived on top. We carried our bikes all the way up the stairs while praying that they would answer the door because it is not easy carrying your bikes when you are way tired. The Lord has a sense of humor. We knocked and knocked and they weren't home. We were tired and my companion started to go down the stairs and I had the impression to knock on the other door. I thought maybe it was because I put in all the energy and I might as well knock, so I my companion and I knocked on the door. Within three seconds a guy answers. I am then prompted to share with him how we are how we are missionaries and have a message to share to you about Christ. I testified that having faith in him can help you with trials and bring your family closer. He invited us in and told us how his family is going through some bad trials. His mom works 24/7 just to keep the apartment. We taught him a short lesson and encouraged him to read the Book of Mormon intro. He agreed and told us to come back later so we could meet his mom. He said his mom needs this message the most. After a couple of hours we came back and met his mom. She was really nice but really stressed out. We shared a message of hope and she said she would read the Book of Mormon. We asked her son Hairy( note from mom: I am pretty sure he meant to spell Harry :)    if he read the introduction. He said yes and more. He pulls out the Book of Mormon and he is in 1 Nephi 22. He is such a cool kid and he watched general conference with us. He is progressing nicely.

We also have this investigator named Will who is a way cool guy and has a baptism date. He has been 'chewing' since he was in the 6th grade and we were teaching him the Word of Wisdom. He went inside, grabs his chew, and came back out and poured it into a half full Gatorade bottle, thus completely ruining the chew. We asked him if we could give him a blessing. He said yes. After the blessing he takes the chew in his mouth that he had and throws it out and said, "It just didn't taste good anymore" He is such a cool guy and has been clean for about two weeks now. We have others but I am short on time.

General Conference was so good, but it went by so quick. After General Conference we went to the Evens house and hung out till Priesthood session. It is so fun there. In Texas, people have a lot of land and small houses. He has a ton of land with a zipline and a lake. We are going to hit golf balls into it. They have a bonfire pit and horses and pretty much anything else redneck. I have had beans so much! For anyone who knows me, I hate beans but I eat what I am given and hope to like beans in the future.

Now for the teaching of how to be Texan: Lesson 1: Say 'like I said" after everything. Example: I was talking to this guy in the apartments and he was explaining to me how Islam and Mormon is pretty much the same faith and he said "like I said" after every phrase. He said both believe in prayer-like I said. Both just have different views-Like I said. They are the same thing man, like I said. Now you may think I am exaggerating this but I am telling the truth. I actually under exaggerated this. I got a headache typing that word so much. This ends the lesson for the week of how to be Texan.

The steaks here really are as big as a plate if any of y'all were wondering. I just wanna close on how it is weird because there are so many Spanish speakers her but for some reason I am able to understand them. It has happened at least four times when we meet a person who speaks no English and understands few English words. When we meet them they talk in full Spanish and I can understand them almost perfectly. However I can't talk back to them. Somehow I can understand Spanish and we are able to help them out. I thought about this yesterday and I figured out that the spirit is helping me. I took Spanish in school for two years but lets be honest, that doesn't mean anything. I can understand Spanish even when they talk fast and I am able to teach the gospel to them. In a store if a person is speaking Spanish, I can't understand them. It is only when I when we are tracting. The other thing is that our district agreed on is that we will mever live in a trailer home. We don't care if we have to work two jobs, there is no way any of us will live like that.

Now as a farewell, I will tell you one last thing. Eat healthy! For the last month I haven't eaten healthy at all and not only am I bigger, but now I actually want carrots and broccoli and cauliflower. How weird is that?

Amen brothers and sisters. The church is true.
Your brotha from the South,
Elder Saundaas
                                            bonfire w/my district @Bro Evens in Orange ,TX
                                            Greenie monkey my parents sent to Orange, TX

Rain....that's about it

Monday, Sept 28, 2015

"For some reason, I don't know what to write about so this one might be kinda short. It has rained for like 4 days and hasn't stopped so everything is like flooded, so that is fun. We met a lot of investigators. I've noticed in Orange that there is two categories of people, the poor and the rich. When you go to a rich neighborhood, you get big cool houses that have everything you could imagine. The people, however are so cocky that they will rarely talk to you, much less let you teach them. The poor neighborhoods are small houses and. Almost everyone of them will let you teach them or at least be super nice to you. I've learned many things so far. The less you have, the more humble you are to receive things. If you are rich, you are doing fine, so why would you want to change your life? The poor neighborhoods are great. They are so humble and are such great people. Even though you are not of their faith, they will help you in anyway possible. One lady has many kids and her husband died recently. She is so positive and is trying so hard to take care of her kids and also to take care of her neighbors. There are many others that we are trying to teach that I could go on and on about.

We have had a lot of service opportunities which is good because I can wear my street clothes...
down side is we are two weeks into the mission and I have already lost my mag tag. I'm down to one tag. One guy we helped move in had four eighteen wheelers full of stuff. He had a huge house and we filled his whole house, his four car garage, two huge storage sheds, and half of his backyard. He had no idea where to put stuff. We had another guy that we helped clean his house and he was a hoarder, so we kept having to hide the stuff he brought out because he would take it out and then change his mind and want it back in. We took his table and chairs and started to carry it off to chuck it in the dumpster, but I saw him come out and so I told the elders and we so smoothly walked past the dumpster and put it under a tree and we told him and we told him the table needed to be in the shade so it wouldn't get too hot. We then convinced him that someone else needed the table so we called a member and they picked it up. The member kept it to give to someone else so everything worked out.

I had an exchange a couple of weeks ago with Elder Strong in Vidor. It was great. He is a cool dude and he sounds like and acts like one of my friends back home. We started the day by doing spoken pedal and we found a guy who was super smart and did not like the Catholic church. We tried to teach him but everything we would say he would relate to quantum mechanics and how the earth's time laps over itself and people get transported into the future. Really weird stuff. Honestly it blew my mind. He said how he hates tithing and how he went to prison. Somehow we taught a lesson and he accepted a Book of Mormon. We also saw a guy with a confederate flag t-shirt with a helmet on, sitting on a dirt bike holding a fishing pole. Elder Strong also taught me many scriptures I can use to talk to some of the Baptist priests. After that we went to dinner at the Young Women's Conference which was really awkward. It was like four Elders and one hundred sisters! They just kept staring at us and asking why we were there so we just got our food and ate behind the curtain where they couldn't see us. First time in my life, I have ever felt so uninvited. The Relief Society person came through the door and laughed and told us to go sit with everyone else.

Yesterday we went to Bro. D's house for crim pen kern (corn and shrimp) which was really good. He has the coolest collections of magazines and toy cars and clocks and stories. After that we biked in the pouring rain that soaked everything, including my waterproof coat. We get soaked everyday-it's either rain or sweat....pick your poison. It is still raining and all the streets are flooded and the water is deep and I can barely see-it is raining so hard. We get our miles back in 3 days, then we have a car again until the miles run out. We are trying to get black people and young people to join our ward because Orange is old and white. I really love it here. The members are great. Just today, a member took us to run errands cause we ran out of miles. If you call a member, they will always say yes no matter what you asked them. Love, Elder Saunders