Saturday, January 30, 2016

The Bridge to a General Authority

Monday, Jan 25, 2016  in Port Arthur, TX

"So we found out that our temple trip was canceled. I guess Elder
Russell M Nelson is coming for a tri -mission conference ( Houston, TX, Texas Houston East, and Texas Houston South) this Saturday to speak to us. Like that's way cool. He's like the 2nd string prophet. We're all so pumped. We just found out that he is speaking west of Houston, which is 6 hours away from here. We can't go the night before and stay in another elders apt to get closer, so we have to wake up at 5 am to go to the talk.

Hey, so I found out that my area is mid county and it's like 65% decent and 35% hood. It is pretty much all city. We actually had a good day, I mean we listened to Pentetonix Christmas album like 6 times in one day, but we saw a lot of people. One of them we were talking to is this mom and her kid. The girl is 9 and MAN she was freaken smart. We taught them the plan of salvation and she asked so many questions and they were good. Like we were almost being bashed, the questions were so good. We asked her if she knew about Adam and Eve, right down to Cain and Abel. She was so smart. After teaching we went to lunch with a Pentecostal preacher named Derek. I actually met him when I was in Orange a couple of times. He lives in our area so he takes us out to lunch a lot. Then we talked to some more people and then ate at a members house. We went and played basketball and like 8 black kids showed up and they were BIG! I was the third shortest person out of 12 people. Like I got slaughtered at first, then I warmed up and started to make shots. But yeah it was fun and I got a street name. We then came home and planned.

So we started off the day with a missionary broadcast and it was great. We then helped this guy move a TV. So we moved it and then this guy takes us into this huge barn he has. We go in and it is full of old sports cars, old posters, signs, license plates, etc.... It was so cool. Then we see this super old jukebox, so we're like, "Hey, does this still work?" and he's like, "Yeah". He flips on a switch and all the lights turn on and then he asked us what song we wanted. So I look and see 'Surfing USA' by the Beach Boys. So he presses the button and it starts to play. It's good quality and it was so cool. After that they took us to get Pizza( quick side note: this is the first time in 8 weeks that we have had two dinners in a row with members). So at the Pizza place I sat down and he tells me, "Son, I don't wanna sound rude, but I gotta sit there." Then he explains that the chair I was in faces the door and he is right handed. So if a guy comes in with a gun, he can draw quick and shoot. So yeah, we think this guy is pretty cool. Then we went to a less actives house and he said that he hadn't talked to missionaries in months. I then found out that my trainer, Elder Knebel, was the last missionary to talk to him. We then went to Ward Correlation and I found out that Sister Madsen(who was in my district in Orange) followed me here and is also in my district here in Port Arthur, so that was a surprise. We also listened to that cd another five times today.

Today was another good day. We taught this girl named Courtney, and she was a bit crazy. We were talking about Sacrament prayers, so I had her read this scripture in Moroni and then I asked her what she thought. She went off on a tangent for about 25 min. We were on her balcony and it started to pour down rain and then the wind would change so rain would slap us in the face. 

After that we met this guy who really was crazy and when we finished teaching him, we asked him to say the closing prayer and so he starts then he looks at us and says, " And please give the devil another chance to do good." Then he looks at us and says, " Maybe it is because he has no friends, maybe that's why he is so mean." I was about to laugh because I thought it was a joke, but he was dead serious. So we're like please finish your prayer and we will tell you more. So then he continues his prayer and goes, "Thank you for the missionaries and again give the devil another chance, Amen" 

We then did an hour of power and we knocked on this house and this Chinese person answers and she told us she doesn't speak English. So, my comp's like what language do you speak? She couldn't understand him and it goes on and on and Elder Ericson is like playing charades and trying to get her to understand. I am like leaning against the wall and thinking about how this scene looks like a foreign movie with all the sub titles off. 

Then we knocked on this other person's door and this black lady answers and we talk to her and she is pretty smart and she asks us about black people in the Book of Mormon and about being gods and other questions but hey she invited us back. Hey, new investigator. 

After seeing her we were driving by the gas station and we see our friend who works there. He is getting into this argument with another guy and then the guy runs and jumps in this car and drives away and his friends drive away. So he cut through the grass, so we knew he stole something. We wanted to help our friend so we tailed him and he didn't have a license plate. We went back to the gas station to talk to our bud, and he told us he stole a piece of candy. So we felt stupid cause we just wasted money and gas for candy. So... Yeah.

We went to Zone Meeting today in Beaumont and then went to Golden Corral and for those of you wondering, yes it sucks in Texas, too. We were starving, though, and we had a sweet Polynesian with us so ya we did it. We biked to the edge of our area and we met some interesting people. It was getting late so we went to a members house to see if they could give us a ride. We get there and they were like, "We're going out to eat, wanna come? We were like well we have dinner at 6:30 and he's like, we will be back before then. Get in the car. He wasn't going to budge, so he takes us to this high end Chinese place and orders for us. We were sitting talking to the members when a 8 year old girl comes up to us and says, "Are y'all a Mormon?" And we're like Yeah. She said her Aunt is Mormon and can I take a picture of y'all and send it to her?" So we're like, yeah,sure. She takes it and we turn around and start talking to her mom. The girl asked if me and my companion were twins. I said of course not, I am much cuter than him, don't you think? She said she wasn't answering that but then she picked me, haha. So they had to go so we gave her our number and asked her if we could teach her and she said no because I'm baptist. She leaves and we finish eating.

We were on our way home when we get a call from Utah! So I answer it and I'm like, "Hi, this is Elder Saunders." She's like, "Elder Saunders from Layton, Utah?" I'm like okay, who did my mom give my phone number out to?( note from mom: I do not know his number :) But then she explains that she is the sister of the person who we contacted at the restaurant. She told us how she has been praying forever for the missionaries to get in contact with her sister and as she was praying that night, she got a text from her sister and it was the picture of me and my comp. She said her sister sent the phone number over, too. So we talk to her and she is super excited and gives us her sister's address and gives us pointers on how to act and stuff like that. She also told us a story about when her sister's husband was in the Baptist church and they were trash talking Mormons. He stood up and told everyone that what they said was a lie, and he is friends with some Mormons and they don't believe that. He then walked out and they never went to church again. We thanked her and searched up the street and it is not in our area! We contacted the other elders and told them everything that went on so hopefully a miracle story comes from this. 

We had spoken pedal today. We go outside and it is super cold cause the wind is blowing non stop. We were biking in traffic cause Texans don't believe in sidewalks and people are honking. We finally arrived at these apartment complexes. We go to the door and there is no one there, so we see a person about two doors down and she is outside her apartment and when she sees us she grabs for the door but it is locked, so she is looking for her keys. I asked her how it was going and she looks down and swears and turns to us and goes, " I have a church. I know Christ and accept him as my Savior, and I am saved." I told her that was way cool. I said,"Y'all know our message is in Christ. Would you like to hear it?" She said, "NO." We were like cold and we biked so long so  I was like, "Well how do you know and accept Christ when you won't even listen to a message about him? Christ died for all of us. The least you could do is strengthen your testimony of him by hearing our message." Haha.
She looks at me and says nothing and then walked in and closed the door. I turned to my companion and I'm like, well that is one contacted. Then the door opens again and her daughter comes out. She is about 17 or so and she says," Do y'all go to Nederland?" So we're like, "Yeah. She told us her mom's sister needs help right now and could y'all go over and share your message with her?" So we were excited and we got her address and will visit her next week. 

So we bike back and take into account that we are talking to everyone and we would write their stories, but honestly people cussing do not make a good story. 

So we get lunch and then go back out and contact some more people and we contacted this one girl. She was super happy and she said how much she appreciates us and stuff like that and how she loves Jesus. Then she's like, "Y'all the ones who I saw playing basketball with those little black kids?" And we told her that it was us. She starts crying and said, "Wow, that is so kind of you that you would do that." And then she goes on and says, " I would hear your message but I am so drunk right now. Just come to Subway at 3 and I'll get baptized." So ya.

Then we rode down the street and talked to a guy that was high off his mind and let me tell you, we mentioned Jesus and he gave us a sermon. He was like, I'm SAVED, I'M SAVED, Y'ALL I'M SAVED! It was actually pretty intense, I'm not going to lie. He was even quoting scripture. I mean he made it up but he told us it was scripture. Then I figured out I left my beanie with the family that took us out to eat yesterday, and so I grab my hat and the mom says, "Do y'all have dinner today? " And we're like, No. She's like sit down and we'll feed y'all, but we had an appointment so she settled for feeding us tomorrow. Then we were going to the adult session of stake conference but the zone leaders said no, so we went and played volleyball at a Pentecostal church instead. And that was our day.

So today we had Stake Conference. After we went to a rest home and talked with some members there. We went to a members home for dinner and they fed us the best ribs I've ever tasted. Like I know that I've said that before but hands down these were amazing. I ate so much and honestly I could have ate a lot more, but then she served us these cookie ice cream sandwiches and those were super good but she gave us like 3 of them and that was a lot and then she made us eat more and that killed me. Then after that we went to a Pentecostal church and let's say it was very interesting :(

Elder Saunders
Mom googled the Bridge to get to Houston. It is the tallest bridge in Texas and is called the Rainbow bridge. It is only one lane now because of construction. Can we say, HEART ATTACK- Port Arthur, TX  Jan 2016

This is the Houston Freeway-Oh my Stars! Please tell me that Elder Saunders is not driving. Jan 2016

Saturday, January 23, 2016

My Last Week In Beautiful Orange, Texas....

Tuesday, Jan 19, 2016

"So I got transferred so that is why this email is a day late. So here it is my last week in Orange, TX...

It was mostly a pretty average day except when we went to a members home to visit them today and I guess her husband went hunting and got some deer and made deer jerky, so they gave us a bag and it was so good.

The next day was a blur, but all I can remember is we met with an investigator who it took 3 1/2 months to contact her again, but we finally got a return appointment. We then tried to meet a person with the last name of  Craquio. We went to their house and we were not sure if it was the wife or the husband who contacted us. So we get to the house and the kids and the mom are riding around on motorized razors and one of the girls stops and talks to us. She said she was going to grab her dad. She goes inside for like 15 min. and then comes out and asked us where her brother was. We look and tell her her he is riding down the street with her mom. So we wait on the driveway and we were like we will talk to the mom and get it straightened out. We are waiting there and the son stops and walks up to us and the the mom keeps on riding! She doesn't even look at us. We are two white guys with white shirts and ties and our tags. We are standing on her property talking to her kids. How could you not look? But she didn't and she kept on riding so we thought we should come back in a couple of days.

So, I'm going to teach you today about how sometimes bets are good to make. We taught one of our investigators today. His family lives at their mother-in-laws home. She is inactive. We are talking to our investigator, Josh and the mother-in-law comes in. She starts to hear us and then says to Josh, "Dude, when are you getting baptized?". His response was, "When you come to church, I'll set a date with them." Then they shook on it. They made the bet and it was super funny. Also, we were walking to the other elder's apartment and this little kids who was probably about 4 was outside. He started to talk to us and he was super funny. He points at me and (I don't know if it's a red tie or not) says. "Hey, you look like that character from "Spider-Man". So yeah, honestly it made my day cause that kid was freaken cute!

Today we had another lesson with a guy named Russell. I've talked about him before, but here's a quick run down: He's been investigating the church for two years. He is a baptist chief of deacons(which is like 2nd in command to the preacher). He is also the church's treasurer. He knows the Book of Mormon is true and that Joseph Smith was a Prophet, however he is too high up in his church to leave. We meet with him every Thursday at 1. Anyway, today we thought we would switch up lessons and teach him something from the Bible( a book he is very, very, very knowledgeable on) So we show up and started to talk about Matthew 13. Now if you aren't familiar with Matthew 13, it is the chapter where Christ gives the people eight parables. We start talking about it and he is a very smart man, but we have a trick up our sleeve. We started to use the LDS student manuals in gospel Library. We got him to download them and follow along. Not long into the lesson, we were having him read quotes that Gordon B. Hinckley said and Joseph Smith quotes. He kept saying, Wow, I never took this parable to mean this, but it makes so much sense. So hopefully we are trying to get him to use Mormon beliefs in his church he teaches at and we can baptize the whole congregation. 

We had a referral that came in so we went to his house and we met this guy. He was super nice and invited us in, so we sat down and talked to him. He told us he is studying to become a Baptist preacher and wants to know more about our faith. We are meeting with him two times next week. He told us he doesn't want to bash us or anything. He just wants to talk about our religions, so we will see how that works out.

So today, we had a meeting with one of the stake presidency. He taught us some things about Lehi's dream. After we were driving to his less active's house. We saw this guy on the side of the road with a shotgun. We stopped and talked to him and he said he was hunting, in the middle of the neighborhood! So we were almost to the less actives door when we hear like 5 gun shots. Elder Hunter yelled, " Did y'all get him?" and then there comes back a voice, "Yeah, but there is not much left of him.

We went and taught a few more people and then we got a call from Sister Bishop(Sister Evans). She asked if we could help her move some hay bales. We got in our street clothes and when we got there, it started to pour down rain. So we were working and we probably spent about 45 min in the pouring rain. But then Sister Evans cooked us some fried chicken and corn and it was worth it. We rushed home after to get some dry clothes. 

Today was my last Sunday in Orange, so I said goodbye to everyone. Had lunch at a members after church and then another member invited us to dinner. 

It is transfer day today, so I got transferred and I am now in Mid County, which is about 30 min from Orange, so not much of a change. So lets see how this transfer will work out. He seems pretty okay but hey it is only 6 weeks, right? Maybe 12 if I really gotta learn humility.
Elder Saunders

Thanks for "stickin' with me, Elder Venche, Elder Lawrence, me, Elder Hunter! Orange, TX  January 2016
An awesome member in Orange, TX  Everything about him is cool.

Sunday, January 17, 2016

A Missionary Birthday, Texas Style

Mon, Jan 11, 2016

"Honestly I don't know how this email was just as long as the others, cause I was sick outta my mind for all of it, but I guess it was a pretty good week. 

Today I woke up and I was dead. My throat was killing me and I was super weak. The whole day I was down and Elder Hunter went on splits with people, so we could teach all the people. 

We went down to Vidor cause Elder Venche might of had pink eye. We came back, did some more missionary work and then some of the less actives wanted to play basketball and the Elders Quorum came. Honestly we found out that all the good basketball players are from Utah and we were talking and it's true. Everyone who comes from Utah knows how to play basketball. I got a little crazy and gave Elder Lawrence a black eye. We had bluebell ice cream and pie for lunch. We went out to follow up on some more appts for the rest of the day.

Today was my birthday, so I woke up and opened some presents and read scriptures, etc. We went to district meeting where they sang to me. At lunch I picked out this all you can eat pizza cafe and then we quickly went to a pawn store to buy something for my birthday. They didn't have much but we saw this member who was there from Woodville. He told us how every couple of weeks he comes down to all the pawn shops and looks at their guns. He knows everything about guns, so he can buy guns there for a super good price. He told us he has about 60 rifles and almost 40 shotguns. We did some tracting and then it was dinner time. We had a dinner appointment at the Lovelaces. They were mad when they found out it was my birthday, and I hadn't told them. They made BBQ and also a whole gallon of Bluebell, so honestly it was a great birthday dinner. Later that night we had another birthday party and the other elders came over and we baked a cake that my parents sent and it started to have these huge thunderstorms and then it poured down rain. 

The sisters had a baptism today. We had to bike to the church because it was spoken pedal. We went to the baptism and it was okay. The sisters chose this one person to speak on a assigned topic for 5-7 min. Instead, she took 25 min and covered baptism, Holy Ghost, scripture study, church, some temple stuff, and faith. The bishop took us in his office and and told all of us how to set up a baptism. It was horrible. We then biked back to our apt in the freezing wind. 
We ended the night going back to the church again cause they were having this chili cook off. I had chili that had boar in it and it was really spicy, but so good. Then I had another that had deer meat in it, also great. We played a volleyball tournament and we got to the finals but lost to Team Bishop. We lost 13-15. We did beat the Relief Society which was good because they were talking crap and we beat the Young Women who came in wearing knee pads and shorts and stuff. After that we played basketball and and a member bought us all gatorades. 

Towards the end of the today the bishop tells us to go to this Youth Conference. We go there and they have the meeting and Bishop says, " Will the birthday boy stand up?" Then he looks around and looks right at me and says,"Yeah, you, elder." So I stand up and they sing, then they carried out a cake and other things. It was great! Then we had to drop some stuff off at the other elders apartment. Saw some people trying to steal a car and when they saw us they started to walk away. So it gets pretty fun out here!

I will answer a question in closing: Yes, they do celebrate Mardi Gras down here.... and yes it is great.
Elder Saunders

My Texas birthday with the birthday package my parents sent.  Orange, TX January 2016

Celebrating with my missionary buddies. Elder Lawrence, Elder Venche, me, and Elder Hunter in front. * Notice that we are wearing the cowboy party hats my parents sent :)   Orange, TX January 2016 

Sunday, January 10, 2016

Have I Done Any Good in the World Today?

Monday, January 4, 2016

" So today started out in the usual p-day. We did the usual stuff but then we went to a store called Tractor Co. We wanted to buy overalls, but they didn't have the size we wanted, so we went to lunch. The bishop called us and long story short-He wanted us to go find someone in the park who just got out of jail and the Bishop wanted to take him to the Salvation Army. I guess he is a member and knocked on the sisters apartment door. We tried to find him but he was gone. Fast forward like 8+ hours and it was 7:00 pm when we got a call from one of the sister missionaries and they wanted us to come right over. We call them and then went over because they said there was a stranger at their apt who knocked and then left and then came back again. We arrived and he is gone so we wait in the car outside the sisters apt doing some recon. We were both like, lets go out and look for whoever did this. We're looking around and we're both in short sleeves and it is super cold outside and their is this killer wind. So it is freezing! So we were walking around for about 7 min and this guy comes up to us. He said that we were who he was trying to contact all day. He was the guy we were supposed to find in the park earlier. 

So we talk to him and he was the most humble guy. He got outta jail and lived with his mom's friend who ended up selling drugs. He choose to live homeless rather then live with her doing drugs and selling them. We talked with him and he was living in the park bathroom. We told him we would contact the bishop and get him a ride to the shelter. We then left and we bought him hot chocolate, a blanket, gloves and a pizza. We found him in the park on a bench and he had lit a fire to keep himself warm cause it was freezing outside. We gave him all that stuff plus some more cash for the next couple of days. He was so thankful and kinda embarrassed that he was so needy. He kept saying, "Well after this, hopefully y'all will see me in a better situation. While we were talking to him, suddenly a cop shows up. We were worried because here we were with a homeless man and there is this fire burning in the middle of a park. He told the cop what happened and the cop understood. He asked the guy if he had anything to put out the fire with quick. Then the homeless guy said he was really depressed and bought these beers, but after a couple of sips of one can, he felt horrible about himself. He took the beers and threw them over the fire. The cop was chill and we talked to him for awhile and then he left. We all just felt bad cause we just left him in the park in the freezing cold and honestly we wanted to take him into our apt but that would be a huge no, it just sometimes sucks. But we did all that we could. 

The next day the other elders had to take our car cause they had to go to new missionary training. We had to bike to our recent converts house because we had a lesson with her that morning. So we walked out wearing our short sleeves . When we started to bike we realized that there was a constant freezing wind. Since we were already late, we just suffered through it. We biked exactly 5.2 miles in the freezing wind. It was even more annoying that there are no sidewalks in Orange cause the cars fly inches past us and honk or yell things at us. One of them honestly hit my bag that was just barely hanging off the side of me. When we finally got close to the converts home, we got chased by a ton of dogs. We taught her and then biked back. The bishop came and picked us up at home and we helped him out around his house for the rest of the day.

Today it is New Years Eve and we went and got breakfast at Sonic. We went to the Hammonds to eat and then bought sparkling cider and other things. We hurried back to our apartment because we had to be in by 6:00.

The next day we had district meeting and after we got home, the Assistants to the Mission President called the other elders and told them that they would be staying the night in their apt. This information got us scared cause they might also come into our apartments. So both of us cleaned our apartments super good. We had a lesson with our investigator, Josh. It was super good and at the end he asked what they do after worship service(Sacrament). We told him about gospel principles and Priesthood. He looked at his wife and says, "Honey, we have to stay for a couple more hours on Sunday cause I have to go to Gospel Principles." It was super funny. He is super solid. The only problem is that he is outside our ward boundaries but they are going to move in after he finishes training in Houston. The Stake President has told us that we can't baptize them until they actually move in. He also added that we are lucky just to be able to teach him. So now we have a really solid investigator who wants to be baptized and another three kids who really want to be baptized. All we can do is continue to teach them and keep them excited for baptism for a couple more months. They don't like the Vidor ward, so it is either our ward or they won't go. 

After we taught them, we went to Orange Field and knocked on some doors and only one answered. He came to the window and said, "Not today" and motioned for us to go away. The thing is we were trying to find a house and were going to ask him if he knows Christina but he waved us away and closed the door. 

We had interviews today with the Mission President. It was really good. I guess the mission is changing everything around and is simplifying everything so we are going back to the basics. Honestly, I think it is a great idea. Then we went to 'The Hut"(a BBQ place) for lunch. I got the smoked turkey burger on a jalapeno bun with spicy mayo. It was the best thing I've ever had. Holy Cow it was so good. We played basketball with some investigators and some recent converts and it was cool cause they invited some friends to come so we had 12 people there tonight. Then Elder Venche got really sick so we gave him a blessing and got him some medicine. 

Last night the people above us apparently got a brand new stereo cause they have been playing it 24/7 for three days now. By now we are sick of it cause last night it was so loud that our apartment was shaking. I had to turn the fan on full blast just to drown out the noise but you could still hear it pretty good. 

On top of that when we woke up Elder Hunter was super sick, so he and Elder Venche stayed home while me and Elder Lawrence went to church. Then Elder Lawrence and I went out and taught some people cause we both had set appointments and our companions were sick. 

We stopped by their best investigator named Shelby. We came in and she had a list of 20 questions that she got when she read a couple of chapters in the Book of Mormon. Her mom came out (who is a member) and she told us that her son was at his grandparents who are Catholic. The grandparents gave him a cross that was supposedly blessed by the Pope which they bought in Italy. She asked us if he could wear it, so we explained to her that while our church honors the cross, we look toward Christ as resurrected. After that she goes and gives the heckles to her son and he grabs it and it breaks. Then Elder Lawrence said, "Well, that's what happens when things are blessed by the Pope? " 

We then went to go see a potential investigator that has a massive No Smoking sign on their door. We knock on her door and she answers it and is smoking a cigarette, so we were confused. We then saw some inactives and she told us that in her church (Methodist) that a person came from the Mormon Tabernacle and blessed her churches organ. She then proceeded to tell us something about a mission and some guy that went to Utah. It was all so weird. We saw some more people and got back around 8:00. Elder Hunter looked like he wanted to kill himself cause he was stuck inside for 12 hours. 

So here is a list of some of my Goals for this new Year:
1. Exercise almost every day
2. Have really good cursive
3. Know 'Preach My Gospel" better
4. Read a chapter of the Book of Mormon every day out loud
5. Have better people skills
6. Be able to simplify all the lessons so that anyone can understand them
7. Be healthier(green smoothies , vegetables , salads, fruits
8. Go back to Isaiah chapters and actually read and understand them.
9. Start reading the Bible
Elder Saunders