Sunday, February 28, 2016

Happiness is... Having a 'Mini Missionary'!

Monday, Feb 22, 2016-Port Arthur, Texas

' We went on exchanges and we had a lesson with our investigator Mohammed today. He cooked us all kinds of Egyptian food. It was so good. After that, we went with the Spanish Elders to the Jail cause we had a referral. We went down and they said we had to contact or call the warden to set up a time. The warden was gone so we drove back and we saw a sign that was kinda funny so we took pics in front of it. (See pics below).

Today we taught a lesson with an investigator that lasted 3 hours, haha. She literally had a full sheet of paper full of questions. We went down the sheet and answered all her questions. We then went down to 'Raising Canes' which is like a chicken place down here that is super good. We got a mini missionary who is super cool and his name is Trevor. His parents brought us two huge cases full of food and fruits and treats. They said it was so we wouldn't get hungry, so we don't have to go shopping this week.

We had a mini missionary with us(Trevor), today. We usually wait for referrals but we decided to knock on doors with our mini missionary. We went to this apartment complex and inside the complex they were having a BBQ. We walked up and started talking to the wife about the Book of Mormon. The husband comes over and says, "Hey, do you want me to grab my Bible?" We told him, "Yeah, sure, if you want to. We're cool to have a Bible study. In fact, did I mention that the Book of Mormon and the Bible go hand in hand? The guy told us to leave and I felt bad for Trevor. 

Trevor knocked on a door next and he did a really good job, but the person came out and said that she was cheated in business by a guy who was Mormon and then she turned and left. I went to Trevor and patted him on the back and told him 'good contact'. The day didn't get better. We taught some lessons and all the lessons we taught we were bashed one after another. One singled out Trevor and asked him a bunch of questions that I couldn't even answer. Trevor was a rock star mini missionary.

We took Trevor to teach our our investigator, Mohammed. We taught him about the atonement and Christ. It is really hard to teach someone of the Muslim faith. We were teaching him and we answered all his questions and the lesson went really well. After we ended it, Mohammed says, " Wow, guys that was really beautiful, but you are so wrong. You are so far off." Like he has never said that before and it took me by surprise. So we spent another hour teaching him in a different way and using a lot of Bible verses. By the time we finished our 2 hour long constant Q & A he was like, " Man, ever since you guys came over, I have been using all my free time to find the truth. Like I have been trying to find out if being a Muslim is the right religion so I have been studying hard."  So we are right there, we just need that last push.

At the end of the day, I asked Trevor how he liked it and he said it was the longest day of his life. I burst out laughing and gave him a hug. I felt so bad for him , but he is a stud missionary. One of the best and he has only been here for a day.

Today was the last day with the Mini Missionary. We taught a couple of lessons and it was a pretty good day. I was really sad when he left. We bonded. Trevor said I'd be a good trainer. We talked about our families and missions. I was straight up honest. When he left, seriously, tears were shed.
Elder Saunders
A Hero among Heroes. 'Protecting and Saving Lives' Elder Saunders in Nederland, Texas Feb. 2016

Spanish Elder Hepworth, Elder Saunders, Elder Tukuafu and another Spanish Elder. Beaumont, TX Feb 2015

Elder Hepworth, Elder Saunders, another Spanish Elder, Elder Tukuafu in Beaumont, TX.  Feb 2016

Me and Elder Tukuafu 

Me and Elder Tukuafu

Elder Ericson, Our mini missionary-Trevor, Elder Saunders  Feb 2016

Sunday, February 21, 2016

A Chick-fil-a Week-It was Good!

Monday Feb 15, 2015

" So today was actually a really good day. We started off the day by going by an investigators house to give them the drop talk, which is pretty much where you tell them that we will still be your friend, but we can't keep teaching you cause you aren't keeping commitments. When she answered she told us that she read what we asked her to read and that she was trying to get Sundays off from work so she could come to church. So...we ended up teaching her and actually set a baptismal date for her.

We then met with a person named Joanne. Honestly, she is the most prepared person I've ever met, like she receives revelation like no other. Today she was like, " So someone told me y'all used to do polygamy. So I was confused about it. I was praying about why they used to do polygamy and the thought came to me that it is like in the Bible times where men needed to marry other women to be able to support and take care of them. Is that why y'all did it?" Honestly, I was completely dumbfounded cause no one has ever said that and answered it so perfectly. I managed to say, Yeah, that is exactly it." We go on to have a really great lesson, one of the best I have ever had. We say the memorized part of the first vision to her and afterwards she said if the first missionaries told her that, she might have gotten baptized a long time ago. I mean she is so prepared. She even tells her friends about how Mormons really are. Her friends won't talk to us cause they hate Mormons. She does have a few personal problems, but hopefully she can get over them.

So we rearranged our apartment today!

Today we went to Chick-fil-a! It was a bad idea cause now I'm not even halfway through the month and I have $20 dollars left, so yeah that will be fun. We also had a lesson with my boy, Mohammed. We were talking about what kind of food he eats out there. He told us that when we come back he would buy a bunch of Egyptian food so we can try it. Like I freaken love that guy! So yeah we are going to have an Egyptian feast on Monday.

The next day we ate at this restaurant named, "Mikes Old Fashioned Soda Fountain". I got their sausage and chicken gumbo. It was so good. We then head to Orange, Texas cause when I was there, I was working with this family for about two months and 3 outta 4 are getting baptized. The dad had a relapse but the kids are super excited to get baptized. We got one of our investigators to drive us. It was cool to see all the Orange Ward people and the other missionaries I served with and especially the family!

We had a person just show up at church which is super rare. After church we went to her house and taught her. I hope we can continue to teach her. 

After teaching her, we went to see a couple I talked about in my last email that is in a rest home. The wife is a member, but the husband is not. The husband had a bad stroke and it's hard to understand him, but he thinks just fine. So, anyway, we were visiting and since the husband is a non-member we were like, " Brother Tag, Can we teach you about the Restoration?" He said yes and we went through it and it was one of the most powerful restorations I have ever shared. After we finished with the Joseph Smith History we asked him how it felt and he said, " I feel a tingling." We were like, "What do you think that means?" And then he said, " It means it is true." Honestly, I was kinda taken back, cause I didn't expect that answer.  Then his wife starts crying and we asked, Sister Tag, why are you crying?" Her husband answered and says, " Cause I'm finally having an open mind to it. Like it was a powerful lesson. We don't know if he can get physically baptized though. I don't know if his head can go under water. We will at least teach him everything so that he'll be ready to be baptized in the next life. 
Elder Saunders
Elder Saunders, Elder Hunter, Elder Armstrong- So excited that I got to go back to Orange, Texas to see a baptism with a family we were teaching while I served there. Three of the cutest kids ever!

Elder Saunders, Elder Hunter, Elder Armstrong  with the family we taught when I was serving in Orange. Feb 2016

The bear mom and dad sent in my holiday package-Port Arthur Feb 2016  **note from Mom and Dad : he sent about 4 pictures of the bear- lol  I think we got our $2 worth!

Monday, February 15, 2016

Put your Shoulder to the Wheel, push along....

Monday, Feb 8, 2016

" So today we did shopping and whatever, then Elder Tukuafu gave me a sweet new haircut. Then we played chair soccer. We rushed to a dinner where they had Etouffee, which is funny because etouffee is a meal that every missionary wants to have but people rarely make it, so a lot of missionaries don't have it, but I have been blessed to have it four times. After that we rushed to Beaumont cause my companion has MLC tomorrow, so I went on exchanges. 

Today we did exchanges and it was a super slow day and no one was home, and we knocked on so many doors, and no one answered. We went to the Kolache  factory and it was so good. We taught some more people and then transferred back.

We had our tires changed today and it took two hours. It was a really slow day but at the end of the day we went and taught our Muslim friend. We gave him a Book of Mormon in Arabic. We taught him the restoration. We talked about the apostasy and he's like, "Well, what about Mohammed?" He also told us about how Muslims believe that Christ never died. They believe that God changed Judas to look like Jesus, so they crucified Judas and not Jesus. We managed to make it through. We are going back, so I guess we did something right. 

We had a pretty good day but imma skip ahead to the last person we taught. Her name is Joann. She has been taught by missionaries for 10 years, and we came in and she loves the missionaries. We were talking to her and found out that she has had the discussions many times. She asked us about the three kingdoms and about the apostasy and a whole bunch of other stuff. We answered all of it and she said that she feels bad cause all those other missionaries came by and told me to read. I never opened the book, but now I'm thinking that maybe if I did open that book ten years ago, I would have been a member for ten years before y'all came. So we got her to set a baptismal date and we created a plan to go see her. Now we hope that she will actually do it. 

After that we were invited to dinner by some members and it was fun. They invited over their friend. When we were leaving it was just the members and their friend. They said to him,"Hey, we are going to watch a movie. Wanna stay?" I wanted to tell him, "No, don't stay. Don't be the third wheel. Come tracking with us." But I didn't obey that bro code and he stayed. After that we went on exchanges and then we got a call from the Spanish elders late at night, so we drove down to the ghetto and rescued them.

So we started off our day by contacting a lot of people in our area book. It is hard because when the missionaries talk to a person, the person is interested and wants to learn more. Then the missionaries leave and that person is curious so they go on the internet or ask their pastor/priest. Then the missionaries come back and the person is immediately against them because they read or heard lies about the Mormon faith. So we honestly got yelled and bashed at, but hey, I haven't gone a day yet without that happening.

So I was driving down this road and there is this older couple going for a walk. I feel the impression to contact them but I feel really weird because I am in a car and not on my bike. I decide to drive past them. Well, right when I drive past the gas pedal suddenly stops working, so I'm freaking out and flooring it but it is not working. I stop the car and put it in park and then back to the drive position... Nothing. I turn it off, turn it back on....Nothing. So then the older couple comes over cause they saw we had a problem cause I am in the middle of the road. So they come over and we find out that the guy doesn't know a lot about new cars but he said if we had an old truck, he could fix that. So my companion and I push it to the side of the road. As I am talking to them I remember the feeling I had to contact them and I thought, " Okay, God. You win." So I told them about the Book of Mormon and asked if we could stop by sometime this week and teach them. They said that they have a church and that they are happy, but they would like a copy of the Book of Mormon, so I gave it to them. Then I had a thought that hey, maybe the car will work now and so I hopped into the car and turned it on, put it in drive, and it worked! So I'm not sure why we had to contact those people but I guess we had to. 

 So after that we had a couple of lessons which were solid lessons. As we were driving home, I thought to visit this one person who we stopped by yesterday and she wasn't home. We knock and this guy answers and I'm like, "Hi sir, is Kelsey home?" And he's like, "No, she's not." in the most sarcastic tone ever. (Now judging from the sass coming from this guy, I could tell this would be interesting). I held my control and asked him what church he went to. He snapped back that it was no business of mine. By this point it had been a long day and I wasn't happy with him and I let him know it. He said that y'all have been over six times and I immediately said that actually we have been over three times and proceeded to tell him the exact times and Kelsey and her mom said to come back. He was lost for words and then he was like, "What church are you?" I said in the most commanding voice I've ever spoken, " I'm from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints." He asked where it was located and I told him, Turtle Creek. He randomly acted somewhat sane and he said he's not really interested but he might stop by sometime if he ever gets interested. I went up and shook his hand and asked his name. He gave it to me but he wouldn't give me his church but he would give me his name, okay. We wished each other a great life and we walked away. 

After that it was pretty dark so we went to this Black apartment complex. It is actually pretty cool cause we go there so much. People just know you. They call me "sand dune" over there. We talked to some people and then went home.

After church we went and visited the members in the rest homes. We found out that one of the ladies had a husband who got really sick and was taken to the hospital. She can't go see him cause she is in the rest home. We grabbed our i pads and told her that we can take a video of her telling her husband things. So then we go to the hospital and talk to her husband. We show him the video and he starts to cry. When we left, he kept saying thank you. I appreciate you so much! 

After that we biked to a members home where they invited all the missionaries for a pre game feast. We all walk in and they had a giant plate of smoked brisket, a giant plate of smoked ribs. They had jalapenos filled with cream cheese and wrapped in bacon, buffalo wings, and pigs in a blanket. There were all kinds of  chips and dips, one of which was this pizza dip, and it was one of the best dips I have ever had. They had cheese potatoes, and then to top it off, she made two Mardi Gras king cakes. (which is the best cake on earth). So we ate like champs and then the member took us outside and we played basketball with his kids and other stuff. It was great. We biked back and occasionally we would knock on a person's door and ask the score of the game and then contact them. A great door opener.

Elder Saunders

meat and cheese filled Kolaches

Mardi Gras King Cakes

fruit filled Kolaches

Sunday, February 7, 2016

Chance of a Lifetime: To shake the Hand of a Man of God

Monday, Feb 1, 2016

"So it was a good week and it is kinda long, so if you wanna skip some of it, at least read the Russell M Nelson quotes. But if you wanna be cool, read all of it.

We did our usual p-day stuff and then we went to see this girl who we contacted earlier in the week. So we knock and this middle eastern guy answers. We see very quickly that the girl we talked to gave us a false address, but we just start talking to him. He is very interested to hear about our faith. He is Muslim and so he explains his faith and we explain ours. We talk about the Book of Mormon and he is like, "Does it come in Arabic?" We said ya and he searches one up online and says, " Oh, it's only $3.00. I'll just buy a couple. We told him he could get one for free and he's like, " You can? That would be awesome." But yeah he's super cool and he loves us and wants us to come back to see him whenever we have time. Then after that I went on exchanges with Elder Hepworth. He is a Spanish Elder. We get to the apartment and he starts playing Spanish music and sings it in English so I can understand. It was the funniest thing.

So I'm on exchanges and we head out and we go to find this one former investigator. We bike for an hour. Then we found out that she moved, so we biked back an hour in the rain. The went to teach a lesson, by teach I mean Elder Hepworth talks to the Spanish lady and the lady looks at me and says something in Spanish. I answer in Spanish that I speak little Spanish. So Elder Hepworth teaches the whole lesson while I look at them and smile. I say the occasional 'si'. We taught three people and had some dinner with Spanish members and it was so so good. I would write it but I don't know how to spell it, I can only say it. Honestly, the only time we talked was when it was just me and Elder Hepworth. It was a good day and I guess he got 4 people to commit to baptism. I didn't know cause he spoke in Spanish but he told me after each lesson what they said and what happened. Then we biked to the church and played basketball and then exchanged back. I did the math and we rode a little under 25 miles today.

So we helped out this soup kitchen and then went to Port Neches and saw some potentials. One of them a guy answers and lets us in and is super nice. Then he hits us with all this anti-mormon stuff, like he has been researching stuff to use against us. He brought up scientific research and said that science has proven the Book of Mormon wrong many times. I asked him how so? And he told us they did DNA research and there are no Indians that are from Jerusalem and I'm told him that at the time there was no proof but then a guy did some more research and found out there is this one tribe from the Great Lakes region and they found out they are actually from Jerusalem. He was stunned and mentioned other things but we shut him down quick. He tried to tell us how Joseph Smith was going to ---- and stuff like that and how we should not follow him and pray to know the Book of Mormon isn't true. We left eventually and went to see this other potential and she invited us in and said she loves to talk to the missionaries. 

We then went to to this recently baptized person house cause she needed to sign something on the baptismal form. We go over and she's like, "I'm glad y'all came. My son is really sick. Can y'all give him a blessing?" So we gave him a blessing and afterward she said, "Did y'all eat?" We said no, so she fed us 'craw fish etouffee' -craw fish over rice. Then she gave us German Chocolate cake. It was so good. I think when we don't have a dinner, God puts us in the right path, cause out of 6 days without a set dinner, I've had only one of those days where we had to feed ourselves.

We went to see this investigator. We go to his door and ring this door bell thing and then we start to hear this voice and he's like, "Sorry guys, I'm not home. I am at work." I guess he gets updates on his phone if someone rings his doorbell. There is a camera on it so he can see and talk to people on his doorstep. So that was pretty cool.

Then we went and knocked on this one door and this woman answered and she was pretty nice, but then her husband came out and told her to go inside. Her husband told us that he studies the Bible everyday and he can argue any point that we bring up. Then he starts talking about Noah and creationism and Cain and Abel. He kept asking us questions and when we couldn't figure out what he wanted he mocked us and asked us why we weren't teaching him about the Bible. We told him we were there to talk about Christ. He just kept bashing us and after awhile he's going off on some tangent. I just start to daydream about an actual solid investigator who wants to find the true church cause he is confused and we teach him and he gets baptized in three weeks. We finally had to leave him in his ultimate confusion.

Well, fast forward a couple of hours and we are teaching a person for real and it's a super good lesson. The guy is super funny and he is cracking jokes and asking questions. At the end of our lesson we asked him what he would think if he found that our church was the one true church? He got super quiet and then he finally says, "Y'all might think I'm crazy, but I would feel peace. I have done a lot of soul searching and if I could find the true church that was the one Christ established, then I would be so happy." By this point I'm ready to jump up and down screaming that we found a Golden Investigator!! So we invite him to be baptized and he said, yes. We continue talking to him and he says, " Yeah, my girlfriend should be home anytime. I wonder what is taking her so long? We are like, "Girlfriend?" So he told us there is a lot of tension with that one. What we got from him is that she's lives with him and he wants to marry her but she is not ready for it. Then my face drops cause now we have a solid investigator with a huge problem on his hands and now he can't get baptized....So yeah.... I got my companion (who was on a no fast food diet) to eat fast food and it was so good, cause I haven't had it in forever.

Today we taught and helped a person move and other things, but it was pretty average. The only thing special was we ate at a members house. He cooked fried deer. So that was amazing and yeah that's about it.

Today we woke up at 4:05 am and picked up the squad and headed to the doughnut shop. We bought Kolaches( large spiced sausage or brisket with egg mixture in Kolache bread and a bunch of doughnuts.  Like this place is in the absolute ghetto but we can get really cheap doughnuts.$6 for a dozen of mixed. Then we head out to Houston cause we gotta see the second string prophet, Elder Nelson. When we  got there we were super early so we talked with some missionaries from other missions and stuff like that. The meeting finally started and President Nelson came out and shook all of our hands. I'll be honest, I was so nervous. Like what if it was a bad handshake and I have to live my life knowing it. It was so strange, like the closer I got, the bigger my smile got. I tried not to look like a goon, but honestly I could not stop smiling so when I shook his hand with a great big smile(it was a great handshake) and he said 'Good Morning" the spirit was strong.  The meeting started and honestly President Russell M Nelson is super funny and he was cracking jokes. He is 92 and is in better shape then most 70 year olds-He raced up the stairs, jumped up and down in his seat, I mean he is in better shape than me. So I wrote 2 1/2 pages of notes but I'll just put some of my favorite quotes that I wrote down.
President Russell M Nelson:
---"If we keep doing what we've done, we will never be better than we have ever been."
---"You are the ones who will be the link that connects them to the other side of the veil(ancestors)"
---"Heavenly Father doesn't care how many are in his church. Whether it is one million or one-hundred million, what he wants is for them to be worthy enough to live with him again."
---"In the scriptures it says 'angels will guide them to the knowledge', Well, you are the angels and you will be guided on who to teach and what to teach about."
---"Others on the other side of the veil are guiding you to find their descendants so they can do family history for them."
---"You can strengthen your family more being on a mission then you could at the dinner table.
---"Don't spend one minute today worrying about the past"
---"We were a minority in Christ's day and we're a minority now."
---"You have been reserved for the gathering in the last days, it's like when a coach puts in a team late in the game and says, okay, we are down 1,380,000,000 to 6 but we have a plan, and don't worry cause we're going to win." 
---"The Lord likes the unlikely to accomplish the impossible."
---"Joseph Smith translated the Book of Mormon in less than 3 months while 116 pages were lost, having to translate an ancient unknown language, having to move from place to place, being harassed by mobs. ....The miracle of the Book of Mormon is something to never take lightly." 

After the conference we got stuck in traffic for an hour. Then we accidentally went through downtown which was actually a good experience cause we were able to eat at 5 guys. I went big and spent a ton of cash, but it was so good, so so good. We had a long car ride back and then we saw some people. A great day.

We visited a lot of part member families, today. A lot of them had moved away or weren't interested. We taught Mohammed again today and when we walked in he said since we were going to get him a Book of Mormon in Arabic, he would give us a Quran(Koran in Arabic) in English. He grabbed two of them and gave it to us. So yeah now we have a Quran and a study guide to go with it. The price was on the back of it, he paid $25 each, so he spent $50 on us. We talked about Dubai. I guess they are so rich that their police have Bugatti's. They are also building an underwater city. Mohammed is super cool and it will be interesting to teach him cause they believe Mohammed is a prophet. We believe he was just a good man. 
Elder Saunders
Driving into Houston at 4:30 am to see President Nelson speak.  We are 6 hours away from Houston. Jan 30, 2016 in Houston, Texas

Houston, Texas near where President Nelson is speaking. Jan 30, 2016

Leaving Houston, Texas-Only 6 hours to go....until we are back in Port Arthur. Jan 30, 2016

President Russell M Nelson waving goodbye to 700 missionaries in Houston, Texas. Jan 30, 2016 Chance of a Lifetime!