Saturday, May 28, 2016

Today While The Sun Shines, Work With A Will

Monday, May 23, 2016                                                Kingwood, TX 

" Today started out as challenging. My companion and I didn't get along and so it made for a long day. I led out today and we ended up teaching two lessons and we got 1 new investigator. After the last lesson we were biking to dinner at a members home. After dinner we played with these stick things and the member said he could order some if we paid him back, so I'm thinking about it. I'll take a video when I get good enough!

So a member in our ward has a son whose girlfriend came back from college. Three years ago, the missionaries taught her everything but she wasn't sure about it so she said, no. Well flash forward to now and she has read the whole Book of Mormon, twice, read all of the Doctrine & Covenants. She is thinking about being baptized! We recapped everything and she knew everything. She asked us questions like, "Why didn't the blacks have the Priesthood and polygamy and other things. So we explained those things to her and she understood. We committed her to be baptized in a week! She agreed even though she seemed to still be a bit unsure.

We went and helped a member's friend (who is a non-member) do a garage sale/move, today. We went over and helped move stuff and we see this huge anti Mormon book in her bookshelf, so I stealthy grabbed the book and put it in a bag with a bunch of other garbage and threw it away. We helped her out for awhile and then she was done so we rode home.

Elder Moos hopped in the shower and I am sitting in my street clothes watching church videos on my i pad. I am still in my street clothes and I get a knock on the door. So I answer and it's a package for me so I sign and take the package and remember that I didn't have my tag on. I felt so weird knowing that I just answered the door and that person just thought I was an average person. I then put the package down and there was a knock at the door again. I answer the door and see a guy and a girl about mid 50's and I didn't know who they were. The guy looked at me surprised and said, "Hi, Elder. (and immediately I thought, crap, this looks bad. I am in street clothes and it is 2:00 in the afternoon and they know I'm a missionary). So I stand up straight and say hello. They tell me they are there for apartment inspections! I'm like okay. Our apartment is quite a mess at that point. What's funny is that me and Elder Moos knew it and talked about it today and agreed to clean it tomorrow. So now I am here in my messy apartment, in street clothes, and my companion is in the shower! Of course they inspect what they can see cause they don't want to go into the bedroom in case my companion comes out of the bathroom. They chastise me, and just me, cause I am the only one there. They tell me to clean the apartment. I did what I do best and started to talk to them and made friends and at the end they changed our rating from a 3 to an 8, with the exception that we actually clean it tomorrow. So I get that mess figured out and we head out. It's as humid as heck and I am soaked. We bike around these mansions and people don't really like us, but we contacted all day and got nothing.

On Friday, Elder Snow came and spoke to us. He was President of the Seventy, and now he got called to be the church's historian. What is funny is that I met him in Port Arthur a couple of transfers ago when he spoke in their Sacrament meeting. But....I didn't know who he was. I shook his hand and spoke to him and I thought he was just a member of the stake presidency, haha.

We ended our week with another rough day. At the end we taught a kid and we battled with a guy who told me that my faith was false and as the bible says,"I'm putting a millstone around my neck and I'm drowning myself in an ocean of (outer darkness) for the things that I believe. I didn't go down without a fight. My rule is I never argue unless a person attacks what I know to be true. Eventually we had to go home and I made amends with him and we biked home in the dark. 

Elder Saunders
Picture of one of the fountains in Kingwood. Someone put bubbles in it. May 2016

Mansion in Kingwood, TX May 2016

Every things big in TX-even some of the homes.... May 2016

turtle invasion! May 2016 in Kingwood TX

Tons of turtles.....

and more turtles!...

**note from Mom and Dad-I asked him to send more pictures when we got the bubble picture.... Well, he sent pictures... first a big squirrel. next a huge black bird, and then many turtles, Ha ha. Son, we just wanted more pictures of you...

Sunday, May 22, 2016

God Is Good, God Is Good. We've Come So Much Farther Than We Thought We Could....

Monday, May 16, 2016                                                       Kingwood, TX

" I went on exchanges today with Elder Gary this time. We had a solid day! We taught our investigator Ashley, who gave us two referrals when we went over. She is going to invite them over next time when we teach her. So yeah, we were blown away! We talked about the Book of Mormon and she had some questions so she opened up her Book of Mormon. It was all highlighted and so we answered her questions and then she said, " Why don't more people talk about the Book of Mormon? Why are so many churches against something that makes sense?"

Elder Gary answered, "Well, when Christ was on the earth, was his church the majority or the minority?" Ashley answered minority and Elder Gary continued, " Exactly, Ashley. Christs church has always been the minority because it has always been attacked. So if it was brought back to earth, don't you think it would still be in the minority?" Ashley's like, "Yeah it would!". We answered a few more questions and invited her to be baptized and we left.

On our bike ride home, Elder Gary told me something that really opened my eyes. He told me that it is crazy that people are so confused about what God is. Everyone says that God is everywhere, but yet he is nowhere. That he has a body, but yet he doesn't. That he is three, yet he is one. He helps us and loves us, yet he is a jealous and angry God. Elder Gary continued that if you think about it Satan can't destroy God, but he has the power to destroy what people think God is. He made it so people don't know God. Satan made it so God seems like some far away being that no one could ever relate to, and by doing that he confused so many people. Many of them stopped believing he was there and the rest made many churches into what they think God is and actually fight with each other. That is why it is so important what we do. One of the things we share is, what God really is and who he is-we testify of Christ. 

After that we ate lunch and then went to the edge of our area and taught two lessons. When we finished up the second one, we were standing on the street corner that had a really sharp turn, planning where to go next. As we were standing there, we hear his honk. We look up and see this motorcycle and the guy waves at us, so we wave back. Then the guy takes off and rounds that turn super fast and then too fast. He lost control of his bike and tries to stabilize it. He ends up going up the curb on someone's lawn and towards this big rock in someone's yard. He bails and jumps off the bike and the bike crashes into the rock. We ran over and asked the guy if he was okay. The guy gets up and said a few choice words. He picks up his bike and the side of it is destroyed, like there is that plastic shell outer covering stuff all over the rock. He gets back on it and it actually starts up and he slowly drives down the road. 

We taught another kid after that and had dinner with this guy who owns a oil company. He is usually in the Middle East for like 200 days outta the year. He told us that he had a villa in Libya but when they had a civil war there, his villa was bombed and he had to fly everyone who worked for him out of Libya. Then we taught our boy, Uzziel again and that kid is always funny. Yeah, that was our day.

So today we helped our recent converts, the Snows, first clean out the garage. Then we washed it out and cleaned the floor of the garage. We then paint the floor of the garage. It was super fun and then they fed us lunch and dinner. We forgot to change in our street clothes, ha ha (See picture below). 

Today it rained and rained and rained, so yeah. I was going through our area book and we called this lady named Lini. She ended up just speaking Chinese. I tried to talk to her for about 3 minutes. I tried to explain who we were in English. Like I told her we have white shirts and ties, but she didn't understand me. I started to talk Spanish and she was confused, so I tried French. She was still confused so she gave the phone to her grandson. I hear them talking in Chinese and then yelling in Chinese and then finally the kid comes back to the phone and told us sorry they already have a church. For those of you wondering how I knew some French, a couple of days ago I got on google translate and expanded my vocabulary! 

This is the garage floor (behind us) that we painted with that special paint stuff. We forgot to bring service clothes so we modified. My mom asked what I was holding thinking it was steak seasoning, ha ha. It is the fleck stuff that you sprinkle over the paint. May 2016 in Kingwood, TX.
We ended the day going to dinner with this member who picked us up in a Cadillac CTSV. It is a Cadillac with a corvette engine in it. Honestly, it was the funnest car I have ever been in. I asked him what's the highest it can go and he said 200! He said that it can beat most Lamborghinis! 
Elder Saunders

Sunday, May 15, 2016

Life As A Missionary Is A Rich Experience

Monday, May 9, 2016                                                             Kingwood, TX

"Today after P day, a member picked us up in this brand new 2016 Cadillac, I mean man I felt like a million bucks riding in it. So nice! After dinner we went back to the church to give a church tour. We got President Drake to go with us. So we give our investigator, Ashley, a church tour. She's super solid and even President Drake thinks she is super solid. We finish and we get in Presidents van. He's like, "Elder Saunders, when I led in with talking about Christ being baptized, I thought you were going to invite her to be baptized." Honestly it never hit me to invite her, mainly cause she's still living with her boyfriend and some other reasons. I can't tell President Drake that or else he would say something like, Where's your faith? So I looked at President and I said, " Ya know, President, that would would've been a great opportunity . I messed up with that." He didn't say anything after that comment, so I count that as a win and I really need to work on that. So we get home and we have 4 missionaries in our apartment, two of which are Elder Strong and Elder Lawrence. They are there for MLC -Missionary Leader Conference- for leaders. So I am talking with them and they ask how our lesson with President went and I made a joke saying well at least I accomplished one thing....making the President disappointed in me and they laugh as I tell the story.. They know I have learned a great lesson.

We had exchanges with the Zone Leaders today. I went with Elder Knebel (aka my dad-that is what you call your trainer) . Honestly, it was a really solid exchange. It was kinda an awakening for me cause I realized that I was kinda a punk my first transfer. He is a super guy. We had a great day and it was good for me to kinda realize. We biked through this swamp and got eaten alive. We contacted everyone. 

We contacted this Jehovah's Witness that only spoke Spanish and I am sure a little bit of English. I said some things to her in Spanish and she went on talking super fast for like 10 minutes. We understood absolutely nothing. She stopped, turned toward me, and asked a question. I didn't know what she asked me but I responded in broken Spanish, " We love Christ, and we are servants of Christ." (thank you Spanish Elders in Port Arthur). She again went off for 10 min talking in Spanish and waving her JW pamphlet. I'm like no, 'El Libro de Mormon, which is the Book of Mormon and she got mad! Here we were on this busy road being yelled at in Spanish by what is now a mad Spanish lady. Mid sentence I cut her off by telling her in Spanish that I do not speak Spanish. She was so confused because I had been speaking in Spanish, not good Spanish but Spanish. She kept asking questions in Spanish so we finally told her we had to go. 

Next we contacted some more... you guessed it- Jehovah Witnesses. They spoke English. I started out nice but after a while I got tired of them constantly telling us that our faith is wrong. I asked them how I could find out if their faith was true. They started stating false doctrine that a man wrote and I am like, "Well, anyone can can say anything but I would like God to tell me." Is there anything written by a prophet or apostle? They said no and I could tell this was going no where, so we left.

Our recent convert, the Snows, took us to Salt Grass today. Salt Grass is this super expensive steak house. I got the Rib Eye and it was amazing. It was so full of flavor and I felt bad because it cost a pretty penny. That was a major highlight for two missionaries. We also found out why our investigator, Ashley, didn't show up for the Relief Society dinner yesterday. I guess her boyfriend and her got in a huge fight and when she went to leave to go to the dinner he 'laid his hands on her' and she called the cops. This isn't the first time he's done that. It's been a challenge cause we are trying to help her, but we can't get involved and she keeps asking us what to do. So we're gonna have to involve the bishop and try to solve this mess.

Today we really didn't have anything planned and so we're biking around trying to talk to people outside and there is absolutely no one around. We keep biking around forever and then I see this house with a bunch of pretty decorations and stuff like that. I see a guy come out and then turned around and started to go back in his garage. In my mind I'm like, no imma gonna talk to you. So I zoom down his driveway and right to his garage door (which is open). It's then that I realize that he is having a party and I kinda just crashed it. I'm sitting there and there is about 15 people people-all in swimsuits- and drinking beer-staring at me. So I'm like, "Howdy, y'all! We're your missionaries!" I just start talking to them and they are celebrating Cinco de Mayo (which is weird because they are all white). He offered us some ice beer and we said no. After that the house owner comes and I tell him why we are here and what we share and we got a return appointment with him. 

After that we biked to a recent converts house and she was talking to us about other faiths. She's like, 'Elders, we have gotta go to the 2nd's baptist church before you leave. " She proceeds to tell us that the church is gigantic and it has concerts and laser tag, karate lessons, paintball and a whole bunch of stuff. So us and the recent converts are going to go to it. Man it's fixin to be so fun, ha ha.

We were going to these formers and I found one that seemed really promising but she lives a ways away. So we bike for an hour straight and we come to the richest neighborhood in Kingwood (which is saying something). We find her house and her house is one of the biggest on the street. Like it has to easily be a multi million dollar house. It is right on the river. So we go up to this huge house and it just so happens to be full of cars, so they are probably having a party. We knock on this giant door and this 18 year old girl answers which surprised me, cause I wasn't expecting her. I asked for Michelle (her mom). She goes to get her and she leaves the door open. We look inside and see a huge water slide made outta stone by their huge pool. The house was so fancy and everyone inside who weren't in the pool were wearing super nice clothing. It made us feel under dressed. Her mom comes and she's super nice and says we can come back and sets up a time and day to meet. It was so surprising cause usually rich people aren't that nice to us. She was nice so that was super cool.

Today is Mothers Day and I got to call home and all that good stuff. We had a feast, like man they cooked a lot of steak and chicken. I had a loaded baked potato, and they also had a ton of craw fish-so we ate that, and shrimp. Man it was so good. I got so full! After that we just visited some member's homes. 

Elder Saunders
This is where we bike and not have to go next to the Busy road- Greenbelt in Kingwood, TX  May 2016

So peaceful taking this trail. It gets really dark at night so our bike lights come in handy. It is not lit up at night.....Kingwood, TX Greenbelt May 2016

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Homies, Heat and Pitbulls?

Monday, May 2, 2016                                                              Kingwood, TX 

"  So I had an exchange with Elder Andrew(my homie from the MTC) today. It was so much fun. We talked forever last night and it started to rain super bad throughout the whole night. It took our power out. So we wake up and we are doing studies and we both had reclining chairs and we fell asleep!. We woke up and went to work and put on our service clothes and went to a members house to take out a small tree. 

We were biking and Elder Andrew takes this "shortcut" through this swamp. It was not even a greenbelt. Like we were going off road. Since it rained, everything is wet and flooded. We get to a point where the water is so deep our bikes can't go through it. We tried our best and the mud is super bad, ha ha. We finally get through it and we're all muddy and wet(by water and sweat).  When we got out this giant pit bull chases us and is freakin fast!! He almost gets me, but I swerved and almost hit him which made him stop and then I took off. We saw some people and biked back through the mud and ate at a members home. We had roast and potatoes, which marks the second time on my mission that I have had potatoes. 

We head back and the other Elders were late so we played ping pong until they came back(only 2 minutes worth). 

We rode our bikes way the heck down in the heat and saw some less actives and other potentials. We started our hour of power. We are biking trying to find a street and we see a person gardening, so we talk to her and ask her if she knows anyone who needs help. She didn't want to talk to us and so we tried Apartments and no one was interested but all of them said that they were sure that there was someone in there who needs us.

So we were biking around and we see this mom taking her kids outta her car. We go up and talk to her. She turns around and you could tell that she had been crying. We asked her if everything was okay. She said yeah but her kid told us that her mom and dad got in a fight and...I'm not going into detail but stuff went down and he tore the lock off of the door. We asked her if we could pray for her and she said yes. So I prayed for her and after the prayer she was crying so we taught her the restoration. She loved it and had really good comments and questions. We talked to her for awhile and she said we could come back and teach her more. I look down and we are late for dinner and a cop pulls up, perfect timing. We leave and we have 10 minutes to get to dinner and it is a 25 minute bike ride. We hurry and bike quick as we can and make it there just as the member was about to leave. We went to our recent converts house and then he asked us some deep doctrine and that was pretty good.

So we start off our day by going to this members home that was flooded. We were in street clothes and the bishop picked us up and immediately it starts to rain. We arrive at the house and it is raining like crazy. We start taking all the furniture and all the other stuff that was ruined in the flood. Right when we started to work it down poured-like super bad! We worked anyway and carried stuff back and forth out in the rain for about an hour and a half. We finally finish and we are soaked head to toe and covered in a pretty good layer of mud. Right when we finish the rain stopped and it's blue skies. We head home and shower and eat lunch. 

We went to Starbucks to teach a lesson to this kid who is a "atheist" but he is really agnostic. We teach him and he actually has a sister who is LDS and getting married in the Temple. So that was pretty cool. 

Then we went to dinner. I had the best brisket I have ever had. This member is well known throughout the ward for his BBQ! 

After that we met with this less active family. We were talking to the mom and she told us how her testimony is not very strong anymore. She has been going to other churches. Her twelve year old son(who isn't baptized) speaks up and bears his testimony about how he was hearing his mom talk about which is the true church and he he thought about Joseph Smith. He said it wasn't by coincidence that God put him in a place where there were so many religions. God put him there so he could learn of all of them and still make a choice. He used an analogy that I've never heard of. He said that God doesn't just sprinkle people on earth like you would put sprinkles on an ice cream cone. God knows where to put you and guides you through life. I mean this is coming from a twelve year old kid whose mom has been less active for a while. Like this kid is a stud. His mom later told us that last week she took her kids to a Baptist church and when her kid was in his children's class, they started to teach the kids about what the Mormon religion believes. The kid stands up and says to the pastor that he is wrong, and that they don't believe that and then proceeds to talk to everyone and what the Mormons actually believe. We asked him about it and he said, "I roasted that Pastor!" At the end of our discussion, the mom told us that she asked her kids what church they want to go to and they both told her The Mormon Church. She said that was probably God telling her to come back.

So we were biking back from this appointment and on the way we see Ashley (the person who we met a couple of days ago in the apartment complex) whose boyfriend is something else. We see her walking back home carrying one of her kids so we stop and talk to her. While we are talking to her, her boyfriend pulls up on the side of the busy road and parks his car and tells her to get in. She told him no and he sits in the middle of this busy road trying to create trouble, so she is embarrassed and gets in and is freaking out. We aren't allowed to give her advice so we told her to keep walking and we start walking and her boyfriend puts it in drive and slowly follows us.

 We see this guy walking and he has piercings and tattoos, and he stops cause he sees the car and he asks us if there is anything wrong so Ashley tells him the story. The tattooed guy ends up talking to Ashley's boyfriend, twice. Meanwhile we are talking to Ashley and inviting her to a baptism that one of the other wards is having. Finally after talking for a while, her boyfriend promised that he wouldn't raise his voice and Ashley goes with him and they drive home.

Then we went to dinner and go back to the baptism and Ashley isn't arriving so we text her. She texted back and said she had to install brake pads to her car and install all new tires. So we are guessing that her controlling boyfriend wouldn't give her a ride so she had to fix her car to be able to go. She texted us and asked when the baptism was over cause she was covered in grease and wanted to take a shower. At this point the baptism was about 5 minutes to being over, so we told her that it was over. She texted back 'dang, well can I still see ya cause I have some questions to ask. So we set up a time to see her tomorrow and she texted back-' Okay, I can't wait. I'll read some of that Book of Mormon Bible you gave me and write down the questions." Ha ha

We got to go to the Houston Temple again. My new Zone in Kingwood, TX May 2016

Okay, this is a reenactment of the pit bull from my view.  Not the real pit bull,  but in my parents eyes,  this is what they imagined when I told the story of him chasing me.... Wow! Kingwood, TX May 2016

Elder Saunders