Monday, December 26, 2011

Follow the promptings...

What a slow week. We did a lot of work with helping to find people to help fellowship investigators and to help us get things done but all of our investigators decide that this week was too busy for them and that they needed to cancel or to reschedule for another time after the holidays.  It was so sad.
This week though I had a cool inspirational testimony builder.  So we have this lady we know, who was less active and now is back in church every week and has a calling.  Her 2 daughters are not members and neither is her husband but all 3 of them sort of investigate the church.  We go over once or twice a week to teach them and read scriptures with them.  Every day we do she asks us if we found a bunk bed for her.  She asked us a few weeks ago to help her find one because her 4 year old and her 10 year old share a bed that sits on the ground.  We totally slacked off on it every week and forgot. 
The other day we were having dinner with this really nice family.  We shared a scripture and were talking about faith and how we can build our own.  Somehow the thought kind of popped into my mind to ask if they had a bunk bed.  I ignored it and kept teaching because I thought that wasn't the right time.  Apparently Elder Gomes got the same thought but he decided to ask!  They didn't have one... but they said Deseret Industries (DI) might.  It was the day before Christmas Eve and they thought that it might have closed already.  They called and DI was open and had one.  The family thought it was a reasonable price and wanted to go buy it for the family if we would bring it to them in our truck.  The family wanted it to be an anonymous gift.  They told us that they had been looking for a family that they could help out this time of year and be generous.  I thought that this family was so nice to a family they don't even know!  Well, we get to DI and she spent $600 on a brand new bunk bed, mattresses and new sheets for this family.  I was so grateful for their generosity and we continually thanked them because she wouldn't let us keep asking around so she didn't have to pay so much.  She told us it was no problem.  When we dropped off the bunk bed the family was over joyous with our find for them and they said it made their Christmas because they didn't have a lot to give the kids.  Their little 4 year old boy was jumping around the house yelling "I get my own BED! I get my own BED!" It was so cute.  I realized that day that Christmas time really is when people open their hearts to others and want to give to those in need.  I also know that the spirit prompted us to ask for the bed, and when we did we were blessed for following that prompting.

Christmas was great.  We had a wonderful evening on Christmas Eve with our area missionaries and the mission President.  We were each given a nice bag with a couple of ties in them, 4-5 gift cards to stores and restaurants in our area, a Tide to go pen and a few other  small things.  These were all donated by members in our mission, we are extremely grateful for this mission.  We received our letters from our parents and we got to choose to watch either "Polar Express" or "It's a Wonderful Life."  I chose Polar Express. :) 

Thank you to all of you who sent me a card or a little something.  I appreciate it so much.  It has helped me a great deal to know I have so much support at home.  I wish I could write you each a letter personally back but I don't have time. :(

Elder Willis

We were able to talk with Brian Christmas morning!  He sounds wonderful.  He has been truly blessed on his mission and watched over by many of the various ward members they come in contact with.  He was scheduled to have 2 brunches and ward member homes, an early dinner at the mission presidents home and a dinner with another family that evening.  All those meals along with the stops they made with other families during the day.  He and Elder Gomes were quite full and sent home with lots of food.  

It was hard not to have him home this year for the holidays but we know he is doing what he should be at this time in his life.  He had been given permission to visit the Walter's home on Christmas day.  Since they just moved from up here to Utah, and in his mission area, we were very excited that he would get to see someone he knew during this first Christmas away from home.  We are so blessed with the friends we have.

Many thanks to the Walters family for opening up their home to Brian and his companion! And a special thanks to Michelle for giving him a mother's hug that I wasn't able to this year.

Becki and Brian

Monday, December 19, 2011

So very exciting!

So this past week has been pretty swell.  We found a few new investigators.

I have this cool story, 6 months ago missionaries were teaching this family.  The mom was less active the daughters were not members and dad was not interested at all.  They taught lessons out on their front lawn because he didn’t like them being there.  Now the mom has a calling in primary and both daughters are being taught discussions when I got here.  Last week we went to teach them and found out one that daughter wasn’t home and one was sick so we thought we were just going to teach mom but were we wrong! The dad was like “hold on guys and I will join you” and sat in the lesson with us and told us to come back again!  I know the Lord prepares people and he does it in his own time and works with them!  He had some good questions and we definitely made him think when we asked him what he thought his purpose in life was.  He was funny though, he told us he didn’t want to commit to anything yet till he knows more and thinks because church always happens to be in the middle of football.

Another extremely cool story from this week is that last week we were told that a General Authority was coming to speak in this one ward so we should show up.  We were bummed because we had to teach a primary lesson at that time, but we made it happen, like always.  We showed up half way through sacrament meeting and lo and behold it was not a general authority... but an Apostle!  L. Tom Perry was in the ward! Wooo whoo! So we were excited.  Afterwards, we got to talk to him!  And then he taught Priesthood.  He was good.  One thing that really stuck with me that he said was that the reason we have so many people in the church who go less active and don’t become elders is because the Aaronic priesthood leaders don't teach the blessings of holding it well enough.  If they taught the blessings of it and taught the importance and power of it then people as young as 13 and 14 would be striving mightily to uphold their duties to be able to be worthy of it.  I thought that was bold and powerful. 

So this week it has been so cold, but we have been getting work done and have 2 new people we are teaching tonight, I am excited for that.  Christmas is in 6 days and I have mixed emotions about that. 

I love and miss you guys!

Elder Willis

Brian sent home some pictures of where he is living right now.  He and his companion have an apartment in the home of a member in their area.

Their little Christmas tree

The living room
 The office for studying

The bedroom.  I am curious if he cleaned his side and made his bed for the benefit of the picture.  :)

We are very excited to hear from him on Christmas Day.  We are especially thankful for our friends, the Walters.  Brian has received permission from his mission President to stop by and see them on Christmas Day.  It has been a emotional holiday season witout him here and knowing he will feel the love of good friends that day will make it that much better for our family. 
We hope everyone is having a wonderful holiday season!  We also want those to know that have posted comments here and on Facebook, we include them in our weekly letters to Brian so he knows how much support he has from home.
We feel so blessed with the family and friends we have and especially for having the church and Savior in our lives each day.  We hope you and your family are feeling his blessings at this time of year and all the year through.

Brian and Becki and Zack

Monday, December 12, 2011

Sick, Temple, Tours and Ice Cream!

This week was a slower week again.  I learned this week how miserable it is to be a sick missionary.  You can’t do anything!  On Friday I felt fine in the morning.  Then around 10 I started feeling iffy, then around noon it went down hill.  I don’t know if it was food poisoning from the night before or if it was a one day thing or what but it was bad.  I was in bed all day with different missionaries watching me at different times while my companion did his best to make all of our appointments.  I felt so bad, and it wasn’t fun for either of us.

Other than that though my week was good.  I got to go to the Salt Lake Temple on Thursday. I got to get a little tour of a back room.  Then we got a tour of the church museum which was interesting and more interesting is the fact that I had never done it before and it was across the street from me for a while when I lived at LDSBC. Then we got to go to the church office building for lunch which was paid for, for us and we feasted.  Then we got to take a tour to the top of the office building to the 26th floor and look our the observation deck.  It was so sweet! 

I also spoke in church yesterday, which was exciting.  I was sort of nervous.  There was an Elder who is getting ready to leave on Wednesday and had his farewell.  He is Tongan so it was packed, including the entire gym.  I had 1 investigator there though and 2 less active families we are teaching there also, which is good.  I spoke on missionary work and how it was such an amazing experience to get to work with members here, whether they are active and we work with them to fellowship people or to get referrals or that they are less active and need help coming back or any sort of problem.  This week I have been trying to find people around us that really need a little extra love or help this holiday season.  That’s what missionaries do right?  I encourage all of you reading this to try and do the same, surely there is someone who needs you and if you pray about it I know you will find someone or the Lord will put someone in your path if you open your heart.  Lift those around you up, and as you do they will lift you up as well.  I know that it will be hard this time of year to get all the things done you need to and to help those that need it most but as you try to do it I know you will be blessed for your efforts and help to do the Lords work.

One cool family I saw this week is so nice to us.  Last weekend we met him and he told us to come over whenever we wanted because he would give us food or ice cream or whatever we needed.  We though,t well we are in the area, he said ice cream and he might have a referral for us so lets go there and see what happens.  We think ice cream like he is going to give us a scoop in a bowl or something.  We were wrong.  We get there and he and his 2 kids bring us downstairs to his theater room, coolest room ever!  They have a projector with a pull down screen out of the wall, Ping pong table, and a little kitchen!  He pulls out like 9 different flavors of ice cream asked us if we want a banana split or milk shake or malt or scoops or what!  He has two restaurant style milk shake machines and a pop corn machine too!  He was so nice to us!  He told us to come back whenever we had one of the "wow its a long day I just need a milk shake" kind of moods.  Which as missionaries we don’t want to go there too much unless we have a need but still I love this guy already.  He told us to come by on Christmas too! :) Families here are so nice and always care about missionaries, or maybe it is just more noticeable when you have more members.  He ended up giving us a referral though too so it worked out perfect.

Well I love you guys, and miss all of you!  It will be hard to make it through this first holiday season without you but as I do, I know each of us will be blessed. 

Elder Willis

Monday, December 5, 2011

District Leader companion and door shut on us...

This has been a rough week, we had 10 lessons and then a few with less active members but still not like 2 weeks ago.  We are also struggling to find God's Elect children that we can teach.  We found no new investigators this week and I feel like we should have.  We are going to strive this week to find more and to work as hard as we can.  So I didn’t get transferred!   Elder Gomes though became District Leader, which means I am a District Leader companion.  I don’t quite know what that entails right now other than to help him plan our district meeting and teach our district.  I know it means I will be going on a lot of exchanges with the elders in our district and with the zone leaders.  It’s more work but I feel like as a companionship we can handle it.  We also have a new elder in our district he in newer than I am, woohoo!  He is really great though and went to culinary school before he came out so he cooks pretty well. 

This week we have gone to so many Christmas parties, we went to 2 on Friday, 2 on Saturday and to a wedding reception.  We got fed well this weekend.  I am having so much fun too. 

We went tracking this week, and I got my first door slammed into our face.  She was like hold on one sec, and then when she opened the door she looked at us and said "I TOLD YOU GUYS NEVER TO COME HERE AGAIN DON’T YOU EVER LISTEN?! NOW DON’T COME BACK!" and slammed the door.  It was sad.  We walked away and kept knocking but we got this prompting to go back and to knock again to say sorry and that we will make sure no one knocks again.  I was a little nervous to follow this prompting, but we did and rang her door bell.  She didn’t answer the door that time though.

Yesterday we went to the Portuguese Ward, and I had to sit with the headphones and have the translator talk to me because I didn’t understand anyone’s testimony except the little boy who bore it in English J  but that was our only one.  We taught primary and that was really enjoyable and then we taught a combines relief society and elders quorum.  It was so cool!  We went to them and they each had a new Book of Mormon and a marking pencil.  We taught a scripture chain of frequently asked questions by BYU non members and had each member mark that scripture and then write the next scripture in the column and then kept going.  At the end we had them write their testimony in the front cover and the reference to the first scripture.  They did this for us as missionaries to hand out in the community.  That would be a cool idea for our missionaries in our ward.  It was cool because it’s the time of year to share with others what has blessed our lives and that can really help!

A testimony builder I had this week was that one of our investigators, Lori, who grew up with no belief in God.  She grew up with Buddhist beliefs but didn't practice it, and she is a nurse at a hospital.  She told us about how when she is having a rough day at work she goes to the serenity room and prays she gets a calm feeling and the rest of her day goes smoothly.  She told us that "I think that is that Holy Spirit you were talking about" and she recognizes the Holy Ghost in her life! I am so glad she knows!!! It’s so cool to watch her progress and change.  So last Sunday she told us she would be baptized when she is ready but not yet.  This week we got a text message from her saying she wants to be baptized on Christmas or New Years day.  I was so excited because that's huge for her. I am so excited for her baptism too that will be the coolest present to give, a truly White Christmas.

Well I love you all and hope you’re doing well.  I would love to hear from you if you want to write me! If I find time I will write you back.

Elder Willis