Thursday, September 24, 2015

September 21, 2015

Hi everyone!

So yeah I hear about the BYU game usually from members the next day at church. Even though we don't have internet on our iPad, we can get scores. So before bed on Saturdays you'll hear "College Football Scores" getting yelled at an iPad in our apartment because our Siri doesn't connect very good haha  so sadly we woke up to see the score on a text from the bishops son, they take good care of us   I talked BYU football for a while last night at the Why I Believe with Elder Herring (AP) who is on scholarship to come play O-Line at the Y when he gets home next summer. So you can imagine how big he is. 

Exchanges aren't super common.. Usually about 1 a transfer. And since we are brand new, the district leaders were asked to go on exchange with all the next missionaries. Luckily we hold our Zone/District meetings at our chapel so only like 5-10 minutes! 

Wednesday we had an awesome experience. So we had an appointment with a referral that we thought was super solid. We had talked to her on her porch the week before and set up the time to come back. She wasn't home when we stopped by so we were super disappointed. So we had about an hour until we had to be home so we went to go tract for the rest of the night. We prayed before we went tracting and Elder Coombs said "please bless we can find just one person who needs our message" At first I was kinda confused and was just like why didn't he ask for 5,10 tons?! But I've realized it really is just 1 person at a time. So we ended up finding that one person. And in our entire hour we only talked to one person. 

So we knock on this door and a lady answers. After we invited her to the Why I Believe and told her who we were she looked at us for a second. Then she told us that she could not believe this was really happening. She said that she was praying 5 min ago to find a new church to join. And I was like what?! This doesn't really happen. Everyone has those mission stories where the person was just praying and then the missionaries show up, but they don't really happen! But sadly like Trevor we haven't heard from her and she didn't show up at church or the Why I Believe. So we will try to contact her this week.

Saturday was probably the other highlight/day to mention. So it was what they call the Day of Service and it is a day the community has a ton of service projects set up that people can come volunteer at. Our Stake decided to serve at a place called Serenity Farms. Since our Zone covers the Stake our whole zone came! The farm is where they grow produce for food banks and other donations. The turn out from the stake was AWESOME!!! It was fun to see all the ward members and all the kids/youth kept telling us how weird it was to see us in jeans. We had to laugh cause to all of us we still just feel like normal teenage kids but to everyone else we are missionaries that I guess they think we probably sleep in our suits haha. 

The Stake put all the members and missionaries in those yellow vests you see on TV when missionaries are doing service after a natural disaster. It was a cool way for everyone else there to know who all the people in yellow vests were. So me and some other missionaries were assigned to pick sweet potatoes. So we got pretty muddy and dirty digging around for those. After we got kinda sick of that and there was tons of people picking sweet potatoes so we walked back up to see if we could get assigned a new job. We got up there and Coombs and I were asked to go with a High Councilor from the Stake and try and drop off some of the extra produce harvested that day. We went over to a trailer park with 12 boxes to give away. It was the worst living conditions I have seen so far on my mission. It was really bad... These are the trailer homes, not like RVs. And we have been in some before but these ones were terrible. Really run down and falling a part. The poorest people I have seen so far. And Coombs told me that compared to the city he has seen worse. Even though I'm not in a foreign country I'm starting to see some poverty and really struggling people. We gave out the 12 boxes and every person seemed so thankful. 

Then on Sunday was my first Why I Believe. It was amazing! I love being up at the visitors center, being with all the missionaries up by the temple. That is where all my pictures came from this week. 

 Overall it was a pretty good week.. We are still struggling to find investigators. 

This upcoming Saturday is what is called the Transfer Call Out. So that night they will call out and say if you are staying or going. But you don't know where or who with until the actual day of Transfers which will be next Wednesday (Sept 30). So next week I will be able to tell you if I am saying or going. Odds are I will stay. Most people stay with their trainer for the entire training period (2 transfers). But rumor around is Elder Coombs is going to go Zone Leader. Because the next up coming two transfers 4 of the 8 Zone Leaders go home. So that should be interesting, I really hope Coombs and I stay together. 

Love you all tons!!

PS This was the first email from my iPad I finally got on Thursday.  So we email from our apartment. Like I said the rules are I can read emails anytime during the week. We can just only respond on P-Days.  

Also emailing from the apartment I have all my scriptures and notes here so it is easier to share a spiritual thought. So this transfer our entire mission is reading the gospels. At home I would never think I could read the entire gospels in 6 weeks! But I am on track, so my thought comes from my reading this past week. In John 10:1-18  Jesus give the Parable of the Good Shepard. In verse 4 it says -"for they know his voice" and in verse 27 it says "Christ's sheep follow him". So do we recognize Christ's voice and do we follow him? It sounds a lot easier then it really is, but if we believe in Christ we follow him and we will know his voice. 

Found my main man Elder McDonald at the Why I Believe! I get so see
him every week at Zone District Meeting, but it is always fun to see

Elder Kholer and I see each other
quite a bit!  (Elder Kholer went to Alta)

We are having a zone activity for p-day at the stake center playing games and
just having fun. So the whole zone is here. 

Saturday, September 19, 2015

September 14, 2015

What a quick week for sure!

The beginning of the week was REALLY hot! But then it rained on Friday and all of a sudden it feels like fall! It is cool and it feels amazing! We were out tracting last night and I could have pulled on a sweater and it would have felt great! 

So this week was a pretty regular, run of the mill missionary week. On Wednesday it was my first exchange though! I went up to the Capitol Ward with our District Leader Elder Levi (pronounced Leevee). It was really cool to be in a different area and see how different missionaries work. Elder Coombs and I work hard, not to take anything away from Elder Levi, but Elder Coombs sure has set me on working hard. I got to meet some ward members and sadly I had to go to their ward coordination that night so it wasn't a full time in the area. 

So here in the DC mission you can go to the gym as long as you are back to your apartment by 7 and to studies by 8. Elder Levi is one of the gym nuts so I had to get up at 4:45 to go to the gym with him and some other Elders. It felt great working out! But I don't think I will be waking up that early every day anytime soon. After the gym we had to get ready and get down to our Zone/District meetings on Thursday. They were regular meetings so nothing to mention there.

Jump ahead to Sunday night. We were out tracting and I was kinda frustrated. Trevor had fallen through on the appointment we set. It was suppose to happen while I was on exchange, but Elder Coombs told me that night over the phone it fell through. And we haven't been able to get a hold of him since. The East Coast is a really hard place. Everyone seems so busy and they are just kinda mean people. Everyone seems to have attitude. They told us in training that over the past 15 years there has been a steady decline in baptisms across the entire East Coast. But that doesn't mean that there aren't people out there!

So back to Sunday night. We were out tracting and as I got out of the car I thought of the scripture Malachi 3:10, since we have taught about tithing over the last week to a few people. The line, "Prove me now herewith, saith the Lord of hosts". So I got out of the car and just kinda said in a prayer, prove to me Lord there are people to teach. It was around 8 so we had 30 min to fill. The next 25 min went as usual, door slam, door slam, door slam, door slam. It was 8:25ish and really I was doing fine. Elder Coombs and I are use to getting doors slammed in our faces but we still have a good time! We just talk the while time and it really is pretty fun. And all of a sudden as we are going to the next little townhouse we hear a kid yell, "Yo! Y'all Mormons?". And I was just like oh crap this kid is just gonna make fun of us. So these two kids walk up to us and just start asking us questions and say they believe in the Bible and just wanted to know more about us. Long story short they said they are gonna come to basketball this week and they want to talk more with us! It was a really cool experience and hopefully they end out better than how things went with Trevor!

Other than the exchange really everything was pretty normal week. I forgot my journal so I can't remember specifics about the days. But this week I get my Ipad!! Finally! It will be so nice to have, and emailing will be great! Especially since I won't have to drag Coombs to take me to the church so I can email.

Today was a really cool P-Day. We drove down last night with the WP1 Elders to the Lexington Park Elders apartment to sleep over. We woke up this morning and a senior couple named the Rose's took us bowling on the naval base! Elder Rose was in the Navy and was pretty high up so he can take us on base with him. So we played 3 games of bowling and then they took us to lunch at this really good Mexican restaurant. We all love the Rose's! We call Sister Rose, Moma Rose. Cause she really is our mission grandma! They love the missionaries and we sure love them! Especially when they buy us lunch and take us bowling! 

It has been a good start to this week! Crazy that there is only 2 weeks left in this transfer and it is already almost halfway through September! I love you all! I heard about the BYU game but no did not see any of it this week haha

Love you all so much!!


Here are the pictures for the week!

So back story to these, there is a tradition in the mission that if your comp ever tips in their chair you take a selfie with them on the ground. And since we spend around 3-4 hours in those chairs per day you can tell it happens quite often..

The Relief Society President recommended we made cookies for people in the ward.. We kind of laughed at first. But Elder Coombs and I ended up buying some Toll House cookie dough and gave cookies to 3 families in the Ward. We liked it lots so we are going to do it every week now.

Bowling on our p-day

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

September 7, 2015- Labor Day

Hi all! It is good to hear from you all as always!

So here is the run down for the week.. Tuesday nothing really to mention. But Wednesday we had a really cool experience! So we have Zone/District Meetings every Thursday and Elder Coombs/I were asked to do a workshop in Finding. And at first we were kinda discouraged because we really have had no success finding up till that point. Well we were driving out to visit some less actives and Elder Coombs turned to me and said that for my part in teaching the workshop he wanted me to share about the experience of who we found today. Well we put our faith in the Lord and he answered our prayers. While we were out that day we were tracting and met Trevor. He pulled into his driveway after we had already knocked on his door, so on our way back down the street we stopped by and talked to him in the driveway. So we talked to him and ended up giving the entire first lesson in his driveway. He accepted a Book of Mormon and we have an appointment with him this Wednesday. It was such a cool experience! Thursday was a pretty regular day but it was so cool to tell our experience with Trevor to the district during our workshop!

Friday we had to go in and get our car worked on. New tires, change the oil, stuff like that. But we ended up being at the Pep Boys for almost 3 hours. The awesome/bad thing was that SportsCenter was on in the waiting room. So I am updated on all things DeflateGate and NFL football haha. Plus the scrolling bar I saw all the football scores and such. I know I shouldn't care about sports right now but it is hard so I got my update for the next little while in the Pep Boys waiting room.

Saturday was pretty interesting also. So Saturday was my official month mark! Crazy how fast that came. We play basketball on Saturday mornings with a bunch of non member guys and the bishop/ward members. It is actually one of our best finding tools. Later that day President Cooke came down on exchange. So that was really cool/stressful. We had an appointment with the Vance's (Brittani's friend). It was so cool to be with President for that 2 hours we were with him and just how much he loves and cares about us. When we walked out of the appointment he put his hands on mine and Elder Coombs shoulders and told us "We did everything right" which was nice to hear from him. It was nice to know that he saw us do good. After he had to leave to a different area, but he wanted to pray with us before he left. So with his hands still on our shoulders in the street he prayed. It was amazing to hear him pray for us and again how much he loves us. Something that stood out to me when he prayed is he said "We know the journey is hard, but we know that if it wasn't we would not learn anything". That really hit me hard. Missions are hard because if they weren't we would not learn anything. That was such a cool experience.

After we went to the Beals for dinner. Here is our interesting experience that night. So the Beals are from Nebraska so they had the game on. And they are recent converts so they don't know all the mission rules and they had Bro Beals brother who is a non member there for dinner. So they were really excited to have us over. It was super awkward cause it wasn't like we could ask them to turn the game off. So we sat in the other room trying not to watch the game. It was so hard. Elder Coombs and I are both sports guys and BYU fans. I never would have thought that I would ever have to repent for watching football haha. But we saw the Hail Marry, I know as a missionary I shouldn't care... But that was AMAZING. Finally BYU pulls through on something big. And I would just like to say that I have been calling Tanner Mangum as a total baller for the last 3 years. So there is that. Did Taysom get hurt? I sure hope not! 
Anyways.. So I got more sports in the past few days combined as well as combined for probably a long time...

There is our week basically! Also last night we tracted into another really cool potential investigator named Kevin! It was a pretty good week!

I love you all!! 

Looking forward to hearing from you guys next week! 
Love Austin

PS Give me and update on BYU football next week cause I promise I won't be seeing any of the game next week:)  So questions..  driving.. I don't get to drive until after 2 transfers so Elder Coombs handles all the driving. Which is kinda nice cause I can slip in the occasional 10 min nap while we drive. And yes we rely on the Garmin almost as much as we rely on the Spirit. Just kidding but really we need that thing. My bike is out on our little apartment balcony and locked to the pole.

Only picture for the week!
Here is my District after our meetings this past week.

Thursday, September 3, 2015

August 31, 2015 - End of August

Hi all!!

Sorry for getting a later email to all of you. But I have a pretty good reason. So each transfer the mission plays football down on the Mall and this P-Day was the day. So we played football right in between the Washington and WWII monuments. SO COOL! It was my first time in DC since being out on the mission so it was fun being back up there, and of course it was fun to play football again. And then it had some pretty good back drops to be another plus:) So I will answer all your questions first and then get to my week.

So my apartment is a little small and from what I hear it is about the average apartment, some nicer but ours is still nice! I will try to send pictures of it next week. We share our apartment with another companionship of Elders. Elder Summit and Elder Dawson. They are both really cool! Elder Summit has been out for a little over a year, and he reminds me of Garret. He went to Mountain Crest and was in the band oh and he's about 6'7. Elder Dawson is a visa waiter for Angola so he is kinda trunky wanting to get to his real mission. My schedule is pretty normal. We have a weight set in our living room that we work out on. We are allowed to go to the Gym in this mission, but usually there is either weights in your apartment or the complex has a gym. So our gym is just right outside my room haha. So I throw a little bit of weight around in the morning but I need to get better at working out. So our area is really big. About 40 min across the ward boundaries so we spend a lot of time in the car. So yeah our area is just one Ward. The White Plains 2nd ward, but it is a really big area. But it is cool to be the missionaries of the ward because we get really close to the members here. I got my bike the first day I was here and I have yet to ride it. I will punch in addresses into our Garmin and we will have like a 20-30 min drive sometimes to the next house we are visiting. We keep a log of miles per month so as an example our car put in 1,990 miles this month.. So yeah lots of driving. But our area is one of the biggest so I will get to my bike eventually, which I really wouldn't mind. Especially with how much food the members put in front of us all the time haha Weather right now is pretty hot and humid. It is about 90 and humid so its pretty bad. I wear a short sleeve every day except when I have to wear my suit to church or to meetings. As for seeing other missionaries in the Zone/District we have a meeting every Thursday that we just do both our Zone and District meetings. (Elder Mcdonald is in my Zone so I love that!) 

So here is a run down of the past week..

Tuesday was a Zone Conference with Elder Perkins from the Seventy. He was really cool and gave us lots of good insight especially on finding people to teach. Right now that is the hardest thing for the mission and I can say that is really hard for us down in WP2 (White Plains 2nd) as well. Right now we have like 3 investigators but they are all cheese (mission slang for a soft investigator that really isn't going anywhere and will probably be dropped soon). So I have yet to teach an investigator lesson. That is super frustrating but I think it is good so I get some experience right off the block doing tracting and contacting. Plus we put a lot of time into teaching less actives from the Ward as well as recent converts.

Wednesday we had a new missionary meeting up in Kentland. (Area kinda by the Temple). So we had to leave around 7 to get to a 9:30 meeting with all that famous DC traffic. But the Kentland chapel is a really cool building, nothing like any church building we have at home! But that meeting was really good. Plus I got to see Elder Mcdonald and Elder Jackson. As well as all the other missionaries I came in with like Elder Kohler. The meeting was a lot of what is expected of us. Plus Sister Cooke gave a big presentation on what to make sure we see while we are here so that was really fun and made me want to get back to DC. So I am glad we got up there today.

Thursday was really fun! We had what are called the traveling trainers or what we like to call the home teachers with us! So it is a companionship of more senior Elders who are assigned to go on splits with all the missionaries. They are pretty much traveling AP's. It is a totally sweet gig that I wouldn't mind doing later on down the road. So since I am a new-bey they came with us. So Elder Thornton and Elder Tanner were with us for the day. Elder Thornton served in WP2 so he loved being down here again.

Friday we did service at this really interesting less active lady's house. So she is an ex-temple worker who has gone 100% inactive. She is a single sister and says the church is all about families so she feels like she doesn't have a place in the church. She is a little crazy but it was nice serving her. We do service at here house every other week and then she gets pizza for us from this place called Ledos. Which is super good! I know service is suppose to be free but I guess she insists and says that she wants to feed us since she can't have us over for dinner unless we get another member to come since she is a single lady in the house. So we pulled out some trees and weeds for her and man did I feel the Maryland humidity that day! Later that night we went over to this guys named Adam's house. He was baptized about 3 years ago and is probably about 25. He has a little daughter with and ex-girlfriend from before he got baptized that he shares custody with. So he got back into smoking and he just quit last Saturday! And he is super awesome. He wants to get worthy to go to the temple in a little while! And he gave us a list of questions so we are teaching him weekly now. (Actually later tonight!) Then his parents came over who are in the ward as well. Adam was going out of town so Bro Beal asked if he could give him a blessing before he left. Adam asked if we would stay and be in the circle. So turns out this was his first fathers blessing because Bro/Sis Beal are recent converts as well. Is was such an amazing experience! Really that was the moment where I realized that even though I haven't taught an investigator yet, that I am still doing good things out here on the mission!

Saturday was a run of the mill day as a missionary with lots of tracting and checking on less actives. It really was pretty tough. It was one of those days where people just slammed the door because they "didn't have time" "don't accept solicitors" "was happy with their religion" "don't wanna hear it" Really it kinda sucked... But we got to go the the Beals for dinner! They are awesome and they had a non member friend come to eat with us! We got to have a great breakfast for dinner. (We requested that when she asked what we wanted cause we always eat good dinners but have to make ourselves ok breakfasts haha). Then we got to teach an amazing lesson about the Book of Mormon to both the Beals and their friend. It was our lesson plan when we showed up and didn't even know about their friend so it worked out great! 

Overall things down here in So. Maryland is going good! Obviously I really wanna teach an investigator but things are good. Our purpose as missionaries is to bring all closer to Christ. Yes, it is best if we can baptize those we bring closer, but if someone that says no at the door but looks at the pass along card we give them thinks about Christ then we brought them one step closer. Hopefully they might sometime check out and request the missionaries in the future. But most of all what I have learned is that we are to bring ALL closer to Christ. And that includes me. So if at the end of the day I can at least know I brought myself closer through my studies and working. That is the biggest thing, just working hard. At the end of the day even if it was a door slamming day, I want to lay my head down on the pillow at night knowing that I worked hard. It is so much better knowing I worked hard than just sat around and didn't work.

Well I love you all and hope you are all doing good! 

Love you all!!

Here are some pictures from eating dinner at the Beals.  Speaking of eating Mom you should be proud that in the MTC I ate at least a fruit or vegetable with every meal. Yes I know it is suppose to be both but I am making progress haha. Today at Costco I bought a huge bag of Broccoli so yes praise me on that one haha.

Here are some pictures of what I look at daily. It really is gorgeous! I forget sometimes I am serving in DC!

Elder Mcdonald came down for football so it was way fun to see him! Pretty good back drop for some football too huh?:)

I still have a few pictures from the MTC. My district on our last night at the MTC

and look at the big asian I ran into a few times!