Thursday, October 22, 2015

October 19, 2015

Hi everyone!

I know it is pretty crazy how fast the month is flying. I'm glad it was a great week for everyone back home! Are the leaves really changing back home? We are starting to get some color but I've been told the coming weeks is really when the change will happen so I will make sure to send pictures!

I'm glad you guy got to the Corner game! We drove past on of the local schools on Friday and I was like dang the guys are getting ready for kick off at home then I remembered it was on Wednesday because of fall break.I can't wait to go to a game or two when I get home! Plus more than a few BYU games! The Ward members keep us updated but it's not quite like watching the game and it's defiantly not like being in LES!

I'm glad it was a fun weekend with all the extended family! It was so fun to see all the pictures of all the little cousins that aren't looking so little anymore haha. I'm glad you guys got to Corn Bellies! It was always a fun date to go down there! All the family time probably was sure great! That's awesome about Jannali and Ryan's house! I'm sure it will be a little work but it will be awesome to have their own place! I've done my fair share of home improvement out here. We have gone to help a Ward member prime and now paint his new fix up home a few times now. 

So this week was a pretty good one. It felt a little but more like back in the swing of things. I still miss Elder Coombs, he and I worked hard! I kinda have to push for us to get really working and it's always easier when you can feed off of your companies energy. I saw Coombs up at Why I Believe last night and it was so nice! 

So I got to teach my first sit down first discussion this past week. Remember Felice? The one who said she was praying 5 min before we showed up on her porch.. Anyways so we stopped by this week honestly because we were probably going to drop her. But she answered and let us in. We taught the Restoration lesson and she was totally all for it! She kept saying how the restoration made sense and it just all felt right! She prayed with us, said she wanted to get baptized when she came to know if it was all true and that she would come to church and the Why I Believe! She even talked about the spirit she could feel when we were around. She was golden! She said nothing would come up on Sunday........... And she didn't show up yesterday. So yeah that was kinda a let down... It was rough. One of the biggest let downs of the week is when you're standing there I'm the foyer waiting for the people you invited and no one shows up. There's an awesome talk by Elder Holland at a missionary leadership training that's circulated around missionaries that's awesome. He talks about when missionaries ask, why is this so hard, the answer is it has to be hard. If we are a representative of Jesus Christ we must stand shoulder to shoulder with Christ in the salvation of souls. In no way saying we experience anything close to what Christ did, but saying salvation isn't easy, therefor missions won't always be easy. It's an awesome talk that Elder Holland says way better than I can.. 

White Plaines is still doing good.. Convert work is kinda slow so we are working with Ward members and helping them out. They are awesome! Other than Felice it was a pretty run of the mill week.. We did a ton of service on Saturday helping a kid in our Ward with his eagle project then going and helping paint that house. Then like I said yesterday was a Why I Believe which are always awesome!

I wanna be down here in WP2 for 2 more transfers so I can spent the holidays down here and actually get fed by members haha. And I think that's probably what will happen, spend 1 more with Redmond then he is going home. So I would do one more with a new Elder who I would pass the area off to.. 

I love you all! I hope you all have great weeks!

Here's Elder McDonald, Elder Lee and me. We are the guys from my group
that are super close. Elder Lee was in the MTC with us but we never
met him until the flight out. He's from Australia and he's super cool!
We are all in the same Zone so we see each other lots. We are way tight!

October 12, 2015

Hi all!!

Well this week really felt like a week where we got back into the regular swing of things. So really not tons of eventful things happened. Just the regular knocking on doors and teaching lots of less actives. Oh I just thought of this.. So we got a new investigator, he's actually an excommunicated member. So we get lots of consulting with bishop, the stake president and we are talking to Pres Cooke about it this upcoming week. Other than that we did quite a bit of service this week. That's something the mission is pushing with a program called Just Serve. So we try to get out and do service each week. 

This past week we thought we got a solid investigator.. But she kinda feel through just like Trevor. So we were driving around after an appointment fell through. We had planned back ups but I felt like we were just not as efficient with time as I felt like we could be back when it was me and Coombs. So we decided to go tract a street with a previous investigator. We knocked about 5 doors and this girl probably mid 20's opens the door and basically has us teach the entire first lesson on her porch. She was crying after the opening prayer and then when I told her she could pray to know if all the things we had taught her were true she looked me in the eye and said I already know it's true. Then she said she wanted to come to church and she even scheduled for us to come back again in the same week! Long story short she canceled the lesson, didn't come to church and won't get back to us... It was honestly so frustrating. I'm sick of not having investigators and then once we get someone who seems to be investigating they fall off. It's not even like we get to teach them.. It's one lesson and done it feels like. But I mean I guess sometimes we just have to put in the work and we won't see the end results. I'm still really hoping to get in contact with Trevor, Gabby and a few others this upcoming week.

That's awesome you guys got to Jaydras! It's crazy she's leaving! It's always nice for me to look at my picture of my desk and see all my bros that are around the world doing the same thing I am! I had some amazing examples and support back home. Everyone is always in awe at those pictures, especially the one with Parker and those guys since every one of us in on a mission and we are all over the world! 

I'm glad you had the missionaries over! I was actually at my Bishops house last night too! We had dinner and then did a FHE with them! Bishop works for CES and is over the Institute programs of all DC and surrounding area colleges. So they lived in Wasatch HS boundaries in Utah and have only been out here for about 4 years. The whole family is awesome, I love them! Their son Jake is a senior this year so I love talking with him and we get along great! Just going to their house reminds me the most of our family and back home so I love going there! 
I love you all!! I hope you have a great week!

Love, Austin

I don't think I ever sent this one. This is the Bonneys, they have 12
kids plus they adopted 2, they are awesome!

Our map is behind my desk (I moved desks and beds when Coombs left) so
I usually stand on my desk when we plan for the next day. So here is
what a normal planning session looks like.

We played football on the mall but I went to the Air and Space with Elder McDonald for most the time.


Thursday, October 8, 2015

October 5, 2015

Hi everyone! 

Well it was quite the week. I've told you of all the good times I've had, and I want you to see how things really are for me. So to be honest this week was really tough. So Elder Coombs was called as a Zone Leader in the DC Zone. And my new companion is Elder Redmond. He is actually a previous companion of Elder Coombs. He only has 2 transfers left. It's been hard adjusting to a new companion, adjusting to being in charge of the area, and being a little more in charge of myself. 

So Elder Redmond is a lot like one of your companions you talked about Dad. He doesn't get up for studies but once we are out for the day he will work. He says he doesn't get up because he doesn't have a gym pass to motivate him to get up. So I've had to make sure I'm getting up myself and getting to my studies. I was late by like 5-10 min a few times this week and I was really hard on myself. The principle of Perfect Obedience is the standard we strive for as missionaries. But like at any other time in our lives, perfection is the goal, not the actuality. So I've been trying to be better on not being so hard on myself while not justifying times where I fall short. 

So taking on an area as a brand new missionary is really hard and stressful. Basically Elder Redmond has to follow my lead for a little bit while he figures out the area. Friday was by far the worst day the past week, I woke up and it was really cold so it felt like a fall day back home. I was really homesick and just was kinda negative. I was standing in the shower just mad, asking why did President give me an area. Why did he take away my trainer that I got along with so good and was an amazing example. Then I had the thought come to me "It wasn't President, it was the Lord". And that hit me hard, so then I just prayed and said, if you gave me this situation what am I suppose to get out of this? So it's been amazing since that day to be getting answers to that question and many others through Conference and studies. My first answer came when we were singing our opening song for comp study as an apartment that day. We sang How Firm a Foundation and these lines hit me so hard, 

"Fear not, I am with thee; oh, be not dismayed,
For I am thy God and will still give thee aid.
I’ll strengthen thee, help thee, and cause thee to stand. 

And continually I've seen how I'm not alone in this, We were teaching a lesson at a members home that night, I was showing the video "He Lives" on my IPad so I was just listening to it. Then there came a small voice that said to me, "Austin, you aren't doing this by yourself". It was so powerful, I've seen time and time again the Lord gives us hard times so we can be humble. If we aren't humble and see that we need the Lords help in everything we cannot be effective missionaries because this truly is his work.

All theses answers continued through conference weekend.  I loved Conference! Like I was so pumped for it all week leading up to it. I have always enjoyed conference but not as much as I did this time! We went to the church to watch Saturday Morning session, The Beals for Saturday afternoon and then the church for Priesthood. Then for Sunday morning we drove up the the visitors center to watch Sunday Morning. Where I got to see Elder Coombs and sit by him for the session! Then the church for Sunday afternoon. It was tough being away from all the traditions back home. But it was fun to be a part of some out here, like Conference Crab at the Beals! Marylanders sure love their sea food! And of course being at the visitors center for a session was so great! I can't wait to go to the DC temple at the end of this transfer since it is finally opening again this month!

I could write forever about all the things I liked from conference.. I feel like anyone who is complaining about the new apostles didn't really watch conference. First the spirit all three of them spoke with is undeniable. Second I felt like all the speakers bore testimony of Pres Monson more than usual. Anyone who doesn't agree should go listen to the first talk of the conference by Pres Uchtforf. They are making their discipleship WAY too complex.

Saturday afternoon was a double whammy miss your parents with Holland talking about Moms and then right after Foster talking about Pablo and his Dad. I sure miss you Mom and Dad! I love you! Plus how about that marshmallow eater reference Dad!

I really felt like Eyrings talk in Priesthood answered a lot of the questions I've been having. I just have to do my small part and the Lord will do the rest. When we were up at the visitors center it was very apparent of Pres Monsons struggling. It was really scary actually. I thought it would be another moment where a general authority would come stand behind him. 

But yes conference was awesome!

And I'm doing better than I was at the middle of the week. Elder Redmond and I get along and we still will work hard. Change and adjustments are hard but like Elder Cook always says, "This life isn't easy, nor was it meant to be". I'm doing good, thanks for all your prayers!

I love you!!

Elder Coombs and I on our last night together.  We got matching Redskins shirts.  We also got comp ties. It is a tradition out here that you and your comp get matching ties and sign the back of each others. 

Today (p-day) I've played tennis, went shopping and now I am just
playing cards with Elder Summit.

Friday, October 2, 2015

September 28, 2015

Well this letter sure is an interesting one to write. So results of the transfer call out... I am staying in White Plains 2. But, Elder Coombs is leaving. We are pretty sure he's going to be a Zone Leader. The calls for new leadership are Monday nights so we will know by the time we go to bed tonight.  So I am getting a new trainer and I am in charge of an area. Really it is a ton of responsibilities. I may still be the trainee and Jr. comp, but basically I am in place of senior companion because I have to show whoever I get around this area. Basically I am super nervous of who I get as my new trainer/companion. But this is something I have been thinking about lots since Saturday night.. If I believe that I am truly serving a mission of the Lord and this is his work then I am in his hands. When I opened my call I knew that I was called of God to serve here, and I know that President Cooke makes transfers off of much prayer and revelation. Because of that I have found comfort in knowing that whatever happens and whoever I get is because God has called them into that position. But yeah I'm still pretty nervous for Wednesday. 

So here is the rundown of my week..

Tuesday we had interviews with President. That is something that is really cool about this mission, because we are geographically small and have relatively small numbers, President Cooke interviews all missionaries at the end of each transfer. Yes most interviews only are like 2 min long but it's awesome he makes the sacrifice to meet with all of us. In our interview he told me he was just way proud of me and told me I was already a great missionary and he said if I keep working the way I am he knows I will be a great missionary to this mission. That was really nice to hear from him. Plus he talked about how much he like Elder Coombs and I together. Then after we get to have an "interview" with Sister Cooke. Which basically is take a walk around the church with her and she asks about how we are health wise. She talked about how she felt like I was adjusting so great with coming straight from high school. I love President and Sister Cooke, there are amazing people and the best mission parents!

Wednesday was a record day with us teaching 5 lessons! Our record in a week this transfer was 17. We are suppose to try to get 20 a week, but down here in Suitland getting around 10-15 is average. Most of those lessons are dinners with active members and our visits with Less-Actives.

Friday we had a lesson with our only progressing investigator, Edee! And her husband Warren. So they are this older couple that I guess have been getting taught for a little bit. We taught Plan of Salvation and the spirit was SO strong! The Plan of Salvation truly answers the Questions of the Soul: "Where did I come from? Why am I here? & Where am I going?" I bore testimony of Eternal Families and talked about Grandma. The spirit was so strong and Warren, who is the more apprehensive one, mentioned how touched he was. So that was an amazing experience. We invited them to church.. And sadly they didn't show up. 

Saturday we played basketball in the morning with Bishop, the WP1 Elders and one of their investigators. We then went to Safeway, a East Coast grocery chain, for a Food Drive that got put together. So we just would ask for people to get something while they were shopping. It was actually really successful. It was hard not to proselyte with all these people walking by us though. Especially when they would ask what church we were from. Like Elder Coombs was passing out the papers with what is needed at the Food Bank and said to a lady "Hi we are miss... Uhh we are having a food drive" I was dying behind him, it was so funny. But totally understandable considering we say "Hi we are missionaries..." About 50 times a day. After the food drive we delivered our weekly batch of cookies and had dinner with one of the members we are teaching weekly. 

Sunday was a tough day for Elder Coombs. He spent 6 months here so saying goodbye was super hard. So it was a normal Sunday schedule. Then we went to dinner at Elder Coombs favorite family, the Chamberlins. They are a part member family, she's a member and her mom who lives with them is. But he isn't and he doesn't allow the kids to go church so she doesn't come so they're isn't that contention in the home. Mostly because his parents are anti and he doesn't believe in Joseph Smith.. But they LOVE the missionaries! Which is weird to me if he doesn't believe in what we are all about and why we are even missionaries. But I think he likes the influence we have on his 4 boys (ages ranging 13-6 and a little girl age 2).  So we are working on Brian slowly. As we left Henrietta (the Grandma) asked for a blessing. So we gave her that and both Brian and Sister Chamberlin stayed as we gave it! Hopefully they will continue to work towards coming. As you said you are praying for people back home, please pray that Brian's heart can continue to be softened that we can teach them. 

It sure will be an interesting week. It kinda sucks saying bye to a trainer and companion who I learned to love so fast and got along so good with! Elder Coombs set me on the right path and it's too bad all we got was one transfer together. But a scripture that has helped this week is D&C 68:6. Also I finished the Gospels this past week! With an IPad, Elder Coombs and I watched Pres Uchdorfts talk from the Women's Session on Sunday Morning and it was awesome! 

I love you all and wish you a happy Conference weekend coming up! I will miss not being with you all. Especially not going to Priesthood with you Dad! But I'm exactly where I am suppose to be.

Love you all!

Elder Coombs and I using Sunday Morning to watch Pres Uchtdorfs talk from Women's Session!

Us at the Food Drive! We ended up getting 5 carts!