Monday, October 16, 2017

Turn To God

Dear Family & Friends:

10/2 Monday
Turn TO God, not from God. Las Vegas definitely was shook up today. (The result of the mass shooting.)

10/3 Tuesday
Today we were able to go see the McDonald family. They are a less active family that I've mentioned a couple times that we have been working with. We were talking to Sister McDonald about how her day was going and she expressed her gratitude towards Heavenly Father. Her and her daughter had purchased tickets to the concert that the shooting occurred but her daughter had her baby two months early so they sold their tickets and did not go. We had a great talk with Sister McDonald and she expressed her desire to return to church and to the temple. She mentioned that her husband has a fire burning within him to return to church also. It's cool to see that the Lord is continually preparing the hearts of his children to return and to come to the gospel of Jesus Christ. We, as members, never know when someone is ready to return to the gospel of Jesus Christ. We need to continually invite and fellowship our brothers and sisters. Today we also talked to one of our new investigators named Eileen. Her son just graduated from the Police Academy and his first day of work was front row at the concert. He had gotten a job being a police officer on the strip. Luckily, he was not injured physically, but Eileen shared with us he was definitely struggling with the entire ordeal.

10/4 Wednesday
We went on exchanges tonight with Elder Rivera and Elder Lungren. I was with Elder Lungren. He has been out for a couple weeks and is a super good missionary. We had a great night, we taught Charlie, as well as, AG, both of whom are doing well and progressing!

10/5 Thursday
We transfer planned today and wow it was a long day haha. It was good though! There are a lot of missionaries coming and a lot of things changing.

10/6- 10/15
Well I'm going to be super honest. I have slacked off the last couple weeks with my journal writing. It has been a crazy couple of weeks.

On Tuesday, Elder Jensen and I were transferred into a new area. The new area doesn't have much going on, so we are trying to work hard to pick up the work. At the beginning of this last week it was transfers. Transfers are super stressful and it kind of turned into a mess for a little while. The last few transfers, we have been trying figure ways to be more efficient and use a more effective way and this one was rough. On top of transfers, I ended up getting sick which added to the stress. One of the highlights of the week was being able to go to the temple with the departing missionaries. It is always super amazing to be able to spend time in the temple.

We woke up early on Wednesday and took the departing missionaries to the airport. After that we had a meeting with all of the district leaders in the mission and then following that, the new missionaries arrived and we are with them for a few hours before they met up with their trainers. We have 19 missionaries coming in this transfer as well as two more missionaries coming mid- transfer.

We spent Thursday training the trainers as well as the new missionary orientation. To put the cherry on top of the week we had MLC on Friday. It was another long stressful day. We had not had much time to prepare and we had to give an hour and a half of training. To give you an idea how tired I was, the other night I got on my knees to pray and I woke up drooling and my head bouncing a few moments later. Then, for companionship prayer Elder Jensen started praying and all I know is I woke up a couple minutes later and said, “amen,” but his prayer had been over for a several minutes, haha.

There were definitely some proselyting miracles this week as well! We went to knock on a part member's door and it got shut in our face and as we walk away we hear, "The missionaries, I love the missionaries," from down the street. We started talking to this young lady that looked pretty rough around the edges and she asks where we were from, Elder Jensen said he was from upstate New York and I said I was from Star Valley, Wyoming and she freaks out. She said, “no way! I lived there and I have a bunch of family that still lives there!” She is related to the Hunsaker family. When she first started talking to us her boyfriend started walking away mumbling things about us, but when he heard us talking about Wyoming, he came up and joined in as well! They were on the run but said to stop by anytime. They have really been encouraging and pushing what we call, “The Elder Ballard initiative,” here in Las Vegas.

Last night, we met the nicest old man I have met in a long time. He has been inactive for a while. He started telling us stories about everything you could imagine. He served in WWll. He also told us stories about his wife, who he lost three months ago. They had been married for 67 years. He was a great man. He also had a big talking bird.  It was the craziest thing I have ever seen!

I gave a talk in Sacrament Meeting and I shared a line that President Walker uses a lot, "Christ was selfless not selfish.” It is a profound statement and takes a lot of work, but as we rely on Christ’s Atonement, we can always improve!

Well, I hope to get back on the normal routine of writing unless you prefer this way.. let me know. Next week!

I love you all and hope you have a great week.

Pictures from today's hike to La Madrid Springs.

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Update for the Week

This week Elder Call did not send a weekly update.  On Sunday evening a message was sent with pictures from a couple in the Pueblo Ward.  It said, “Your cute boys were a blessing to serve with in the Pueblo Ward!” Transfer news came from the member, “(Elder Call and Elder Jensen) are staying together and being transferred to the Meadows Stake.  They are busy-going to call all the missionaries to let them know if they are getting transferred too.  They are awesome and we will miss them.”

This was transfer week, so the family was not expecting a letter until Tuesday, but this is all we received. (We are really spoiled, because we usually get better letters.)

Early Tuesday morning, Elder Call sent this message to his mom:
“I got super sick last night and wasn't able to sleep.  What could I eat that won't come up today during transfers, temple and departing missionaries?”

After a quick reply to remind him that 7-Up or Sprite, bananas, soda crackers, applesauce and plain rice help upset stomachs, this was his last reply for the week:
“On our way out this morning we stopped by the gas station to grab a 7-Up. I accidentally dropped it and it exploded all over and we had to find another pair of suit pants for Elder Jensen. Let's just say it was a rough start to the day.  I'm doing OK now.”

This was his letter to his dad: “So we are actually getting double transferred out of our area. But yes we were teaching several promise investigators.”

This is the note to Hannah: “Transfer planning went well this past week. We are trying a new way to
do transfers and so that's been a little bit stressful but it has gone somewhat smooth thus far. I am staying with Elder Jensen for another transfer at least, but we are moving wards. We will be covering the Alexander and Pioneer Wards in the Meadows Stake!

Monday, October 2, 2017

General Conference = March Madness

Dear Family & Friends:

9/24 Monday
Today was a super great day. It started off by seeing Brian and Tracy. We invited Brian to Priesthood Session on Saturday and he said, chances are he will be there. We then had a lesson with Ken. When we knocked on his door, he was actually reading the Book of Mormon. He thought it was super awesome that we knocked while he was reading. We had a great lesson with him, but he did bring up a couple concerns that we will be able to resolve next visit. We invited him to watch conference this weekend. It will be good for him to watch because he struggles a little bit with the idea of apostles and prophets.

9/25 Tuesday
We visited the McDonald's... no not the restaurant, the family haha. We knocked on their door probably three weeks ago for the first time. When we did, we talked with Brother McDonald and invited him to come back to church. He has come two of the last three weeks!!! Today we invited him to come to Priesthood Session and he said he would definitely be there!

9/26 Wednesday
Exchanges! I was with a missionary from Guernsey, Wyoming. We had a couple great lessons with Kevin, as well as, Charlie. It has been a little tough teaching Kevin because he is struggling with medical issues. He is super great though and very open to the Gospel! Charlie is ridiculous! haha She goes to seminary every morning, reads the Book of Mormon and prays daily.  She watched Women’s Conference and took a bunch of notes. She is super awesome and would totally get baptized, but she doesn't live in our area and so we are waiting on her family situation to settle down a little bit and get passed off.

9/27 Thursday
Got sizzled like bacon. Man oh man!  So, today we got to teach an older Hawaiian lady named Flora! She is way nice and was part of the Jehovah Witness church in Hawaii but has not attend since moving to the states. She said a couple days ago that we could come by and so we did and taught her the Plan of Salvation! I thought the summer heat of Las Vegas was all over but I guess sitting outside on a pure bright white picnic table, surrounded by brick walls, creates a very hot and bright situation. Elder Jensen and I have extremely sensitive eyes and the sun beaming down off the table was so bright I could only keep one eye open just a little tiny bit haha. After the lesson I got in the car and pulled the phone out of my pocket and it was straight wet from sweat haha. It is a good thing our message is important and true because I would have bounced if it wasn't! She loved it and we all felt the Spirit testify to us of God’s love and His plan for each one of us!

9/28 Friday
Today didn't quite turn out as planned. Our plans fell through but thanks to Elder Jensen being in tune with the Spirit, we were able to teach a lady named Eileen.  Eileen is an older Catholic lady. Who is been through a lot in her life. We taught and testified of the Restoration of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. She was willing to read the Book of Mormon and pray about it, but was not interested in changing religions. I feel if she truly does put in the time to read the Book of Mormon, she would receive answers that she is looking for. One of my favorite things happened tonight. I absolutely love it when I teach the Plan of Salvation.  It like blows people's minds haha! We taught Brenda's sister, Roxy, tonight and she was just loving the lesson! The whole time she was like, "wow, now I understand why Brenda joined your church,” “wow, that makes sense,” “wow, I can't believe how awesome this plan is!" It is my favorite!

General Conference!
It was a super, awesome conference! I loved every minute!  Conference on the mission is like March Madness haha! There were many things I learned: serve more, have faith, fear not, and the importance of the Book of Mormon! We had several investigators watch and they all loved it!

Elder Call

Pictures sent during General Conference from Las Vegas members:

A note received from the Church today about the shooting in Las Vegas:                                                       Today at 10:33 AM
To: parents

Message body
Dear Missionaries and Family-

We are saddened to inform you of the recent attack in Las Vegas where an estimated 50 people have been killed and at least 400 were injured when a gunman fired on a Las Vegas country music festival Sunday night on the gambling strip of Las Vegas. The gunman killed himself after the attack.

This is not an area where missionaries proselyte in either of the Las Vegas missions and all of our missionaries are safe.  Please keep the families of these victims in your prayers.

Our missionaries are encouraged to continue blessing the lives and bringing comfort to the people in their area and to not spend time investigating or dwelling on the event.  We read in Preach my Gospel page 2 that President Ezra Taft Benson taught: "We are commanded by God to take the gospel to all the world.  That is the cause that must unite us today.  Only the gospel will save the world from calamity of its own self-destruction.  Only the gospel will unite men of all races and nationalities in peace.  Only the gospel will bring joy, happiness, and salvation to the human family."

Our missionaries report that they are frequently asked why God allows tragedies to happen.  Missionaries are encouraged to ponder their response to such questions. How does our gift of agency prevent God from intervening in poor choice?  How does our gift of agency allow us to live by faith?  How do life's challenges allow us to grow spiritually?  How does this relate to the plan of salvation?

Bishop W. Christopher Waddel, Second Counselor in the Presiding Bishopric, taught in the Sunday morning session of conference that whatever change in life's circumstance may come our way, and whatever unexpected path we may have to travel, how we respond is a choice.  Turning to the Savior and grasping His outstretched arm is always our best option.

We know that God loves the people of Las Vegas as do the missionaries.  We will pray for them and the missionaries will continue bless to their lives.

Monday, September 25, 2017

So Much Has Changed

Dear Family & Friends:

9/18 Monday
Today was a pretty good day. We met with President in the usual Monday morning meetings. We then were able to go play some ping-pong with the Las Vegas Zone. I just have to say, Elder Call is undefeated. Just throwing that in there. We then went to the Meadows Zone to play some basketball and some gator ball. It was a good time. We got some proselyting in tonight and had some success. We able to meet a man named Horatio and a lady named Monica. They are super nice and very set on their ways. We had a decent lesson with Ken. We continue to invite him to read the Book of Mormon every single day because that's what he struggles doing. I know that is impossible to get a testimony without reading and pondering and studying the Book of Mormon every single day.  I know without a doubt the Book Mormon is true and that it can change hearts. I think it truly shows how loving of a God we do have, that He allows us to put in the effort to find out if it is true and then He does his part by answering us through the Spirit.

9/19 Tuesday
Today we had District Meeting, as well as, we had interviews with President. Interviews were great! President talked about the difference between Ben and Elder Call. Haha so much has changed... Ben had a testimony, but it wasn't that firm and it surely wasn't getting the nourishment needed to sustain that relationship with God. Ben knew he could pray, but not that he could communicate with God. Ben used the Atonement here and there, but not daily. Ben may have read the scriptures... or listened to them on double speed haha, but he didn't study them. Elder Call has learned so much, but still has so many imperfections, but he is taking one step at a time! I love the opportunity to try to constantly improve!

9/20 Wednesday
I was back with the original brother (MTC companion) today. Elder Couch and I got to beat the pavement of North Las Vegas. We were in the Silver Stone and Arbor View Wards... and most of you probably don't know, but that is the ward that Aunt Maria and Uncle Daryll live in. I drove right past their house and didn't even stop :(. I would have loved to see them but that kind of thing is frowned upon while on the mission. It was fun to be back with Elder Couch. Supposedly, he and a couple other missionaries went fishing and got skunked, so he got a little humbling haha.

9/22 Friday
The long road out to the land of Moapa Valley. We were asked to go on exchanges with out of the valley missionaries. It was super fun to be out in the country and see cows again. Ha ha. One of the weirdest things was to be on a two lane road again. I am used to just being able to change lanes and pass people instead of looking for oncoming traffic. I have to say I do like four-way stops more than stop lights though. Overall it was a solid day.

9/22 Saturday
Elder Jensen and I got to do some service today! We were able to paint a bedroom for a less active family in our ward. Elder Jensen and I had a lot of fun while we did it. After painting we had a lesson with Ken, his baptism was supposed to be today but that didn't happen because he just really struggles with the idea of a prophet in the latter days, as well as the Book of Mormon. We knew today needed to be a game changer lesson and it was!! Ken doesn't respect much of what we have to say and so we brought our ward mission leader who Ken really likes. We taught the restoration and the spirit that was there was super amazing even though there was rap music in the background haha. Ken told us today he wants to get over this hump that he is on and wants to receive some answers it was a good lesson. We then went and gave a blessing to a man that had just had a near death experience and wow that was crazy!

9/23 Sunday
Today was a super, super good day. We were able to set up for Ken to meet with Bishop and so that was good! The last few weeks, several of the less active that we have stopped by and visited have come to church, so it was awesome. We had a couple investigators show up today. Kevin was not able to make it due to medical reasons but we are able to see him later that night. We gave him a Priesthood blessing and it was powerful. After a lesson with Kevin, we were able to go see a family in the ward. We caught them outside their apartment and they invited us in for a few minutes. It was a super awesome miracle. We met them as they were walking to leave for the night. I have been trying to visit with this family ever since I got to this area. There's another testimony builder of God’s divine timing. Earlier today, they attended a church service that they did not enjoy and they were looking for a new church. We were able to testify about the restoration. It was way awesome to see how prepared they were. They asked questions about tithing and about prophets and apostles. They committed to watching General Conference next weekend. A super cool thing is the wife (nonmember) is a good friend to one of our other investigators! Haha it was great.

I am stoked for General Conference this coming weekend.  We are inviting everyone! I am so excited to hear chosen servants of God talk to us! Elder Jensen and I are doing super well. When you serve your companion and when they serve you it is crazy how much better your relationship is with them!

Lots of Love!
Elder Call

Monday, September 18, 2017

Simple, but Profound

Dear Family & Friends:

9/11 Monday
Tonight we had a meeting with President and a recently returned missionary that is from the same town President is from. President asked him to come down for a few days because he served in an online proselyting mission. We discussed Zone Conference and hopefully it will go well! Elder Jensen and I are a little stressed out, because we know it is going to be a little crazy haha

9/12 Tuesday
The first day of Zone Conference! Wow it was crazy, it didn't go as well as we were hoping but tonight we went over to President Walker’s for dinner and talked about things we wanted to do different over the next two days to help the missionaries get a good start to online proselyting.
Elder Jensen and Elder Call

9/13 Wednesday
Today went pretty smooth, which was a relief, because it was the biggest group of missionaries we would be training (54). Tonight we met a girl that is a good friend of a priest in the ward. She loves the gospel of Jesus Christ and is very interested. She comes from a very rough family background and so being able to have a strong Mormon family as an example has helped her a lot. We were able to testify of the restoration of the gospel of Jesus Christ and will be able to visit her again next week.

September 14 Thursday
The third and final day of Zone Conference went well. Elder Jensen and I have given the same training 12 times. In the morning session of Zone Conference, we have a breakout session for two hours, rotating every 30 minutes and train the missionaries on the safeguards for using technology. One of the trainings Elder Jensen and I did was on part of the safeguards for technology booklet. It was specifically on the "What should I do if I am feeling vulnerable or susceptible?"

The three steps are:
Be aware and acknowledge
Choose to act
Learn and improve

As we trained, over and over again, I kept thinking this process is like our journey and purpose of existence. God has placed us here with the light of Christ and we know right from wrong. We need to be aware and acknowledge the good from the bad and we then need to use our agency and act upon the good. And no matter whether we choose good or bad, we need to learn and improve from our choices. When we do that, we will be blessed and reach more of our potential as children of God. Simple but profound.

9/15 Friday
I was glad to be able to get out and work once again! We heard today that Joseph and Janice would be speaking in church on Sunday about the Atonement and so tonight we went over and had them think of friends they could invite to their talks, as a missionary tool. I am super excited for them. Tonight when we got back to the apartment, we talked to the homeless man that sleeps near our apartment. He was like, "Hey, you don't need to yell at me." Haha, I told him that I wasn't yelling, I was just talking.  He then told me that I had a lot of bass in my voice.  I chuckled and explained we have to have deep voices when you are from Wyoming. What can I say?
Home, Sweet Home!

9/17 Sunday
Joseph and Janice's talks were great. It was super awesome to see people I have seen go from inactive to talking from the pulpit!

Love you all,
Elder Call

Monday, September 11, 2017

A Huge Miracle

Dear Family & Friends:

9/5 Tuesday
Today we Skyped into some out of valley district meetings. They were great! We talked about several things, one being what makes a successful missionary? It was really good!

9/6 Wednesday
MLC today.... Facebook launch to the first group of missionaries (Zone Leader's and Sister Training Leader's) it went pretty well. A lot of them are quite apprehensive about it but we got them more excited as the day went on! Tonight was super awesome and we saw a huge miracle! The other day we knocked on a door looking for a less active girl (21yrs) in the ward, who is the only member in her immediate family. When we knocked on the door the mom answered and was slightly standoffish but politely told us Amanda wasn't home and we weren't able to engage in much conversation because the dogs were barking and it was 8:30 at night haha. As we walked away from the door the garage opened and Amanda's dad was in the garage so we started talking to him. He said his brother was a Mormon and has been trying for years to get him to go to church. He then shared very amazing experiences he has had with God which brought the Spirit in very strong. Elder Jensen was prompted to ask him if he wanted another copy of the Book of Mormon, even though he said he had been given many! He accepted and we set up to come back by today. So, today, when we knocked, the mother answered again and informed us Bob was sick and wasn't going to be able to meet... bummer! But wait, haha so as we walk down the street, we contacted a guy that was working on his car. After talking for a few minutes a car stops in the middle of the road and a girl says, "Hey, I heard you were looking for me the other day.” Elder Jensen continues to teach the man on the street and I go to the stopped car. It was Amanda! She asked, "What did you guys say to my dad?" She then told me that her uncle has been trying for years to get her dad to read the Book of Mormon and now within a couple days he was halfway through Nephi! It was soooo cool. Amanda wants us to come next week! Oh yeah I almost forgot, as we were talking, I recalled actually meeting Amanda probably 8 months ago in a store haha crazy!

9/7 Thursday
Our meeting with AG was canceled, unfortunately, but he is doing good! We have been able to keep in contact with him thanks to messenger.

9/8 Friday
Tonight I went on a 3-hour exchange with a set of zone leaders! It was a good time.  It poured rain for the entire three hours. It made me glad I wasn't a missionary where it rains a lot, because, it is fun for like an hour and then being wet gets old haha. We taught a couple super awesome people.

9/9 Saturday
Today we met a man named Kevin. He is super awesome he started talking to us and he was super nice and wanted us to come back! He has beat cancer twice and is just a super awesome guy.  We will be seeing him next week.

- Elder Call NLVWM
Getting rid of the garbage!

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Facebook Post

Hello Everyone!!
As you may have noticed the Nevada Las Vegas West mission has been approved for online proselyting to help hasten in the Lords work of salvation! I will be able to use Online Proselyting to communicate and keep in contact with people I am working with here in Las Vegas as well as post uplifting messages on my Social Media page. It’s such a blessing to be a missionary in these times and to have so many tools available to advance the work of the Lord! We are also authorized to use Facebook Messenger and Facebook to help us in fulfilling our missionary purpose by communicating with those we are working with. My purpose as a missionary has not changed, it is still to invite other to come unto Christ by helping them receive the restored gospel through faith in Jesus Christ his Atonement, repentance, baptism, receiving the gift of the Holy Ghost and enduring to the end. But I can now reach a lot more people. If anybody would like to learn more about the Gospel of Jesus Christ, send me a message!
Even though there is the ability to communicate to all of my friends and family, please help me in my efforts to stay focused on my missionary purpose. Monday is still the only time I can talk with you and share my spiritual experiences with you. So if you send me a message on Facebook and just want to talk for fun, I won’t respond to your message but if you are interested in learning more feel free to message me. Send me an email if you want to talk for fun!