Monday, August 29, 2016

My Love for Christ Gets Stronger

Dear Family & Friends:

So since I have my i-Pad now, I have been using it as a journal. I figure it is a better letter if I send it as I write it in my journal.

8/22 Monday
Today was my first p-day of the mission. After going to the mission home to fix my i-Pad, we played basketball with the zone. It was a lot of fun.  It rained quite a bit tonight and got down to like 78 degrees!  It felt so good to be in the rain. We didn't do much else today.


8/23 Tuesday
Another crazy eventful day! This morning we had district meeting and talked about the Atonement of Christ. Each time I grow in my knowledge of Christ, my love for Him gets stronger.  Often times we don't internalize the important teachings of the gospel. The Atonement needs to be used daily in order to truly be more like Christ. After district meeting, we studied more and went tracking.  We came upon a few guys (18-19) playing PIG. They were not very interested in us, so I made a deal with them, if I beat one of them in PIG, they had to listen to our message. If I lost, we would head on our way. I write in embarrassment with the knowledge I got beat fair and square. I was really embarrassed haha... oh well it was worth a shot... No pun intended. I called out the other guys because I knew they were getting a snapchat story of me haha. As we continued tracting, we were approaching a home and got to the door when we heard people inside fighting and yelling at each other. A few seconds and a lot of profanities later, Elder Renel and I tippy-toed away from the home and then moved on quickly. I love tracting, because you never know what is going to be behind the door.  At dinner tonight, we were introduced to some friends of brother McKnight and they spoke French and clicked right away with elder Renel. They really want to meet with us again soon. They are a solid family so hopefully all goes well.

8/24 Wednesday
Today was a really good day! We started off by contacting some referrals. Nothing big came from it. We met with one of our investigators who is close to baptism and wants to be baptized but work does not go well with church. We are helping her with yard work on Saturday. After that we had dinner with a man named Keith. Keith rents one bedroom in a basement of a home that has been split up into
lots of micro apartments. Keith is extremely friendly and absolutely loves missionaries so he always wants to feed us! He takes the responsibility of "breaking in" the rookie missionaries every time a new one comes in. Breaking them in to him, is to try to intimidate them by telling all the things he could do to beat up the missionaries. This was the second time I have seen him so I explained to him
this time that in a week I went from rookie to veteran. Haha He didn't buy it! Dinner was a can of cold refried beans and some hot dog thing without a bun! We ate and thanked him dearly, shared our testimonies and went on splits with some guys in the ward. I went with an RM that went to Peru. We visited one of our investigators named Lilly. Lilly is 85 and has a hard time remembering what we teach. She does not want to be baptized right now because she has some people in her life she has hatred for. She wants to resolve that before baptism. Today we talked about serving those people and asking in prayer for Christlike love. She is trying to work on it but it is really hard for her. She is an amazing lady and we enjoy teaching her.

8/25 Thursday
Today we went to a food pantry thing that the Trinity Church puts on each week. Our service is supposed to be limited to an hour but the food truck came late and there were a lot of people there getting food. It was awesome to see how many families were blessed by this great service. The food is donated by grocery stores and then sent to a large charity and then distributed throughout Las Vegas to different food pantries. The man that runs the big charity is one of our investigators. Brian is very well known throughout all churches in Las Vegas and he has been taking the discussions for quite some time. Tonight we are starting a fast for another one of our investigators, Steven. Steven is Elder Renel's most solid investigator yet. He is told he can't see us or have correlation with us.  Steven is 18 and his parents think we are a cult so they enrolled him in "de-cult" classes. He has taken the time to study each anti-Mormon thing and have an answer because his parents are having him also meet with a Theologist to disprove the Mormon church. He is an amazing person. I am praying his parents will soften their hearts.

8/26 Friday
Today was a great day! We were able to do some contacting and got some potentials we then taught two of our investigators Brian and Lilly. They both are very cautious moving forward. Lily will be baptized eventually she can feel it is true. But she is hesitant because she is having trouble with forgiveness and hatred towards people in her life.  Brian has been investigating for about 4 years now. He has read the Book of Mormon a lot but still doesn't know yet. Brian is one of the most amazing guys I have ever met.  He runs a food bank, helps missionaries that have taught him with college money, and he is always taking missionaries out to eat that are in both Las Vegas Missions in the valley. Last weekend he flew out East to go to one of their weddings. The million-dollar question is, “What is it going to take to have him get revelation and be converted?”

8/27 Saturday
Today we went on pedal bikes for kicks and giggles. It was super fun! People are always honking and cheering us on haha. We pedaled a long ways away and we were headed back in a hurry because we had service at 4. We had like 20 minutes to get back to the apartment and then get to the lady’s house. After visiting a less active we were headed back and Elder Renel's tire popped.  We started walking back and called reinforcements that came to the rescue. (Elder Diaz and Linton) We were only 20 minutes late... We helped our investigator in her yard in Las Vegas afternoon weather! It was warm but thankfully it was way cooler than usual. I saw my first cockroach...There were lots of cockroaches. It was good to help her out with such a big project.

8/28 Sunday
A lady in the ward asked us if we could go to the hospital and see her husband to give him a blessing and lift his spirits. This man fell and broke his foot at the beginning of this year and that got a staff
infection that got into the bone, so he got his leg amputated in February. He is now recovering from open heart surgery and while they were staying at the hospital their car got stolen out of the parking
lot and it was stripped and dumped... The wife has been struggling with bad depression for years and as you can imagine all of this hasn't helped. She told us that the only cure for her depression is General Conference talks and the Scriptures. They are still solid after all of these trials. We shared the video “For God So Loved the World.”  I don't think there was a dry eye in the room. A few parts hit me so strong and they were Christ saying "I am here to heal the broken hearted" and "Be of good cheer I have overcome the world." Wow, the Spirit was there.  We got to talk to them a little bit about Elder Christofferson’s talk "As Many as I Love, I Rebuke and Chasten."  We may not understand why God is cutting us down but I know that someday we will be able to see the big picture and we will thank God for cutting us down.  If you haven't seen that video "For God So Loved the World" recently, I strongly encourage you to watch it. I watch it every day and every time I watch it my testimony and love for Jesus Christ grows. As we were leaving the hospital there was an older lady that was in a wheelchair and had one leg gone that stopped us and asked us for help. Someone was supposed to pick her up at the hospital so she could leave but the person never came for her. She was an amazing, determined lady and she had been sitting out in the sun in her wheelchair for a very long time. She needed a few dollars so she could go get on the bus but she didn't have any money. I gave her money and she was extremely grateful for that.  I felt so bad for her my heart still aches for her. The only way she could move her wheel chair was to push with her one leg. Later in the afternoon we contacted a referral and they are really interested. It is a single mom that has nine kids but only seven live with her and she has a friend that has one kid that lives with them. They lived in New York but moved here in April. Her friend was taught a few months ago and had a baptism date set but then she had to go back to New York to care for her sister who had gotten in a car wreck so the baptism never happened. The friend, the mom, and all the kids loved having us over and they wanted us to come back and teach them again. So that was super exciting.

The mission is way good! There is a joy that I am feeling from serving people. It is amazing. My love for Christ is growing like crazy. I love you all. You are the best!

Love,
Elder Call




Monday, August 22, 2016

Love Las Vegas

Dear Family and Friends,

I am not sure where to even start haha! So much has happened in the last week.  It has been such an amazing week.  I love Las Vegas so much.  The heat isn’t too bad, thanks to the car.  On Monday, we flew into Las Vegas and in the airport we met the old mission president and his wife of our mission.  There were 22 missionaries that came to my mission that day.  We definitely got some confused looks because young men in suits were everywhere.  We met President Walker and Sister Walker in the airport and then went to a chapel to train for a little while.  We then met our trainers.  My trainer is Elder Renel from France!  He has been out a year.  He is a good trainer.  We share an apartment with some Spanish elders and one of them is a greenie also.  There is an incredible amount of work to do here in Las Vegas so we are very busy.  We had my first baptism on Saturday.  His name is John and he is from Portugal and France and hardly speaks English, so my comp could teach him in French, when he didn’t understand what we would try to tell him in English.  It is a blessing to have Elder Renel be able to speak French.  It is amazing to see the changes John has made in his life.  He reads the Book of Mormon for hours straight. He has a strong testimony.

The I-pad I got does not work, so we are trying to fix it today.  I am writing from a computer in the mission office.  After we met our trainers, we walked out to the parking lot and I was tossed a set of keys and was told I was the driver because Elder Renel doesn’t have a driver’s license.  I was a little surprised and scared to death.  Dad would love driving in Las Vegas.... haha  I am glad Elder Renel knows the streets because I would be a lost puppy!  Directions in Las Vegas are a little different to the "by the hay field" directions you give in Star Valley!

We have a big teaching pool and get lots of referrals, which is nice.  We had a lesson with a man who is a little crazy and has been a member for a few years now.  The lesson ended with him being mad at us because we didn’t want to help him with his petition against the Church. haha  He was so set that our Church was not formal enough because the women can show themselves at church... It was an interesting experience!  One of investigators is deaf so we skype ASL missionaries in DC and they can teach her!  It is fun to see that.  We are fed every night by members and they go all out for us!  It is going to be hard to not put on weight.  I am serving in the Charleston Ward in the Las Vegas Stake.  It is right on the border of the other mission.  Yesterday at church I was asked to say the closing prayer during Sacrament Meeting.  I do not understand why people find such enjoyment in asking the green missionaries to say the prayer everywhere we go, no matter what!  It was announced I was from Star Valley and I swear, everyone knows people in Star Valley.  The Wyoming jokes were coming strong during church.  In opening exercises of Priesthood, the bishop said welcome to me and again said I was from Wyoming and a brother in front of me, turns around and loudly says, "that is what that smell is, I couldn’t figure where it was coming from."  Everyone started laughing. haha He is a Webb and knows a lot about Star Valley.  Another man in the ward said he would always go to Star Valley for the summers and people would ask him what he did all summer " he said, “I went fishing that day."  Meaning there is only one day of summer and the rest is winter. haha

Again, I love Las Vegas and all of the members.  It is such an amazing place.

I love all of you so much and hope you have a good week!!
Love, Elder Call

Thursday, August 18, 2016

He Made it to Las Vegas

Sister Walker, Elder Call, President Walker

This is the Letter we received from Elder Ben, 16 August 2016:

Family:

I am here in Vegas with all of the new missionaries.  There are lots of us.  I am going to my area tonight, but do not know where that is.  Evan's blood boils when he doesn't get a pay raise from Dad; my blood boils in the Vegas heat!! haha

As I listen to President Walker talk about the mission, it excites me to be able to serve in Las Vegas. Vegas is definitely different than Star Valley!  We I love you lots and it was fun to talk to you!

Love,
Elder Call


Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Days and Weeks

Dear Family and Friends,

Life is good here! I am enjoying the MTC, but I am ready to get out! I want to get out into the field, but then I think about it and know that I still have a lot of learning to do. Next week I will be in crazy heat and feeling the same way I did the first day in the MTC which was along the lines of “What is happening and why did I sign up for this?” haha.  In my brother, Evan’s email he wrote the truest statement I have ever heard: “The days feel like weeks, but the weeks feel like days.”  So much happens each week I never know what to include in this e-mail.  On Friday, I received my Patriarchal Blessing! It was amazing.  It was a super cool and sacred experience.

The devotionals this week were super spiritual.  On Sunday, we heard from Matthew Holland, the son of Elder Jeffery Holland.  He talked about the history of Joseph Smith and the importance of the message of the restoration. On Tuesday night devotional, Elder Couch and I got second row seats right where the speaker walks in! It was Elder Neil L. Anderson of the Quorum of the Twelve. He talked on a lot of things that I needed to hear and I know he is a true disciple and apostle of Christ.

Elder Stevenson & Elder Call
We finished teaching our first two TRC investigators.  In the short time we taught them we could see each grow in faith.  We had a really good relationship with both of them. One was the easiest TRC ever!  He will do anything we ask and he understands everything!  He definitely is a member. The other one was a little different.  We practically talked through four lessons and just bore testimony about things she was struggling with.  She is from Korea and when we invited her to pray for us at the end of the lesson she said she would do it if she could say it in Korean.  She prayed extremely quiet and fast in her native language and she said amen and I wasn’t positive I heard it, so she said amen again louder and we then extremely embarrassed followed and said amen! haha she went on to explain that Amen is the same as amen itt just made the humiliation worse!! hahaha it wouldn’t be a mission if there weren’t embarrassing times, happy times, and frustrating times. During our last lesson she thanked us for being such great teachers and for not shoving loads of info down her throat.  We were so excited to hear that what we were doing is exactly what she wanted and she said we helped her tremendously get closer to God!  Our new TRC investigators are not as easy as the first ones.  One of them just wants to show us videos on his I-pad about restaurants in Vegas that we have to go to. It was so awkward haha.  I hope he will start opening up so we can actually teach him!  The other TRC investigator is Katie and she is super nice to us. She has some questions and we can answer her questions with the Gospel which is cool to see that through this Gospel all questions can be answered.

Elder Call & Elder Hendricks
A lot of the companionships in the district are starting to get after each other which is sad to see. Elder Couch and I are still getting along extremely well! He is way easy going and is always down for a good joke. This week I had to say goodbye to Brigg Hoopes and Chris Erickson.  Brigg was in my MTC Branch and so we had the same schedule.  Chris was right down the hall so I got to see him quite a bit. I saw them on a daily basis and loved seeing them, it was a little piece of home every day.  Along with saying goodbye to them I had to say goodbye to Elder Stevenson and Elder Hendricks.  They were elders in
Chris's district and we were instant best friends.  They are by far some of the funniest people I have ever met.  Elder Hendricks is from Texas and Elder Stevenson is from no man’s land Colorado and lives on a ranch.  He is a crazy big redneck and straight up country.  haha he has some interesting stories  and is one the list of best story tellers (still behind Hal and Uncle Darrin!)

I am learning so much and my testimony grows stronger everyday of the truthfulness of this gospel!  Through Christ all can be saved!  I love the scripture, Mark 12: 28-31,  because, it is so true, if we love God and we love the people around us, we will not have any problem with any other commandments. I am working each day to try to be a better missionary and follower of Christ.  I love all of you and encourage each of you to better yourself each day.  Report to Heavenly Father in prayer each night and think of what you can do better the following day in the morning.  Set goals in prayer and do your best to keep them.  The blessings are amazing.

Love,
Elder Call    

Mark 12
Cousin, Sister Sally Jensen called to the Baltic States Mission and Elder Ben Call
28 ¶And one of the scribes came, and having heard them reasoning together, and perceiving that he had answered them well, asked him, Which is the first commandment of all?
 29 And Jesus answered him, The first of all the commandments is, Hear, O Israel; The Lord our God is one Lord:
 30 And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength: this is the first commandment.
 31 And the second is like, namely this, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. There is none other commandment greater than these.



Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Good Times in the MTC

Family and Friends,

Elder Couch and Elder Call at Provo Temple
The MTC is a good time. The first few days were the longest days of my life! I wasn't sure if the 3 weeks would ever end haha. Now the days fly by and are filled with amazing experiences. My companion’s name is Elder Couch and he is from Virginia.  He enjoys hunting, fishing, and trucks!  The first question he asked me after he found out I liked fishing was, “If you had to choose one bait to pitch for the rest of your life what would it be?” you could say we get along really well haha!! He is really easy going and is way fun to be around.  My district consists of 11 elders and no sisters. 6 of us are going to Las Vegas West and the rest are going to the Rancho something California mission. We get lots of work done but still have a good time.  We are all way different but we are building a relationship which helps us in our learning.  We have two investigators right now and after teaching one of them we feel useless but after we teach the other investigator we feel that we could convert the entire world. Our one investigator doesn’t accept anything we tell her, but the other one has felt the Spirit reading in the Book of Mormon and accepted the invitation to prepare for baptism. My district has the most amazing teachers on planet earth. Brother Armstrong is from New Zealand and we are his last district he will teach and then he is heading back to continue to grow his business in New Zealand.  Sister Merrill is from California and served in Detroit. She is extremely knowledgeable in PMG (Preach My Gospel).
Ben's District at the temple 8/3/2016

Elder Schmidt (DL) and Elder Call
The funniest story of the week was the other room in our district left their door open in the middle of the day so we took all of their ladders and chairs and hid them in our room. Elder Wells is a larger kid and about 5 ft flat and he sleeps on the top bunk so he was super worried where his ladder had gone because he didn’t think he could get up there without a ladder.  So he went from dorm to dorm that night asking where he could get more ladders and chairs. I haven’t laughed that hard in a long time. I haven’t changed much..... hahahaha



My lost wallet was found in a pair of pants hanging in my closet which I had checked several times. There are a ton of Las Vegas West missionaries, I know of three districts that have at least half Vegas missionaries.

I went to the temple this morning and ate at the cafeteria in the temple, it was way better than MTC food. It reminded me of how bad I miss Mom and Hannah’s cooking. Exercise time is never long enough, I play basketball the whole time and love it.

Star Valley Kids: Elders Sam Moffat, Brigg Hoopes & Ben Call
It is amazing what you can learn about the scriptures in a week of straight studying.  I love when I can answer a question by immediately knowing where to turn in the scriptures.

I love all of you and hope you are doing really well.

Elder Call