Happy Wednesday P-Day! I guess we will start out with some stress relief, and I will tell you about the Mighty Mango. We went to a new family's home this week to share a message with them. They had made us brownies too, so we ate brownies with them. While eating them, their little boy kept going off about how he loves Naked Juice, especially the flavor "Mighty Mango". So for the rest of the night he kept talking about Mighty Mango and how it makes you a ninja. Who knew?
Other fun news: It has been officially decreed (by me) that I have a great district leader. Why? Because he fulfilled his commitment. Explanation: Every night, the district leader calls everyone in his stewardship to see how their day was and to ask if there is anything he can do for them. Usually, we are pretty well set, so there's not much he can do for us. It gets pretty old having the same conversation every night, so I started thinking of different commitments for Elder Hurst when I was back in Highland Zone. One night I asked him to part his hair down the middle and take a picture, and guess what--HE DID IT! So now that has been my standard to decide if my district leader is an average district leader or a great district leader. Well, ladies and gents, I am happy to say that Elder Thomas did part his hair down the middle, took a pictures, and then even tied it into his district meeting the next day. Gold star. (Unfortunately, I don't have the picture. He said no.)
Sister Patrick and I have been killing it just trying to find people to teach, and we had some fun experiences and even made a new friend! We were looking at our area book, which tells us who missionaries have met in the past that might want to learn more or who have been learning. We found someone who was written on there a couple times (from multiple encounters with missionaries and even being referred by their neighbor) named Victoria. Sister Patrick stopped by last week on exchanges, and met Victoria's husband, Emeka. He's from Nigeria. He said he was already a member and they attended a ward just a few miles away. We're thinking, "Sweet! An active part-member family!" I get back in the area, and we stop by a few days later. Well, Victoria was busy, but we were able to talk to Emeka, and turns out, even though he goes to a ward, he was never baptized. He'd been taking the missionary lessons, then went back to Nigeria to run for a position in the government, and never got baptized before he left. Now he's in our area, and he still wants to be baptized!
We also met Rob, a very nice Catholic man. He invited us to come over because he thought it would be the neighborly thing to do, but he's not interested in learning. It was funny though, because Sister Patrick and I go in, not sure what to expect. Sister Patrick had been by before on exchanges, and Rob prayed for them and asked for President Monson to learn to the truth, and for Pope (*pauses because he can't remember the name of the pope*) Francis to speak the truth. He really wanted us back over, though, so we went and just hoped for the best. He sat down on the couch, offered us water, and pulls out a piece of paper. Turns out it's the story of "A Catholic Utterance" where a Catholic man makes a comment that "Mormons don't realize how genius their claim is" and essentially says, "It's either the Mormons or the Catholics that have the fullness of the Gospel of Jesus Christ". Rob asked if we could agree on that, and we said yes. He was happy with that, and then talked about each of the seven sacraments in the Catholic church and just asked about what they were like in our church. Eventually he turns to talking about the Book of Mormon and the Bible. Sister Patrick bore this awesome testimony of how the Book of Mormon has helped her, and instead of talking about the Book of Mormon, Rob just changes directions to talking about how we use the King James Version and how that's not the correct version of the Bible. Lols. Anyway, I wasn't sure what my purpose in being there was, but I think we at least gave him a good encounter with missionaries. Rob is very nice, and I thought he might like the Bible Videos on lds.org. Things to ponder.
We also had a fun service project with Tim and Mollie. They are also not currently interested in learning, but they love having us in their home. They are a good pair. The service project is one that she'd be happy to teach the Young Women or Relief Society, so we are thinking about doing that. We helped her cut grocery bags to make into yarn--yes, yarn. Well, technically it's called "pyarn" for plastic yarn. What happens with it is after it is made into yarn, instead of the bags going into a landfill or something, they can be crocheted into blankets for the homeless. It's really cool, and Mollie appreciated the help.
We've been having weekly exchanges with the Sister Training Leaders because the Zone Leaders asked them to do so. I got to teach with Sister Donaldson last week. One thing I've been working on is asking inspired questions, and Sister Donaldson made a comment about the questions I asked. We had another lesson with Hunter. We taught him the Word of Wisdom. He's willing to try because he knows it's true, but he's reluctant as well. He's a good kid, so keep him in your prayers.
This is getting rather long winded, but I still have more words, so quick update, and then I have some incredible things I learned. My update is that the Arizona Gilbert Mission is officially authorized to use technology! Some of the leadership got to meet with Elder Bednar the other week for training, and we will be switching over to Samsung smart phones the week of September 18th. I'm glad it's happening at this point in my mission because I've been able to have fifteen months without it, and it will teach me how to use technology with a purpose when I get home. I'm also excited because people who will be finishing their missions in 2017 get a loaner phone from the mission, so I don't have to buy one. We also had another special visit which I will get to later.
First, I wanted to share my Sunday experience. I had a couple things on my mind and was trying to find answers. We happened to be going into a sacrament meeting, so during the sacrament, instead of reading the Book of Mormon, like I normally do, I took time for a personal interview with the Savior. I imagined Him sitting there, giving me support, and thought of what He would tell me. It was a powerful experience that I definitely want to do again. I realized later that the reason I was able to have that is because of the opportunities I've had to learn OF Christ, rather than just about Him. Especially from studying the scriptures, I've had so many opportunities to learn Christ's character. If I knew just about Christ, I'd be able to guess what He'd say to me about as well as I could guess what advice George Washington would give to me. Probably something about a cherry tree and wooden teeth, which isn't going to help me much. But as we learn of Christ, we really get to know who He is, and we are able to have that personal relationship with Him that I really needed that Sunday during Sacrament Meeting.
I gained an appreciation for obscure characters in the Book of Mormon, and so I want to quick tell you about Lehi. This is not the Lehi in 1 Nephi or 3 Nephi. He's in Alma. He's the captain over one of the Nephite armies under the direction of Captain Moroni. He quietly follows orders. I don't know about anyone else, but I had never noticed him before. However, in Alma 53:2, it gives us a little description of Lehi saying, "Now behold, this Lehi was a man who had been with Moroni in the more part of all his battles; and he was a man like unto Moroni, and they rejoiced in each other’s safety". Well, I liked that it said, "like unto Moroni" because everyone loves Captain Moroni. But interestingly enough, the footnote took me to Alma 48:17 (and I'm also including 18).
"Yea, verily, verily I say unto you, if all men had been, and were, and ever would be, like unto Moroni, behold, the very powers of hell would have been shaken forever; yea, the devil would never have power over the hearts of the children of men. Behold, he was a man like unto Ammon, the son of Mosiah, yea, and even the other sons of Mosiah, yea, and also Alma and his sons, for they were all men of God."
Lehi, although he was not a leader, was compared to a man like Moroni, and Moroni is compared to great missionaries, Alma and the Sons of Mosiah. But most of all, Alma and the Sons of Mosiah are amazing because they are men that learned to use the Atonement of Jesus Christ. It gave me an appreciation for the little guy--the one that's never in leadership, but has what's most important straight in his life. He's definitely on my list of favorite Book of Mormon characters.
As for our special visit, I was privileged to meet Elder Neil L. Anderson of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles this week. Because we are getting technology, he came to do a training for the entire mission. It was incredible. He happened to already know two of the missionaries because their father's had been missionaries in France when he was the mission president over that mission. Best quote, "I don't mean to make you feel like Elder Janda and Sister Cruse are more special... but they are." I died. I especially just thought it was cool that even though he is an apostle, he remembers his missionaries that he had stewardship over.
The meeting was absolutely incredible. Each of us got to shake his hand, which was cool, but what built my testimony is what transpired the next two hours. President Wheeler had encouraged each of us to take an inspired question to ask Elder Anderson if we had the chance. We also were invited to take questions to ponder in our hearts. Well, family, I had six questions. I had the opportunity to clarify one of my questions with him, but other than that, there wasn't time for missionaries to ask questions. But in two hours, with no Q&A session, he still answered the questions of all 150 missionaries present--including all six of my questions. If that is not in tune with the Spirit, I don't know what is. It really strengthened my testimony that he is called of God. One thing he talked about is having a solidified testimony of Jesus Christ. Over anything else, set your foundation in Him because if you know Jesus is the Christ, you can overcome any other question. He then invited us to read the New Testament and ask ourselves if we really believe the words we read. Then he asked us to pick ten New Testament scriptures that we really believe, that mean something to us, and memorize them. Finally, he asked us to pick ten scriptures from the Book of Mormon and do the same thing. He said by doing this, we will have those scriptures come to us in times we couldn't have planned for and that we will never leave this church. It taught me to appreciate having faith in Jesus Christ more--especially in others. He also talked about being patient, and said that "spiritual knowledge usually compounds itself over time". God is always leading us to the next step. He surprisingly didn't train much on technology, but it was better than I ever could have imagined.
Family, I know this is the restored Gospel of Jesus Christ. His Atonement is what makes everything possible. As my ward mission leader, Brother Lee, says, "None of us are above falling. And none of us are below coming back." The Plan of Salvation is all about repentance made possible through Jesus Christ. It's trying again, being patient as the Lord shows you one more step. I LOVE YOU!
1001 N Burk Street
When missionaries get to paint sidewalk
Arizona might be mini Utah, but it's also mini Australia with lots of Mormons
We went back to Desert Ridge for Sister Patrick's 17th month mark #throwback
We played with a puppy today.