Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Haven's Homecoming Video

Haven's Homecoming Video by Desiree Rogers

Final Week: This Is It

...Wow...this is my last email as a full-time missionary. It's hard to believe that my time has come to an end. It's hard to accept, I want to stay here longer; participating in the Lord's work is one of the greatest blessings I have been able to experience in my life so far.  

Last week was another good week. We were blessed with a ton of referrals and we have been trying to contact them. We picked up a new investigator named Brad from a Spanish referral that was given to us, and he had a lot of questions/concerns about the Book of Mormon and the prophet Joseph Smith. He doubted most of what we said, but he committed himself to read the Book of Mormon and pray to know if it is true, if it is the word of God!
 General Conference was great! I was inspired and uplifted, and had questions answered. Much focus was put on the Book of Mormon. I liked that. We have a planned Church tour this Saturday that the whole local community is invited to. We've made flyers for the event, passing them out and have been trying to work with the members to get this to work. We hope it goes well. 

Well, being that this is my last email, I'll leave you with my testimony. My testimony, my beliefs, have been put to the test many times over the course of my mission. Because of opposition and trials, my personal testimony of this gospel has been strengthened and has grown. Our conversion to the gospel of Jesus Christ increases as we act on what we know to be true. One thing I cannot and will never deny, is that I, and all of us, have a loving Heavenly Father, who knows us and wants to bless us. He loves us so much that He sent His Son, Jesus Christ, to come to earth to live a perfect life and be a perfect example to us of how we should live our lives. Most of all, he willingly took upon himself our sins, pains, afflictions and sicknesses, to provide a way for us to overcome our sins and imperfections in our lives, and to enable to us to become better people, to reach our divine potential. The power of Christ's Atonement is real. I have felt it in my life, and I have recognized more as I have come to personally know my Savior more during my mission. Repentance is an amazing blessing that we have as mortal beings. Through repentance and relying on our Savior, Jesus Christ, and his Atonement, we can not only receive forgiveness of sins, but we can be relieved from the burden of guilt and shame that results from the decisions we make in our lives. It is through sincere repentance that our nature is changed, meaning that who we are can be changed for the better. I am so grateful for Jesus Christ and His atoning sacrifice that he made on our behalf.  I am grateful to a loving God, who loves us so much that He has restored the Gospel of Jesus Christ in its entirety through a man that was called of God, Joseph Smith, to restore Christ's church on the earth. I bear my witness, and I know of a surety, that Joseph Smith was a prophet of God, that He did see God and Jesus Christ in a vision, and that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints is the Lord's church on the earth, with God's authority to administer in the ordinances of the Gospel. I know that we have a living prophet on the earth today, President Thomas S. Monson, who receives direct revelation from the Lord to direct the Lord's church here on the earth. All these things I know to be true because I have read, and continue to read every day, the Book of Mormon. I want you all to know that I know with all my heart that the Book of Mormon is indeed the word of God, that it contains the doctrines of salvation, and it is, as the prophet Joseph Smith said, "the most correct of any book on earth, and the keystone of our religion, and a man would get nearer to God by abiding by its precepts, than by any other book." It really is! As you study, ponder, and apply daily the teachings found in the Book of Mormon, you will be so blessed! Your life will change, and you will be a better person. I know that to be true because I have experienced it myself, and continue to experience a change in my life for the better!  I have grown closer to our Heavenly Father and our Savior Jesus Christ because of the Book of Mormon. I love this Gospel, and I love you all. Never forget that God loves you! I'll be seeing some of you next week and in the near future! Have a good week!


Elder Haven Ruiz

Monday, October 2, 2017

Week 100: The Final Countdown!

Last week was great! We had zone conference on Wednesday, it was awesome! Elder Eduardo Gavarret of the Seventy came to our mission. I learned a lot and was reminded through personal revelation about some things I can improve on. I love learning from the Holy Ghost! He is the best teacher!  He knows exactly what we need to learn, all the time! 

We picked up a new investigator named DJ on Monday, he's a young man going to high school. We taught him the Restoration, and he was listening the whole time, and he explained to us that it makes total sense! Goad has a specific way of talking to people on earth, and that is through prophets! And he's right! That's the doctrine of prophets, in a nutshell! We invited him to be baptized and he said yes! We called him last night to confirm our appointment for today and followed up with him on commitments, and he said that he did pray about what we taught him! We are really excited to meet with him again tonight! 
We tried contacting a referral from the Spanish Elders, who ended up not being home, so we tried working in the neighborhood and talking to the neighbors. One of the neighbors, a young man, answered the door ( we recognized each other because we actually walked past him earlier that day). He let us into his home, and he had a lot of questions about what we believed. We taught him some of the Restoration and he liked it! 
Another experience we had was when we we stopped by a member's house because they were providing dinner for us. As we got out of the car, I saw a man across the street in his driveway working on a bicycle. I pretty much have it ingrained in my mind now that I'm supposed to talk to everyone haha, so Elder Brimhall and I walked over and talked to him. Turns out his name is Dave. He's Baptist, but had a lot of questions about our beliefs. At one point he said something along the lines of "I respect what you guys do, but I won't listen to what you guys have to say, especially because you guys don't believe in blood transfusions." Whoa whoa whoa whoa, hang on a second. So I had to explain to him that he was mistaking us for Jehovah's Witnesses, and that we are actually Mormons. "Oooooh, okay!" Then he opened up more and we were able to teach him the Restoration. I saw him watch and listen intently as I recited Joseph Smith's own words of his experience seeing Heavenly Father and His Son, Jesus Christ. It was awesome, probably one of the coolest street contacts I've experienced on my mission. I know that Joseph Smith was a prophet of God, that Jesus Christ restored His church and His gospel through the prophet Joseph Smith. I testify that Thomas S. Monson is a modern day prophet of God. What a blessing that is; just as in ancient times, God once again speaks to mankind through an authorized servant today who has His authority and receives revelation from God to direct God's children to paths and choices that can, and do, bring us lasting joy and make our lives so much better, and, if continually followed, will bring closer to our Savior, Jesus Christ. As you make the Savior the focus of your life and the foundation upon which you are built (see Helaman 5:12), everything else in life will fall into place. Things will work together for your good.

There's a quote from President Ezra Taft Benson that I want to share with you. He said: 

Men and women who turn their lives over to God will discover that He can make a lot more out of their lives than they can. He will deepen their joys, expand their vision, quicken their minds, strengthen their muscles, lift their spirits, multiply their blessings, increase their opportunities, comfort their souls, raise up friends, and pour out peace. Whoever will lose his life in the service of God will find eternal life"

I know that to be true. I know that as we seek to forget our selfish wants and desires, and instead seek to carry out the will of God and seek to care for and serve those around us, that we will find lasting joy that lasts!

I love you all, have a good week! I'm looking forward to general conference this weekend!
🎶Come listen to a prophet's voice! 🎶

Elder Ruiz

Week 99: Beektorbeel

This transfer is just flying by, holy cow! Last week we saw lots of miracles from the Lord. While I was on exchanges with our district leader Elder Schone, Elder Brimhall and Elder Schone's companion Elder Clark were able to meet several less active members of our ward that we have been trying several times to see. As we've been knocking doors and talking to people on the streets this transfer, we happen to have talked into a lot of Spanish speaking people. So during exchanges I had Elder Schone teach me how to give a street contact approach in Spanish, that was fun haha. We stopped by an investigator that we've been having a hard time meeting with, and when we saw him yesterday he was hard at work cleaning up his front yard. He was sober from alcohol and said he's trying to keep himself busy so he doesn't get tempted. What a miracle! I had been praying for him this past week to have the strength to resist temptation and not relapse. God answers prayers! The weather has been cooling down a lot recently. On Thursday it didn't even get above 80 degrees, it was nice. We're seeking to build our relationship with the ward council and members of the ward. We have some really great members in this ward!

I have seen how living the gospel on a daily basis has changed and continues to bless the lives of church members out here on my mission. Reading the Book of Mormon every day and praying daily, giving service to others, attending church. Those are the fundamentals of the gospel right there. They all point to one objective, and that objective is to come closer to Christ. Those who apply these fundamentals in their lives are so happy! Everyone can be happy, but the restored gospel of Jesus Christ provides lasting happiness! I have seen that happiness in the lives of others, and I have been able to experience that same happiness on my mission. Just following those fundamentals can help us so much, even if we don't realize that it does, or we don't think it can, or that it's a waste of time and there are better things to do. Living these fundamentals of the gospel can do so much to strengthen our families and bring us closer together; they can bring peace into our lives, they can strengthen us against temptation, they can ease contention in the home and help us strengthen our relationships with our family members and friends. We will feel the Holy Ghost more abundantly in our lives. I love the gospel of Jesus Christ, it can change your life! All you have to do is live it. Remember those famous three words from Nike: Just do it! So many blessings will come into our lives as we seek to follow Jesus Christ and live His Gospel. Now that doesn't mean that living the gospel of Christ is going to take away all of the problems in our life and make everything happy and dandy, nor does it mean that we will be exempt from trials and difficulties in our lives. But the gospel will give you the strength, guidance, knowledge, comfort and tools you need to navigate through life and obtain God's greatest blessings for you and for your family. I know that to be true. Just do it.

Have a good week!

Elder Ruiz

 Brother Garcia and I having fun playing guitars together.
Exchanges with my district leader Elder Schone from Boise, Idaho

Week 98: Serving

Well hello from the blazing and windy community of Victorville, presenting Elder Brimhall and Elder Ruiz! This past week was awesome! Elder Brimhall has a lot of faith and he has helped increase mine. We were on fire last week with our daily goal of contacting at least 10 people a day and inviting them to do something that will bring them closer to Christ, we've been on fire with this goal! And we had a lot of miracles happen, these are just a few. A lot of them have to do with being in the right place at the right time:

1. We were walking down a street when we saw an older Hispanic lady trying to life a large microwave into her minivan. We quickened our pace and I walked up to her and asked if she would like some help. Before she could answer, I lifted the microwave and put it into her minivan for her. Though there was somewhat of a language barrier between us, I could see the gratitude she had for us. I love to serve, it's the best!

2. While we were walking out of our apartment complex we noticed a young lady that was filling a bunch of totes with stuff. We asked if she needed help and she said yes, so we went over and helped her fill up the totes and take them to the dumpster. Turns out she met with the missionaries several years ago! So we gave her a pass-a-long card and invited her to check out !

3.We got a new investigator on Sunday night, our first week here in this ward! Her name is Ellena, and we met her on Saturday while we were walking down her street in the afternoon and were able to set a return appointment with her for the next night. She is a kind old Filipino lady and has been going to a Christian church for almost 50 years. I had been fasting on Sunday for the Lord to help us find new investigators this transfer/those who are prepared to receive the gospel, and I feel like teaching Ellena the Restoration on Sunday night was part of God's answer to me. Towards the end of our lesson on Sunday night, I asked her if she would be baptized if she came to know for herself by the power of the Holy Ghost that the Restoration did happen, that Joseph Smith was a prophet, and the Book of Mormon is true. She said yes! We have another return appointment with her tonight (Tuesday) and we will be having a member come with us. Hopefully Ellena doesn't have her minister from her church come and be there as well, she told us on Sunday night that she might do that haha.

Fun experience: On Saturday night we were walking back to our car after trying to see a potential investigator, when we saw an older gentleman sipping on a big mug of beer, listening to some piano music. LET'S GO GET 'EM! So we walked up his driveway and introduced ourselves. He introduced himself as Phil, and then proceeded to go on an hour-long rant about how he was "a stone-cold killer" in the Vietnam war. Doesn't believe he can be forgiven for what he did during the war. But the truth is that he can! All of us can be forgiven, because Christ's Atonement covers EVERYTHING! 

Love you all, have a good week!

Elder Ruiz
 Meet Elder Brimhall!
One more picture of Elder Jeppsen and I haha.

Week 97: I'm Gonna be a Dad!!

.....Wow. This is it. The final transfer. I'm going into denial haha. Transfer calls came in over the weekend; Elder Jeppsen will be staying in Upland and training a new missionary, and I will be "white-washing" into the Mesa Linda Ward in Victorville and training a new missionary! We are both gonna be dads! I'm really gonna miss serving in the Upland 3rd Ward as a zone leader, I've learned a lot and had a lot of cool experiences. But I am excited to serve as a trainer in a new area my last transfer, it's gonna be great!

We had some cool experiences last week. We tracted a lot and were able to meet a professor of religion named Vivek, and he wants us to come back and meet with him! On Friday we got to help out at a concession stand at the Upland Hight School. That was a lot of fun! On Saturday, our sewage system clogged up on Saturday morning and flowed into our tub, so we had to shower in the owner's house over the weekend, but thankfully a plumber came and unclogged the pipes, so now it works, yay! I went around and said goodbye to a lot of people over the weekend and took picures with them. 
I don't have much to talk about today, but I'm excited for what lies in store this week. Love you all, have a good week!

Elder Ruiz

 The Robbins! They are in the Upland 3rd Ward and are related to a good friend of mine back home.

​*Daft Punk Missionaries* with the one and only senior missionary Elder Boulter in the background.

Monday, August 28, 2017

Week 96: El Sol

Last week Elder Jeppsen and I saw blessings from planning our days better, and taking more time to go out and talk to people. We were tracting and trying to share family history and we met a man named Eric who wants to learn about his ancestry because he is adopted and knows nothing about his biological family. He seems very promising. He even offered to take us out to dinner and go bowling haha. I have noticed that as we strive to stick to our plans for the day by being on time to places and keeping dinner appointments to an hour, we have been placed in the right places at the right time to have people to talk to and invite to do something that will help them come closer to Christ. 

Zone conference was great. I was able to receive some personal revelation. I was reminded that I need to get out of the way for the Holy Ghost to teach people (because it is not me as a missionary that is the real teacher, but the Holy Ghost), and that I should not focus on myself, but rather about the Lord and His work, and the needs of His children.

On Saturday we got to go on exchanges with the Assistants, and I was with Elder Memmott for the day. It was great, we were blessed with so many people to talk to out in the streets and in the neighborhoods, our day worked out wonderfully! Our exchange was also Elder Memmott's last exchange of his mission (he goes home next Monday), so we made sure work hard and talk to everyone! After being with him for a day I have a greater reason and desire to open my mouth more and talk with everyone. As one of my MTC teachers said, "There's no growth in the comfort zone, and there's no comfort in the growth zone." Stake conference was great, Elder Eduardo Gavarett of the Seventy presided over the meeting. I loved the focus of getting members to the temple and doing family history. Our three recent converts were in attendance, as well as our investigator and two less-actives. We are happy to see that they made it. Yesterday evening we were trying to talk to people on the street and we ended up talking to a man named Eric on his porch, and taught him parts of the Restoration and the Plan of Salvation. He was very interested and had good questions. Hopefully we can come back and see him again.

I have been reading the Book of Mormon almost every day on my mission, and I have become a better person by applying the teachings contained within its pages. I know that no matter where you are in life or how much "free time" you have each day, I can promise you that if you take the time to read from the Book of Mormon each day, even if it's for 15 minutes, and ponder its teachings, that you will notice a difference in your life. As you read from the Book of Mormon daily, you will have the opportunity to be taught by the power of the Holy Ghost. You will find more joy in your daily life, have more patience with others and with your circumstances, and have greater direction in your life and answers to question you may have at this time. Have a good week, love you all!

Elder Ruiz