Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Week 12: Christmas is over...now what?

Ho Ho Ho, Merry Christmas! I hope everyone has been enjoying this holiday season and having a good time with family!

Monday we had a zone activity, it being a white elephant gift exchange! I got...a pair of socks and a $10 gift card to Coldstone (an elder told me it only has $6.45 left on it haha)! I forgot to buy a white elephant gift, so I just grabbed a roll of toilet paper and gave that as my gift haha! 

Tuesday we had district meeting, and I gave my zone leader the gift card and a few candy canes (he's the poor guy that got my toilet paper roll. And I told him to keep the roll haha). We biked around our area contacting former investigators/potential investigators, and we found potential named Juan, but his English isn't very good so we gave him to the Spanish elders in the area. We had dinner at a recent convert's house, Jerry. Turns out it was his mother's birthday that day, so he bought a HUGE chocolate cake from a place called Claim-Jumper or something like that haha. 

On Wednesday Elder Jesse and l -along with our ward's Relief Society President- visited a potential investigator named Berna and gave her some cash and gift cards so she could by Christmas presents for her son and husband (they are not doing very well financially at the moment). Her and her husband were very grateful for us stopping by and giving them  some gift cards.

Thursday: Christmas Eve! We had dinner at our bishop's house, and three other families had dinner with us as well, we all had great food and a great time!

Christmas Day: December 25th!! Elder Jesse and I woke up early and opened our Christmas presents; that was fun! We now have TONS and TONS of candies and chocolates. Our plan is to give the candy out to people we meet and to other families haha. We went to a member's house -the Harrington's-  and talked to our families through Facetime on the member's iPads, and I enjoyed hearing about how things are back home! Sister Harrington kindly made me a DELICIOUS carrot cake, ahh it is to die for! But you'll go into a food coma after a slice of cake. 

On Saturday I went on a split exchange with one of my zone leaders, Elder Reddish. He took me to English Springs Park in Chino Hills, which is a scenic park, not just and ordinary park. He took me because he knows that I want to improve my skills of talking to strangers, or striking up a conversation with someone. I absolutely loved it, it was a great experience! We talked to many people, and by observing how Elder Reddish would start talking to people, I know what I need to work on! While I was doing this, Elder Jesse was with Elder Roberson, and they taught our new investigator that we got that day, Adrienne! I haven't met her yet, but I look forward to teaching her tomorrow!

On Sunday Elder Jesse and I gave talks on how to become true followers of Christ. One of the things I mentioned in my talk was how Jesus bade the fisherman to follow Him, and how they promptly got out of their boats, dropped their nets, and followed Him. I see this as being an example of how we should follow the Savior. We should do so without any doubt, fear, or hesitation. If we truly follow Jesus Christ, it means that we are completely obedient to Him and His commandments; that we faithfully pray to our Heavenly Father and study the scriptures with real intent; that we honor our sacred covenants that we have made, including attending church and partaking of the sacrament, and also keeping the Sabbath Day. I know that as we do so, the Holy Ghost will be with us more strongly,and our desire to do good will increase, as well as our love for our Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ and family and friends. I hope that as we begin a new year, you will strive to follow Christ more in your life. I have seen how being obedient to Him has blessed my life, and I know that being obedient and righteous can bless you too. 

I love you all, thank you so much for the Christmas letters and packages that those of you sent to me; I am very grateful!

-Elder Ruiz
English Springs Park, a cool place!

Cool nativity scene at a member's house!

Monday, December 21, 2015

Week 11: John 3:16

Merry Christmas everyone, I hope you all are enjoying the holidays! 

Tuesday I had a...well...interesting experience. Elder Jessee and I were biking down a street in Chino, when a black car with tinted windows pulled up alongside me, rolled down their window, and the front passenger threw a bottle of red Powerade at me and tried to hit me! Thankfully his throw was not accurate, and the bottle hit the trunk of a tree right in front of me, so I'm fine haha. 

Wednesday was our last day teaching at the Chino Adult School for this year. I've come to truly love the people their, they are just so nice, and I always have a good time with them.

Thursday we had a Christmas devotional for all the missionaries in the valley (all the missionaries in the high desert had their own Christmas devotional the day before), so I got to see Elder Ludwig again (we were in the same district in the MTC). The AP's and office elders created a slideshow that had pictures of missionaries from all over the mission; most of them were baptism pictures ( posing with their investigator before the baptism). The service missionaries and the senior missionaries made us a delicious lunch of mashed potatoes, ham, turkey, stuffing; it was like Thanksgiving all over again! 

On Friday we worked for about two hours at the thrift store, and we found some awesome ugly sweaters! Well, actually they're just Christmas vests...and they're not terribly ugly, but I do think they're hilarious! So the owners were cool with us keeping them; Elder Jessee and I will be wearing them to our zone Christmas party in a few hours haha!

On Saturday morning we went back to the thrift store to help Kaivon-the owner of the store- move some furniture to the other side of town to a guy who had bought the furniture the day before. That morning Elder Jesse and I had worked out in the weight room, so we were a little sore, but after carrying 14 wooden chairs, two dining tables, and two couches up and down 3 flights of stairs in an apartment complex, we were pooped! So Kaivon took us to a local burger joint for lunch. Oh and we also saw an act of theft take place right in front of us! We were around the corner from a grocery store, when I saw a young man pedaling as hard as he could to get away from a store clerk who was chasing him! They exchanged a few curse words during the chase, and it looked like the item the thief had stolen was in a plastic shopping bag. I got pretty ticked at that guy for stealing, and I wanted to yell something at him, but I felt like I should keep my mouth shut, so I did haha. Instead we tried calling the cops, but by the time we had pulled out the phone and were about to dial, they man was already out of sight. Oh well haha. Sunday we were able to have a lesson with three investigators- the Castro children, but other than that nothing really big happened. 

Yep so that's my week there for ya. I hope you all have a great Christmas this Friday! Remember why we truly celebrate Christmas: not for the gifts or for the food, but for our Savior and Redeemer; our brother, Jesus Christ, who was willing to sacrifice himself, that through Him we might live with our loving Heavenly Father once again.

Love you all!

-Elder Ruiz
Rockin' the sweater vests!

Elder Jessee and I cruisin' on the streets! 

Caroling as a zone!

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Week 10: Francisco...Fransiscoo...Franciscooo...

This week has been great! Our hard work that Elder Jessee and I have put forth in finding potential investigators/people to teach has finally paid off! Many small miracles and tender mercies from the Lord have happened to us.

Earlier this week we had looked in our area book at an old teaching record of some potential investigators of the time-the Aguinaga family- and we felt impressed to visit them and see if they were still interested. So we stopped by their house and got to meet with Mr. Aguinaga, the father of the family. He said that him and his wife have been going through a divorce for about 5 years now because his wife is SUPER Catholic, and he thinks it's taken control of her life. He said he would love for us to come over so that we could "show her the error of her ways". Obviously missionaries are not therapists or marriage counselors, but we weren't about to pass up a teaching opportunity, so we told him we would come over on Sunday night. Brother Rodriguez-a member of our ward- said he could come with us to our lesson (bringing members to lessons is a bonus; they can help out with the lesson and even bring spiritual power to the room when they bare testimony, it's great!). So we went to their house on Sunday night and had small talk for a while. Then it got to the point where Mr. Aguinaga talked about his marriage and a whole bunch of family problems, why he doesn't want to get divorced and instead try and save their marriage, etc. But here's the best part: it was right then that Brother Rodriguez chimed in and talked about his divorce and the effect it's had on him and his son. And he bore such a strong and powerful testimony of the gospel and how it blesses families! He totally threw it down, the Spirit was just like BOOM! I could tell that he was able to touch and soften Mr. and Mrs. Aguinaga's hearts. It was such an awesome experience! We were able to schedule another appointment with them for tonight at 7:30, I'm so pumped!

Well, it rained a few times out here in Chino. On Wednesday night Elder Jessee and I were riding our bikes down the street to get to a old potential investigator's house, and it was raining so hard that our thighs were SOAKED! I mean so soaked that our thighs were completely drenched, all the way to my underclothes, and I could almost feel wetness in my shoes, that storm was crazy!

Other than that, things have been the same; we're still working hard trying to contact people on the streets and find potential investigators. I thought of our finding efforts like thrusting in a sickle into a field to harvest crops (think of D&C 4:4), and how you don't simply or casually just harvest crops. You have to THRUST in your sickle, with all your might! Do everything you can to get the most out of your harvesting!

Anyways, I love you all and enjoy hearing from you in the emails I receive.

Happy Holidays!
Sign found at the Calvary Chapel.

Chino sunset.

I found my car!  Or at least one that looks like my car.

Monday, December 7, 2015

Week 9: I'm dreaming of a white Christmas...

Happy Holidays! It doesn't really feel like Christmas is upon us because there is no snow out here haha. 

Transfers were last week, so I got a new companion: Elder Jessee from Riverton Utah. He's been out for about 15 months, so I guess you could say he's a seasoned veteran haha. 

This week I was blessed to see several small miracles and tender mercies that occurred to us this week. We were able to talk more people -while tracting/street contacting- than we usually do. One reason is because Elder Jessee is really assertive when it comes to missionary work, so he's been pushing us as a companionship to work hard to find people. With the new Christmas video that the Church has put out, we've been able to share a short message about the Savior with many people.On Thursday we were able to go on team-ups with Bishop Smith and teach the children of a part-member family. And it was a miracle that for the most part, the kids paid attention and participated. And even their father, who doesn't have much of an interest in in the Church, sat stuck around for the whole lesson; what a miracle! We also invited them to come to the ward Christmas party Saturday night, as well as church on Sunday. They came to the Christmas party, and everyone was glad to see that they showed up. They said they had a wonderful time. 

On Saturday we were able to teach an investigator named Ronnie about the Gospel of Jesus Christ, I could definitely feel the Holy Ghost helping me to know what to say; it was an amazing feeling. He truly does speak to those that humble themselves before God, and listen for that still small voice. Later that day we talked to a less-active named Clay Lotz, who's one of the nicest and most genuine people I have ever met. He's a wood craftsman that works from home, so he lives from paycheck to paycheck each month. We talked for about an hour while he was having a yard sale of some of the things that he's built, because he needed the money to pay his bills. It was such a humbling experience to be with him, he just has such a positive spirit. We invited him to the ward Christmas party as well, and also to church. He said he would try to come, depending if he decided to carry on his yard sale into the evening. He didn't come to the party, but he did come to sacrament meeting all dressed up in his suit, and it just made my day to see him come! 

Our ward will be going through a Church process called "bar-belling", where two ward combine their 2nd and 3rd hour meetings, but have separate sacrament meetings. So to see a lot more Mormons in the church building than usual reminded me of going to church back home, where the wards are way bigger haha!

Other than that, things have been pretty chill. Sorry I didn't take a lot of pictures this week; we've been busy haha! I love you all! Make good choices and all that good stuff. 
The smallest acts of kindness can rock a person's world; you never know. 


-Elder Ruiz
Elder Jessee and I checking our emails this afternoon at the Chino Hills Library!

Week 8: Sweater Weather

Hello one and all! I hope everyone enjoyed their Thanksgiving and had delicious food! I'll have to make this email short because I don't have much time, sorry. 

The weather has been getting colder, so now it's cold enough for me where I'm wearing a sweater at night when we bike (brrrrr!) For Thanksgiving Elder Gunnerson and I went to a ward member's house and had a big delicious breakfast and watched the beginning of the Macy's Day Parade! And for dinner!...for dinner...we had TWO dinners! I was stuffed haha! But is was worth it because the food was delicious!

Tuesday was our last district meeting before transfers, so we all took pictures together as a zone!

Transfer calls came on Saturday,and Elder Gunnerson was being transferred to Hesperia, his first transfer in the high desert! I'll still be serving in the Walnut Park Ward in Chino, so I'm cool with that. So today Elder Gunnerson and I went to the mission office and got new companions. My new companion is Elder Jessee from Riverton Utah, who's been serving for about 15 months. He seems like a cool guy; I look forward to working with him!

I also got to see Elder Guerra, who is one of my sister's best friends from back home! We were both so happy to see each other; he's a zone leader in the high desert right now!

Anyways, that's all folks! I love all of you and pray for you. Thanks for your emails of love and support!

-Elder Ruiz

Farewell to my "Father"!

Elder Guerra

Zone Picture

Monday, November 23, 2015

Week 7: "Let us talk of holy things..."

Greetings. I hope everyone will enjoy this Thanksgiving week! Always try to be grateful, not just during Thanksgiving. 

During companion exchanges on Thursday, I was paired up with Elder Broadhead (who I came out here to CA with), and that night we taught Leo and Zoey Lin, whose mother was baptized a long time ago in Taiwan, but she became inactive once she came to America because she didn't know where the local ward met. However, some missionaries recently came into contact with here, and so she wanted them to teach her two kids (13 and 16, respectively). They came to know the Book of Mormon is true, and desired to be baptized. While we were teaching them in their house, I could feel their sweet spirits, they just seemed so...kind, so meek, and have a strong desire to learn more about the gospel. I think these are attributes we should all desire to have and work towards. On Saturday they were baptized by Elder Broadhead and his companion Elder Smith. I asked Leo how he felt afterwards, and he felt happy. It reminded me of when I was baptized, and how I felt then. We should always treasure our baptism as something sacred, and strive to live worthily of the companionship of the Holy Ghost. Because they are not in our ward, we were not able to attend the sacrament meeting where they were given the Holy Ghost, but I bet it was a neat experience for them.

On Friday we met with an investigator named Angie. We re-taught her the Restoration and accepted our invitation to be baptized! I think many good things will come from her; I believe the Lord has prepared her heart to receive the gospel. 

"The weather outside is frightful..."... well actually it's not; it is quite enjoyable. Still too warm for me though.  I still prefer being able to walk in the snow; that's probably the one thing I miss from home right now, the snow!! The trees are still green, and in the afternoon the temperature just hangs out in the 80's, so we have some pleasant weather down here right now. I just really miss a REAL winter!

I borrowed a classical guitar from one of the the counselors in the ward bishopric because I've been wanting to perform a musical number for district meeting tomorrow, so I've been practicing since Friday. And it's been so long since I've played guitar that my fingertips are raw from practicing so much!

So yeah, that's what's happening out here in So-Cal! Read the Book of Mormon; it is ESSENTIAL that you build and strengthen your own testimony, because you can't go on for the rest of your life living off of/using someone else's testimony. You must become fully converted to the Gospel of Jesus Christ! This is my challenge to you all, I promise it will bless you. 

Love you all!

Elder Ruiz
A few of us Elders chillin before District Meeting last Tuesday! And yes, there are more than just us four in our district. 

Monday, November 16, 2015

Week 6: "Real men pray!"

Hello hello, hope you all are doing alright! This past week I had some really cool experiences! And the weather has been getting cooler, which makes me even more happier! Almost time for sweater weather haha!

Last Monday all the missionaries in our zone played volleyball at the stake center, it was great, we all had a blast. Wednesday I had to attend a 4-week meeting for greenies (so called because we've been in the field for 4 weeks now), and while there I got to see Elder McClaws and Elder Ludwig, who came out here with me and were in my district back at the MTC! They seem to be doing well; Elder McClaws is whitewashing an area up in the high desert, and Elder Ludwig is serving in Ontario (the city in America, not Canada haha).

On Thursday one of my zone leaders, Elder Reddish, was my companion for a companion exchange. It was different than my last exchange though because with this one I was basically acting as the senior companion since we would be staying in my area, and I'd be showing him around haha, and since I'm a greenie and he's been out for more than a year haha. Anyways, he taught me some helpful tips about street contacting, and we were actually able to talk to several people who actually didn't mind talking to us! We were even able to had out a few pass-along cards with our contact info!  

Friday night was very special to me because I got to anoint someone with oil and give them a blessing for my first time! I was nervous at first because I wanted to make sure that I said all the right words, but once I got to the blessing, I just let the Spirit take over, and boy was is a wonderful feeling. It's like I wasn't even talking, it was the Spirit talking through me! I felt so much peace afterwards; it was an experience I will never forget! 

Saturday my companion and I had the opportunity to briefly talk to a pastor from another church, who was having an estate sell of his recently-deceased mother's belongings. He was kind and let us take some Christmas decorations home for free haha! But somehow we ended up promising the other men there that we would make them cookies on Tuesday haha. 

Last night we had a teaching appointment, and as we were biking to the family's house, out of nowhere is started to sprinkle, and after 20 or so feet it was raining HARD! by the time we got to their house, Elder Gunnerson and I were both soaked haha! During our appointment with this family, we were able to commit 3 of their little girls to being baptized on December 19th, yay! I'm very excited for them, especially for their Kimberly, the oldest of the three, who has a strong desire to be baptized and learn more about the church! 

So, things are looking good out here in Chino! Thank you for the emails you have sent me, and for your love and support! Love you all!

Elder Ruiz


Monday, November 9, 2015

Week 5: Cooler Weather, Finally...

I'm happy to say that it's finally cooling down out here in So. Cali. My blood's still pretty thick from the Utah winters, so I'll need to acclimate and get used to the heat haha. 

Monday was my first day out here where we got a small rain shower. It was refreshing. But Tuesday was CRAZY!!!! All the storm drains couldn't handle how much rain was coming down, so there were GIANT puddles that would span the whole length of a street! Elder Gunnerson and I got pretty drenched, we had to wade through water just to get back to our apartment! We had to change our shoes and socks because our feet and lower legs had been completely submerged in the process of trying to cross the street at several street intersections. And while our pants were still soaked, a member of the ward took us out to Red Robin for dinner haha. And the crazy thing is, this is only the beginning! El Nino is coming this year, so were are going to get A LOT of rain! I just might have to buy some rain boots haha. 

Later in the week Elder Gunnerson felt impressed to visit a former investigator, so we did. His name is Ronnie; really nice guy, but he's got the mental capacity of about a 10 year old. He struggles with reading, writing and understanding concepts, but he's just one of the most polite people I have ever met. Last stake conference, the stake president challenged the stake to read the whole Book of Mormon before the next stake conference, and on the morning of the Sunday session to read Moroni chapter 10 (particularly verses 3-5), and pray to know if the Book of Mormon is true. Incredibly, Ronnie had read the entire Book of Mormon, and told us that he believes it is true. And when we asked him to read verses 3-5, he didn't mess up on or mispronounce a single word! It was practically a miracle! It's amazing how reading the Book of Mormon can bless a person's life! I challenge all of you to read it, and pray to know if the Book of Mormon is true. And if you faithfully do so, with a true desire to know, you will know by the power of the Holy Ghost.

Stake conference was cool; Elder Grow from the Seventy came and presided at our conference, as well as Elder Wilde (who is the local area authority). They were here because the stake presidency was released, and the called new brethren from the stake. The most spiritual part of the meeting was when the released presidency, as well as the new presidency, bore their testimonies. And when they spoke, they bore with power and conviction, I was in awe. It was an incredible experience. 

Yesterday Elder Gunnerson and I were able to teach the Castro children about the Restoration of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. And I was blown away by how many intellectual questions they had for us haha. But once we got the lesson rolling along, they settled down and listened to our message. And it was then that I could feel their sweet, innocent spirits, and I could tell that they truly do have a desire to learn more about our Church and the Gospel of Jesus Christ. It was a very spiritual experience for me. 

Well, other than that, nothing big has been going on lately. Thank you for the emails that you have sent to me. I enjoy hearing from you all! Choose the right, be proactive, and study the Gospel!

-Elder Ruiz

Visiting a Hindu Temple on P-day

Teaching English

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Week 4: Trick or Treat

Well, I'm happy to say that I'm steadily becoming familiar with the area that I'm serving in right now, our designated area is practically a perfect rectangle, which is nice haha. The temperature is slowly-but surely-decreasing, so now the nights here in Chino are almost perfect, like a Goldilocks temperature: not too hot, not too cold, but just right (I prefer it to be on the colder side). And we've been experiencing a phenomenon called the Santa Ana winds, which helps clear up the skies so it's not as smoggy, but it dries out your skin, and for me, me eyes dry out pretty bad, so I'm always blinking a lot when the winds pick up haha. 

On Monday we had a zone activity, and we carved pumpkins at the stake center. I carved mine with missing teeth and painted some thick eyebrows and a mustache on the face...with a mullet on the back, I couldn't resist!
During the activity I got the chance to meet the other elders and sisters in our zone, they're all really great. Tuesday we had our district meeting, and I was assigned to give a spiritual thought about something from the handbook, so I chose "Health and Safety", and paraphrased what Elder Richard G. Scott said on the subject, which is that if we have a healthy diet and regularly exercise, we will be able to receive personal revelation from the Holy Ghost, and have a clear conscience. How cool is that?! So I've been trying to live up to Elder Scott's promise (especially because I'm trying not to gain weight while on my mission, it's hard at times, haha), and I bought bananas and apples, and have been trying to use the weight room at our apartment complex. I definitely feel better, that's for sure!

Tuesday evening was companion exchanges, so for the next 24 hours I was the companion of Elder Smith, from Ogden, who's serving in the Los Serranos area of our zone. His companion, Elder Broadhead, from Riverton Utah, became companions with Elder Gunnerson (my companion) during this time. Wednesday morning we started the day with some push-ups and planks. Smith and Broadhead currently stay in a bedroom of an elderly couple who are local ward members, the Wiggins, so we had to be quiet. In the afternoon we went tracting, which I was super excited for since I hadn't done it up to that point, but I'd been looking forward to doing. Tracting is where you knock on people's doors and talk to them about the Gospel (or that's at least the way that we did it that day). Smith chose to go to a nice neighborhood in the area, but we didn't have much success, although we knocked on many doors (probably because we were tracting in the middle of the day, when everyone is at school or at work). Smith was able to briefly talk to a Hispanic lady. She seemed to be in a hurry, but he was able to give her a pamphlet about the Restoration. When it was my turn...well, I wasn't as successful, let's just put it that way haha. The first house that opened their door to us was by a little boy who cracked the door open and peeped with his eye at us. He asked us who we were, and we told him we were missionaries. We asked if his parents were home, and he said his mom was in the shower, so that attempt was a bust. I think we gave him a pass-along card, I can't remember, then we moved to the next house. The next house was probably the highlight of the afternoon for me. I knocked on the door, and an old Asian man came out onto the porch to greet us. We introduced ourselves, but once he started talking I couldn't understand what he was saying. At first I thought he had a speech impediment or something, but then I realized that he was speaking Chinese (or whatever his native tongue is)! It appeared that he couldn't speak English, and he was trying to tell us in his native language, but we couldn't understand haha.  But the best was when he abruptly stopped talking, put his hands together in the shape of a circle, and put his circle shape up to the sky. For a second it appeared that he was worshiping the sun or something, but I have no idea of his reason for doing that haha. Anyways, when we realized our attempt was futile, I just said it was nice to meet him, I shook his hand, to which he understood that we were leaving, so he shook our hands and waved goodbye. That night we went back to our normal companions. For my first experience being in a companion exchange, I had a great time!

Halloween! Our ward had a Halloween party/trunk-or-treat, so Elder Gunnerson and I attended that. It was here at the party and Bishop Smith told me that he saw my Uncle Luis at the LA temple! Again, what a coincidence!! Everybody was dressed up in a costume, and the babies and toddlers were so cute! A little boy named Kai was dressed up as Edward Scissorhands, and his costume looked like it was straight from the movie, it was cool! 

Yesterday was fast sunday, my first fast Sunday as a missionary. We had a dinner appointment with the Tillet family, and they made lasagna and green beans for us, and boy it was delicious! After we ate we shared a brief message with them, then head over to the Castro family. Now, the Castro family is...interesting. The mother, Mayra, was a convert to the church in when she was in her late 20's, but has since been inactive in the church. She married her current husband Richard, and now they have 6 kids I believe, aged from elementary to 10th grade. None of the kids have been baptized into the Church, but they love us being at their house.  Richard was raised Catholic, but now says he is a non-denominational Christian. He's taught his kids about the Bible, which is good. But he encourages them to learn more about religion, and join any church they want to join. Mayra wants her kids to be have good influences in their lives. So Elder Gunnerson and I took this into consideration, and although we would love the kids to be baptized, they must first learn about the restored gospel of Jesus Christ. So, last night we stopped by their house, had some small talk, and then asked the children if they would like to have us come over and teach lessons to them, to which all the kids said yes! And during that time at their house, I could definitely feel the Spirit help me know what to say to the children that would help them understand our purpose and why we were there.

 I am so thankful for the love Heavenly Father has for me, and for the gift of the Holy Ghost. It truly is a small voice; we must take the time to be away from the "loud" things in life, and try to listen for the promptings of the Holy Ghost. I can't thank you all enough for the love, support, and encouragement that you have shared with me. 


Elder Ruiz

Zone Picture

Enjoying a DQ Blizzard thanks to $45 in gift cards!

Using my apron from Grandma and Grandpa Atkins

Monday, October 26, 2015

Week 3: First week out in the field

Well, my first week out here has been pretty good. The day after we got here I was assigned to be a companion with Elder Gunnerson from Idaho. He's quite the character, he loves theater and Broadway, Mo Tab, so yeah he sings around our apartment a lot. We were assigned to serve in the Chino area, where Elder Gunnerson is a district leader (DL's and Zl's get to have phones, what a delicacy!) We went out and bought groceries and then hit the hay. The next day we had our study time and exercise time, then put in some service hours by volunteering at a local thrift shop. We organized books in the children's section, not too hard, but I'm glad we could help. In exchange for our service, they let us take home anything we wanted, so I took 3 classical music CD's, they're absolutely wonderful (we've got a CD player back at the apartment, and due to rules we are limited on what we can listen to haha)! 

I've been assigned with my companion to the more older part of Chino. A lot of the houses are small with small yards, but practically everybody drives a nice car. We're located where a lot of the area used to be farmland or cattle ranch country, so its pretty barren. Practically every evening we went to a member's house for dinner, and boy am I glad for home-cooked food! I'm glad I don't have to eat MTC food anymore haha.  For being autumn, it is very hot out down here! I'm really missing the cool weather back in Utah right now haha! We currently only have one legitimate investigator that we teach. Everyone else we visit are less- active members or former investigators, so our daily schedule isn't as rigorous as other missionaries, which is bittersweet. We will keep on trying to find people though!

Sunday was my first church attendance out in the mission field! The ward is very small, so is the chapel. The ward is called the Walnut Park Ward. Everybody is really friendly. During sacrament meeting they had their Primary Program, it melted my heart to see all the cute little kids walk up to the stand and give such a simple but beautiful testimony! While in the chapel I could feel the love that everyone has for each other, it was a great sensation.  And I love talking to the converts, I find them inspiring, they give me a desire to become more fully converted to the gospel like they are. You can't merely have a testimony of something in order to know if the Church is true, you have to become fully converted! You need to know with utmost surety, and not halfheartedly (I think someone gave a talk in conference about that, but I can't remember haha).

A great inspiration for me is Jerry, who was baptized last September and is currently working towards going to the temple to receive his endowment. He's a big guy with a menacing appearance. His arms and legs are covered in tattoos, and he's got the beard of a lumberjack, but he is one of the kindest people I've ever known. He's so easy to talk to, and is always friendly and willing to help out. His physical appearance can be intimidating to some people, and causes some to judge him. He recognizes that, but he doesn't care, because he just wants to be closer to Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ. He truly is amazing to me.

And I made a connection with somebody, it's crazy! The bishop of the ward, Bishop Jeff Smith, saw my name tag said "Ruiz" and said "You don't happen to be related to Luis Ruiz, do you?" I was shocked! I told him I was, and that he is my uncle. Bishop Smith told me that him and Uncle Luis grew up in the same ward together back in San Jose. He had some funny stories that he told me. Wow, it really is a small world sometimes!

Well, I'm learning a lot as each day goes by, and my love for the people of Chino has grown. I have a strong desire to find those who are ready to receive the gospel, and invite them to come unto Christ. 

Thanks for all the emails that you have sent me, I'm glad to hear how you all are doing.! 

Talk to y'all next Monday!

Elder Ruiz
Me and Elder Gunnerson

Last picture at the MTC

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Safe and Sound!

I'm officially in Rancho Cucamonga now! We were told to email a picture of us to our family so our families wouldn't think we were dead or something haha.

My mailing address is:

Elder Haven Noel Ruiz
California Rancho Cucamonga Mission
6541 Woodruff Pl
Rancho Cucamonga, CA 91701
United States

My email address is:


That is the address of our mission office, I will notify you when once I get the address of my first area.

Love y'all! 
-Elder Ruiz

Jacob 6:12

Monday, October 19, 2015

Week 2: It's raining men! (Actually they're Elders)

Yay I'm so happy for the rain!

Ok, back to business. This past week has been a great experience. On thursday night we had a district inventory, and afterwards we a testimony meeting, and by the end we were all crying, ahhh I loved it so much, it was so spiritual. We were all crying at by the end (our district is all elders, no sister missionaries), our love for each other grew so much after that night. 

Our progress with our investigators...well, let's just say that we're not there to get people baptized. Elder McLaws and I made some progress with our investigators, we were even going to invite Matt-one of our investigators-to be baptized! We taught our lesson to him for longer than we were allowed, so we told him we would teach him about baptism the next day. But when we met with him the next day, he told us that he had gone out to Wendover and got drunk with his friends. He felt really depressed, like he would never be forgiven for what he did. Although we talked to him about repentance and the Atonement, I felt prompted to talk to him about it again instead of teach and invite him to baptism, to reassure him that there is a way back.

For our devotional yesterday our guest speakers were former BYU football player Chad Lewis and his wife. They were great, their testimonies are so strong, and they really do live the gospel every day. We should strive to do the same. 

Every time I go into the MTC bookstore, I am so tempted to but a pack of Spanish flashcards! I think I'll act on that temptation haha. 

Thank you for the packages, food and letters that you have sent to me here while I've been at the MTC! I received a box from the package office of Shirley's Bakery cinnamon rolls from someone by the name of Gina Jeppson...I have no idea who that person is haha, I first thought it was from the Jeppsons from Preston, Idaho, but I thought it would be strange for them to send me something since they barely know me haha. Apparently it was addressed to me because it had my MTC address on it, but on the box it's addressed to "Havier Ruiz". I was puzzled, but I wasn't about to pass up an opportunity for some good cinnamon rolls! It was when I opened the box that I realized it was from Sister Gina JACKSON, from my Orem 7th Ward!
There was a note that said "We love you and hope all is well! -The Jackson's" and I was like "Ohhhh, the Jacksons!" Yeah, so anyways I thought if was a funny moment. 

I hope all of you are doing well! I'll be leaving the MTC this afternoon and going to the SLC airport, where I'll be taking a 50-minute flight to the Ontario, California airport (I'm pretty sure this is the shortest flight I will ever be on, it's ridiculous haha.)

Choose the right! Eat your veggies and all that good stuff! Love y'all!

-Elder Ruiz

Monday, October 12, 2015

Week 1: Drinking From a Fire Hydrant!

Well hello everyone, glad I can finally talk to people that are on the other side of this MTC fence haha. I joke with everyone here about how I live within walking distance from the MTC, yet the MTC is so isolated, it's like a whole different world. 

The thought of being a legit missionary still didn't hit me until Thursday or Friday morning, when I was sooooooo exhausted and had to wake up at 6:30 in the morning. I'm used to waking up this early by now though, which is good. The MTC is a lot like high school... except you can never leave (until they say you can)....and you can't flirt with girls...and boys can only give handshakes to girls...and you can't dance. #wow     We're expected to pay attention and absorb everything we're taught here, so I'm trying my best to do so.

 Last week I ran into Sister Noelle Walton at the lunch room, who's going to Russia. We both did marching band together back at Timpview, so it was nice seeing an old friend from school. I was about to give her a gentle pat on the back as a friendly gesture, forgetting that I can't do that. The rules must be REALLY drilled into hear head, because she screamed, and I swear she almost spilled her tray of food. And this was in the middle of the lunch room, so everybody turned around and were just staring at us hahahaha. #awkward 

I've seen a lot of friends from Timpview here at the MTC, including Elders Jonathan Chen, Tanner Kohler, Tommy Taylor, Abe Ogles, and Matt Larsen! I also saw Sister Noelle Walton and Sister Santa Maria (I can't remember her first name haha). I'll try and send pictures in another email today.

My companion is Elder Mclaws from Holbrook, Arizona, and he's going to my same mission as well. A little side note: He's the nephew of my neighbor across the street in Orem, Brother Balden. He's a nice guy, but he has a hard time with comprehension and being able to communicate with people (investigators). But I think there's a reason why I was assigned to be his companion. 

I'm the District Leader! I was called on Thursday, and I felt so inadequate at the time. But being a DL isn't really that hard, I basically just have to make sure that we stick to our schedules, pay attention in class, study, prepare, and teach for investigators, and take inventory on how our district is doing. Our branch president is President Gines, who typically falls asleep during sacrament, but he's a nice guy. 

Anyways, gotta go send off these pictures to you guys before I wash my laundry, talk to you guys next Monday!

-Elder Ruiz

P.S. I WOULD LOVE TO GET MAIL/PACKAGES while I'm here at the MTC!!!!!!!! I haven't received anything except for my itinerary for my flight to California next Monday hahaha. So yeaaaaah, that would seriously make my day. My mailing address is:

Elder Haven Noel Ruiz
2007 N 900 E Unit 63
Provo UT 84602

Thanks so much, love you guys!!!!