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