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