Thursday, January 21, 2016

Week 15: MLK

Happy MLK day...yesterday, that is! I'm emailing today because all the libraries in the county were closed for MLK day, so we've been given permission to email today. 
I said last week that I have a feeling that this transfer is going to be great, and I was right: this transfer really has been going great! Elder Morton is just plain awesome! He's a great missionary with a strong testimony. Elder Morton and I were fortunate enough to pick up two former investigators, who still have an interest in learning about the gospel. Monday evening was AWESOME! We taught the Plan of Salvation at a member's house for FHE to an investigator family. The presence of the Spirit during that lesson was moving! It's as if the Spirit was bringing to my mind the very words that the Lord would have me say to our investigators as we taught! On Tuesday Elder Morton had an appointment with a foot doctor in Upland, so we got to cruise around the city with the zone leaders for an hour or two. Interesting side note: Our new zone leader, Elder Memmott, is cousins with one of my neighbors back in my home ward! Again, such a small world! We also got 3 media referrals in one day, which is a blessing; more people to teach! On Sunday we had ward conference, and Adrienne our investigator came to all of church. The highlight was that two of our other investigators, Kimberly and Kathy, came to all of church with their less-active mom! I have been praying my whole mission that they would come to church, and now my prayer has been answered! The stake president gave a really good talk about goals and resolutions, and about the 3 "D's" of Lucifer: Deceiving, Discouraging, and Distracting. Try to keep your focus on good things, particularly the gospel. Gotta go! 

-Elder Ruiz

Week 14: New Companion!

I hope everyone has had a great week! I just have to say that I feel so blessed to have such wonderful family members and friends. 

This past week Elder Jessee and I picked up two new investigators, and even set a baptismal date with them! Looking back, I can see how the Spirit helped us teach that lesson on the Restoration. It is awesome! On Thursday my companion got called by our mission president to work in the mission office, and was told he had two hours to pack and leave the apartment. Now that was something we were not expecting to come! So for the rest of last week I was in a trio with two elders from another ward in our zone. Saturday was the big day; the day when transfer calls came. I wasn't surprised when my district leader told me that I was going to be staying in the Walnut Park Ward, but I'm happy I'm staying. The ward is great, and missionary work is picking up in our area! One thing I've learned this transfer is that obedience brings blessings, but exact obedience brings MIRACLES!!
It rained a lot at the beginning of last week, there were huge puddles all along the streets (the drainage system is terrible out here haha)! Thankfully we rode our bikes that day, so our shoes and feet didn't get soaked like the last big storm that came through here. We have been teaching the Plan of Salvation a lot last week, and it gives me great comfort knowing I can see my dear little brother Joaquin again.

Today is the first day of a new transfer, and I got a new companion, Elder Morton from Vernal, Utah! I have a feeling this transfer is going to be great! 

I can promise you all that if you take a few minutes every day to pray and study the scriptures, you will see a difference in your everyday life. I have seen how studying the gospel and praying every day has changed me for the better. Not only has my knowledge of the Gospel increased, but I have also come closer to my Heavenly Father, as well as my Savior and Redeemer, Jesus Christ. I am so grateful for the Atonement, and for the knowledge of our purpose here on earth that we have as members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. 

Well, you all have a great week! Thanks again for all the letters and emails that you send to me! Adios!

-Elder Ruiz

Monday, January 4, 2016

Week 13: A New Year!!

Happy New Year everyone, I hope you all had a good time celebrating!

We have a new investigator, Adrienne! She's quiet and doesn't say much, but she is kind and seems to enjoy the lessons! She came to all three meetings of church with us, and even two investigators came to sacrament meeting! The blessing of being in a small ward is that everyone knows and supports each other, and embraces and befriends those who are new to or are visiting the ward. 

Elder Jessee and I volunteered at the thrift store again, and while I was looking throught some stuff, I found two boxes of old records that were brought in! I looked through them, and oh boy I found some gems! First, I found a Jim Croce record (he's the man who really inspired me to learn guitar), then I found a Men At Work record ("Business As Usual"), a Oingo Boingo record (a lady in our ward is a HUGE OB fan, so I'm giving it to her as a gift), and last but not least, an Elvis Presley Hawaiian record! The artwork is so cool, and the store owners were so kind to let me keep them! 

As missionaries we can't really "party" for New Year's; we had to be in our apartment by 6:00, so we just sipped on some Martinelli's in our goblets and dined like classy gentleman on the brownies I made. Our "countdown" was at 10:30, the time we're supposed to be in bed....but we stayed up till maybe 11:30 goofing around. And even at 1:30 or so there were still fireworks going off and people shooting guns (not shooting people, just shooting the guns in the air like rednecks, don't worry we were safe). 

On Friday we went to a member's house to teach her less-active son, and while there Elder Jessee and I met her two daughters, the youngest -McKenzie-  is my age and just graduated from high school in May. Currently she is going to BYU-Hawaii, and I asked her if she knew a girl by the name of Clarissa Weser (I was friends with her back in high school, and took her to Homecoming my senior year; she's on the school's soccer team right now). And amazingly she does know Clarissa! Actually, she knows several girls that are on the women's soccer team there that I went to school with at Timpview! McKenzie even took a Snapchat video of me and sent it to Clarissa, and Clarissa said to McKenzie (through Snapchat) that she was shocked to see me again, what a small world we live in! So that was a really cool experience. 

On Sunday during fast and testimony meeting, a member of our ward painfully and slowly got up to walk to the stand. He's a retired rodeo bull-rider and was recently reactivated into the church after years of alcoholism and church inactivity. A few years ago he was very masculine and in shape! Sadly he was diagnosed with cancer, and after going through treatments, he lost more than 70 pounds in body weight. He recently had to go back to UCLA for more cancer treatment, and he appears to be in an even more worse condition now. I feel so bad for him and all the pain he's had to go through. And yet he still got up and sloooooowly walked to the podium. We could tell it was very hard and painful for him to get up and move around; everyone was thinking he was going to fall because he was so weak! But he made it to the stand and bore a brief but powerful testimony on the Book of Mormon. It was so awe-inspiring for me to see a man like him go through all that to bare his testimony. If he went through all that to share his testimony, I think we should all share our testimonies with everyone; what's stopping you?

On Saturday we taught a lesson to one of our investigators, Nelson. He's going through a divorce and is trying to save his marriage, and I felt inspired to ask him if he wanted a blessing of counsel and comfort. He said yes, so after the lesson we went into a quiet room and I gave the blessing. I gave my whole heart to the Lord in that moment, so that I could be guided by the Holy Ghost as to what I should say in the blessing. It was so powerful, and after the blessing he said that he definitely felt better.

Gotta go, love you all!

-Elder Ruiz