Monday, February 29, 2016

Week 21: Baptism!!

Well, I've got great news! Our investigator Adrienne got baptized on Saturday; I baptized her, and Elder Morton confirmed her a member of the Church on Sunday during sacrament meeting, and during both moments, I could, with utmost surety, feel the Spirit of the Lord in the baptismal font, and in the chapel. I felt true peace in those moments, and I knew that what I was doing was the right thing: that I was being a missionary for the only true and living Church of Jesus Christ in these latter days. Adrienne is fairly introverted and doesn't really express how she feels, but she was so kind as to write individual letters to both Elder Morton and I and gave a new tie to both of us. In the letter she wrote to me, she said that she was so grateful for my many testimonies that I bore that helped her see that this is the true Church. My heart has been touched, and in that moment that I read that letter for the first time, I actually almost got emotional reading it because I just felt a wave of peace wash over me. Literally, a wave of peace, it really did feel like an actual wave overcame me. I feel so blessed, and am so grateful to have been able to participate in her conversion process. Brothers and sisters, family and friends, the Church is true! I don't have much time left, but I just want to say that I love you all, and each of you are loved so very much by our heavenly Father!

Elder Ruiz
Baptism day!  Such a spiritual experience!

Monday, February 22, 2016

Week 20: We're gonna baptize Chino!

Howdy everyone! This past week was the last week of the transfer, and it was AWESOME! Elder Morton and I are killin it here in the Walnut Park ward. Adrienne our investigator is going to be baptized and confirmed this weekend, and she asked that I baptize her, so I'm pretty excited about that! Two of our other investigators have a baptismal date set for March 12th, so we are looking forward to that as well! Today marks the first day of a new transfer, and Elder Morton and I will be staying here in the Walnut Park Ward in Chino, which I am happy about! 

 From Wednesday evening to Thursday evening I got to go on exchanges with my district leader's companion, Elder Cuellar from Hidalgo, Texas. Him and our district leader are Spanish-speaking missionaries covering the north half of the Chino Stake, so I actually got to be in a car area for a day! And I was excited that I could speak some Spanish to some people (or what very little I know haha). The Spanish members and Elder Cuellar said I have good Spanish pronunciation, so that's a good thing I guess haha. I even got to participate in blessing an elderly Spanish lady while Elder Cuellar anointed her in Spanish, it was a neat experience! And we tracted into a Hispanic guy who was working on a house, and he said he loves the Church and he has a friend who is a member, and we had a really great conversation and a perfect chance for Elder Cuellar to use his Spanish, since he was originally called to serve English-Speaking. He's made a lot of progress though these past two transfers as a Spanish missionary!

So yeah, other than that we've been doing the same old work. Actually, missionary work never gets old, because it's always a blessing! Every member a missionary! Please, I encourage you to read the February Ensign, it is sooooooo goood! Reading the articles made me think of so many people that could benefit from the messages found in the magazine! I also EXTREMELY encourage you to study a speech given by Brad Wilcox entitled "His Grace is Sufficient". That talk has helped me to understand what grace truly is, and how it affects all of us. 

I love you all, and will talk again next week!

Elder Ruiz

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Week 19: My Funny Valentine

Hello everybody! Before I start talking about how my week went, I want to share something that really stuck out to me that I read in one of my best friend's weekly letter, in which he was talking about forgiveness: 
"Don't take offence. Forgive people. When you don't forgive, you're just denying yourself blessings." Please people, take this to heart. We all say we should try and be like Christ, and this is probably one of the BEST ways to be like him! I remember someone telling me that holding resentment or a grudge against someone is like you drinking some poison and thinking that it will kill the person you resent. Bottom line: it's not worth it. There's no progression. Negative feelings are not of God, but of Lucifer, who tricks us into thinking that it is better to be mad, angry, etc.  Now about how last week went: Monday was preparation day, and we received a referral who had requested a Bible. Unfortunately by the end of the week we were never able to make contact with him after several attempts to contact him at his house and by phone.  Tuesday was zone meeting, and boy was it REALLY good! All of the trainings that were given were great; I got a lot out of them. One thing that stuck out to me from the meeting was that an elder said "Wisdom is the application of knowledge." and we were challenged to improve in one area of our lives over the next week.  Thursday night Elder Morton and I were able to have a pleasant visit with a less-active in our ward, Carlos. While talking to Carlos, his wife, who I previously never had the chance to talk to (I think she tries to avoid us because she's Catholic) came to the living room and sat down with the three of us, and we had a wonderful discussion! We were able to teach clarify some doctrinal questions she had about the church, and we basically taught the entire first lesson on the Restoration! Everything we taught was almost practically new information for Carlos since he got baptized 25 years ago and hasn't gone to Church since then, but he easily took in everything we said. They were really receptive to what we taught, and we also invited them to come to stake conference on Sunday! Friday an inactive member of the ward took us to dinner at Sizzler with her nonmember husband; we all had a great time! It was humorous to see everybody giving us weird looks and staring at us because they realized we were LDS missionaries haha! Saturday we finished teaching the last missionary lesson to our investigator Adrienne, and it went really well! We talked about temples and their importance to us as members of the church, and showed her a video called "Nauvoo: A Temple Reborn". Aggghhhhh I love that video so much! I could watch it every day of my life if I had to, because it reminds me of their importance of temples, and how valuable they are (and should be) to me, my family, and my ancestors. Please, I would encourage you to go to the temple at least once a month. In this fast-paced world, we need to be reminded why we are here on this earth, and what the true purpose of life is. By doing so, I promise you will be granted the blessings that you need to be able to do the things the Lord would have you do. True happiness is found when our will is in line with His will.   We were blessed with a tender mercy! We were able to visit an inactive member of the ward, who, for once, was actually home! And the best part was that his nonmember girlfriend was there! He really likes the missionaries, and has a lot of respect for what we do every day on our missions.  Sunday was Stake Conference, and we participated in a regional broadcast from Church headquarters in Salt Lake to members of the Church in Hawaii, Alaska, and the Pacific coast. It was INCREDIBLE! The general authorities that spoke truly are called of God, I know that to be true. Three things that were repeatedly brought up and emphasized was prayer, scripture study, and church attendance. A scripture that was quoted by Elder C Scott Grow of the Seventy was D&C 29:17, which says "...My blood shall not cleanse them if they hear me not..." And what does He want us to hear? Him and his words. And where can we find His words? In the scriptures!  It is not simply important to study the scriptures, it is a commandment! I cannot even describe the blessings that come from studying the scriptures and the words of the prophets. Scripture study truly has wrought a change upon me for the better, and I know it can for you to! The Church is true everyone! Don't be afraid to stand up and defend that! We are so blessed to be members of the Church in these latter days. Feast upon the words of Christ, pray individually and as a family, and attend Church every Sunday. I can promise you that you will find true peace and joy by following these three simple principles than from anything else in the world.  I love you all, and pray for you daily. Thank you for the influence you have had in my life; because of you I have been able to learn and become a better person. Do the right thing! Choose the right!  Elder Ruiz
Zone picture!

Back alley of downtown Chino

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Week 18: Guten Tag!

It warmed up FAST here in Chino this past week, a little too fast for me haha; no more sweaters or coats at night for me!

This past week we had a great district meeting, and we all went around in a circle and bore our testimonies, and when it was my turn I started to cry because I was just overcome with the Spirit; it's almost as if I could feel the Saviors arms wrapping around me in an embrace. It was wonderful, everybody's testimonies were beautiful. Don't be afraid to bear your testimony, you never know who could be inspired by you sharing you testimony. Don't worry about what you're going to say; just follow the Spirit.

We've been teaching our new investigator Jose, he's really into the Bible and prophecies, and is very receptive. We invited him to come to church with us, and he did! The kicker though was during fast and testimony meeting, when he actually got up and talked about how the word of God is true and is full of life. How cool is that?! I was super stoked that he had the courage to do that, because he usually keeps to himself and isn't much of a social butterfly. I admire him for his courage to do something that was new for him.

We've also been teaching a couple, Michael and Berna. Berna is very receptive and seems to enjoy us coming over and teaching them, but for Michael it's a battle just to simply stay awake during the lessons because he's so exhausted and tired when he comes home from his job. We taught them the Word of Wisdom, and talked to Michael about helping him quit smoking. We even gave him a blessing. Yesterday I fasted and prayed for Michael to overcome his addiction, and have the energy that he needs for his work. And also so he can stay awake during our lessons haha. I have faith that he will receive the strength that he needs.

I just want to leave with a brief testimony that I know Heavenly Father lives, as does His Son, Jesus Christ. As long as we do our part, they will be there to help us when we need it most. Prayer is a powerful tool, as is the magnificent power of the priesthood. I am so honored to have the blessing of holding the priesthood and using it to bless others. I know that through Joseph Smith and by the power of God, the fullness of the priesthood was restored to the earth.

Well, I've gotta go, I hope you all have a good week! Also, the libraries will be closed next Monday, so I won't be emailing until Tuesday next week.

Elder Ruiz 
They call me the trash can DJ...We found a cool record player that was just thrown in the trash!

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Week 17: Michael the Archangel

Bonjour! Welcome to the new month of February! 

This past week was filled with good things, too much to talk about in this one email haha, so I'll have to take out the best parts. 
Our investigator Adrienne is progressing like none other; she accepts all the commitments we give her, and she continues to read the Book of Mormon, it's crazy how fast we've been going through the lessons with her! 

In terms of weather, it got warm REALLY fast as the week went by, until it got cloudy on Saturday, and on Sunday it was like a mini Hurricane Katrina: fierce winds and heavy rain! Thankfully we were in church for most of the storm, so we missed the worst of it.

On Thursday I was on exchanges with my district leader Elder Cannon in my area, and since he's a Spanish-speaking missionary I a few opportunities while we were out on the streets to see him talk to people in Spanish. It was funny to see their reaction to him talking because they probably weren't expecting a white kid from Washington state to speak clear Spanish, so for a moment they almost looked perplexed to see him speaking Spanish haha.

 On Saturday Elder Morton and I talked to Michael the Archangel that we met at the library. Seriously, we really did talk to a man whose name is Michael, and calls himself Saint Michael the Archangel. He kept offering us his "antidote" that, with the power of God,  can heal any ailment, disease, cancer or medical disorder. He also holds a towel on one side of his face because he thinks that there are poisonous gases that come out from the cracks in the sidewalk and damage your skin. He said that ever since he started taking the antidote every day, he hasn't gone to the dentist for 6 years (and believe me when I say that you can tell he hasn't gone to the dentist in a long time!), and because he told us about his antidote there would be assassins that would be sent to take us  At first his proposal seemed too far fetched, and I thought that he was trying to sell us drugs, and I didn't believe him the whole time, especially when he said, "As soon as you stick this stuff on your tongue, you'll feel happy immediately!" But when he actually showed us his "antidote" it was actually just a pouch of natural tea haha. So I accepted his antidote, and once we were out of sight I threw the pouch away. I'm glad we got out of there when we did haha, it was crazy! Nice guy, but I'm not interested.

We contacted a referral named Jose who's obsessed with the Bible. He used to be deep into drugs and alcohol apparently, but now he's over that and he wants to give himself to God. We'll see how the lessons go with him as time goes on...

Well, there's Southern California for you haha, very diverse, and a good learning experience for anyone, I love it here! I love the people in our ward! They are so Christlike; they do everything they can to make sure they are able to attend sacrament meeting every Sunday and renew their covenants by partaking of the sacrament. I hope you value and see the importance of attending church, particularly sacrament meeting. It is there that we can be spiritually refueled. Love everyone, even if you don't know them. I didn't know Michael, but I was friendly to him and had a good conversation with him, it was great!

I love you all, enjoy this new month and make the most of it!

Elder Ruiz

Monday, February 1, 2016

Week 16: I Love Dogs!

Hello again! First off, I just have to say that I Iove dogs, because it gives me a way to talk to people on the street: just talk about their dogs and pet them! It's the best!

Last week was busy, we had a lot of missionary meetings. On Tuesday we had District Meeting, and I was asked to give a training about Samuel the Lamanite, but we ran out of time before it was time for me to present. Tuesday night we started our mission-wide fast in preparation for the Worldwide Mission Broadcast on Wednesday morning. And the Broadcast on Wednesday morning was great! The general authorities who spoke talked about how we as missionaries need to simply focus on our purpose, and on the fundamentals of missionary work. By doing so, those that we teach will progress towards making and keeping sacred covenants. That evening Elder Morton and I closed our fast in prayer, and broke our fast by eating a HUGE pizza! Yum! 

Friday morning we had Zone Conference at the Mission Office, where President and Sister Hobbs each gave a training. It was my first zone conference, and I learned so much from it! Looking back, I see how the Holy Ghost helped me to get the most out of that conference, and also know what to say when I was asked a question or when I asked a question. For lunch we went to a burger restaurant called 50/50, and the burgers there are nuts: tall, greasy artisan burgers! It was funny to observe that everyone else was watching the sports games on the TV's and drinking alcohol, while us four missionaries were content on sipping our glasses of water and talking to each other haha. 

Saturday we taught a lesson our investigator Adrienne. We taught her the Law of Chastity and the Word of Wisdom, and the lesson went well; she's been keeping all her commitments and reading the Book of Mormon. While studying the Word of Wisdom in preparation for the lesson, I came to a realization of the importance of obeying this commandment, and why it was given to us. Of course, growing up in the church I knew the typical answers for why we have this commandment, what it is, and how to keep it, but I never really took it to heart until studying it. I suddenly had a desire to better in obeying this commandment, so Elder Morton and I both set a goal for this transfer of working out every day (except Sunday of course), eating healthier, and staying hydrated. I have already felt a difference in my daily life; overall I just feel so much...better! This morning we pumped some iron, and I feel great today so far! Elder Richard G. Scott promised us that as we maintain our bodies by exercising and living a healthy lifestyle, we will be able to receive more revelation that can help us. The Holy Ghost will also be more strongly with us. I testify of the truthfulness of his words. 

Saturday night I fervently prayed that two of our young investigators and their less-active mother would come to church, and sure enough, they showed up to church and stayed for all three meetings! They all said they had a good time at church!

I have been learning so much while on my mission, and my daily life has been so much better because I have been praying every morning and night on my knees, as well as studying the Book of Mormon. I am able to communicate effectively with those I talk to, I feel a greater abundance of love from our Heavenly Father, and there is practically no contention with anyone I interact with. Amazing! I may not understand everything, but I do know that the Book of Mormon in true, that Jesus is the Christ, and that Joseph Smith was a true prophet chosen by our loving Heavenly Father to restore the fullness of the Gospel to the earth. I challenge you all to study the Book of Mormon, and to pray to know if it is true. Even though you might already be a member of the Church, you are not exempt from reading the Book of Mormon, studying the scriptures, and praying to know if what you read is true. Studying and praying are the basis for one's testimony, and it is essential to continue to build and fortify that testimony. I cannot even describe how much better your life will be, I hope you can experience this joy!

Have a great week, and I'll talk to you next Monday!

Elder Ruiz
Elder Morton and I cruisin the streets with some funny glasses we found!

Strange foggy day a week or two ago!