Monday, March 28, 2016

Week 24: Easter Bunny

Last week we had some cool experiences! 

On Wednesday morning Elder Morton and I taught our investigator Jose. Well, we at least had the intention of teaching him, but we ended up just talking to him for a while. He even let us play his new accordion! Here's a picture of us and Jose in front of his house:

On Thursday I went on exchanges with the Spanish Elders in their area. It was cool being able to see, hear, and feel the Gospel of Jesus Christ preached and taught to people in Spanish! A few people we taught complemented me on my Spanish pronunciation as we read El Libro de Mormon with them haha. 

On Friday evening a member took us out to dinner to a local restaurant in Chino called Flo's Cafe. It was cool; it had that truck stop diner kind of feeling. It reminded me of The Hub Cafe back in Heber City where my family and I would go for breakfast sometimes. 

On Saturday we did a lot of service. For two hours in the morning we pulled out weeds (including stinging nettle!) and stacked wood on some property that a ward member, Brother May, lives on. He's a legitimate cowboy! He's from Greybull Wyoming, he's a retired professional bull rider, he lives on some property with his horse and some other animals of his, and his handshake is stronger than steel!  Since he is very weak because of his cancer treatments, he can't take care of the property on his own, so several members of the ward including us came and helped clean up the place. We also helped the Castro family move out of their house and transport their furniture and belongings to a storage facility a couple blocks away (we baptized two of their daughters last weekend). The climax was when we had to move their antique upright piano into the moving van...without a ramp. Our backs, legs and shoulders were sore all throughout yesterday. 

On Sunday we had a great block; all of the lessons and talks focused on Jesus Christ's Atonement and Resurrection. I could really feel the Spirit there during those lessons. Elder Morton and I had been fasting that whole morning and afternoon, because during ward council last week a member of the bishopric told us that the next Sunday was going to be Fast Sunday (because of General Conference, wards will either fast the Sunday before or after General Conference). So we remembered to fast, but when we went to sacrament and read the program, I noticed that their wasn't going to be time for people to bare their testimonies. Instead, it listed people who were going to give talks! So Elder Morton and I were pretty bummed that we were fasting when it wasn't Fast Sunday, but oh well, extra blessings for us I guess, right?

Some ward members that live in our apartment complex invited us to come to their outdoor barbecue for dinner. But when we got there, it was too windy, so we all just went inside and finished cooking the hotdogs and hamburgers on their stove haha. 

As we approach General Conference this weekend, I encourage you all to think about the Atonement, suffering, and Resurrection of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Think about what life would be like without the Atonement: there would be no way for us, our Heavenly Father's children, to return and live with Him and be in His presence, and it would be impossible to be with Him again without forgiveness of sin. We would always have that load of guilt and shame from our sins, weighing us down and keeping us from being able to progress and become like our loving Heavenly Father. But because of Jesus' infinite sacrifice, we have the ability to have that burden lifted off of our shoulders, to receive comfort and spiritual strength when we need it most. You should never feel like you are unworthy to repent, for that is what the Atonement is for: to help the sinner recover and improve. And are we not all sinners? We all need the Atonement. Church leaders have said that the Atonement was the most transcendent event that has ever occured on Earth, with the second being the Restoration of the Gospel through Joseph Smith. I wholeheartedly agree. Our Heavenly Father's entire Plan of Salvation -His Plan of Happiness-  is centered on the Atonement of His Son, Jesus Christ! I believe we will never be able to comprehend the infinite and perfect love that our Heavenly Father has for us. He loves us so much that He sent His Son to die for us. I know these things to be true, and I leave them as my testimony with you.

I love you all and hope you have a great week! Make the most out of General Conference this weekend; I find that taking notes not only keeps you awake, but also helps you get more knowledge, personal revelation, and insight from the leaders of the Church, and can help answer questions or doubts that you may have.  

John 3:16

-Elder Ruiz

Monday, March 21, 2016

Week 23: Kathy and Kimberly baptized

Hello hello! It hasn't been too long since I last sent out an email; only four days ago haha! 

On Thursday evening we had dinner at a member's house, and for St. Patrick's Day they dyed their food green (we had breakfast food: eggs, pancakes, hashbrowns,etc), it was quite a festive dinner! Later that night we went on team-ups with a member named Jerry, who's been a member of the Church for about a year and a half. He had just received his temple recommend on Tuesday, so we are all very excited about that. I literally jumped and shouted for joy when he told us that he passed his final interview with the stake president! Everyone we had scheduled to see that night with Jerry were not home, so Jerry was driving us back to where we locked up our bikes, when I had a quiet thought to go and see Michael and Berna, two former investigators that we had stopped teaching recently. I contemplated whether or not to do it, but I figured since we had noone else to see, we might as well try. So I decided to act on that prompting and told Elder Morton and Jerry that we should go see Michael and Berna, to which they agreed. We drove to their house, and we ended up talking to Michael out on their front doorstep. He didn't seem to excited to see us, probably because he was sick the past few days. But when we told Jerry that Michael works with sheet metal, Michael's demeanor changed a little bit, and BOOM, there was a connection! Him and Jerry started talking about construction stuff since they both work in that field, and Michael softened up a little bit. We were even able schedule a visit with them for tonight! Woohoo! 

Saturday was the baptism for Kimberly and Kathy, two girls we've been teaching. They were 30 minutes late to the baptism because their mother had to get them clothes for the baptism, but in the end they arrived. As soon as the two girls came out of the changing room with their white jumpsuits on, we could see a change in their demeanor, like they were ready to step into the font. The talks that were given were great. I had the opportunity to baptize the younger of the two, Kathy, and Elder Morton baptized the older sister, Kimberly. When I was in that font with Kathy and I raised my arm to the square, I had so much love for the two girls! I am so proud of them and their progress they have made. Yesterday on Sunday we confirmed them members of the Church and they received the Holy Ghost. I confirmed Kathy, and Elder Morton confirmed Kimberly. It was an honor to be able to exercise priesthood power to bless another person one of our Heavenly Father's most precious gifts, the gift of the Holy Ghost!

Well, I hope and pray that you will try to have the constant companionship of the Holy Ghost. It truly is a still, small voice, that is why it's more difficult to feel the Spirit when listening to loud music, or when you are yelling at someone in anger or when someone is doing the same to you. Sometimes it speaks to us more quietly than we want it to sometimes haha, but that's how it's supposed to be. Otherwise life would much easier, which would mean that we truly wouldn't be tested in this life. Listen intently to promptings that you may receive, and pray for the guidance of the Holy Ghost. He is there to help you, so don't be afraid to act on how you feel from the Holy Ghost. I can promise you that as you do so, you will be able to feel peace much more often in your life, you will be more happy and content, and you will be able to feel your Heavenly Father's love for you much stronger. 

Well, that's all folks, study the scriptures and pray always! They do nothing but bless you and make your life better!
-Elder Ruiz

Also, check out this awesome arrangement that the Mormon Tabernacle Choir put on!  

From left to right:  Me, Kathy, Kimberly, and Elder Morton!
St. Patrick's Day - green dinner!

Week 22: Lucky Charms!

Hi everyone, happy St. Patrick's Day, hope you're wearing green so you don't get pinched. 

Last week was spectacular! We had a few lessons with our investigators and some less-actives. But Saturday...Saturday was the highlight of the week! We had Mission Conference, and Elder Bednar and his wife came and spoke to us, it was awesome (he's good friends with our mission president and his wife, so that's probably why we got so lucky haha)! I learned so much from the counsel they gave us. And by applying what we learned from them, Elder Morton and I have already improved our teaching abilities, and I am able to feel the presence of the Holy Ghost in our lessons more strongly when we teach people. In fact, by applying what we learned from the conference, when we taught a less-active kid he actually took interest in what we were teaching him and asking him. I could feel the Holy Ghost working on him. It was probably one of the most spiritually powerful moments on my mission so far. 

Monday and Tuesday Elder Morton and I went tracting in Montclair, and we got maybe two potential investigators, but everybody we tracted into we had a great conversation with. We came across a lot of Chinese potential investigators, so we wrote down the addresses and sent them to the Mandarin-speaking elders in Diamond Bar. 
It's been real warm here in Chino. The funny thing is that it was POURING and cold on Friday, but yesterday it was 86 degrees apparently haha! This El Nino better come here soon...

This morning we went to the Redlands California temple and did an endowment session, it was great! This temple is much smaller compared to even the Provo Temple (the old one, not the new one), but it is VERY beautiful inside and out! It was nice to forget about the outside world for a little bit and find peace in the house of the Lord and be reminded of our eternal purpose. 
This Saturday Elder Morton and I will be baptizing to young girls we are teaching; we are all really looking forward to it!
Thanks for all the love and support; talk to you next week!

-Elder Ruiz
Redlands temple.  The water fountain in front was turned off haha.

Elder Morton and I in front of the temple entrance.

Thursday, March 10, 2016

Week 22: King Cobra

Hi everyone, hope you all are doing great! Last week we were able to visit a less-active who is agnostic, and we invited him to a YSA broadcast, and he said he would come! I'm super pumped for him to got there!

 We also handed off a former investigator named Nelson to the Spanish Sisters, since he is from Nicaragua and  his wife is from Mexico,  we thought they would be more comfortable talking in Spanish than in English, although their English is terrific. On Friday the Spanish Sisters called us and said that they were able to meet the family, and they invited them to a meeting on Saturday that Elder David A. Bednar will be presiding at, and the said that they want to go! The miracle of it all is that the wife is a die-hard Catholic, and she's pretty firm in her beliefs, but she's the one who told the sisters that she wants to go, and she'll take her husband!. But wow, I am just so amazed and happy that Nelson and Veronica (his wife) want to go!

I also was able to make some biscuits and gravy for breakfast as well last week, which is one of my favorite breakfast foods from back home. Unfortunately we don't have all the same cooking items that's back home in Utah, so we had to improvise a little bit. Fortunately it all worked out, and the other elders in our apartment thought it was delicious, so that's good to know haha. 

On Friday night after dinner we were biking home, when a drunk man named Jacob yelled at us to stop, so we stopped and talked to him. He said "What do you know about the tree?" At first I thought he was talking about the tree that was on the other side of the street, or about the tree of good and evil in th Garden of Eden, but we just started teaching him about the tree in Lehi's dream. He thought that what we were telling him was the coolest thing haha! And then he asked "Well, what does the water mean?", so we went with it and taught him about the water of filth that separates the tree from the great and spacious building. "Ok" he said, "so if the water is filthy, then how is the tree good?", thinking that the water feeds the tree (if you read in the Book of Mormon, the filthy water doesn't actually feed the tree, it's actually the fountain of righteousness...I think...yeah I'm pretty sure, I'm just too lazy to pull out my scriptures at the moment haha). Elder Morton and I both didn't know what to say because we were stumped haha, but then I realized that this whole time Jacob was talking about the tree of good and evil in the Garden of Eden. Anyways, we told him that we had to get going because we running late, but he kept on telling us to stay with him, and he even said he would walk with us to our apartment! So we slowly made our way up north to the apartment. He pulled out a cigarette and lit it, and he had a liqour bottle of King Cobra that he seemingly pulled out of nowhere haha. He kept asking good questions, and we would answer his questions and tell him what we believe. The best though was when he asked us who created the world, and we told him that Jesus Christ, under the direction of Heavenly Father, created the universe. And Jacob's eyes got all big and he got excited and swore a couple times and said that what we told him was super cool, and he was mesmerized by what we were telling him haha! We told him that we could teach him more if he was interested, and we gave him a pass-along card with our number on it. This is an experience that I will never forget from my mission haha! 

Fast Sunday was really cool, our investigator Jose went up to the stand and bore his testimony! That's almost unheard of! Everybody in the ward was telling him he has a great testimony, and he indeed does! His testimony that he bore was simple, yet wonderful at the same time!

We've been getting rain here in Chino since yesterday, and it rained this morning as well but now it's sunny and windy outside, but I'm glad for the change in weather haha. 

I love you all, thanks for your love and support, and I'll talk to you next week! Oh yes, and also I will be emailing on Thursday next week since our P-Day is going to be on Thursday.

Elder Ruiz

Enjoying some hearty biscuits and gravy for breakfast!