Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Week 36

This past week we played broom hockey for zone activity on Monday. It's hockey...except you use broomsticks, and instead of a puck we used a little plastic ball. And the "goals" were tables turned onto their sides. To try and save a few bucks Elder Hulet and I bought our brooms at a 99 cent store. We wrapped our brooms in duct tape to strengthen them, but before the game had even started I had already broken my flimsy aluminum broomstick haha. The same happened to pretty much everyone that played haha. So, the lesson learned here is that you don't buy brooms from the 99 cent store if you want to play broom hockey. 

Tuesday we had zone conference with our mission president and his wife. They'll b going home next Monday, so this was the last time we we would see them in person. I'm really going to miss them. We are all going to miss them. Our new mission president and his wife are President and Sister Taylor. 

I had that wonderful opportunity on Wednesday to go on exchanges with one of our zone leaders, Elder Cannon, who is serving in the Spanish ward. He taught me how to pray in Spanish, which is awesome! It was REALLY windy that day, I probably could have leaned into the wind and it would have kept me up haha. 

It warmed up a lot last week. On Sunday it was 104 degrees at 5:00! Wow! And it's going to be even hotter this week. Bring out the sunscreen and water bottle!

Saturday I went on exchanges with Elder Jessee, one of my old companions from when I served in Chino. We had a great time; while trying to contact a potential investigator, we talked to a family who were sitting out on their porch. Turns out they are members!...but completely inactive. Haven't gone to church in years since they moved here from Washington state. Basically the wife joined the Church to try ease tension in their home, but now she 's getting divorced from her military husband who was already a member. They even got sealed in the temple and her son got baptized when he was twelve! But the husband is atheist now because he came across some anti-Mormon stuff and now doesn't believe in Joseph Smith anymore, so he expects his family to stop going to church. It pains me to have to see situations like this, where people aren't truly converted. An article written by Elder Holland in the January Ensign describes how I feel:

When we bring people into the Church, we are not baptizing them into the Church of a man, whether that man be Joseph Smith or Brigham Young or Thomas S. Monson—revere those prophets as we do. And we are not baptizing them into the Church of happy families or of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir.

When we bring people into the Church, we baptize them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. In doing so, we are leading them back to the presence of the Father through the ministry, Atonement, and grace of His Son, with the influence of the Holy Ghost guiding them to this goal. We must always keep uppermost in our minds this preeminence of the Godhead as both means and end as we undertake the work of salvation.
If, as King Benjamin counseled, we truly know these Divine Beings whom we serve and make certain They are not strangers to us and are never far from the thoughts and intents of our heart (see Mosiah 5:13), then we might have the results King Benjamin had. And what were those? His people experienced “a mighty change,” had “no more disposition to do evil, but to do good continually,” and were “willing to enter into a covenant … to do [God’s] will, and to be obedient to his commandments in all things that he [should] command [them], all the remainder of [their] days” (Mosiah 5:2, 5).
It is SO VERY IMPORTANT to know that we know of God our Heavenly Father, His Son Jesus Christ, and the Holy Ghost, and that they know you and love you. Elder Holland said during General conference in April:
"...the first great commandment of all eternity is to love God with all of our heart, might, mind, and strength—that’s the first great commandment. But the first great truth of all eternity is that God loves us with all of His heart, might, mind, and strength. That love is the foundation stone of eternity, and it should be the foundation stone of our daily life. Indeed it is only with that reassurance burning in our soul that we can have the confidence to keep trying to improve, keep seeking forgiveness for our sins, and keep extending that grace to our neighbor."
It is essential to know whether or not the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints really is the only true church upon the earth with the fullness of the gospel of Jesus Christ and and the true and proper authority to act in God's name for the salvation of His children (otherwise know as the priesthood). If someone came to you and told you that if you joined their club that you would receive lots of benefits, wouldn't you want to find out for yourself if their club is legitimate, that they are not deceiving you with false promises and false claims? The same goes for us and the LDS Church. Don't you want to know if  this is the only true Church on the face of the earth today? Well guess what? You can know for yourself! And how can you know for yourself? By reading the Book of Mormon with real intent and faith in Christ! And as you pray to God about what you study and ponder from the Book of Mormon, He will answer your prayer by the power of the Holy Ghost. How incredible is that?! God, the most powerful being in the universe, will hear your prayers about the Book of Mormon, and he will answer you, individually, whether or not it is true and if it is the word of God. That's awesome right?! And He does it, He does all of this, because He loves you and wants to hear from you and answer your prayers. He speaks to us through the Holy Ghost by feelings and thoughts, our conscience, and even as a still small voice. 
Please don't take the Book of Mormon for granted. It is the keystone of this religion, I can testify of that fact. I know that it is true. I can tell you that my life has changed for the better because I read and study the Book of Mormon every day as a missionary, and I plan on retaining this study habit even after my mission. I can promise you that your testimony of this Church will increase tenfold, and that you fill feel the love of God more in your life and feel the presence of the Holy Ghost more strongly as well. It is never too late to gain a testimony of the truthfulness of this book. It is never too late to be the person you've wanted to be. With God all things are possible. 
I love you all and I am so grateful that I can call you my family and friends. I thank our Heavenly Father that he has placed me here on this world to be a family member and a friend with you. And I thank all those men who have been, and are still, father figures to me, whether they are my father, stepfather, grandfathers, uncles, neighbors, school teachers, ward members, coaches, or friends. Thank you. Have a great week!

-Elder Ruiz
Here's a picture of our zone with President and Sister Hobbs after zone conference on Tuesday! Sorry for the blurry picture, it wasn't my camera it was taken with an iPad.

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Week 35

This past week was good, many small miracles and tender mercies from the Lord, and several great spiritual experiences!

Elder Hulet and I were able to get in to a family's home that missionaries have tried to get in and talk to for a while now; we happened to be there at the right place at the right time! The mother came across some anti-Mormon stuff a while ago and so ever since then she no longer comes to church or affiliates with the LDS Church. She was even the Reliet Society President at one point! Her husband was Elders Quorum President at one time too, and him and his sons would be active, but they stay home because of her. She happened to be in a good mood probably because it was her son's 16th birthdayand was willing to talk to us. She's very nice and hospitable. We all had a good time together eating ice cream and brownies. I am VERY grateful that we were able to come into their home and interect with them! 

We also had an awesome lesson with a less-active lady. She feels depressed and struggles to feel that God loves her but instead doesn't lover her as much as other people. Elder Hulet and I both testified to her that Heavenly Father does love her and will always love her, even if she makes mistakes. The Holy Ghost's presence was felt very strongly in that moment and we all got a little misty-eyed. The crazy part though was when Elder Hulet had the thought of showing her the video of Elder Holland giving his talk this last conference. And it was so fitting, it was just what she needed! She said she felt a lot better after watching it. I know without a doubt that Elder Hulet was divinely inspired to share that video with her!

We had the baptismal service for Jennifer on Saturday! Another elder who served here a transfer before I came here, Elder Solomon, came out with his companion Elder Anderson all the way from Lucerne Valley to baptize Jennifer. It all went well; I know the Holy Ghost was there at her baptism because I could feel peace and love during the service. That evening the wind really picked up and it was nice and cool. We had dinner at the home of our new bishop, and let me tell ya, he knows how to smoke some meat real good! At church on Sunday we participated in the confirmation of Jennifer receiving the gift of the Holy Ghost. Her and her husband have frequent migraines that are painful, and he doesn't do well outside if it's hotter than 75 degrees. But ever since the baptism the day before they had both been feeling great, so great in fact that they both came to the second hour of church (Sunday School) (they usually only stay for sacrament meeting). Elder Hulet and I were assigned to teach the lesson in Gospel Principles, which just happened to be...BAPTISM!!!! It all fell perfectly into place! 

After church we stopped by a potential investigator's home to see if we could teach her, and she opened the door and let come right on in! She (Latina)  has read part of the Book of Mormon before, and I felt she was quite receptive and open to what we taught her. We comitted her to read the Book of Mormon and pray about it, and she said she would! So now she's our new investigator! We were truly blessed throughout the week! Not to say that our week was all happy and joyful the whole time; we still are finding people to teach, still tracting and finding through ward members. But we are starting to see the blessings from our efforts to be exactly obedient, and also trying our best to find more people to teach. I love this mission! And I love you all! I invite you, like Latina, to, in the words of Elder Garrett W. Gong of the Seventy said this past conference: " your heart to the Book of Mormon, again, for the first time. Please pray with real intent , again, for the first time."

The Book of Mormon really is the word of God, and does testify of Jesus Christ as our Savior and Redeemer. I love you all and hope you have a great week!

-Elder Ruiz

Another Great sunset in the high desert.

Cruising with Elder Hulet!

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Week 34: "I've been through the desert on a horse with no name..."

Well, last week was a BLESSING! We have a small/weak teaching pool, but after praying earnestly throughout the week we got 2 new investigators; a couple named Mayra and William! Elder Hulet and I both feel so blessed. And we also were finally able to meet an inactive member that missionaries have tried to see for the longest time, but with no success...until now! Ha, we come out victorious! And we had an awesome time with the Cogswell family for dinner last night! Sister Cogswell is a convert of about 2 years, and she's already in the Relief Society Presidency! She is so cool. And their whole family is into dirt bikes and motocross, so the breaking of the ice was easy haha. And after dinner another blessing: we had a member present with another investigator Julie! We haven't been able to teach her for a while now because she's got health issues, but she loves the Church and she avidly reads the Book of Mormon. She is a solid investigator!

Anyways, I'm loving Hesperia the more I am here! We have a baptism for our investigator Jennifer this Saturday, so we're pretty excited about that! The longer I'm out serving a mission, the more my testimony has been strengthened. The Gospel of Jesus Christ is true. This church is Jesus Christ's church, and I have come to know for myself that it was restored through the prophet Joseph Smith. The Church is true, ladies and gentlemen.

Well, I would attach some pictures but I've got to leave ASAP, but I'll talk to you all next week!

Elder Ruiz

Monday, June 6, 2016

Week 33: Hesperia="Despair"ia (just kidding I LOVE it here)

Hi again from the high desert! Last week was pretty slow because we only have one solid investigator that we were able to meet with, but we are still trying to work hard to find new investigators! The members in the Ranchero ward are really cool! Our dinner appointments with them went great. Still trying to get familiar with the area fast, because the area we cover is certainly much bigger than the Walnut Park ward back in Chino haha. Because Elder Hulet had to drive all the way down to the Mission Office in Rancho, he used up a noticeable amount of miles that we are allotted each month, so until today we have been trying to be careful to drive less than 20 miles a day. I jokingly told Elder Hulet I'm surprised I haven't gone into a "withdrawal" from not riding a bike for more than a week haha. 

The weather last week was perfect, it was chilly in the mornings and then by the afternoon it never got higher than 85 degrees or so, so I was loving every moment of it! But this week we were told it will get to 100 degrees by Friday! And today after district meeting it was 95 outside, so maybe this transfer in the desert will test whether or not I have actually acclimated to southern California haha. The desert is know for it's strong and sporadic winds, and we've certainly been experiencing that so far this transfer. It was a little eerie yesterday to walk out of the stake center after zone activity and have no wind, and then a few seconds later a big gust of wind comes through and a huge dust devil forms in the parking lot haha. 

Last week we were able to teach a recent convert named Barbara. She was baptized back in February I think. She knows that the gospel is true, and she loves the church...but we think she's been reading anti-Mormon stuff, so we we will have to address that next time we meet with her haha. On Friday we got lost trying to find our dinner appointment. They live in Oak Hills (it's practically the boonies), and almost all the roads are dirt roads, unpaved and not maintained by the county. So while trying to use a map to find our dinner appointment we found a road on the map that we thought would take us to them, buuuuut it didn't. Instead we later realized we were on an ATV trail that didn't even exist on the map haha! So we turned around, and with some help from the members we eventually found where they lived!

Church was really cool, we had a change in the bishopric but we have the same counselors. Interesting story: before sacrament meeting started I was talking to an older gentleman. He asked me where I'm from and I said Provo. He paused, looked at me and said "You wouldn't happen to know anyone with the last name of Matu, do you?" I thought for a second, and then said "No, but I do know a Matsu, I went to high school with her. Is she McKenna Matsu?" He said yes she's the one! Long story short, he's her grandfather, and he told me she got her mission call to Spain! So once again, the world is small when you are LDS haha. 

I'm loving every minute here in Hesperia. I look forward to the rest of this transfer. I know that there are people out here who are prepared or are being prepared by Heavenly Father to receive the restored gospel. We all can touch each other's lives in one way or another. I know that we are all His children and that he loves us. 

Love you all, and talk to you next week!

Elder Ruiz
​Elder Hulet and I standing in front of a Joshua tree, very iconic out here in the high desert. Apologies for the crooked angle of the picture, we had nothing but the hood of the car to place our cameras on haha.
Ahhhhh, sparse green desolation, groundquirrels, rattlesnakes, and Mojave greens (which supposedly are more venomous and aggressive thatn rattlesnakes, yikes). Welcome to Hesperia, enjoy your stay, and good luck trying to find water!
 Cool shots of a beautiful sunset in the desert!