Monday, July 18, 2016

Week 40: (Dusty) Road, Take Me Home

Last week was more windy than usual, and it's been getting warmer. I'm just glad that I'm not having to tract at the top of our mission in Baker haha. 

Elder Porritt and I are still looking for more people to teach. Our investigator James called us and told us that he was in the middle of a "domestic dispute" and cancelled an appointment we had with him. We are still going to try and teach him, but we have dropped his baptismal date for August 27th. On the other hand, we had a great lesson last night with our other investigator Julie. She came to sacrament meeting and Sunday School, and she asked good questions about fasting (that's what the lesson was on for Gospel Principles yesterday). We went with our ward mission leader to her home yesterday evening and taught her some commandments (obedience, prayer, studying the scriptures, and keeping the Sabbath Day holy). She readily and happily accepted all the commitments we extended to her. She is progressing very well and is absorbing everything that we teach her. I am very happy for her. I am still amazed at how the Holy Ghost helped me in that lesson. There were a few times when Julie had a question about something, and almost immediately I would think of a quote by someone or a scripture that answered her question. It was awesome! It's incredible to see how the Holy Ghost guides us through gospel knowledge. I know it's moments like that that help me understand why we are commanded to study the scriptures, not just as missionaries, but as members of the Christ's church. Because, like it says in 2 Nephi 32:3-5 :

 3 Angels speak by the power of the Holy Ghost;wherefore, they speak the words of Christ. Wherefore, I said unto you, feast upon the words of Christ; for behold,the words of Christ will tell you all things what ye should do.
 4 Wherefore, now after I have spoken these words, if ye cannot understand them it will be because ye ask not,neither do ye knock; wherefore, ye are not brought into the light, but must perish in the dark.
 5 For behold, again I say unto you that if ye will enter in by the way, and receive the Holy Ghost, it will show unto you all things what ye should do.
So, it is by feasting in the words of Christ that we are directed as to what we should do in certain situations. Wow, what an awesome opportunity to be able to experience that!!

On Wednesday we performed some service at an elderly member's home with our ward mission leader. We were tasked with removing a mound of cut pine tree branches and twigs, and also disposing of junk that was underneath the brush pile. The pile was maybe 10 x 35 feet around, and about 5 feet tall. We broke branches into twigs so we could put them in  contractor garbage bags. And our ward mission leader brought a chain saw and we cut the larger branches into logs small enough for the member's fireplace for the winter, and we made a log pile out of them. I'm guessing the three of us felt masculine at some point during that afternoon haha. 

On Saturday our district leader Elder Jessee (one of my companions from Chino) came to our area for exchanges, and my companion Elder Porritt went to Elder Jessee's area for the exchange. Man, it was like Elder Jessee and I had a family reunion or something haha! He is such a goof! But so am I haha, so we had a great time together that day; lots of laughs and several neat experiences we had that day. I'm going to miss serving with him and around him once he goes home and finishes his mission, this is his last transfer.

I had a few personal experiences with the Holy Ghost during these past two weeks. Those experiences have strengthened my testimony of the reality of the Holy Ghost. It has certainly increased my belief and faith in the Holy Ghost. As you carry out Heavenly Father's will for you and keep his commandments, you will be able to feel the Holy Ghost more strongly in your everyday life. These things all tie back to the principle of obedience, and it is obedience that made the Savior who he was.

I would type some more words or experiences from this past week, but I have to go now and get a lot of things done today. Have a good week!

Elder Ruiz

No, we are not men in black. We are white...with black name tags. We thought it would be interesting to trade glasses for the day haha.

Saturday, July 16, 2016

Week 39: Beef Stroganoff

Last week was wonderful. We talked to a potential investigator, Rosa, on her doorstep and she sat down and we taught the message of the Restoration to her! It was cool; we gave her a Book of Mormon and committed her to read and pray about the Book of Mormon, and she said she would! And she said she would love for us to come back and teach her more. We are hoping to invite her to be baptized if we can meet with her this week. 

We went to the baptism of one of our investigators, Jake, who I talked about last week in my email. There was a really good turnout at the baptism and we all were quite happy afterwards. 

On Sunday evening our ward mission leader came with us for a lesson with an investigator named Julie. We taught her the Gospel of Jesus Christ. When we started teaching about baptism, she told us that her mother (who is not a member of the Church) wanted her to be baptized when she was little, but she never was. What a perfect opportunity that was to then invite her to be baptized! I told her that she can have the opportunity to be baptized, and invited her to be baptized on August 27th. She almost immediately said yes! I am so excited for her. Looking back, I can tell the Holy Ghost guided Elder Porritt, myself, and our ward mission leader Brother Knox as we taught Julie, so that we could say the words that she needed to hear.

Over the course of my mission experience, I have gained a testimony of families; how they are central to our Heavenly Father's plan for us, so that we may be able to learn and progress and forge relationships with others that can last for eternity. My testimony of temples has grown as well. Through making, honoring, and keeping sacred covenants (or promises) that are made in these holy places, we can be together and united with our spouses and our children forever. It is by the holy priesthood of God, which was restored by our Savior Jesus Christ through the prophet Joseph Smith, that makes all this possible. Uniting families through the gospel is such an amazing experience to have as a missionary, and one that I will always treasure. I look forward to the day when I can make those sacred and holy covenants with a worthy and loyal companion within the house of the Lord, to be be together forever. 
Families indeed can be together forever. I know it to be true.

Well, that puts last week in a nutshell. I have a good feeling about how this transfer will go. I love you all,  talk to  you next week.

Elder Ruiz

We found a tree trunk while going on a walk. He's doing a rain dance...

Oh look, a mattress that seems to be quite content next to a young Joshua tree. They must be having a nice conversation with each other.

 It's sad to see people trash the desert like this. Don't litter!

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Week 38: 'MERICA!!!

Happy America Day (yesterday that is; I'm emailing today since the library was closed for the holiday) !

Well, last week was the final week of the transfer. I enjoyed serving with Elder Hulet from Paragonah, Utah. I learned much from him. He finished his mission strong.

We picked up a former investigator that week. Well, actually he's not a former, his dad just wouldn't let him be baptized...UNTIL HE FELT THE SPIRIT, WOOHOO! So we've just been going through the lessons with him again and reviewing the doctrine to make sure he understands it. His baptism is this Saturday morning, so we are excited about that. And we had an AWESOME lesson with a less-active lady who has a hard time with being motivated to come to church. AND SHE CAME TO CHURCH THE NEXT DAY!!! And she was all emotional when people were sharing their testimonies during sacrament meeting! AND WE FINALLY had an investigator come to church! Here name is Julie, and she enjoyed her experience at church! And I attribute everything that happened on Sunday to fasting. I fasted that the less-active lady would come to church, and SHE DID! Praise the Lord, the power of fasting is very real!

I had the opportunity to go on exchanges with Elder Van Engelenhoven in the Maple Ward. He is from Fulton, Missouri. Good man, good testimony, he loves the gospel and loves our Savior. We were blessed with a solid potential investigator that we found while tracting! 

I'm staying here in Hesperia, and my companion is Elder Porritt from Layton, Utah! He's hilarious, him and I are cracking jokes and dying of laughter all the time haha. Yesterday was a fun 4th; for zone activity we played games at a park outside. Buuuuuuut we had to be in our apartments by 6, but that's okay, because if I would have stayed out any longer I probably would have died from too many hamburgers and hotdogs that some members were feeding us haha. 

Well, not too much else to report on. It's been getting hotter, but not unbearably hot. But just wait til August Elder Ruiz, just you wait...

Enjoy the rest of the week! I testify of the power that can come from fasting! Check out "Fasting With Power" by Elder Shayne M. Bowen. It changed my whole perspective on just how incredible fasting is! Miracles are real, they do exist! But remember, they only occur if they are preceded by faith. Love America, this is God's country. Love you all!

-Elder Ruiz

 Our district (minus one zone leader who was out of the picture)!

 On exchanges with Elder Van Engelenhoven!

Farewell Elder Hulet!

 My new companion, Elder Porritt on the far right.

Zone activity yesterday!! Much fun.

Awesome sunset yet again!

Friday, July 1, 2016

Week 37: Desert Rat

Well, this is it folks, the last week of this transfer. Elder Hulet goes home to St. George next Monday. Our new mission president and his wife are flying in today and President and Sister Hobbs fly home to Idaho tomorrow. Thankfully Elder Hulet has not been trunky very much this transfer; it's awesome to see him focused on working to the end of his mission. 

Monday marked the first day of summer! But summer seemed to have started a few week ago here in Hesperia already. It's was over 104 degrees for practically the whole week, but it's actually not as bad as I thought it would be. Yeah it's hot, but for me this heat is like the same heat back in Utah in the middle of the summer. But when I told that to a family we had dinner with, they just laughed and said "You think this ain't bad? Just wait til August." Challenge accepted. 

Elder Hulet and I picked up a new investigator by the name of James. He had a problem with pain pills and alcohol and while back, but now he says he's been sober for 3 years and has opened his heart to God. He even says he reads out of the Bible every day! Impressive! We've taught the Restoration and the Plan of Salvation to him, and we committed him to be baptized on August 27th. And he's really looking forward to it. 

On Friday Elder Hulet went to the mission office with the other elders he's going home with, and they went to the Redlands temple with President and sister Hobbs for a departing temple trip. So while they were in the valley, my companion for the day was Elder Ogbonna (oh-bone-ah, the g is silent) from Lagos, Nigeria! His companion Elder Smith was also in the valley for the day for the temple trip. Elder Ogbonna is tall and quiet at times, has a thick African accent and talks really fast. But he is a great teacher; he's got a great understanding of the Gospel you can tell he truly loves it! Him and I were able to teach the Restoration to James our new investigator. Sorry I didn't get a picture though haha. 

We've been going through the lessons again with two recent converts, they are progressing well. One of the recent converts, Jennifer, rehabilitates wild animals that are injured or that people find abandoned. So when we were over there, she had two newborn rabbits wrapped in a mink-skin blanket (to imitate the feeling of their mother) to keep them warm, and when I saw them MY HEART JUST MELTED AHHHHHH!!!! They are just the cutest things! Their eyes and ears are still sealed shut from being born, so they have no idea where they are. Jennifer told us that a little while before we came over someone had contacted her and told her they had come across the two newborns that seemed to have been abandoned or left by their mother (so sad). And they are SO TINY! Both of them put together were not even bigger then the palm of one of my hands haha! Now to some they might seem ugly, but hey I think they are adorable haha.

Well, that's all for this week. We are still trying to talk to people and trying to find people to teach. Have a good week!

-Elder Ruiz

The Newborns!

 Elder Jessee and I on exchanges two weeks ago!

One of my zone leaders Elder Cannon and I on exchanges two weeks ago!

Our zone playing broom hockey two weeks ago.

Got a quick picture with President and Sister Hobbs after zone conference two weeks ago.

Fortunate enough to catch this gem of a photo while on exchanges with Elder Jesse two weeks ago! You can even see the rays of the sun!