Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Week 44: I'm "Phelan" good in the Hills of the Oaks

Last week was the last week of the transfer. We had Zone Meeting, and Elder Porrit and I gave a training, and those missionaries who are going home gave their departing testimonies. It was a good zone meeting, I even learned from my own training haha. On Sunday I was so happy to be able to teach our investigator Julie on last time before leaving the ward today. She asked me to baptize her, so I'll have to ask my mission president if I can do that this transfer since I won't be in the Ranchero ward anymore.

Yes sir, that's right! Transfer calls came on Friday, and I was told to pack up and leave the Ranchero Ward in Hesperia, while Elder Porritt will be staying in the Ranchero Ward. On Saturday President Taylor called us and told Elder Porritt that he is going to be training a new missionary fresh out of the MTC! And on Sunday our zone leaders called us and told me that I'm going to be serving in the Phelan/Oak Hills Wards in the Victorville Zone, woohoo! We will be on double duty, serving in two wards at once! And I'll be in the same zone as Elder Hulterstrom, who just entered the mission field 6 weeks ago; we know each other from high school back home! Small world!

So this morning I met my new companion Elder Wedel who is from Dayton Idaho (just outside of Preston Idaho). Seems like a chill missionary. From what I've heard from other missionaries, the Oak Hills ward and Phelan ward are really slow areas, hardly any missionary work goes on at all, mostly because everybody is spread out over a really large area, and most residents have fences/gates around their property, so tracting isn't really an option. But I hope to change that stigma immediately! We are going to get this place BOOMING with missionary work! I know that with the Lord's help we can find lots of people to teach. There are people everywhere who need to here the gospel, or even need to lovingly be reminded about the gospel! We can all be missionaries in one way or another.

I love you all, have a great week!

Elder Ruiz

One last picture with Elder Jessee before he left his ward yesterday. 

​Our investigator Julie! Sorry for the blurry picture haha.

Monday, August 8, 2016

Week 43: "We didn't start the fire..."

Okay, well we experienced a variety of things this week! 

On Tuesday Elder Porritt and I finally were able to see a less-active in the ward, Brother Koloamatangi who is from Tonga. He's a cool guy; him and his wife were married in the temple, and they have a young son. But unfortunately Brother Koloamatangi has struggled for most of his life with being active in the Church, and he has a few problems with the Word of Wisdom. But he has a testimony and he loves the missionaries. We are actually going to have dinner with him and his family tonight and help them have a family home evening!

Wednesday we had exchanges, so Elder Van Engelenhoven and I stayed in the Ranchero ward while Elder Porritt went with our district leader Elder Jessee. Elder Van (for short) and I were blessed with a tender mercy! We were fortunate enough to catch one of our investigators home at the right time. He told us that he hasn't been available because he was in the hospital for two weeks because he got surgery on a growth on his upper thigh and has been trying to recover from the surgery. We have been trying to call him for several weeks now, but when we saw him he told us he got a new phone, so we got his new number from him, and set a return appointment for next Wednesday! He still has not read the Book of Mormon, but he said he was going to read all of Nephi before this Wednesday. Haha now that's what I call a commitment! And a member from the ward brought us some DELICIOUS enchiladas, they were fantastic!

On Thursday we taught a dropped investigator that had been taught by missionaries several months ago. His name is Solomon, and he is basically a self-proclaimed minister. My intention of going there was to just teach him and read with him the Book of Mormon; I didn't even want to Bible-bash. Buuuuuuut not surprisingly of course it turned into a bash. It was hard to feel the Spirit, and Elder Porritt and I weren't even instigation or initiating the argument (okay, maybe I did a little bit haha). We were both fed up and tired of with Solomon (figuratively) throwing Bible scriptures at us to prove the validity of the Trinity and other typical mainstream Christian doctrine, that we just set our scriptures cases aside and just bore our honest testimonies to him. Sadly, it didn't really phase him, he just kept on with the argument. We could tell he didn't care much reading the Book of Mormon and knowing whether or not it is true; he pretty much just wanted to prove us wrong and show us that the Bible is the word of God, and nothing else is. If there's one thing that I've learned from bashing with Christians, it's this: rarely will you feel the Holy Ghost when you bash, because He does not dwell where there is contention. If you have arguments, physical fighting, the Holy Ghost will never be there in those situations. He only brings positive feelings to people, not negative feelings. 

Elder Christofferson's most recent conference talk about fathers just popped into my mind while thinking about arguments and fighting:

Discipline and correction are part of teaching. As Paul said, “For whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth.”14 But in discipline a [person] must exercise particular care, lest there be anything even approaching abuse, which is never justified. When a [someone] provides correction, [their] motivation must be love and [their] guide the Holy Spirit:
“Reproving betimes with sharpness, when moved upon by the Holy Ghost; and then showing forth afterwards an increase of love toward him whom thou hast reproved, lest he esteem thee to be his enemy;
“That he may know that thy faithfulness is stronger than the cords of death.”
Discipline in the divine pattern is not so much about punishing as it is about helping a loved one along the path of self-mastery
So, we are not planning on going back to teach him. Hopefully he will be ready one day to receive the gospel. I am praying for him. 

On Saturday we decided to save miles on our car by biking to everything. So we did, and it was a nice change to our typical day of using our car to get around. 

And on Sunday as we were walking into the chapel for sacrament meeting to start, we turned around and saw a massive smoke cloud out in the distance on the southeast side of Hesperai. It looked like it was a warehouse or a home that was on fire, so we just forgot about it and walked into church.

But when we walked out after the end of church we thought the firemen would have put it out, or at least the fire would be the same size, but NO! IT WAS HUGE! We immediately realized it was a forest fire! The smoke was so massive, it could have been mistaken for a sandstorm, I swear! And as the evening went on it only got worse. By the time we were headed back to the apartment for the night, a very large chunk of the nearby mountainside was in blazes! We live a couple miles away from the mountainside, so to us it just looked like hot smoky lava haha. As of right now the forest fire is still burning, but Elder Porritt and I are safe, it probably won't get anywhere close to the part of Hesperia that we are serving in.
Welcome to Southern California fire season.  😅  
I am loving my mission experience so far. I am so grateful and honored to be able to represent the Savior and serve Him and His church for two years. I am not a perfect servant though. None of Heavenly Father's children are perfect, except for our loving Savior and Redeemer, Jesus Christ, and it is only through Him that we can be healed, made whole, and perfected. I am so thankful for His perfect example and for the love that He has for every single one of us.

I love you all, have a great week!

Elder Ruiz

​This is how big the smoke cloud was after church. 

(in the voice of Smoky the Bear): Only you can prevent forest fires.

Week 42: Out to the Boonies

Well, to be honest, this last week was quite slow. We've been having a hard time finding people to teach, but that's nothing new haha. 

We tried to go street contacting in a neighborhood in the middle of the week, and we met two solid potential investigators, Servando and Scott (we met them on separate occasions). Servando loves motorcycles, and he was working on his bullet bike in his driveway, so him and I struck up a conversation about dirtbikes and motorcycles, and he let Elder Porritt sit on his motorcycle haha. Scott is cool. He is an inspector in the construction industry, and his boss is LDS. He really likes how the Church is very family-oriented, and sustains good moral values. He even said he helped in the construction of the Redlans temple, and he said he loves that temple, that it's absolutely beautiful inside. So we told him about eternal marriage, and how a husband and wife can be sealed for time and all eternity, and be able to be with the children and family forever. He really liked that, it interested him! 

Our investigator Julie came to church yesterday, and she is progressing wonderfully! The ward did a great job of fellow shipping her yesterday. She has not drunk coffee for a week now, which is awesome! She's quite happy about it. 

So our week was really slow, as I said earlier. We tried seeing a less-active elderly couple, but they weren't home. And where they live, it's out in the boonies in Oak Hills, with dirt roads, and where your closest neighbor can sometimes be a few acres away. And since we don't really go to this part of our area very much, we thought we'd go for a little adventure on some of the dirt roads! Along the way we found A LOT of trash out there. I don't understand why people to just choose to dump their trash out here. It destroys the beauty of the land! C'mon people of Hesperia, properly dispose of your trash! Anyways, enough of my time on my soap box haha. We found a big heap of garbage that had old videocassettes random junk, a trashed large flatscreen TV, a sofa or two, and lots of other miscellaneous items haha. So we pulled over and looked through the heap to see if there was anything interesting. Nothing. That's okay though, because I don't really know what we would do with whatever we would have taken. Maybe mounted it on the wall in our apartment? I don't know haha.

We had dinner with a member who gave Elder Porritt and I each a HUGE 1 pound slice of ribeye steak! Holy cow that thing was huge! And I also got to play the drumset at a member's home one evening, which was pretty cool!

Well, I'm short on time again, but I pray for you and hope you are doing well. Love you all.

Elder Ruiz

​A sad sight to see, but it's pretty typical out here.

​I'm vacuuming, so does that count as cleaning up? Haha


Monday, August 1, 2016

Week 41: Back on the saddle again.

Hello hello, we meet again! Last week was great. Elder Porritt and I have been biking around our area now in order to save miles because of mileage cuts. It's been hot here; Saturday had a high of 108 degrees. But the winds help a little bit so it doesn't feel as hot.

We had a tender mercy! We were able to get a new investigator from a returning less-active member! It's her nonmember ex-husband Mark. Even though they are divorced, they are still good friends. He was over at her house talking to her and her husband, and so basically we showed him the Restoration video, taught him part of the Restoration, asked him if he'd would come to church and if he'd like to learn more, and he said yes!
Buuuuut apparently he changed his mind about coming to church, and didn't show up on Sunday. Oh well. It was a tender mercy still, and I'm grateful for that.

On Saturday we were biking around for 3-4 hours in the 108 degree heat in the middle of the day, and we were flat-out exhausted! Heat exhaustion is a real thing, people! We had been trying to contact some potential investigators and see if some DNC members still lived in the area so that we could know if they still live there and whether or not to move their membership records out of the ward (Church members who want nothing to with the Church or don't want to be contacted by church members or missionaries.
It stands for Do Not Contact). But no one answered. So we took a quick break in the shade. Elder Porritt was not enjoying the afternoon, so I told him to we will try one last potential investigator before packing up our bikes for the afternoon. So we biked to this potential's home, knocked on his door, and a Hispanic dude named Solomon answered the door and told us to come on in! We eventually learned from him that he had been meeting with missionaries before, but he lost contact with them because he lost his phone in the Bahamas. He's a Christian minister, and was more than happy to meet with us again! Another tender mercy for us this week!

Our investigator Julie is progressing very well. She's been reading the Book of Mormon slowly but surely, and she's come to church twice now! She is really looking forward to being baptized! Last night we taught her some commandments, including the Word of Wisdom. When we got to telling her that coffee was against the Word of Wisdom, she asked if she had to give up drinking coffee, because she drinks a cup of coffee every morning to get her going because she's really really tired. We promised her that as she ate healthy by eating fruits and vegetables more, and taking care of herself, she would have enough energy for the morning. And once we read Doctrine and Covenants 89 and read to her promise that is given to those that keep the Word of Wisdom, she simply said "Well that's enough to make me want to quit the coffee!" So we committed her to keep the Word of Wisdom and stop drinking coffee! It was a great lesson, I could feel the Spirit helping me.

Well I've got to go, sorry for not attaching pictures. Talk to you next week!

Elder Ruiz