Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Week 62: A Good Week

Elder Hulterstrom and I had a good week! I thought district meeting was incredible. Throughout the meeting I felt the Spirit guiding me as to what I should ask and say. Everyone commented afterwards and expressed how much they enjoyed it. That made me really happy to know that enjoyed it and they were able to learn at least something from our meeting.

We were busy with service this past week. Just in this past week my love for the people has grown so much. Serving others and having the the spirit of Christmas in our hearts can be a double whammy so to speak; it just makes life so much better! On Sunday the father and son of the family we baptized two weekends ago received the Aaronic priesthood, I am glad Elder Hulterstrom and I had the opportunity to participate in that exercise of priesthood power and authority.

Also, it snowed on Friday! WOOHOO! I literally jumped and shouted for joy when I saw a thin layer of white on the ground! But it wasn't like snow back home; by the next morning most of it had melted where we live. I made sure to take a picture of the snow while we were getting gas for our truck before it melted!

Christmas is just so awesome! I'm so sad that in 1 week it will be over. But that doesn't mean we should stop thinking about the Savior every day! He is always here for us, whenever we need him, no matter what. It is just a matter of whether or not we humbly turn ourselves over to Him and ask for His divine assistance. Whether it be problems at work or school, experiencing the peace and happiness from learning about the restored gospel, repenting of sins, experiencing the loss of a loved one, feeling the Holy Ghost, having financial struggles, experiencing the joy of feeling forgiveness of your sins, serving someone, feeling alone, lost, depressed, sad or resentful, attending the temple;  He is always by your side! Never forget that! He will always love you no matter what. He is our greatest source of comfort from the trials and tribulations we will face during our life here on earth. I love the Savior so much. I love you all so much, I think of you frequently during this Christmas season. Enjoy your Christmas this Sunday.


Elder Ruiz

Week 61: Ho Ho Ho, Ho Ho Ho!

Happy Holidays everyone!

This past week was busy busy busy! As district leader I went on exchanges with Elder Rogers in the Mesa Linda Ward in Victorville. We had a great exchange; they have some rock solid recent converts in that ward. There is a lady in their ward who was texting us about how she was struggling to get through her day because she was feeling depressed and lost, feeling  by evil spirits, and she kept on texting us and expressing to us how she is feeling. She was on my mind throughout the day because I was concerned for her, and in the evening she texted us and asked us if we could give her a blessing. The problem though was that we had a teaching appointment with some  progressing investigators set for the same time she was wanting a blessing. Elder Rogers and I both weren't sure how we could work it all out, so we stopped biking and pulled over to the side of the road, took off our helmets and prayed about whether or not we should cancel our appointment so we could give her a blessing. And once we finished our prayer, I was contemplating what we should do when the words of President Monson came to my mind: "Never let a problem to be solved become more important than a person to be loved." After thinking about those words I had a strong feeling that we should give this lady a blessing, so we contacted the investigators we were going to see that night and rescheduled for the following day, and they were totally cool with it. See, it all works out! So we met up with a male member in the ward and we gave her a blessing; she specifically asked Elder Rogers to anoint her with consecrated oil, and me to seal the anointing and give her a blessing. I cannot completely put into words the feelings that were felt during that blessing, but we could all feel the power of the priesthood as we were gathered together in that blessing. It was a faith-building experience for me. I said specific things that I felt needed to be said in the blessing, and afterwards she thanked me very much for the blessing. She told me that her patriarchal blessing says that priesthood blessing will be a big part of her life, and also that in the blessing we had given her I said things that are in her patriarchal blessing. I was touched, and I was humbled to have had such an influence on her through the things I said in that priesthood blessing. It was in that moment that I truly felt like I was fulfilling my purpose as a missionary and was an instrument in the Lord's hands by helping others.  After the blessing we talked for a bit, and she discussed the trial and problems that she has in her life right now. That is an experience I will never forget. I am so grateful for the restoration of the priesthood and that through the priesthood we have access to the powers of heaven to bless our lives and the lives of everyone around us.

On Saturday we held the baptism of the Varieur family that we have been teaching. There was a good turnout from members of the ward. It was a beautiful baptism, the Spirit was strong there. We confirmed them on Monday and they are all happy. I am so happy for them and I am grateful and honored to have participated in teaching, baptizing, and confirming them. Elder Wedel and I are already planning on coming back here in a year to see them go through the temple as a family! How amazing it is to me to know that Elder Wedel and I helped them make their first few steps to eventually uniting their family for eternity!

Well, transfer calls came on Friday and Elder Wedel was told to pack up his things, then last night we were notified that he will be whitewashing into the Redhill ward in Rancho Cucamonga. I'm gonna miss this hooligan. I am very grateful for the opportunity to have served with Elder Wedel, he is a great guy.

On Sunday we were also told who are new companions will be; I look forward to serving with my new companion Elder Hulterstrom here! But we are no longer in the Victorville Zone, we are now in the Hesperia B zone, the last zone that I served in before I came to Phelan/Oak Hills.
 Now for those of you who don't know, Elder Hulterstrom and I went to the same high school back home and we were in the same stake. He also did a little percussion while I was part of the drum line and we have some common friends. Truly I have no idea as to how we got so lucky to put together as a companionship, but we are both super excited to serve together this transfer. THIS IS GONNA BE AWESOME!!!! 

 I love the spirit of Christmas, and how we have the opportunity to think about the Savior more. We had a fantastic ward Christmas Party/Program in the Oak Hills Ward Saturday night. Good Mexican food, and beautiful Christmas hymns and songs sung by members of the ward. I love Christmas; I think I've probably told you that plenty of times before though haha, but I mean it every time! Think of Christ this holiday season, and you will have peace in your heart and mind.

Love ya, I'll talk to you all next week!

Elder Ruiz

From left to right: Me, Scott Varieur, their daughter Scarlett, Elder Wedel, their son Logan, Vanessa Varieur, and Kole Dyerly who baptized Logan. All dressed in white!

Elder Wedel and I, the Varieur's, and the Wrightwood Sisters.

Pictures at the mission office in Rancho Cucamonga.

Monday, December 5, 2016

Week 60: Jesus wants me for a sunbeam!

Welcome to December! This last week was a busy one. We actually taught a lot of lessons to investigators, which is good. 

On Monday we had to take our truck to Victorville for some body work to be done, and we left with the memo that our truck would be ready for pickup by Wednesday. Because we didn't have a vehicle that could take us places, Elder Wedel and I had to bike to a lesson with the Varieur family at their house, and pretty much we both thought we were going to DIE! We were literally huffing and puffing our way to our appointment, uphill on dirt roads haha. And thus we see the results of not riding a bike for 4 1/2 months, and then trying to bike uphill nonstop for 4+ miles or so haha. We spent some time with the Varieur family and taught them the Law of Chastity and later in the week reviewed the baptismal interview questions with them and planned their baptismal service for this Saturday. All of us in the Phelan ward are so happy for the Varieur family and their decision to be baptized, and Elder Wedel and I are super pumped! It has literally been MANY YEARS since the last time a family was baptized, so this event is a much needed boost for the ward members!

We met with Martin on Wednesday and had dinner at his house. We had a really spiritual lesson with him and his family (his wife has been coming back to church for the past while now and has been bringing her daughters!)  about the Restoration because his daughter was wanting to know where the Church came from and how it came to be. And during the lesson I looked at Martin and he was listening intently and was teary-eyed. He asked us what the Book of Mormon actually is and what it is about, and so we explained it to him. And then he said "Wow, I should really read this book soon." BOOM! I was jumping for joy (spritually speaking, of course haha) when he said that, it totally made my night! And then Elder Wedel was bold with Martin and asked him what his holdup has been all these years. Bottom line: Elder Wedel challenged Martin to pray about everything that we have taught him and that he has learned about the Church, and if he comes to find that none of this is true, then Elder Wedel said we won't ever teach him a lesson again or ask him about baptism. Dang, that is bold! But I could feel the Spirit coming from Elder Wedel as he said those words, it was a really cool experience! 

Saturday we went up to Newberry Springs by Barstow to help a guy named Stan clean up his property. We were filthy by the end of the day, but it was worth it because we were able to help someone! 

Gotta go, I love you all! Remember the Savior, he loves you very much!

Elder Ruiz
Elder Wedel and I biking to a lesson Wednesday morning.

Week 59: Christmas songs are already on the radio?!

I hope you all had a great tasting Thanksgiving Day! Elder Wedel and I have plenty of leftovers that we haven't even tapped into yet haha. 

Last week was good; I got to go on exchanges with one of our zone leaders Elder Jarvis in the Tongan Ward. It was an amazing time; we visited a returning less-active family that was recently sealed as a family in the Redlands Temple, and I could feel the Spirit so strongly in that moment. I had never met them before, but instantly I had so much love for them and I really cared about them! I have not felt the Spirit so strong like that for quite some time. It felt good to have a surge of the Spirit. Elder Jarvis and I also visited a young lady named Cici, who is paralyzed and is in an electric wheelchair. We read a chapter out of 3 nephi with her, talking about how Christ came to "draw all men" unto Him, and she expressed her gratitude and knowledge of the Atonement. She especially has a strong testimony of the Resurrection and cannot wait for the day when she will receive a perfected body, free from illness, disease, or injury, and be able to walk by herself. We had a scripture study class that night as well in the Tongan ward, and there was a good turn out. We read 3 Nephi chapter 17, and the Spirit was so strong in that room. Several people had some tears. Even I got a little misty-eyed; I just felt so good being able to feel the presence and power of the Holy Ghost so abundantly. The Tongan ward has some great members. I don't really know any of them, yet I have a profound love for them.

Elder Wedel and our other zone leader Elder Low had a great exchange as well. They were able to pick up a new investigator named Martin, a nonmember husband of a part-member family. He has been coming to church with his family for the past month or so, has been showing up at the church Saturday mornings to play basketball, and thinks positively of the Church. They had a spritually powerful meeting with Martin at his home. They committed him to pray about whether or not the gospel is true. And the crazy part is that he would never accept commitments from any missionaries that tried to teach him in the past, UNTIL NOW!!! Miracles are everywhere! 

Thursday we woke up early to play some basketball with some members/nonmembers at the church. We had a good time, there was a good turnout of guys that showed up as well. Elder Wedel and I truly had a feast for Thanksgiving! We went to the Doss' in the Oak Hills Ward for dinner, and we all had a great time. We were stuffed! Lots of food, and lots of leftovers haha!

Friday the Wrightwood sisters invited us to attend the "lighting ceremony" of the community christmas tree (or whatever it's called) where they said there was going to be free food, which was not the case haha. There were probably more than 500 people there, a good turnout for a little town like Wrightwood I'd say. We all did the whole 10 second countdown for the tree to be lit up. Once the lights came on everybody cheered and celebrated, then the crowd quickly dispersed and I heard some guy next to me say to one of his friends "Alright, now back to the pizza and beer." Probably one of the funniest things I had heard all day.

Saturday afternoon it started raining pretty good in the afternoon, and by night there were really high wind speeds. It was cold! I guess I've finally acclimated to the desert, because this probably is nothing compared to winter back in Utah haha. It was snowing in Wrightwood, so before Elder Wedel and I headed back home for the night we drove up there to check out the snow. We were so giddy with excitement because we both hadn't touched snow for more than a year, not to mention that we both like snow sports! But it wasn't what we hoped it would be: only 2 inches fell for the day. We had a snowball fight with the Wrightwood sister missionaries anyways; I forgot until now just how cold snow is when it goes down the back of your shirt haha.

I love the Christmas season because it helps me remember the Savior, and why he came here to Earth! The holidays are a wonderful time to give of yourself to others and follow the example of Jesus Christ by serving others. The Church has come out with a Christmas initiative for this holiday season, called Light the World, with an inspiring video! I encourage you to check it out! You can find it on mormon.org or on lds.org. It is so powerful, I love it!

Plus, as part of the initiative:

"Every day leading up to Christmas is a chance to look at the things Jesus Christ did and resolve to do the same. To help, we'll be providing daily inspiration, suggestions, and encouragement on how we can follow the example of Jesus Christ and #LIGHTtheWORLD."

I am so grateful for our Savior, I love Him so much, and I love and appreciate you all as well! Have a blessed week!

Elder Haven Ruiz

Thanksgiving with Brother and Sister Doss!

 The Wrightwood sisters and Elder Wedel and I in front of the special tree in Wrightood.

Ride em' cowboy! Yeehaw!