Friday, July 28, 2017

Week 92: By the Rivers of Babylon...

Last week Elder Jeppsen and I were blessed with several appointments that we were able to set with less active members and recent converts. We were referred by our bishop to a less active in the ward, and we had a great visit. He was touched by the Spirit when we showed him the Prince of Peace video. He wants to take the missionary lessons so we scheduled an appointment with him for this week. Without hesitation he said he would come to church yesterday but he didn't, so we'll follow up with him on that when we see him. 
A recent convert we're working with came to the Book of Mormon class and enjoyed it, he said he wants to come again. 

On Wednesday we contacted a potential investigator names Alex. We asked if he'd like to meet with us again and he said yes! We have an appointment with him for this Wednesday, we are super excited! He said he'll even feed us dinner!

We've been working with a less-active family, and we asked their 11 year old son if he would like to be a deacon and receive the priesthood, to which he said yes, so we committed him to come to church 2 Sundays from now, after they get home from vacation. We also committed the whole family to have daily family prayer.

On Friday we had a lesson with our investigator Jeremy, and he said the closing prayer, it was awesome!

Other than that we've just been knocking doors all week and trying to set appointments with people and talk to as many people as we can. It was a good week, simple but eventful.

I'm so grateful for the power of prayer, for the opportunity we have each time we pray to communicate with God, our loving Heavenly Father. I have felt his love and comforting influence through the Holy Ghost as I have come to Him in sincere prayer. I know He hears and answers our prayers. I am so grateful for the knowledge that we have; that we have a loving Heavenly Father who sent His Son, Jesus Christ, to take upon himself all our sins and infirmities, that we may become changed people, better people, as we choose to follow the perfect example of our loving Savior, Jesus Christ. I love you all and hope you have a good week!

Elder Ruiz
We saw a coyote roaming through the neighborhood while we were knocking doors last week. Thankfully we both kept ourselves a safe distance from one another haha.

Week 91: Oh, Nice Tan

Last week Elder Jeppsen and I had many tender mercies from the Lord. We had a great lesson with our investigator Jeremy. We finished reading the Book of Mormon introduction with him, and committed him to daily prayer and to come to church. And he came to sacrament meeting yesterday, as well as his less-active girlfriend. We will soon be teaching them the Law of Chastity, because he is living with his less-active girlfriend and they are not married, and he's gotta be married or she's gotta move out if he wants to get baptized! He let me play on his little boy's drumset, and I tuned it up for him. You never know when you can use your talents or skills to serve someone in any kind of capacity! A recent convert we've also been working with came to sacrament meeting yesterday as well after a long period of absence from church. He's been doing better recently; we've been reading the Book of Mormon with him every time we meet, and he read it on his own for once a few days ago. 

Our wardmates Elder Facer and Elder Gibbons whitewashed out, and we will be getting sister missionaries as our new wardmates; they will be a great asset to the ward with working with single sisters that us elders normally have a hard time meeting with due to missionary rules about meeting with those of the opposite gender if they are alone. The work is picking up here in our area and we are getting the ball rolling. Elder Jeppsen and I are working well together. Nothing really to complain about. 

I just feel so blessed to be a part of this magnificent missionary work of inviting others to come unto Christ by helping them receive the Restored Gospel. I am grateful for the Book of Mormon, and I have come to know for myself, through the manifestation of God's power through the Holy Ghost, that it is the word of God, and that it does contain the fulness of the everlasting Gospel. My life has not been the same ever since I started reading the Book of Mormon every day and have been beginning and ending each day in humble, kneeling prayer. The prophet Joseph Smith said that a man would get nearer to God by abiding by its precepts than by any other book. I know this to be true, for I have experience this promise myself. The Lord directs His Church and His work by revelation through His chosen servants. I know Joseph Smith was called of God to restore Christ's Church to the earth, including His priesthood keys and authority and the entirety of His Gospel as was taught by Him. I know Thomas S. Monson is a prophet of God today. The Restored Gospel of Jesus Christ is evidence that God is real, and that He is our loving Father in heaven. I love you all and hope you have a good week.

Elder Ruiz 

Week 90: I'm hot blooded, check it and see!

Dang, it has been boiling hot here in Upland. I was told that someone measured the temperature of the asphalt, and it was 120! And they measured the temperature of a plastic slide at a playground, and it was 110! So, lesson learned, don't let your kids melt.

Elder Jeppsen and I are spending a lot of time finding. It was difficult to stay busy because many people were out of town for the 4th of July. But we had a really cool experience on the 4th. We stopped by the home of a potential investigator family to with them a happy 4th of July. The wife opened the door, and told us to come on in, and they proceeded to feed us dinner with their family! It was a blast! They asked a few questions about being on a mission and about the Church, so we were able to talk about the Church in that aspect, it was cool. They are so cool! They want to feed us again! I have faith that they are slowly but surely being prepared to receive the restored gospel in due time.

Another cool experience we had was on Friday when we parked in a cul-de-sac to knock on all the doors on the street. Right before we got out of our car, I felt prompted to say a prayer, so I told my companion, and we stopped and said a prayer and asked for the Holy Ghost to guide us to people who are prepared to receive the gospel. Not even 5 second after we finished praying and got out of our car, we saw on the other side of the street a lady who was trying to pick up bags of groceries that had fallen out of the back of her SUV. Unplanned service opportunity, yes! We speed-walked across the street and asked if she needed help. At first she sounded apprehensive about helping her, but we just picked up the groceries anyways. She was really appreciative of us for our assistance (and disappointed in her teenage son for not getting out of the car and helping her haha), and she invited us in to her house. She got us bottled waters and popsicles, learned her name was Julie, and her and her family are Christian. We sat down and chatted for a bit. She told us that her uncle and his family in Nevada are members of the Church, and her niece just returned home from serving a mission in Utah. She adores her uncle and his family, and jokingly said "He's been working on me for a while now to get me to be part of your church." She had to leave and take her son somewhere, so we quickly taught her the Restoration. When we started teaching her about Joseph Smith's First Vision, and I quoted his own personal account, I felt a special spirit in the room and within myself, and though I was not trying to be flamboyant in speech, I felt power in the words of Joseph Smith's personal account that I was quoting to Julie. I saw in her eyes that she was intently listening. I take this spiritual presence that I felt as a confirmation from the Holy Ghost that Joseph's words were true, that he did see Heavenly Father and His Son, Jesus Christ. I know that Joseph Smith was a prophet. She enjoyed our message, and gave us her contact info and said she would talk to her husband about us teaching them! Elder Jeppsen and I both think she is prepared to receive the restored gospel, we are eager to return and followup with her this week! 

We set a baptismal date last week with one of our investigators last week for September 9th, but we will probably need to push it back because he has to get married to his girlfriend that he's living with. We'll work with him and do our best, with the Holy Ghost directing us as to how we should go about the situation.

We'll keep swinging the sickle in the Lord's vineyard this week. I love you all, have a good week!

Elder Ruiz

Week 89: America! America! America! America!

Last week was good. Elder Jeppsen and I were busy last week doing many things, but we were able to see a former investigator named Jeremy and turn him into a new investigator! He really wants his life to be better, and he was focused the whole time on the lesson on the Restoration, it was great. We committed him to baptism, and we have a return appointment for this Saturday. The Spirit was there, Elder Jeppsen and I felt so good. We are working hard together. 
I got to go on exchanges with Elder Low, one of the assistants, on Saturday. It was great! We had the awesome opportunity of teaching a man named Scooter the Restoration while he was eating next to us at Cafe Rio in Rancho Cucamonga (yes, there is  finally a Cafe Rio in our mission, woohoo!). He said it helped him see why there are so many churches on the earth today.

On Thursday we got to eat with our Russian ward member, Sister Schaumann, in her huge fancy house. She had three of her friends over for dinner as well, and we got to ask them about their family history, and we able to tell them about, the Church's free family history website. 

Speaking of family history, I want to share a cool experience I had while looking at my family history last week. Before my mission, I know nothing about my father's father's parents (my great-grandparents), who immigrated to Arizona from Mexico. BUT, when I was on last week, I was freaking out because, thanks to my wonderful Aunt Eva who put this information on my family tree, I finally learned who they were! And there were pictures of them too, it is so cool! Family history is the best! It is so cool to learn about your ancestors, where they came from, and what they lived through. 

This morning we hiked Stoddard Peak for our zone activity, the mountains were beautiful today!

I love the Lord and His restored gospel that I have been blessed by throughout my life. I am grateful for the Lord providing us with our free country, so that the circumstances were right for the Restoration of the Gospel to happen here in the United States. Enjoy your 4th of July, wherever you may be! I love you all.

Elder Ruiz
 Elder Jeppsen (far left) and I with the assistants, ​Elder Memmott and Elder Low.
On top of Stoddard Peak this afternoon!

Week 88: Hot, too hot!

Konichiwa! It's been getting hotter in Upland! This past week Elder Jeppsen and I were slammed with things to do. We had zone conference in Rancho Cucamonga at the mission office on Thursday along with the Ontario Zone, so I got to see my old companions Elder Hulterstrom and Elder Porritt who are serving in Ontario right now. I was taught a lot by the Spirit at that meeting, I loved it. It's such a neat experience to be able to record spiritual impressions and personal revelation from the Holy Ghost. On Friday morning we drove up to Mt. Baldy and helped move rocks and silt in a lady's yard. She is a neighbor to a member of our ward. After finishing our project for the day she was so grateful for our help. She had expressed to us that she has a belief in God and has a favorite church down in Pasadena, but due to medical problems she can't drive that far. So we told her that she is more than welcome to come to our church on Sundays, and she could even carpool with her neighbor who is a Church member. She was supportive of and happy about the idea and she said she'd talk to her neighbor! 

Later that day we had an awesome lesson with our investigators Ronald and Abdulia. We taught them the Plan of Salvation, and they had some really good questions. When we got to the part of the lesson where we teach about the three degrees of glory, Abdulia said, in regard to the celestial kingdom, "Well, that's the place that we should shoot for then!" And she's right! We should be trying our best each day to choose the right, to do what Christ would do. It's vital that we seek to make decisions that help us draw closer to Christ. Ronald and Abdulia love Elder Jeppsen and I; this is the second week that they've fed us lunch after a lesson. Unfortunately they will be out of town to Hawaii and then to Bolivia until late July or mid-August. But Abdulia firmly said that they'll continue to read from the Book of Mormon together while they are gone. And we got their emails so we can keep in contact with them while they are away. They are such a wonderful couple.

 I gave a talk in sacrament meeting on Sunday about building our relationship with Jesus Christ, and I based part of my talk on Elder Bednar's general conference talk last October, called "If Ye Had Known Me". It is such a good talk! His talk helped me realize I need to come to know Christ as my Savior even more than I know now. I highly suggest reading the talk yoursel, it is awesome: 

I've grown to love giving talks in sacrament meeting, because I get to talk about the gospel and share my testimony. And what better topic to speak on than the Savior Himself! 
Over the course of my missionary service, I have come to better know my Savior Jesus Christ. I have been able to continue to build my personal relationship with Him, and I am so grateful for that. I love you all and hope you have a great week!

Elder Ruiz
Us and our wardmates driving home from service up in Mt. Baldy.

Week 87: The heat...I'm melting...oh look, ice cream!

Hey howdy ho hey! Happy belated Father's Day to all fathers far and wide, and to all the surrogate fathers and father figures in my life! Thank you for the good that you do.
It's getting hot here in Upland! This past week was awesome. We had a great lesson with Ronald and Abdulia, our two new investigators from two weeks ago. We met with them on Friday afternoon and we taught them the Restoration. It was great! I felt the Spirit so strongly at parts throughout the lesson. Abdulia the wife found comfort in knowing that there is a modern-day prophet on the earth today. And she told us that ever since we met with them the Friday before, her memory has improved, her arthritis pain has decreased, and she feels like her prayers are being answered! This is amazing! Miracles are happening in her life right now because she is seeking to learn more about the Restored Gospel. They've been reading the Book of Mormon together and have been writing down questions that they have. She said her prayers have been answered, and so many blessings have come into her life ever since we first taught them. They both said that they would be baptized if they came to know that the Book of Mormon is the word of God and that Joseph Smith was a prophet! Elder Jeppsen and I are so excited about them! The bonus was that they fed us a delicious lunch!

This week also Elder Jeppsen and I moved into our new housing. We're living with a part-member family now in their "granny house" on the side of their home (it's like a little cottage). We were busy with moving belongings and furniture, but now the moving is completed!

On Saturday I got to go to the Redlands Temple with one of my previous companions Elder Wedel and participate in proxy baptisms/confirmations with recent converts that we had taught and baptized when we were in Phelan. It was their first time going to the temple, so we wanted to be there with them and support them. They all really enjoyed their first time in the temple. 

This Thursday is zone conference, so I'm looking forward to that! I love being a missionary! I know that God lives, and that He loves us very much. Have a great week!

Elder Ruiz

Thursday, July 27, 2017

Week 86: Chemical Trails...and MIRACLES!!

This past week has been our busiest week teaching people during my time here in Upland, it's great! We were able to meet with two less actives and one came to sacrament meeting, and the other we met with twice and he opened up to us and explained his reason for not coming, it being his psychological state. But he quit his job so he can come to church. Now that's what I call commitment! We also met with our less-active Todd, who we tried to commit to getting rid of his stash of dope that he still has. But he's caught on the fence about it because it's worth so much money and he doesn't want to throw it all away and not use it or at least have it be used by someone. At one point Elder Jeppsen offered to give Todd all the money in his wallet if he would get rid of all his weed right then, but he didn't tell him how much money he had in his wallet (he only had like $6 haha). Todd then treated the situation like a gameshow and called Elder Jeppsen "a gameshow host from God" haha. 

We talked to one of the lost members we had tracted into last week, and the lady that was washing his dog gave us a flyer about the threat of bioengineering to our earth and society (aka "chem trails" or the white lines you see in the sky behind a flying plane). I read through it and couldn't help but laugh, it was so cheesy and faulty. 

Two Sundays ago I had fasted and prayed for the Lord to help us find new investigators. That Sunday a member referred us to his neighbors. We knocked on their door on Saturday and they let us in! We had some small talk and they had questions about the Book of Mormon, which we answered. The wife is a bookworm and committed herself to reading the entire introduction of the Book of Mormon, and both her and her husband are totally open to learning more about God! Who could be more prepared than this sweet old couple? They are genuinely interested in reading it, and we have a return appointment for this Friday! We are so excited we have this couple we can share the restored Gospel with! 

We have been knocking a lot of doors and telling people about, and many people are actually interested in learning about their family history. We've even had several people say that they want to go check out the family history center at the Upland stake center. We had two or three people tell us to come back this Friday. Elder Jeppsen and I are doing great together. We're continuing to work hard, knock doors, all that good stuff. I know that this work that I am participating in is indeed God's work. It is inspired, and it will continue to roll forth across the earth, blessing the lives of those who accept it into their lives and live it. God is always looking out for us and is aware of each of our current circumstances. I love you all, have a good week! 

Elder Ruiz

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Week 85: The Sodom and Gomorrah Garage

Hey y'all, we had a good week last week. We've been knocking a lot of doors, pounding the pavement. Elder Jeppsen and I tracted into two lost members. We met the first person, Fred, while he was working on a car engine in his garage. And let's just say he had a lot of innapropriate "worldy" pictures and items in his garage (after we left I named his garage Sodom and Gomorrah haha). So we tried to scram out of there as soon as we could, but not before Fred talked our ears off and gave each of us a huge bullet and some shrapnel (he's got a lot of military/Vietnam War memorabilia). Thanks Fred! 
The second person was a lady we tracted into (actually lives a few houses down from Fred) named Linda. She loves the Church and the restored gospel; she still watches General Conference with her kids. But when she went through the temple to receive her own endowment and be sealed to her converted husband, she was freaked out by what takes place in the endowment session. She had to leave the middle of the session with her husband because she was traumatized, and so ever since then she's been afraid to go back to the temple, and therefore she's scared to go back to church. As she was telling us all this, she just started crying, and I was so sad to see her fear and sorrow. She knows the gospel of Jesus Christ is true and very real, and she wants the blessings of the Gospel for her two special-needs children. We told her that we all have fears and trials in this life, but our Heavenly Father always has and always will love us, and He knows what we're going through. We invited her to church and tried to set a return appointment. Hopefully we can see her again and bring our Relief Society President or the bishop of our ward with us. But she's moving to a nearby city with her family soon, so we've got limited time to do so before she's no longer here.

We were also blessed to be able to finally meet with a less-active recent convert we've been trying to get together with for several weeks now. He opened up to us a little and we found out why he's not coming to church. We were able to meet with him twice last week, and teach about faith and repentance and watch Elder Renlund's October 2016 conference talk about repentance. He likes watching the conference talks.

Transfers are today, and I'm happy to say I'll be serving at least another transfer with Elder Jeppsen. We have some good elders and sisters coming into our zone this transfer, I'm looking forward to serving alongside them. I CAN"T BELIEVE I'VE ONLY GOT 18 WEEKS LEFT STARTING TODAY!!!! What the heck? Can't time slow down a little, please? My mission is going by way too fast now haha. I'm trying to make the most with what time I have left. I love my Savior Jesus Christ, and I know he loves each and every one of us. He loves YOU and knows YOU personally. When all hope seems lost, when we are going through hard times, when it seems like victory over the difficulties of life is not possible, we should focus our lives on the Lord Jesus Christ. He is the source of true, real, lasting joy and peace. I know this to be true because I have felt true, real, lasting joy and peace as I've sought to come closer to my Savior by learning about His Gospel and teachings and incorporate His perfect attributes. My life would be so miserable and dark if it wasn't for the knowledge and belief that I have of our loving Heavenly Father and His Son, Jesus Christ. I have become a better person as I've made Jesus Christ the focus of my life and sought to strengthen my personal relationship with my Heavenly Father. 

I love you all and hope you have a good week!

Elder Ruiz
Elder Morton and I at transfers in Rancho Cucamonga today. We were companions for four and a half months in Chino last year. He goes home at the end of this transfer. One of my favorite companions!​

Week 84: Faz the Christian scientist.

Hey everyone! Hope you had a good memorial day yesterday! Elder Jeppsen and I have been "pounding the pavement" a lot recently. We've been utilizing family history into our daily proselyting and we've seen some success with that. A lady even invited us into her home, gave us some cold water, and we had a 20 minute conversation about her family and family history. We exchanged numbers, and she really wants us to come back! We are excited to meet with her again! On Sunday we were walking down the street and we saw a lady was cutting her bushes, so we walked up to her and started helping her cut the branches and put them in her garbage can. Soon, she just grabbed us a huge container of cold water and and we started talking to her husband Faz, who is a christian scientist (he's a biochemist who studies about dinosaurs and the origin of man, but does it with the aspect that God created everything). He gave us several books that he's written, and he wants us to come back to his home and feed us dinner sometime so he can talk to us more. We are so pumped! And one of our less-actives that we have been working with came to church again and stayed for all 3 hours, woohoo! We are proud of Todd! He's doing great! And yesterday for out last zone activity of the transfer we played kickball in a baseball field. That was a lot of fun! 

I'm short on time today, but I love you all and hope you have a great rest of the week! Never forget that God loves you very much! Also a shoutout to all my family and friends who have/will graduate in the past/next few days! Congratulations!

Elder Ruiz
And of course, a photo of us with Mr. Bu!

Elder Schmidt and I ready to play some kickball with some baseball pants we found haha.

Week 83: Mr. Bu

Hey again from Upland California! This past week Elder Jeppsen and I have been trying to work hard. We knocked doors a lot and had a few service opportunities throughout the week. On Sunday at church there were 3 less-actives that came to church! We were, and still are, so excited! We are continuing to work with them to try and strengthen them. 

This morning we woke up at 4:40 to go on a hike with some of the other elders in our zone. We hiked Mt. San Antonio (more commonly known as Mt. Baldy). It took us a couple hours, but we did it and we started driving back home at about 2:30. Most of us are dehydrated, sun-burnt to a glowing pink/red, and exhausted and sore, but it was so worth it! The view was spectacular, and I love being in the mountains and in the forest. I am so grateful that God created this beautiful and majestic earth for us to live on and to enjoy. But I have to say that the 2nd treat of the day, if not the best treat of the day was meeting Mr. Bu. As we were walking down a trail to our car after the hike, I saw in the older gentleman...with a Chinese hat...and he was playing the flute next to his van. "What the heck is that over there?", I told the elders with me. So we went to check out the situation. Turns out this old man was recording himself playing the flute. And he had a jimbe (a hand drum) and a set of bongos, so we had a little jam session with him for a few minutes. It was hilarious and a lot of fun! He had no problem telling us that he has no memory of his hippie life in the 70's because of all the LSD he had taken when he was young. And he told us he had just taken 3 THC pills a little while before we came over haha. That explains his crazy but hilarious behavior hahahaha. We took some videos and took a picture with him. I will never forget Mr. Bu. Also, Mr. Bu is not Asian, he's a white guy named Paul, but he goes buy Mr. Bu. 

I don't have much time left on this computer today, but I want you all to know that you have a loving Father in Heaven, who loves you personally and knows the ups and downs that you go through every day. He loves you so much that he has a plan for you to be able to return to be with Him and have everlasting peace and joy. His Son, Jesus Christ, loves you so much that he willingly gave his life for you so that you can have a way to be able to overcome the sins and wrongful actions that you make in this life; anything that you regret doing. He knows you personally as well, and is right by your side all the time. Your loving Father in heaven wants to hear from you, and you can talk to him personally and express yourself through prayer, a sacred form of communication between you and your Heavenly Father; like your own personal telephone line to Him. I know that He answers our miracles. And according to our faith, He will make miracles happen in our lives and in the lives of others. I know this to be true. I love you all, have a great week!

Elder Ruiz

On my way up to the peak this morning!

Week 82: Mama's Day!

Well, I hope everyone told their moms that you love them! I am so glad I got to talk to my family yesterday, it was good to see them! I love 'em to eternity! I love and appreciate all the women in my life that have helped, raised, and taught me to become the person that I am today. 

So two weeks ago Elder Jepppsen and I went to our mission president's home with other zone leaders for MLC, it was really good, we learned a lot and the Spirit was there.

Monday morning last week we hiked a mountain peak as a zone, it is really beautiful in the mountains by Upland....buuuuuuuuut not as beautiful as the good ol' Wasatch Mountains in Utah. It was really cool to also have our personal studies up there on the mountain peak; it was as if I was meditating, it was so peaceful.
Later last week we also helped an old Korean guy move a lot of stuff out of his store because of fire and water damage. It was really sad to see him have to lose his business because of fire/water damage. For the past week or two he had been transporting his belongings in a shopping cart and putting it in a storage facility across the shopping cart at a time, for several days. Some Church members that are repairing his business couldn't believe that he was doing all that by himself, so they called us up and we came in full force to try and empty the store as much as we could. We got a lot done, and the Korean man was very appreciative of our service. Just another day in the service of others, it's wonderful!
Elder Jeppsen and I have been knocking on doors nearly every day trying to talk to people. We've been incorporating family history in to our daily proselyting, and we've seen its effectiveness in the fact that people are a little more comfortable and less nervous talking to us haha. Don't worry everyone, us missionaries don't bite! We taught a few less-actives and recent converts. We had zone conference on Wednesday, and that went really well. 
On Thursday I got to go on exchanges with Elder Gagnon in the Upland Spanish branch. We taught an english class to some foreigners and had some delicious tostadas at a members home!

I love my Savior Jesus Christ, and I love my Father in heaven. I am so grateful for the knowledge I have about them, and about the Restored Gospel of Jesus Christ. Studying the Book of Mormon every day has changed my life, and I never want to lose this daily habit that has brought blessings into my life. I want to testify to you of the power that can come into your life as you study the Book of Mormon every day. 

During this past general conference, President Thomas S. Monson said:

This morning I speak about the power of the Book of Mormon and the critical need we have as members of this Church to study, ponder, and apply its teachings in our lives. The importance of having a firm and sure testimony of the Book of Mormon cannot be overstated.
We live in a time of great trouble and wickedness. What will protect us from the sin and evil so prevalent in the world today? I maintain that a strong testimony of our Savior, Jesus Christ, and of His gospel will help see us through to safety. If you are not reading the Book of Mormon each day, please do so. If you will read it prayerfully and with a sincere desire to know the truth, the Holy Ghost will manifest its truth to you. If it is true—and I solemnly testify that it is—then Joseph Smith was a prophet who saw God the Father and His Son, Jesus Christ.
Because the Book of Mormon is true, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is the Lord’s Church on the earth, and the holy priesthood of God has been restored for the benefit and blessing of His children.
If you do not have a firm testimony of these things, do that which is necessary to obtain one. It is essential for you to have your own testimony in these difficult times, for the testimonies of others will carry you only so far. However, once obtained, a testimony needs to be kept vital and alive through continued obedience to the commandments of God and through daily prayer and scripture study.
My dear associates in the work of the Lord, I implore each of us to prayerfully study and ponder the Book of Mormon each day. As we do so, we will be in a position to hear the voice of the Spirit, to resist temptation, to overcome doubt and fear, and to receive heaven’s help in our lives.
Look  at all those promised blessing he stated that we can receive as we study the Book of Mormon! Who doesn't want all those blessing in their life right now? Let us remember that the Book of Mormon isn't the source of our testimony, but a resource for our testimony. Our testimony must be centered on Jesus Christ, and as we study the Book of Mormon we can gain a better knowledge of his mission, ministry, atoning sacrifice, and gospel that he taught.  As stated in the introduction to the Book of Mormon:
We invite all men everywhere to read the Book of Mormon, to ponder in their hearts the message it contains, and then to ask God, the Eternal Father, in the name of Christ if the book is true. Those who pursue this course and ask in faith will gain a testimony of its truth and divinity by the power of the Holy Ghost. (See Moroni 10:3–5.)
Those who gain this divine witness from the Holy Spirit will also come to know by the same power that Jesus Christ is the Savior of the world, that Joseph Smith is His revelator and prophet in these last days, and that The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is the Lord’s kingdom once again established on the earth, preparatory to the Second Coming of the Messiah.
But don't take my word for it, go and find out for yourself whether or not the Book of Mormon is the word of God through studying it and praying about it. 
I love you all and hope you have a great week!

Elder Ruiz
Picture of our zone on top of Stoddard Peak last Monday.

View of Upland, and Claremont to the right.

Elder Jeppsen and I!

Week 81: "He was a Tupperware!"

Hey everyone! I don't have much time today, but just know that all is well. Make sure to tell your mother you love her this Mother's Day!

Elder Ruiz

Monday, May 8, 2017

Week 80: Bear!...No Bear!

Konnichiwa everyone! Elder Jeppsen and I are getting along great! We've been working hard too. We have been trying to find more investigators, and the least we can do is find potential investigators, so we have been tracting each day to try and meet new people. We met a lady last week who we think is a promising potential investigator, so we will try and followup with her this week. Since we don't have any investigators at the moment, we've got a lot of time to kill during each day, so Elder Jeppsen and I decided that we are doing to knock on the doors of every single house in our area! It may sound bold, but it has been done before, and we are going to do it. Whatever it takes to find those people who are ready to hear the message of the Restored Gospel!

On Thursday I had the opportunity to go on exchanges with one of our AP's, Elder Memmott, in Rancho Cucamonga. We had some cool experiences walking up to strangers and handing them cards. 

I have a question for everyone: Are you really converted? Conversion is not a one-time thing, but a continual process. If we do not seek to strengthen our faith in the Lord Jesus Christ and His gospel, then we are allow our faith to be weakened by lack of spiritual nourishment and put ourselves in very serious danger of losing our faith.

In the words of a paragraph from the Mormon Channel website:

 President Hinckley stated, “Faith is like the muscle of my arm. If I use it, if I nurture it, it will grow strong. If I put it in a sling and leave it there, it will grow weak” So if faith is a principle of action, how we can act upon it? What are we doing in our lives to exercise our muscle, so to speak?  And are we exercising it daily to continue to make it strong?

We may have received a witness by the power of the Holy Ghost that the Book of Mormon really is the word of God, but what are we doing with that witness? Are we acting on that witness and exercising our faith by continuing to read the Book of Mormon, to be able to feel the Spirit more abundantly in our lives, to learn eternal and valuable truths that we can apply in our own lives, to receive protection against our temptations, and to find peace and joy in this life? I know that all of us can receive these blessings as we read from the Book of Mormon each day and study its profound teachings. I have found these blessings in my own life as I have done so. I encourage you to check out this talk by Elder David A Bednar called "Converted Unto the Lord". 

Reading it for the first time changed my whole perception on having a testimony and being converted. I know that Christ lives and loves each of us, and that we have a loving Father in Heaven knows and loves each and every one of us and wants to bless us!

I really do love you all, and I hope you have a great week!

Elder Ruiz

 Me, Elder Jeppsen, and our AP's Elder Memmott and Elder Wilhelm
I couldn't resist taking a picture of this car while I was in Rancho haha!

Week 79: Page CXVI

Good afternoon everybody. A new transfer has arrived, and I've got a new companion! Elder Hirst got transferred to Rancho Cucamonga and will be serving as an office elder in the mission office. My new companion is Elder Jeppsen from Brigham City, Utah. He's a really nice guy, and I've got good vibes about this transfer. 

Elder Hirst and I knocked a lot of doors last week. We were diligent last week and tried to find people but we couldn't find any new investigators, but I have faith that we can change that this transfer! I feel that I've grown close to the Lord this last transfer though, because I've been seeking his guidance and help through sincere prayer and diligent scripture study as to how we can find new investigators, but also how I can be a better missionary. I know that our prayers our answered as we sincerely seek God's hand in our life. 
That sums things up for last week I think. Hope you have a good week.


Elder Ruiz

Week 78: No More Cadbury Eggs?

Howdy y'all!

First off, I hope you each had an enjoyable Easter Sunday yesterday, hopefully with many plastic eggs filled with candy that you found! 

Nothing too crazy happened last week. Elder Hirst and I attended MLC in Rancho Cucamonga on Thursday. Much knowledge was shared, and the Spirit was felt, to sum it all up. For dinner that night we drove way up to a little town called Mount Baldy, where a sweet older sister of the ward bought us a bar haha.  It is so beautiful up there, all the clouds were gathering together in the mountains around us, and we were high enough in elevation that we could see the clouds moving through the trees, it was cool! 

We still don't have any investigators that we are teaching at the moment, but we are still trying to find people to teach in our area. We've been really gung-ho about sharing pass-along cards for the #PRINCEofPEACE video on If you haven't seen it yet, GO WATCH IT! It's really inspirational and powerful, probably one of the best videos that the Church has come out with recently. 

On Wednesday we started ripping up a huge tree stump at a member's house...with only hand's gonna take a while...

We had a funny experience where we were contacting people in the park and sharing pass-along cards. There were 3 mothers in a group, just talking to each other while they pushed their kids on the swingset on the playground. We asked them if we could give them a card about Jesus Christ, and instantly 2 of them said no thank you. However, the third mom was quiet for a few seconds, then said "hmmmm...oh well, why not, why not?" So we gave her a card. As we left the park there were 4-5 little boys sitting on the curb of the playgroung. Elder Hirst pulls out a few cards and says "Do you guys want a card with a picture of Jesus Christ on it?" They all turned around towards us and in unison said "YES, YES!" in excitement. We gave each of them a card, and I'm pretty sure one of the little boys said, "Oh wow this is cool!' That's right, Jesus is cool!

Another funny thing that happened was when we were reading 1 Nephi chapter 4 with a less-active who is kind of crazy. After we read the chapter we had some small talk with him and we got on the subject of modern technology. I mentioned the fact that the internet has advanced so much even in the last 10 or so years. Then Elder Hirst, implying the internet capability of this man's smartphone that was in his hand, said to him, "Now you've got the internet in your hand." The man's eyes went big, he looked up at us in amazement, dropped his phone on the ground, and said "Whoa! Wait, what? What things have these hands created?!" Then he looked over both of his hands. We realized that he took us literally, and then he too realized that we were not speaking in a literal sense. Then we all just laughed about it. Funniest moment of the weekend.

I love Easter Sunday, it gives each of us the opportunity to remember the sacrifice that our Savior Jesus Christ gave for us. Because of his death and resurrection, we too will be resurrected, with perfect bodies and a perfect state of mind, free from any disability, sickness, or pain. What a glorious day that will be! I know that God, our loving Father in heaven, really does have a plan that he has created to help us return to His presence, and to be with our families forever. 

I love you all, have a great week. Remember the Savior in your life!

Elder Ruiz 

 Elder Hirst and I at the mission office after MLC.

The forest and mountains surrounding Mount Baldy.

Friday, April 14, 2017

Week 77: Sunny California

Hi everyone! 

On Wednesday morning we had interviews with President Taylor, I really enjoyed it. I love President and Sister Taylor! They truly do receive revelation and inspiration for us missionaries and for our mission.

On Thursday I got to go on exchanges with Elder Waters who is from Cedar City, Utah. We were able to talk to a lot of people on the streets. He is a good missionary. After our exchange Elder Hirst and I attended Stake Coordination in the evening, where we met with President and Sister Taylor, our stake President, President Nielsen, and a member of the mission presidency. We talked about how we can improve the missionary work in the stake and have the members work more with the missionaries and vice versa. It was my first time attending a Stake Coordination meeting, I learned a lot and my eyes were opened to how things work on the stake level. 

On Saturday we had exchanges again, this time Elder Schmidt (from Salt Lake/Sugarhouse area) came in my area for exchanges. We worked really well with each other and had a good time, we tried seeing a lot of potential and former investigators. We had a cool experience at  the beginning of our exchange Friday night in which we were about to leave Elder Schmidt's apartment complex, when we saw that some young adults were directing a truck with a couch in the truck bed where to park. Instantly Elder Schmidt said "Do you think they need help?" I paused to think about it, but then I decided to forsake the thought of thinking, so I just said "Yeah let's do it." So we walked over to them and asked if they needed help moving the couch. They said sure, so us two elders and two other guys moved their couch from the truck to their second-story apartment. They were very appreciative of our assistance. Plus we were able to give them a pass-along card with a link to the Church's new Easter initiative video, called #PRINCEofPEACE. They said they'd check it out!  

At dinner the next night night we were eating a member's home, and one of their adult sons stared at me for a while, and then asked "So, like, what's your ethnicity?" I told him I was part Hispanic, and he said "Whoooooa man, that's sweet dude (imagine him sounding like Chicken Joe from the Surf's Up movie haha)! And then he stared at me a little longer and then said " That's cool bro, because, like, I think you have a really strong face." Wasn't sure what to say to that haha. Funniest moment of the night for me. Hmmm, "strong face", okay. Do I have a strong face? I have no cluel haha.

After dinner while we were tracting in a neighborhood we came into contact with a man who admired what we did as missionaries, but at the same time was denying and speaking ill of the prophet Joseph Smith, as well as casually trying to prove part of the Plan of Salvation wrong. Quickly I became irritated, and I already had my scriptures out, ready to prove him wrong through the scriptures. I thought "What does he know about Joseph Smith or the Plan of Salvation? He doesn't know anything, he only knows garbage that he got from the internet or his pastor probably." But in that moment a distinct impression came into my mind to just let it go, to not seek to "bash" or contend with this man. Just humbly let the words of accusation come. So Elder Schmidt and I held our peace while this man kindly tried to disprove us. It was then that I was strongly reminded that contention doesn't do anything to help us. In fact it actually denies us the ability to feel the Holy Ghost. "He that hath the spirit of contention is not of me, but is of the devil" the Lord says in Book of Mormon. I have learned from that experience to humbly learn from things that I experience in life, and to make the influence of the Holy Ghost in my life a priority. Please, let us not seek to point fingers or make accusations or find fault in one another, but rather seek to make restitution with others, to recognize where we mess up and then apologize, and to seek to have charity, which is the pure love of Christ.

During the week Elder Hirst and I were able to contact a potential investigator who is Baptist and has 3 young boys. Once we started talking to her it was clear that she was content with having just the Bible, and not any other scripture. But as we began to ask her questions, I felt Elder Hirst and I being guided by the Spirit to know what to say to her and what to ask her. Bottom line is that by the end of our 40-minute long conversation on her front doorstep, we had given her a Book of Mormon and we committed her to read it and pray to know if it's true! I know that the Book of Mormon is true, it is the word of God, and it can change lives, even as it has changed mine. I love this Restored Gospel. I love you all, have a great week.

Elder Ruiz
Elder Schmidt and I overlooking Upland!

Week 76: Moses' Tabernacle

Welcome everyone to the new month of April! The weather has been very nice here in the city of Upland, California. 

Well, first things first, the life-size replica of Moses' Tabernacle finished on Wednesday in Chino Hills. It was a unique experience to have helped with it, but now that it's over the stress from it is no longer on our shoulders, so that's really nice. While we were there though I got to see a lot of members that I knew and became close with in my first area of the Walnut Park Ward in Chino, and also some members from the Phelan Ward up in the high desert. Pictures of Moses' Tabernacle will be attached. 

On Thursday Elder Hirst and I got to go on exchanges with the assistants in Rancho Cucamonga. I was with Elder Wilhelm for the exchange, he's a convert from Florida (I love meeting convert missionaries out here, I am always so happy for their decision that they made to accept Christ's Gospel, and then choose to serve him for 18 months to 2 years!). He is such a great missionary, and I learned so much from him! We each set a personal goal for the day to talk to everyone, and, well, we did our best and it was amazing to see how the Lord put people in our path to talk to at a time of day when normally there aren't people outside. We just both worked together to talk to as many people as we could, it was awesome. I just felt so good about everything.

For the first half of the week we were kept busy with Moses' Tabernacle, so we didn't have much proselyting time those days. Elder Hirst and I are really pumped for the new Easter Initiative that came out on Friday, we have been trying to show it to every member that we see.  We passed out almost all our cards by Saturday evening. 

I'm grateful for general conference, I really enjoyed it. Every time I watch General Conference it's like a refresher to me, reminding me that that this really is Christ's true church. I could expound a lot on conference and how good it was, but I don't have that time right now haha. I was moved by some powerful statements that were made during each session. I had a lot of thoughts from the Holy Ghost as to how I can be a better missionary, and overall a more Christlike person. To me there was a lot of emphasis of the Plan of Salvation, and especially focusing on Jesus Christ, during the talks that were given. My testimony of modern-day prophets has greatly increased since watching conference. I know President Thomas S. Monson is indeed a prophet that has been called of God. We will be blessed and protected as we heed to his counsel and the counsel of the leaders of the Church. 

Other than that, we've just been doing our regular proselyting stuff. I've been trying to listen more to the Spirit recently, and it's hard, but with diligent effort we can condition ourselves to be more sensitive to the Spirit. Daily prayer and scripture study are some the greatest tools we have been given to be able to listen to the Spirit and to receive personal revelation. 

Well, I gotta go now, but I love you all and hope you have a wonderful week!

Elder Ruiz
A replica of the Ark of the Covenant, located in the Holy of Holies. And no, our faces did not melt off like in Indiana Jones haha.

Panorama of Moses' Tabernacle within the Outer Courtyard. Included in the Outer Courtyard is the alter of sacrifce (big box on the right), and the laver (located behind the group in the picture, it's like a water pot). The colored tapestry on the right side is the only entrance into the tabernacle, called the East Gate. There is a lot of symbolism in the tabernacle, and a lot of similiarities between ordinances found in the gospel, and also temple ordinances. Really cool! To learn more about Moses' Tabernace, here is a link to a video that we showed to the tour groups:

And for more information:    

A picture of the Holy Place, the first room in the tabernacle.

Elder Wilhelm and I on exchanges!

Week 75: From the Land of Up!

Hey there! I know it's only been 4 days since I last sent out an email, so I don't have much to report on, therefore I'll keep it short. 

Between Monday and now we had our zone conference and we've been busy with Moses' Tabernacle in Chino Hills. So far I've been able to see a lot of the Walnut Park ward members in Chino that I was really close with! It was so good to see them again! There has been a really good turnout to the event; a local news channel even came over and filmed the event and did a report on it.

Zone conference was great, we all left that meeting having learned something new I think. We were combined with the Chino zone, so I got to see a few elders serving in that zone that were in the same MTC group as I. The Ontario stake president and his wife were guest speakers at our conference, and President and Sister Taylor gave some wonderful counsel. Our conference focused a lot on improving our companionship studies, helping our investigators understand and seek revelation through prayer, and the standards of the Missionary Handbook by always being wise and mature in our conduct. We have good missionaries in the Upland Zone.

We had our temple trip today at the Redlands temple for all the elders in our zone, so our P-Day was moved from this upcoming Monday to today. Hence the reason for me writing this. It feels like it has been an eternity since I last went to the temple. Once I entered the temple, changed clothes, and sat down in preparation for the endowment session, it was as if all the thoughts and worries that were on my mind were gone! I love being in the house of the Lord, where there is so much peace, where we can go to seek revelation and answers to questions that we have, where we can be strengthened against our temptations, and where we can set aside the things of the outside world and enter to feel the Spirit and serve as proxies to those who have passed on from this life. I know that all of us can be able to experience these same blessings as we attend the temple. 

Well, that about sums up our week so far. I won't be emailing next week since we don't have a P-Day then. I hope you all are doing well, know that my thoughts and prayers are with you!


Elder Ruiz
Elder Hirst and I in front of the Redlands Temple this afternoon.

Us on tour guide duty for Moses' Tabernacle this week.

Week 74: Did you get pinched on Friday?

Happy Monday everyone, I hope you all had an enjoyable St. Patrick's Day last week on Friday. My companion and I made sure to wear green ties that day haha.

Where to start off...well Elder Hirst and I have been running around a lot carrying out responibilities and going to meetings. I'm still trying to get used to this whole zone leader thing.  On Thursday we drove to the mission office in Rancho Cucamonga and attended Mission Leadership Council (4 HOURS!). We got to see a sneak peek of the Church's new Easter video, it's awesome! I feel like Elder Hirst and I are trying to run a business here haha, we have a lot of administrative stuff to do as zone leaders. 

Nothing much happened last week; we spent a lot of time trying to see former investigators, potential investigators and less-actives and inviting them out to the Moses' Tabernacle event and giving them flyers. Moses' Tabernacle is a public exhibit being put on by Church members of a life size replica of Moses' Tabernacle. It's going to be set up at the Chino Stake Center in Chino Hills, and we are expecting quite a few nonmembers to come check it out. Us missionaries will have "shifts" when we will be giving tours of the exhibit and also talking to people, so we will be really busy with that over the next two weeks. During last week though we taught a few recent converts the Word of Wisdom and read the Book of Mormon with the other. It was cool to hear that they were first taught by one of my previous companions Elder Morton! We were kept busy with administrative tasks that we had to do.  While Elder Hirst and I were walking down the street on Saturday we saw a squirrel sitting on the edge of a fence next to the sidewalk. Elder Hirst tried talking to the squirrel, and the squirrel noticed us and leaped across the sidewalk onto the trunk of a tree, and it leaped past us not even 3 feet from our faces, so I guess you could say that was an interesting experience haha. I don't have much time left now, so I gotta go. We'll see what the Lord has in store for us this week.

Love you all,

Elder Ruiz
My companion Elder Hirst and I.

Picture from my last area with our Ward Mission Leader Brother Rauma and Sister Rauma.