Monday, January 30, 2017

Week 67: Goodbye Phelan and Oak Hills, hello again Hesperia!

Last week was pretty low key. On Thursday I was able to conduct exchanges with Elder Velasquez in the Maple Ward. He is a very good missionary; such a humble and submissive servant of the Lord. He is able to carry a spirit of peace with him. Proselyting was difficult that day because a lot of people we planned on seeing were not home, but while we were tracting we came across a man who has a strong belief in God and how his relationship with God has completely changed his life for the better. After testifying to him about Jesus Christ and how His gospel can bless each of us, we asked him if he would be interested in learning more, and he said he totally love to learn more from us!  All the biking and walking that evening was worth it, just for that one man that we were able to meet and share the gospel with.

On Saturday we played basketball in the morning with some nonmembers, and then spent a few hours at Mea Ola's Place repairing vinyl fencing and constructing a big tent. Not your typical service projects that missionaries would do, but that's what makes Mea Ola's Place so awesome!

Well, transfer calls came over the weekend, and here I am now serving in the Mojave River Ward in Hesperia (I'm in a different zone than I was in last time I was serving in Hesperia, so it's new to me haha). I'm serving on the east side of Hesperia this time. My companion is Elder Christian Olson from Castle Rock, Colorado, he's a cool cat who likes movies. Good guy with a good attitude. I am grateful for the opportunity that I had of serving with Elder Hulterstrom. We worked together and were fortunate to see the fruits of our labors this transfer. I thank the Lord for allowing me to stay in Phelan and Oak Hills for 6 wonderful months. I feel like I have grown so much. I have come to love the people there so much, and I will miss them dearly. The people I meet and get to know on my mission will always have a special place in my heart. Over the weekend Elder Hulterstrom and I were able to make a few visits and take some pictures with ward members, which was nice.

I am short on time today, we still have a few things to do, so I gotta go. But know that I love each of you and am grateful for you in my life!

Elder Ruiz
 Exchanges with Elder Velasquez who is from Nebraska.
 Silly Hesperia B Zone picture
Sister Lamb, Sister Wagstaff, myself, and Elder Hulterstrom and Mea Ola's Place on Saturday! 

Week 66: Let It Snow!

This past week was great! On Wednesday we had a zone conference with President and Sister Taylor. The zone conference was a replacement for our Christmas get-together/devotional that we usually have in December. But instead of focusing on Christmas like we typicaly do, President Taylor changed it so that we would have our "devotional" ion January, and instead of focusing on Christmas, we would focus on Christ! So that's exactly what we did for zone conference. Sister Taylor showed us several Church videos depicting the Savior, including his Atonement, and President Taylor talked a lot about how we need to be more like Christ and how he is the perfect example for us all. It was spiritually powerful and very moving to many of us, including me. So much good stuff in that meeting! I committed myself to focus on the Savior more.

Our investigator Carrie was baptized on Saturday and confirmed yesterday at church. It is so amazing to see how far she has come in the gospel! I really enjoyed having the honor and opportunity to baptize her. Elder Wedel and his companion were able to make it up here for her baptism. 

The weather here is pretty awesome right now! It's been raining A LOT the past few days, and this morning when we left our house it was starting to snow lightly. The Wrightwood sister missionaries almost couldn't get out of there house and driveway this morning because they've been getting pounded with snow. The bishop of the Wrightwood ward even cancelled church yesterday! I love the snow! Hopefully we get at least an inch or two down where we are haha.

Have a great week everyone!

Elder Ruiz

Week 65: A Break from the storm

It's a shame that our week had to start on a sad note. Last Monday as we were pulling in to the parking lot of a church building for a zone activity, we saw an ambulance parked in the middle of the parking lot with its' lights on and engine running. "Oooooh noooo..." I thought to myself. We walked in to the church and went to the cultural hall where we knew the other missionaries would be. And there, on the ground on her side, was poor Sister Brown, gently sobbing in absolute pain. The EMT's were kneeling by her, prepping her to lift her onto a stretcher right next to her. I thought to myself "What's the cause of all this? There's no blood on the floor, I don't see any bones portruding out of her anywhere, what the heck is going on?" So I asked one of the other elders, and they told us that while they were.....actually, nevermind, long story short, she dislocated her knee so her kneecap was on the side of her leg/knee and she fell to the ground. Um, I'm pretty sure that's not where a kneecap is supposed to be. So through pain and tears they lifted her onto the stretcher, put her in the ambulance, and took off to the hospital. After further X-rays the doctors said she might have torn her ACL as well, so Sister Brown had no choice but to return home to her family so she could let her injury recover for 6 months. It's saddens me to see her go home early; she was a good missionary who had the Spirit with her and she was a positive influence on others. Even in the midst of her inability to get around during the week, she tried to stay positive throughout the whole ordeal. We got to say goodbye to her Saturday night before she got picked up by her parents on Sunday.

In other news, our investigator Carrie is getting baptized this Saturday, we are very excited about it and she is progressing quite well in the gospel. She's quit drinking coffee and has stopped smoking which is awesome. On Saturday we taught the two oldest boys of a part member family the Restoration. They have expressed their desire to get baptized, and during the lesson we set a goal of March 18th to work towards them getting baptized! Even their less-active mother was there for the lesson, which made me happy to see all of them together as a family. On Sunday we taught the Young Women about the Godhead and why it is important for them to know about the Godhead. We even did several roleplays during which they practiced teaching their friends about the Godhead. One of the girls there, Cheyenne, is the girlfriend of a young man in the ward and she is not a member of the Church. AND SHE VOLUNTEERED TO ACT AS THE NONMEMBER IN THE ROLEPLAY!!! And it was so cool to see a young Beehive girl teach Cheyenne about the Godhead, prayer, and how much They love us. Cheyenne even asked the other girl some questions about the Gospel that she had! The Spirit was so strong there! Afterwards when we were evaluating the roleplay with the Young Women we asked Cheyenne what she thought of the roleplay, and as she tried to answer her face got a little rosy and she started to get a little emotional. And then it was as if the whole room got silent, and the "feeling" came into the room! She had felt the Spirit, and the Spirit was in that room testifying to her, and to all of us, of the truthfulness of the Gospel and the things that had been said during that class! This probably has to be one of the greatest experiences on my mission interacting with the youth.

Well, I gotta go, but I wish all of you a blessed week! Remember who you are!

Elder Ruiz

We came across some interesting fog in the canyon at night during last week.

Week 63: Last Christmas on the mission...

Hope everyone had a good Christmas with food, gifts, family and the Savior! 

We were blessed with two new investigators last week: a mother and her son of a part member family! The dad has been coming back to church and trying to clear up some Word of Wisdom issues that him and his wife have, but that are solid! The dad even has them pray kneeling together as a family every night, as well as pray together over their meals. And they really want to get baptized, especially their son, who loves us missionaries. The mother enjoys attending church and loves the Relief Society, and she loves learning about the gospel. I am so ecstatic to teach them the restoration this week! They are a good family.

Towards the end of the week it rained SOOOOOO HARD, that the dirt roads became washed out, and there were puddles as big as outdoor pools! It got to the point that our back door in our house started leaking rainwater from outside, so I stayed up til about 2 trying putting together some makeshift object that would keep out the rain from seeping through the worn door seals around the door...and it worked! When we woke up in the morning we saw that it had snowed during the night, and I was super happy about that! The whole area looked beautiful in white, not to mention the San Gabriel mountains that had received snow a few days earlier. Buuuuut by the end of the day most of the snow in Pinon Hills and Phelan had melted. By the end of the week our truck was muddy from driving through all the big mud puddles, it was cool.

Proselyting was a little difficult due to the holidays and people being sick, appointments cancelling, or people being out of town with family, so we tried to show the #LIGHTtheWORLD Christmas video to the members and less-actives that we met with, whether over a dinner appointment or just to see how they are doing. I always feel good watching that video, it is so inspirational.

Saturday we went caroling as a district in Hesperia. Sister Wagstaff and Sister Brown even made cookies/treats to give to the less-active people that they are teaching or trying to contact. We specifically caroled to less-actives, potential investigators, and investigators, and everyone that we sang to appreciated our caroling. It was wonderful being able to share the Christmas spirit with others in that way, and I was happy to see our district united and coming closer together. We all had an enjoyable night. 

Sunday we went to church twice for each ward that we cover but they each only held sacrament meeting. There were a lot of musical numbers performed, it was wonderful. That night was enjoyable talking to family over Facetime. Thank you so much to everyone for the Christmas gifts that you sent my way, and for the cards and your words of encouragement, I appreciate them! May you enjoy the rest of 2016, and have a Happy New Year on Sunday!

Much love,

Elder Haven Ruiz

 Awesome sunset with the San Gabriel mountains after the first storm last week!
 SNOW!!!...and then it melted...(the wheelchair is just a "yard decoration", you can find really random stuff out here in the desert haha)
 Yeah, we like to keep the decorations small and simple haha

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Week 64: Since when did anyone tell me it would be cold in So. Cali?

Hey everyone, don't worry I'm still alive and well! We had another storm system come through our area and dump some more rain and snow on us, yay! If only I could go skiing as a missionary... 

Last week I had the opportunity to go on exchanges in our district with Elder Henson from Richfield, Idaho (near Twin Falls). He's a cool cat; good guy, easy to talk to and loves teaching and serving others. During our exchange that day we helped with Sister Rael's fruit orchard. Operating the tractor brought me back to the days of working at the stables back home and shoveling dirt brought Elder Henson back to the days of working at a dairy haha. We had a good time helping her with that. And in the evening we taught a lesson to Nicole and Christian our two newest investigators with her husband Brian who is a returning less-active. The Spirit was strong in their home as we taught them the Restoration. They committed to reading the Book of Mormon and praying about whether or not it is the word of God, and if Joseph Smith was a true prophet. I have known them for only a short period of time for now, but I have come to love them and desire their salvation. By the power of the Holy Ghost and with the help of Brian, I know that they have been led to this great Gospel.

Elder Hulterstrom and I went to a member's home in the Oak Hills Ward and helped him split wood with his wood splitter in the wind and rain! Despite the recent weather, I still want to help other people; I don't want weather to keep us from helping someone. We were able to take some of that split wood and give it to a member who was low on their supply of firewood. They were extremely grateful. Later that night we drove with that member to Victorville to the local hospital to give another member a blessing of healing; she had been having a very difficult time breathing, so she was taken to the hospital. As far as we know she is doing better, so that's good.

Anyways, I love this area and the people here, and the Gospel of Jesus Christ really does bless us! Love you guys!

Elder Haven Ruiz

Selfie by Elder Henson from the raised bucket of the tractor!