Monday, February 27, 2017

Week 71: The Wind in the Willows..oh wait I mean Hesperia

Greeting from the first day of the week!

On Monday last week the weather in the morning was great, so we drove to a member's house and we played croquet in his back yard. For a second I felt high-class as the other elders and I walked around the yard in our shirt and ties, swinging around wooden sticks in the sun haha. The member also gave us a tour of his birds that he owns, there were so many! Some of them were fairly big, while others were a little bigger than a golf ball, I swear!

On Wednesday I had the opportunity to go on exchanges with our District Leader, Elder Gibbons from West (or South?) Jordan. We had an awesome lesson with a investigating family that Elder Gibbons and his companion are teaching right now.

On Saturday Elder Olson and I both felt like they weren't really progressing much, and so rather than teach the Plan of Salvation we instead taught them the Gospel of Jesus Christ, so we could talk about baptism, because we both felt that we shoud push back their baptismal date because we feel we need more time to prepare and keep their commitments. Our ward mission leader was present with us and he had some really good input, relating to them his own conversion story as a young man. We explained to them the importance of reading the Book of Mormon and praying, and during our lesson about the GOJC we made sure they understood the importance of repentance, what it is, why we need to repent, and that it is because of our Savior's Atonement that makes repentance possible. Looking back, I can see how the Holy Ghost helped my companion and I and our ward mission leader know what to say and what to ask during the lesson. As we were guided by the Holy Ghost we were able to ask inspired questions. We recommitted our two investigators to read the Book of Mormon and pray daily, both individually and as a family, and they said they would. It was a great lesson. The Spirit of the Lord was there; I could tell from the feelings of peace, love, and joy that were felt in our investigators' home.

Other than that, we are still just trying to find. We recently received some some assignments from the ward and stake to see the less-active young single adults, part-member families, and other members. I know there is much potential here in this ward, it's just a matter of having the faith to go out and work and find. I know that through faith in Jesus Christ and turning our faith into action, we can find God's children who are ready to learn the Restored Gospel. I am so grateful for this time that I have been given to serve Heavenly Father and His children, my brothers and sisters. I love being a full-time representative of our beloved Savior and His Church. Our loving Father in heaven and His Son Jesus Christ love you SO MUCH, and I too love each of you. You are my family and friends, but spiritually speaking we are all one great big family here on earth. Now let's make sure we love one another. I hope you all enjoy this new week!

Elder Ruiz

Week 70: Stinky Boots

I hope everyone had an enjoyable Valentine's Day last week, and a pleasant President's Day yesterday!

Last week was good. We were able to pick up a new investigator, a young man named Christian, who we had met while tracting and had come to sacrament meeting two Sundays ago. We taught him the Restoration and we were able to resolve some concerns that he had about the Church. We talked a lot about the Holy Ghost, and when he told us that he felt at peace, we helped him recognize that as being the power of the Holy Ghost. We invited him to be baptized and he said he would once he prays and receives and answer, so we talked about the importance of prayer and how through the Holy Ghost we can receive answers to our prayers. It was a really really good lesson, not to mention the fact that he is an 18-year old who is seeking God in his life and basically is not sure which church he should join or be baptized in. I admire him for his desire to seek God by himself as a youth.

On Wednesday we had a zone conference. I loved it, I was reminded about several things that I can  improve on with my teaching skills. I got to see my previous companion Elder Hulterstrom, my MTC companion Elder McLaws, and one of my companions from when I was serving in Chino, Elder Morton. After 18 months down the hill in Chino and Upland, he is FINALLY serving in the high desert. That evening we had a dinner appointment with a nonmember couple that we had contacted the week prior, and we had a good conversation with them. We were able to talk about religion and faith, and Elder Olson and I shared scriptures from the Bible and the Book of Mormon about having Christ as our foundation. After dinner the husband Frank showed us his restored green Plymouth Duster in his garage; that car is cool. Then he took us to his "man cave" and showed us a bunch of stuff. He showed us his old school stereo system with all his records and played "Born to Be Wild" by Steppenwolf over the system. And then I turned my head to the right....and there was a drumset! I asked him if he played drums and he said yeah, I told him that I played too, so he told me I could try it out, so I played along to the rest of the song. It was a lot of fun. They really enjoyed our company that night, I'm glad we could leave a good impression with them. They even told us they'd feed us again, so we scheduled a day with them in March. I'm looking forward to seeing them again!

Funny Story:
On Thursday we volunteered again at the community garden place called Squash 4 Friends. I was wearing my work boots and I used a tilling machine to mix a load of chicken poop that was going to be used as fertilizer for the plants in the garden. I had no problem with the stench, so I worked on that for some time until we had to leave because we had to go to the mission office. Because we were running late and I didn't want to make the other elders late, I didn't change out of my service clothes and instead just hopped in their car and told them to go. It wasn't' even 30 seconds into our travels that one of the elders spoke up and said "Dang, what's that smell?" Pretty soon the other elders were saying the same thing. I didn't really pick up on the smell until I actually started sniffing the air in the car, and then the thought came: "Oh...that must be the chicken poop...wait a minute, I smell like chicken poop, oh shoot!" So over the course of our car ride down to Rancho Cucamonga to the mission office and back up to Hesperia I unintentionally tortured them with the scent of poultry excrement haha. I'm happy to report that there were no casualties from the smell. The kicker though was when we got to the mission office and all the other elders and sisters that were there were in their proselyting clothes of course...except for me. And here comes President and Sister Taylor out of the office, greeting all the missionaries in the foyer, and then they come up to greet me. As they are walking towards me I could sense President Taylor looking me up and down because I didn't have my normal proselyting clothes on (and I wasn't wearing shoes or anything because I left my boots outside to try and not carry the stench with me, so I was just walking around with some socks on and no shoes). Even now I can imagine him thinking "Where the heck has this elder been, and where are his clothes?!...and what's that smell?" just by the brief countenance that he had on his face. Quickly I tried explaining the situation to him, and he smiled and understood my situation and said nothing else of it. So ever since that day I have banished my boots to the garage of our house, never again to be kept inside lest there be a conquering of our home by the powerful scent of chicken poop. And I also made sure to wash my clothes.
The End!

On Sunday a young man who is one of our other investigators came to church and he even brought his nonmember friend with him! The Young Men in the ward did a good job of fellowshipping them and including them in conversations.

Yep so that basically sums up last week. I was able to have some memorable experiences and also help others, so I'm happy. I hope each of you have a good week! Remember the Lord loves you

Elder Ruiz
One of my previous companions, Elder Morton and I. He is serving in Big Bear now, his first area in the desert.

Week 69: Mi Familia

For the most part I think I've overcome whatever ailment I was experiencing last week, so now it's not hindering my ability to get out and work, which we are grateful for.

This past week had many tender mercies and we had some fun. During District Meeting on Tuesday we set a goal to find 15 new investigators as a district by the end of the week, we were all super pumped to go out and find! On Thursday we got together as a zone and volunteered at garden?...I don't know what to call it...anyways we went to this place called Squash 4 Friends and we dug holes for vegetable plants and their pots and afterwards the manager of the place made us some vegetable soup with homemade bread, yum! After that we checked out the Mojave River with our housemated, Elder Ogbonna from Nigeria and Elder Kelly from Iowa. I was always told by other people on my mission that the Mojave River is dry most of the time. But right now it's not haha! That river is cruising along. We skipped stoned across the river and we walked around this really long railroad trestle that spans the riverbed and took some cool pictures.

 We hoped to find new investigators this week as part of our district goal for last week, but we didn't. But that's okay because we also had some spiritual experiences with several people we talked to during the week. We tracted throughout the week with Family Proclamation pamphlets, telling people how faith in Jesus Christ can strengthen their families and bring them closer together. I consider us blessed  to have tracted into quite a few families and not just individuals. They were all very nice to us; a lady with two adorable kids even told us that her mother is LDS and that she had missionaries over at her house for dinner before! At another house that we tracted into we met a man named Donovan, who started attending a Christian church in Chino not too long ago. We gave him a Family Proclamation pamphlet and after talking with him for a bit he asked us where we meet for church and what time our services start. We gave him the address and time for our ward and he told us that he'd really like to come to our church sometime. Elder Olson and I were so happy and grateful to have been able to have met these families. During the middle of the week we visited an investigator named Jeremy who has been battling depression and substances for some time now. I was quite saddened to see him in his current status. My heart was struck to hear him tell us that society doesn't need him, that he's better off just isolating himself from everyone else by staying in his apartment. I told him that that is not part of God's plan for us, but rather that he wants us to interact with one another, as that is how we can learn in progress in this life.
I told him we could give him a blessing of counsel and comfort, and he accepted our offer. After the blessing, despite the fact that he had taken some drugs prior to seeing him, he said that he did feel better. I could even see a slight change in his countenance. We committed him to watch an online video produced by the Church called "The Hope of God's Light" (one of my favorite video produced by the Church), and to also get rid of his drugs and alcohol. The level of spirituality in that environment was a lot better by the time we left. I left feeling good, knowing that Christ would have done the same thing, of reaching out to him and listening to him, and helping him. Later that evening we had locked up our bikes on a street pole to go tracting on a particular street, and when we came back to unlock our bikes, someone had put a small bag of chips in each of our helmets haha! What a kind act that they performed! Also while tracting we met a young man named Christian who told us that his family is looking for God's church. I promised him right then and there that our church is what is family is looking for, and that his family can be brought closer together through the message that we share of Jesus Christ and families being together forever. We invited him and his family to attend our church on Sunday and he said he would try and make it. Later in the week we were notified that his family is not interested in learning from us, but Christian was anxious to come to our ward, and sure enough he was there at sacrament meeting! After sacrament meeting Elder Olson asked Christian what he thought, and he said that he liked it! Plus two of our investigators came to sacrament meeting and Sunday school as well! Elder Olson and I were so ecstatic! And last night we tried to contact a potential investigator named Frank and we talked to his wife in their driveway and she offered to feed us this Wednesday for dinner! Without hesitation we said yes to her offer! Elder Olson and I are excited for this new week! 
After church we helped a nonmember lady move furniture and belongings out of her house and into a moving van; she was very grateful for our assistance (she was another person that Elder Olson and I tracted into, and when she told us that she was busy moving furniture we offered to come help her, to which she accepted).

I cannot thank my Heavenly Father enough for these wonderful experiences he has given to Elder Oson and I. As we have been sharing "The Family: A Proclamation to the World" pamphlets with others, it has made me think a lot about my own family members. I love my family very much, and I am so grateful for the knowledge that we have as Latter-Day Saints that families can be together forever through sacred ordinances that occur in holy temples. I thank God for all the blessings he has given me in my life. He has placed each of us in family units because He loves us and wants us to learn, progress, and grow, and being in families that have the gospel is the best way to achieve those. I know that families can be together forever, and that we will one day be able to embrace and reunite with our dear friends and loved ones who have passed on from this life. I consider it a privilege and special opportunity to be able to teach others this profound and moving doctrine. I love each of you, and I thank my Heavenly Father that he has allowed you and I to play a part in each other's lives. Have a blessed week!

Elder Haven Ruiz

 The bags of chips that someone left in our helmets! AWESOME!

 Elder Ogbonna, Elder Olson, Elder Kelly, and me next to the really long trestle and the Mojave River.
 ...the really looooooong trestle...
In front of the Mojave River...

Week 68: Mojave River!

This past week Elder Olson and I were able to see two investigators with our ward mission leader and read a chapter out of the Book of Mormon with them. Later in the week I got sick, so we didn't leave our house and proselyte very much. Fast Sunday was great, our ward is smaller than the other wards in the stake I would say, and there are a lot of older people in the ward, but I loved listening to their loving and sincere testimonies of the Book of Mormon, the Gospel, and the love that God has for us, among other good things that were testified of.  I look forward to getting over this sickness and helping our investigators progress this week. Not much else to bring up, but the work of the Lord must go on!

God will always love you, and His hand of mercy is always outstretched to you!

Elder Ruiz
Elder Olsen and I