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.

Week 73: 6 Week Shafted and Back Down the Hill!

Well some interesting things happened in regards to the transfer calls that came over the weekend. First off, I got shafted out of the Mojave River Ward in Hesperia after only being there for 1 transfer! Second, President Taylor called us Friday night and told me that I will be a Zone Leader, and then on Sunday night we received word that I'd be going to Upland! I had a great experience serving in the Mojave River Ward with Elder Olson for 6 weeks. I loved serving in the hight desert, the wards were great, the people were great, and it was like a home away from for me. But alas, the Lord has moved me from the winter wonderland of dry skin and heavy winds, to the lusciously green Inland Empire with big homes and plenty of smog to go around. But who cares, I love all parts of our mission, and I'll go where the Lord puts me. So here I am now, emailing you all from Upland, California!
As is typical of a missionary leaving an area, we went to members' homes and took pictures with them and had a few final goodbyes. On Friday night we had a great lesson with our two investigators; we brought the YMP with us and we taught them some commandments. The Spirit was there, and it was a good lesson.
Well my new companion is Elder Hirst from Minnesota. He's been out slightly longer than I have, he's chill. I'm short on time so I gotta go, but just know that I know that God loves each of you, and His Gospel can bless your life as you learn of it and live it!

Elder Ruiz