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 distance...an 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 street....one 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