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