Tuesday, January 28, 2014

January 27, 2014

Hey Everyone,
   This week was another good one. We found a family of seven who we are now helping prepare for baptism. That was an awesome addition to the week. They have 5 adopted children and are progressing extremely well. The weather is getting warmer still. I still have mixed feelings about whether or not I want it to though. It's pretty nice where it's at right now. It doesn't feel like January at all.
   We had exchanges this week. I guess my district leader, Elder Romney, is second cousins with Mitt Romney. It was a pretty good day with him. We had a lot of successful visits and not much else. Elder Cupp, on the other hand, went to Elder Romney's area. I guess he didn't have as good of a day as I had...
   We have started setting up Tuesday soccer nights at Jefferson park. We have about 12 kids now that come every week to play soccer and then we teach them. It is working out extremely well. We also get the occasional basketball game followed by a lesson. Unfortunately we haven't had a game of horseshoes in a while.
   The favorite part of my week was the baptism on Saturday. That woman from my last area who taught herself to speak by watching television was baptized. I remember her saying over and over again how it will never happen or it's just not possible. She would talk about how she's too heavy or about her physical limitations. On Saturday I watched as four members of the Hampton ward helped her into the baptismal font and baptized her together.
   I was then able to stand in the circle to give her the gift of the Holy Ghost at church the following morning. It definitely was an experience I won't forget. It was great reminder to me of how much God cares for us. No matter how far we fall, no matter how low our weaknesses bring us, we are never too far for God to catch us. We simply need to do our part to come closer to Him.
   I was reading about Moses and his mouthpiece Aaron this week. In Exodus 4: 10-12, Moses is speaking with The Lord and explaining why he had Aaron speak in his stead. Moses says, "O my Lord, I am not eloquent, neither heretofore, nor since thou hast spoken unto thy servant: but I am slow of speech, and of a slow tongue." The Lord replies by saying, "Who hath made man's mouth? Or Who maketh the dumb, or deaf, or the seeing, or the blind? Have not I The Lord? Now therefore go, and I will be with thy mouth, and teach thee what thou shalt say."
   In other words, The Lord gives us our imperfections. He gives us our weaknesses. But why? In Ether 12:27 in the Book of Mormon it says, "And if men come unto me I will show unto them their weakness. I give unto men weakness that they may be humble; and my grace is sufficient for all men that humble themselves before me, and have faith in me, then will I make weak things become strong unto them."
   That woman who was baptized on Saturday really helped me to better understand this. She has had 7 strokes and 4 heart attacks. Her husband died years ago due to cancer. Her granddaughter has cerebral palsy and her daughter who lives right down the street wants nothing to do with her. She has tons of health problems but she completely understands the promise that God gives us. She humbled herself before The Lord, overcame her weaknesses, and was baptized into His church. Now weak things are becoming strong unto her.
   That same promise goes for every single one of us. If we humble ourselves before The Lord and have faith in Him, he will make weak things become strong unto us. Your weakness is never too weak, your imperfection is never too imperfect. His grace sufficient for you.

   Sincerely, Elder Earl

Monday, January 20, 2014

January 20, 2014

Hey Everyone!
   This last week was great! We taught a lot of lessons and got nine new investigators. It was great! Plus, Elder Cupp isn't sick anymore. That's always a good thing. It's starting to warm up here. I didn't wear a sweater all week. That said, I feel like a wimp because the times that I did wear sweaters were when it got below 70 degrees. Don't judge me. 
   Elder Cupp and I have found a gold mine for people to talk to. It's this park on Jefferson and Broadway. Every day people just go there to play basketball or soccer and just to hang out. They're prime targets. Elder Cupp and I just go join in. It's amazing how much less of a monster people see you as when you slaughter them in a pickup game of street ball. I don't know if it's the wingtips but I can dunk it fairly easily now. It helps.
   We've seen an increase in the amount of drunks this week. On multiple occasions we've been coerced to pray with them in the most inconvenient places and for the most outlandish things. I'm not sure if it's a problem or a blessing but I doubt any of them remember it once they're sober. For example, a lady called us over to the middle of a putting green yesterday. So we went over and she immediately grabbed our hands and closed her eyes and just stood there. After a few seconds and some odd looks from impatient golfers she explained that she needed a prayer so that her boyfriend Randy would come back to her. She also instructed us not to pray for anything else. So we said a quick prayer with her. I'm glad Elder Cupp said it. I don't know if I could have said it and kept myself from breathing in her strong scent of alcohol at the same time. We ended it as the golfers were coming to break it up and left her with a "Jesus card" which apparently she couldn't leave without. It was a good experience.
   Last week we went to Goldfield Ghost Town with Elder Mellor and Elder Robbins. Fun fact: Elder Mellor is from Kennewick. It's weird how I've never met him before. Anyways, this place is this really old deserted town right beneath the Superstitions. It was awesome! It was definitely the best P-Day I've had my entire mission. It was fun getting to goof off for a little while. This place also has the largest venomous creature exhibit in Arizona. I think I would have been better off not knowing how many ways there are to die if I get lost in the desert. They had a huge scorpion about the size of my head. According to them it's common here. Needless to say, I didn't sleep that night.
   I had a great experience this week. It's awesome being able to see the hand of The Lord guide His work here in the good ol' AZ. A few weeks ago, Sister Boutchyard and I were scheduling dinner appointments. She didn't want to schedule one for Saturday night for some reason and I didn't argue. Being fed is a privilege not a right so there's no point in arguing. Also, for some odd reason, I didn't want to be fed that night. Even though it was weeks in advance. I didn't think anything of it until Saturday. Elder Cupp and I were riding around just talking to everyone and we saw this kid walking down the street. For whatever reason, I really did not want to talk to him. I just couldn't bring myself to do it. It was really weird, but I didn't do it.
   So we kept riding and eventually found ourselves at a house we had been trying to get into for days now. The family living there had not been to church in a very long time due to their son's death. Apparently he was just about to leave on his mission and then he died due to heart problems one night. Therefore, the bishop asked us to stop by. It has been three years since he had seen them and they need to come back.
   Just like normal, they didn't answer the door. I turned around to grab my bike and saw that kid again. This time he was leaning against a retaining wall across the street. So I grabbed my bike and along with Elder Cupp walked over to him. He was holding a teddy bear in one hand and a rose in the other. I could tell he was somewhat uncomfortable but I couldn't decide if it was because we caught him in the middle of his grand scheme to get a girl or because he saw our name tags. It was probably both. I asked him what he was up to and he said he was just waiting for his girlfriend. As I was about to bring up the church a tiny, white, Toyota pickup pulled into the driveway of the family we had been trying to get ahold of. A man stepped out of the drivers seat and yelled, "Elders! Bring him over here!"
   Confused, I stood and watched as that kid walked over to meet the teenage girl who came out of the passenger side. I quickly put two and two together and walked over there. I shook hands with the man bishop had been wanting us to find and then proceeded to help them carry groceries in. When everything was done and they couldn't think of anything else we could help them with the man asked, "Do you two have a dinner appointment tonight?". Before I could even think about it I told him that we didn't. He automatically replied, "You do now! Be back at five and we'll make sure you're fed".
   So we got on our bikes at about 3:30 and rode around the avenues. It was very successful hour and a half. We got a few new investigators, including an old RLDS man. I'm excited to teach him. I'm intrigued as to how much he already knows about the gospel. Anyways, we showed back up at five. Dinner wasn't ready so we sat down in the family room and began to talk. That kid sat there and listened intently. We came to find out he's not a member. In fact, he doesn't belong to any church whatsoever. So we taught him.
   The lesson was great! Even this family, who hadn't had the opportunity to feel the spirit due to their inactivity at church were able to bare their testimonies and share experiences with this kid which promoted him, in return, to share experiences that he has had which lead him to know that there is a God. We gave him a Book of Mormon and invited him to read and pray about it as it asks us to do in Moroni chapter 10. He promised he would do it that night. Also, the family who had not been to church in three years came to church with that kid on Sunday. We weren't able to catch them before they left but we will on Tuesday.
   They shared with us that the kid usually comes over on Friday nights but for some reason they didn't want him to this last week. They said they were busy. So instead, they invited him over on Saturday night. Right when we happened to be there. And God made sure we were there.
   It's amazing to me how God had put that plan in motion weeks ahead, if not months! Even just for as simple a meeting as that was. He made it so that we would be able to eat with that family and teach that kid that night. He also made sure that events led up and happened so that we would be at that specific place at 3:30 on a Saturday afternoon. To be honest,before that event the day had not been going too hot. Now I can't even begin to explain how much I appreciate all the rejection and perspective failure that was put in place to bring us to that exact location at that exact time. It's crazy how much God does control. It's amazing to me how events take place that at the time seem terrible. Yet the fact of the matter is that as long as we trust Him and His divine will, and do our best to align our will with His, things will ALWAYS work out.

   Sincerely, Elder Earl

More pictures

Ashton drew this for a 4 year old girl who was in the hospital over Christmas. She has cerebral palsey. Her grandma is getting baptized soon.

Monday, January 13, 2014


January 13, 2014

Hey everyone,
   This week went well. It was slow. But good. Elder Cupp has been sick so I've been cooped up in the apartment over the weekend. Other than that the week has been good. We picked up some new investigators and we were able to confirm a man a member of the church yesterday.
   I probably met the most drunk man I've ever met in my life today. He said his name was Eric Rip Von Winkle...he thinks. We found him washing his eyes out with coke. He was crazy. He invited us over to teach him though. He said next time to meet him at his house and then pointed out to the middle of the desert. I don't know when or if we will be stopping by.
   Last Sunday we went with a man from our ward to go home teaching. He just got a new assignment and he wanted us to come with him to meet them. Our first stop made me kind of sad. We walked in the house to find a man and woman, both in their 60's, completely immobile, sitting watching television. I had never seen them before but apparently they were members. I asked if there was anything holding them back from coming to church. She said that she has lupus and her husband said that he has a condition where there are mass amounts of fluid building up in his legs and he will probably have to lose them soon. He said he doesn't want to go to the hospital to get his legs drained. He said it will just make it worse.
   I asked if they would like a blessing. They said, "We've already tried. It doesn't work". The only thing I could say was, "You're right. If you say it's not going to work, it's not going to work". We wrapped things up and left the house. I felt bad for them. They had become so complacent and ignorant that their faith wasn't strong enough to continue living the way God intended. In the Book of Mormon, faith is compared to a seed. It will not grow unless it is nourished. It is our job to make sure that seed gets as much sunlight as it possibly can have so that when the clouds roll in, the wind picks up, and the rain begins to pour that seed will be able to endure and grow further because of it.
   This couple had not allowed the light to shine on their seeds. Because of this they went on to tell me that God just wanted them to be miserable. They had no reason as to why. Just a vague, disturbing comment. I've been thinking about that off and on ever since. Why would God want someone to be miserable? He wouldn't. Your Father in Heaven would never desire misery upon you. That's against His divine nature. However, that does not discount the need for trials. Trials are the wind, lack of sun, and rain that cause our seeds of faith to wain. It's then, and only then, that we see how strong our faith really is. If we endure it well, we grow. Faith cannot grow in the noonday sun. It can only be fortified.
   It's also important to remember that Jesus Christ felt every discomfort you will ever encounter. He atoned for all of that. Why would God feel the need to afflict any more pain on Christ just because He wants you to be miserable? When it comes down to it, He doesn't. You do. When we make mistakes, lose our faith, and stray further from the course God intends for us to be on we experience more difficulties and hardships then were ever necessary. Now remember that Christ had to feel all of that. Are we afflicting any more pain on Christ than is necessary? If so, I would invite you to stop. Complacency and ignorance simply prolong the pain. Both your's and Christ's. Sitting still isn't worth it.

   Elder Earl

Monday, January 6, 2014

January 6, 2014

Hey Everybody,
   This week was interesting. We had transfers so Elder Meline and I are no longer companions. I am now companions with Elder Cupp. He's from Knoxville Tennessee. We are over the Baywood Ward. They split Elder Meline and my area in two and we both took a half. I'm excited. It's going to be a lot more challenging then before now that we don't have as many people to teach.
   My birthday was yesterday. Thank you to everyone who made it great. We had a baptism on Saturday. That was pretty much the best birthday gift I could have asked for. It went very well. It's nice to see the fruits of your labors every now and then.
   It was interesting looking back on the holidays. They are a lot different when you are on a mission. In a very cool way they are better. I couldn't really put my finger on it for a while but last week I caught on. I never had time to think of myself. Because of that, I'm happy. I have been so busy serving people that my holidays became happier then ever before. My one birthday gift was a bag of popcorn and it was somewhat ridiculous how happy it made me.
   That said, it's interesting why that would be the case. When we serve, just like God commands us to, we are happy. The thing is, that's not the only commandment that leads to happiness. In fact, every single commandment, when looked at from that perspective, becomes a way God gives us to be happy and pleased with our lives.
   It's like when you have the hiccups. Everybody notices them and after a while they get fed up with you because of your inability to control yourself. Because of this they begin to throw out techniques and ideas for you to get rid of them. They will tell you to hold your breath for thirty seconds, drink water upside down, eat an orange, or figure out a way to scare them out of you. Eventually the hiccups stop and you can get back to the task the hiccups distracted you from.
   God and his commandments are like that. He knows that we, in our mortal existence here on Earth, will experience hiccups on the path back to Him. Because he loves us, he gives us techniques to get rid of them so that we can continue on that path that these hiccups can potentially distract us from. To further increase the effectiveness of these techniques, He has made it so that as we continue to live by them, the hiccups will become somewhat fewer and easier to handle along the way. All because he loves us.

   Elder Earl