Thursday, July 30, 2009

Heat Wave

July 28, 2009

Hola familia,

Ricardo came to church! Neither of his sons did but this was a huge step for him. It's really cool how we got it to happen too. Elder Becerra and I planned really hard for how it was we were going to accomplish the task of getting him to come to church. We used all of our methods of planning from our mission including ODOR-PAL. We ended up planning out two lessons. The first one would focus on authority, apostasy, and the restoration all referenced from the bible. We shared probably about 25 scriptures with him covering the three topics. That lesson went really well. The purpose of this lesson was to give a setting for the next lesson. In which we watched Joseph Smith: the prophet of the restoration. It was in English because it hasn't even been released yet. He speaks and understands English really well though. During the hour of the movie I looked over at him occasionally to see his reaction. His eyes were glued to it. You could see how much he was thinking and pondering on what he was seeing. When the movie ended we talked about how he felt and what happened in the movie. The conversation was simple. Basically it went along the lines of, "That really happened? Yep." He was stunned and speechless. Everything just really started clicking in his mind. And to top it all off the spirit was very strong. Elder Becerra and I left that lesson on a super spiritual high.

Yesterday was not a good day. I ate something weird on Sunday I think because I had the symptoms of food poisoning. Sunday night from the hours of 11:00 pm to about 5:30 am I threw-up about 6 or 7 times. It wasn't very fun. I got a blessing Monday morning. We took the day off so my body could recuperate. It's so boring and miserable to be a missionary stuck at home sick. This is only my second time like this. I slept really well last night and I've felt a lot better today.

We went on exchanges with the zone leaders this last week. I was with Elder Clark. He's a really good missionary. He honestly talks with everyone. I learned and grew a lot just in the one day we were together. We also had a really interesting lesson together. I think I've told you about Deborah before. The spirit told us to go see her. So of course she was at home when we knocked on the door. She invited us and we began talking. Right away she told us about a dream that she had had three days ago. It was a dream about the second coming. She was with her family trying to find safety. She saw some stairs or steps going up a large hill. At the top of the hill were two missionaries. She told me that one of them was me and that the other was Elder Clark. The thing that was odd about that was that she's never met Elder Clark before. I wanted to make sure that she really did see specifically us two and not just two missionaries. And it really was us. We talked to her a little bit about this and she thinks that it came from God.

After that lesson Elder Clark and I were talking about how we've always heard about weird stories like that. Where people in essence get dreamed to somebody's house. We were both very stunned and pretty excited. We're going to review her dream with her in more detail when we go back next time, probably tomorrow.

We're going to go see Jacob tonight. I have something for him to take home to you. And to answer your question he is not a member. I think he'll be coming to Utah in about a week.

Sadly, we haven't heard anything from Lana yet. Heavenly Father knows where she is though. He'll make something work out.

It has been really hot lately. This morning when we went outside it felt like the hottest morning that I've ever felt. The summer will pass over in a while and we'll have our cool weather back.

The Boyle's wedding went well. Now we're just waiting for all of their family to go back home and we'll move back in. It'll probably be on next Monday. We still visit them just about everyday.

I love you family,

Elder Ben Arnold

Spirit Tracting

July 21, 2009

Hola familia,

This last week has been very full of crazy stuff. First off, we moved. It's just temporary for the Boyle's Wedding. We moved out last night and we'll be there for two weeks. We're living with President Ross, the branch president. We already miss the Boyle's but the Ross's are great too.

We had a cool experience doing some "spirit tracting" as we call it. We get in the car and Elder Becerra tells me where to drive. Every time we've found several people to teach. One of the teaching experiences was really neat. We had just got finished teaching a man in English that we taught in his garage. He was a little bit drunk so it made it interesting. Then we got back in the car because he said there weren't any Hispanic people in the area. Elder Becerra told me where to turn whenever we got to an intersection. After driving for just a minute we saw a lady sitting down on the sidewalk in the shade. She looked like she had been crying. The spirit said to talk to her so we parked the car about a block down the street around the corner. When we were first walking up, we couldn't see her because of the trees. We were praying that she would still be there. We walked really fast until we got within sight of her. When we got up to her she was looking away kind of ashamed. We just started by asking her if she was okay and if there was anything we could do for her. She didn't say anything just shook her head. We talked to her a little bit more with the same kind of response and then I asked her if it would be alright if we shared a scripture with her. She gave the same response and shook her head. Then she said that we could say a prayer for her. It was the first thing she said and it was really quiet. So we sat down in the shade with her on the sidewalk. I asked her for her name. She said "Lana". Then I offered a prayer specifically asking Heavenly Father to help her. She was a lot more open to us after that. She told us why she was sad and that her ex-boyfriend had just yelled at her and told her to get off of his property. It just tore her up and the reason she stopped on the sidewalk was because she was so overcome with emotion that she couldn't keep walking. We read Alma 7:11-12 with her and talked about it. I could see that it meant a lot to her. Her countenance cheered up quite a bit. The subject then changed to talking about Spanish. Where she works she associates with a lot of Hispanic people and she has to use a translator, a real person. She bought rosetta stone and has been using that. I talked to her about how I learned Spanish and she was really impressed. She said she would give us a call so we could come over and give her a Book of Mormon in Spanish and English. It was such a cool lesson. I felt on such a spiritual high after all three of us got up and went different ways.

Your adventures with scuba-diving sound like a lot of fun. I'll be excited to join you later on. Try not to have too much fun without me. haha.

Off of Amy's comment about the song coming on the radio. I hear stuff like that every time we go into a fast food place. It's kind of hard hearing all that stuff. Most of it doesn't sound as good as it did before the mission though. You can feel the spirit leaving as you hear it. There was one time in a Chinese restaurant where I heard some motab come on. That was really cool.

On Sunday I did my first baptismal interview. It was in English with Tyler. He just got married to one of the members in the branch. They're both about 20. He's really cool. He's very ready to take part in this church. He was actually kind of bummed that he had missed the opportunity to serve a mission. Isn't that such an amazing attitude?

ATF stands for All Time Finding. When you say that you ATFed somebody it means you talked to them outside of tracting on doors. For example talking to somebody in the park or outside in their yard or garage or on the street.

Francisco got an emergency call to go into work. One of the other workers just up and quit and he's been working double shift this whole week. It's been really hard on him. He hasn't been able to meet with us and he wasn't able to come to church yesterday to receive the priesthood.

Our district improved again this week. We've all been talking to more people, teaching more lessons, and seeing more success.

Another update on Jacob from Jerusalem; Sister Tulva, who is awesome, got us a Book of Mormon in Arabic to take over to him. He wasn't there the first time we tried but we left the book there for him. Then we came over the next night and went in and talked to him for a long time. It was really interesting and fun. He wants to come see you guys when he moves down to Provo in about a week. He's going to take something to you from me. When do you get back home? That way I can tell him when to go over. I have his email address so I'll keep in touch with him. I'll give him all your information so he can get in contact with you.

Exciting week!

Love you, Elder Ben Arnold

Fearless Finders

July 14, 2009

Hola familia,

This last week our district has been really excited. We got a lot of work done together and are looking to work even harder this week.

We had zone conference this last week. It was at Beacon Rock which I've been to in the past for a hike. We got to wear jeans and t-shirts which was kind of weird. There were a lot of missionaries there. So we got to see lots of our friends. There's so many that I still don't know. We had little workshops where a stake president or bishop would talk to us about different topics. In general the zone conference seemed to be focused on the after mission life. It was really helpful and gave most people I think a better understanding of what we're doing and a desire to work hard. I always get recharged from Zone Conferences.

Nobody will play tennis with me either, Matthew. I've played a couple times recently but I was a little bit too good and nobody wants to play that much anymore. Ooops.

Elder Becerra and I have been fearless finders this week. We're always trying to talk to every single Hispanic person that we come across but sometimes it comes up in a really awkward situation and it is really hard to talk to the person. So this last week we overcame that and have pushed each other really hard to not miss a single opportunity. As a result we've opened our mouths more and are teaching more people, even if they're not all really super interested in what we teach.

One of my favorite ATF experiences was with a guy selling ice cream. We saw him riding down the street and we really wanted to talk to him. So we waved to him and said hello. So he rode right over to us because he wanted to sell us some ice cream. Which we did. And it tasted delicious. It was a $1 coconut flavored popsicle. Then we changed the topic of conversation to missionaries and then into the message of the restoration. It was well worth the $2 that we spent.

One of my fearless finder moments turned out to not really be a Hispanic guy. We had just contacted one of our referrals and we were in the car pulling out of his driveway when we saw a guy taking out his garbage right next to us. I only got a glimpse of him and he looked Hispanic. It was another one of those awkward moments for me. But being fearless I rolled down my window and started talking to him in Spanish. He turned around and looked really confused. He started talking to me and he had a Russian accent. His name is Sergey pronounced Seerhay. We had a good conversation about his church and about what we do as missionaries. It was a very good seed planting.

Sorry I didn't tell you about how excited I was with all of the birthday presents that you got me. I got lots of yummy candy from Jonathan. Which I still haven’t finished yet. I got a really cool plaque thing from Matthew, which I have sitting on my desk. It says "Don't measure the success of your day by the harvest you reap but by the seeds you plant". Pretty good huh. Amy got me some ties and wrote me an awesome letter. And from Mom and Dad I got some more ties and a GPS which I use very often. That also included a bike mount which is really cool. I've already used it. We had to buy Elder Becerra a bike first. He got his from a missionary that's going home for 50 dollars. It's like a 500 dollar bike though. He got a really good deal. It even has disc brakes.

Francisco is doing really well. He had his interview for receiving the priesthood this last Sunday. So I'll report on that this upcoming p-day. Isn't that so exciting.

Love you

Elder Ben Arnold

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Stacking Hay

Hola familia,

This week has been really interesting. First, my new companion is not Trevor Jones. There was a last minute transfer change which I got on Tuesday night. Elder Jones is in Longview instead. I actually just met him the other day and he is really cool. But my companion who I was really excited about is Elder Becerra. I don't remember if I told you anything about him. But we flew into Washington together. He's from Oaxaca Mexico. So he speaks Spanish already and he grew up in Sandy Utah so he speaks English perfectly. He served in Connell for 9 months which is just 40 minutes north of Pasco. We saw each other a lot while I was over there and we were really good friends. So when I found out that he was going to be my new companion I was really excited. I'll send some pictures of him home in a little bit.

A few other interesting things that I found out. Elder Blomquist is training a kid from El Salvador this transfer. I'm really excited for him. Elder Tracy is also going to be learning a lot with his companion.

4th of July was pretty exciting here. It was a normal day for us. But at night there were a ton of fireworks in our neighborhood. I even got to see two trees catch on fire. Good thing there were policemen and firemen everywhere.

Weather has been really hot lately. About 100 degrees everyday with a little bit of humidity. I don't know why it's so hot. Just the last two days it dropped back down to 65. I think that's more normal for here. It's supposed to heat back up again here in a little bit.

District Leader isn't too much different. I just have to get number reports from the members of the district and then prepare district meeting. The last one that we had went pretty well. I think it got everybody excited about this upcoming transfer.

Nothing new on Marta and Ruben. We invited Marta to come to church about an 1 hour before it started and she said that she was getting everything ready to go. And then she didn't come. We haven't been able to talk to her since to find out what happened.

We are having some progress with Ricardo and his two sons, Sebastian and Daniel. Ricardo has been reading the Book of Mormon and some other books including Jesus the Christ. He's really excited for our next visit on Wednesday. Hopefully I'll have more good news to report on them for next Tuesday.

We loaded and stacked some more bales of hay this week. I had allergies really bad, especially when I was in the trailer. I would sneeze every 10 seconds for ever it felt like. And on top of that it was one of those 100 degree days. Elder Becerra and I both got a little heat exhaustion but we're over it now.

My birthday was fun. I don't think we really did anything too special. In fact I totally forgot it was my birthday until we got to the transfer site and Elder Garrett reminded me. It was really fun to meet up with Elder Montoya and Elder Becerra again. That was a great birthday present. Oh yeah, Somebody that is related to Brenda Hall brought me a cake. I wasn't able to be there because of a last minute dinner appointment change. But I'm going to give them a call this week and talk to them. Thanks Brenda!

Amy's Spanish is coming along really fast. She's writing me completely in Spanish now. It makes me even more excited for the time that I get to see her again. We taught a lady from Chile last night. She gave us some empanadas, which were delicious. We had a good lesson and I got to learn a lot of new words that I didn't know before. I'm thinking we're going to teach her a lot so I can get the Chile lingo down.

I've also tried Completos this last week with Sister Campos. Who is also from Chile. They really are delicious. They're called completos because they are totally full to the point where you can't put any more toppings onto the hotdog without it spilling over.

Love you lots,

Elder Ben Arnold