Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Llamas family

Hola familia,

I just realized that I haven't told you about the Llamas family. I remembered to bring my journal this time so I'll copy some of it over:

...After hearing him I feel so much more connected to the spirit. I feel more open to receiving personal revelation.
Elder Garrett and I went out and worked together tonight. I sincerely felt a new sense of urgency. We first attended Tamara's baptism. I shared a testimony after the ordinance. Right after the prayer we congratulated her and then left. We called Felix leaving the church parking lot telling him we needed him for an exchange in five minutes. He was all for it. We visited several different people. At first nobody was there. Then we started to find people left and right: Rolando, Moises, Nancy, Brittany, Ronnie & Brandon, Gabriel, and the Leal family. That was all in an hour and a half. We were truly led by the spirit. One of those visits stands out in my mind. That is Gabriel. Just before heading back to the Leals, Elder Garrett said, "Why don't we go see that family that we ATF'd that were out playing soccer?" So we drove over there and a man, in his 40's, named Gabriel answered the door. I introduced us and began teaching how a prophet and apostles have been called. We talked to him about the grandness of the church throughout the world. That these men just like the men that walked with Christ go throughout the whole world. And that one of them would be here in Pasco tomorrow. He was taken aback. He turned to Elder Garrett and asked him, "Is this true? Is this real?" Elder Garrett responded, "Es la verdad." We committed him to come and he said for sure he would.' It is incredible what happens when the spirit guides. This is God's work. His hand is in our lives everyday.

End of journal entry 11-14-09

Happy B-Day Mom!

We had two really great lessons. We arrived about 20 minutes late to Gabriel's house. They were there waiting for us. And Gabriel had read the pamphlet. All of them seemed to be understanding very well. It was best when we asked questions. I definitely talked too much. The kids participated. And they all sat there quietly and patiently.
At the end of the lesson we gave Gabriel a book of Mormon in Spanish and the four kids books of Mormon in English. I'm very excited for this family...

Last thing we did tonight was see the Llamas family. Wow that was spectacular. When we first got there, I heard little Gabriel (junior) say, "Yes!" They immediately turned off the TV and all gathered around to listen to us. Even the mother was there. We reviewed the restoration and the Book of Mormon again. We showed them a lot of pictures from the picture book produced just recently by the church. They hadn't read from their Books of Mormon yet. I think that they will be excited to next time though.
At the end of the lesson Ana, the oldest daughter, offered the prayer. Little Gabriel is really excited to give it the next time. Also next time we're going to watch the Restoration video and the end of the testaments. I noticed also that we need to try to include Karain more often. She seems to be getting left out a little bit.

I love missionary work!
Elder Ben Arnold

PS I talked to Mayela Poulson again recently. In fact I tracted into her sister in Pasco. Her husband is not a member. It sounded like it was a pretty delicate situation but maybe we could get something going if we talked to Mayela.

That's crazy that dad's using facebook.

I'm pretty sure that I can call you pretty much anytime on Christmas. We'll probably hear more as it gets closer.

(Where is Elder Godinez going home to?) He lives in North Carolina. Then just a couple of weeks after going home he'll be going to Rexburg to go to BYU-I. That means we'll be able to run into him sometime since he'll be so close by.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Elder Godinez

Hola familia,

This last week has been amazing. I have grown and been fed so much spiritually. I mentioned in my last email that Elder Holland was coming to our mission. On Saturday the entire mission came to the Gage Building in Richland. Elder Perry, Elder Jay Jensen, and Elder Holland all came. We first took a picture with them in front of the temple. Then we all got to shake each of their hands and look into their eyes, which they later described as being our own personal interview. I felt when I looked into Elder Holland’s eyes that he was looking straight into my spirit. It was an experience that I will never forget.

All three of them spoke to us. Wow. I wish I could share with you all of the things that I was taught. I want to share one experience though that caused all of us to think a lot and made us cry.

This was while Elder Jensen was teaching us. He had one of those small earpieces/microphones so that he could walk around and write on the chalkboard. Close to the very end of his teaching he said, “Could I have Elder Godinez please come up and join me.” Of course I was sitting right next to Elder Godinez. He was pretty surprised and seemed a little nervous. I’m not going to say everything that happened but after Elder Godinez read a few scriptures and a small discussion with Elder Jensen, Elder Jensen did something that I will never forget. He began to talk about Elder Godinez coming up on the end of his mission. This is something that I don’t ever talk about with Elder Godinez because it is a soft spot. He loves his mission. He would serve longer if he could, I know that. Then he talked about at the end of his mission that his stake president would sit him down and he would release him. Then he would take his name tags from him. And at that moment Elder Jensen began taking off Elder Godinez’s nametags. With each one that he took off Elder Godinez began to cry harder and his head would drop lower. After they were all taken off, Elder Godinez was standing there with his head in his hands with Elder Jensen standing next to him with his arm around him, comforting him. Everybody, including President and Sister Belnap were all crying. When Elder Jensen did this, I felt something was being pulled out of me. It hurt emotionally and spiritually.

Elder Jensen was trying to teach us a point of how we can’t stop after our missions. If our mission is the spiritual high of our life, then we are doing something wrong. I’ve been caused to reflect on this experience many times. Then a couple of nights ago, Elder Godinez and I had a very spiritual experience together and we were taught even more of this principle by the spirit. I’ve never understood the importance of this work and personal progression so well before.

I believe I explained Leonardo’s situation with the letter I wrote last week. Well I had a very amazing spiritual experience with him. Sunday morning we drove over to his house to make sure that he knew about church with Elder Holland. He didn’t. So he got ready and met us over there. Come ten o’clock I was sitting next to him right in the middle four rows back from the pulpit. That was a very special experience. The joy that filled my soul in seeing his progression. Wow. Something that I can’t adequately describe.

This Stake Conference with Elder Holland was an amazing missionary experience. There were over 100 investigators at the meeting. Sitting there watching him. We are going to see a lot of fruits from that. Just from talking to a few of those people right after the meeting I am getting chills. They all felt something. They knew that he was a man called of God. Something else cool is that on that day, November 15, is the day that Juan Saldana was baptized one year ago. What a great way to celebrate.

I think I might not have been clear. Elder Holland came both on Saturday to teach the missionaries and on Sunday to Stake Conference to visit the Pasco Stake.

I wish that I could explain more of the experiences that I had this week including finding a new investigator family, who are awesome. But I am running out of time.

Love you all
Elder Ben Arnold

PS I love being a missionary!!!

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Griselda, Moises and Leonardo

Hola familia,

I don't think I ever mentioned to you that Elder Holland is coming to our mission this upcoming Saturday. The entire mission is coming to the tri-cites to a mission conference. We're all pretty excited. There's also a possibility that they're talking about splitting the Pasco stake. Who knows what's really happening though. They might even just be announcing that it will be happening later, like in a year.

We were tracting the other day over in East Pasco on a street named Douglas. We went past this house that didn't really look like anybody was home and there wasn't really a front door either. It was just a glass sliding door. We were going to skip it then I remembered a trailer that I knocked on in West Pasco that was similar. And it was a really cool guy that answered and we were able to teach him a little bit. So instead of skipping the house we went and knocked on the glass door. A young woman named Griselda answered the door. It turns out they had just moved from Tennessee. And over there they had gone through three sets of sister missionaries. Woohoo, I'm really glad that we stopped by.

We had a fireside put on by President Belnap at the Gage building in Kennewick. Lots of missionaries and investigators and recent converts came, including a good number from the branch. Griselda, the Sisters recent convert, spoke at the fireside and did a great job. Everybody that went loved it. The spirit was very strong. I sat next to Elder Godinez as he translated into the transmitting device. It was easier to listen to him speak in Spanish because he was talking louder.

We’ve been teaching this guy named Moises. He is the boyfriend of Itamar, who I think I’ve told you about. Anyway, they’ve been having some problems and they’ve split up now. We’ve been meeting with Moises which meetings generally consist of us sitting there and listening to him for a while, then sharing our own feelings and counsel from the scriptures, especially the Book of Mormon. Lately, it’s been harder for him to accept what we teach because there is a member who is good friends with Itamar that’s not been a good example for her. It’s been a frustrating situation for us in explaining to Moises how that could happen and still in a sense protect the face of the church. I’m sure glad that the spirit testifies to what we say. Apart from that, he’s progressing very well right now.

This last Sunday I was so excited! Leonardo came to church. I felt inspired this last week to write him a letter and leave it in his mailbox. So I did it and look what happened. I also felt very guided in what I wrote in the letter. He also came to the fireside that night. Yes! I saw an increased amount of light and happiness in his countenance. He hadn’t really been to church since General Conference. I’m really excited to tell Elder Blomquist.

I love you all a lot
Elder Ben Arnold

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Staying in Pasco

Hello family,

This last week has been a little hectic. But I've also learned and grown a lot. Yesterday the work was going really slow in the morning because nobody was home or answering their doors. We ended up tracting quite a bit. Mostly all that came from that was a man told us that when we studied more about the Mormon church in depth we would very quickly leave it. And that it is a structure established by man. He got all of his references from members that had fallen away. It was pretty sad to see how blinded he was. It was one of those situations where it was really hard to keep the spirit with you. You want to just rebuke him and strike him in the heart with the spirit.

But at the end of the day we went on double exchanges with Juan and Felix. Juan and Elder Godinez went to Richland and taught a couple of amazing lessons, giving us some really good new investigators. Then Felix and I first went to one of our investigators houses who had been progressing a lot. She asked us why it had been so long since we had been over. They had kept their commitment to watch a conference talk by President Monson, so maybe we will be able to make some more progress with them.

Then we had a really good family home evening with a family that is partly recent convert. The mom taught the lesson on temples. It was awesome. Then we went and saw Brittany. We talked about eternal families and the temples a little bit. We also talked to them about getting married so they could one day take part in having an eternal family. They are going to be getting married next August just before I go home due to some situations they are in. So maybe I'll get to see them married and baptized. That would be awesome. We were blessed with lots of success last night I think in major part because we kept working all morning and afternoon without even really talking to anybody. Except for the guy that told us we were going to leave the church. haha.

Transfers are tomorrow. Elder Godinez and I are both staying together for his last transfer. I was excited to hear that. That means I should definitely stay here at least for one more transfer after that probably even two. That means I'll be in Pasco cumulatively for more than a year. Isn't that cool. There were not too many changes in the other members of the zone.

Halloween wasn't too eventful. We worked during the day like normal then went to the branch party. There was a ton of people there. Juan put on a clown show with one of his friends who was really talented at juggling and riding a unicycle. It was cool. It reminded me of my glory days wearing that little red fireman’s hat. haha.

Love you all lots,
Have a great week,
Elder Ben Arnold

Linda: Did you get snow in Pasco?
Ben: We haven't gotten snow yet. It's been a little bit colder in the mornings lately. I'll let you know when we do get it. I think normally it doesn't snow much in Pasco. Last year was a once in ten years kind of thing.

Ben: The zip line sounds scary. How high up is it? I wish I could come and try it out.
Linda: Scary? You're not afraid of anything. Let's see... David made a ladder with two ten foot boards but they overlapped by about 3 feet, so maybe 17 feet up?
Ben: You're right I wouldn't be scared. I thought I'd just throw that it in there. Haha. That sounds pretty fun.