De Regreso

Hello Family + Friends! I hope everyone loved conference.

Things are good here in Oakland! Conference was awesome, and we’re all super excited for all of the changes that our Prophet announced. We are so blessed to be living in a time where the fullness of the gospel is present and it’s dispersion is accelerating.

This week I saw that people can really flourish and grow when we carefully minister to them, which was a major theme of conference.

Salvador, our awesome member who had a terrible accident (fell three floors) a few months ago, told us about an awesome member of our bishopric who called him out of the blue one day. He took time out of his work schedule to go pick Salvador up, take him out to get some food, then to see the temple, then up around a park, and then to get food again, and ice cream. He said he picked him up at about 10 am and didn’t drop him off until like 5 pm. That is ministering. A man who has been in his house and the hospital with a dilapidated leg for months, was able to spend a whole day with his old friend. It meant the world to him to have someone besides us reach out to him.

So go minister to the world!

I’ve been transferred! I’m going back to San Leandro! The area I left in November was dissolved into the Zone Leaders area in San Leandro, and that’s where I’ll be serving now. I can’t wait to be able to visit with all the people that I worked with and to help them progress toward eternal life! The work continues!

Love,

Elder Mortenson



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The Phone Call

So, for those of you who aren’t familiar with strange Mormon short films from the 70’s, there is this one called “The Phone Call“. It’s worth a watch if you have a moment. Basically, it tells the story of an awkward high school boy getting the courage to ask a girl out. He plays the “Bassoon, which is like a Balloon but with ‘s’s”. Anyway.

I haven’t seen it in years, and it has almost nothing to do with this post.

But,

On Tuesday last week we had a miracle! I was going through a bunch of Former Investigator records. People that who were thinking about becoming members at some point (usually years ago) but for some reason didn’t continue.

I came across this one that was from like 2011, and it looked like the family had probably moved away based on the comments there. So, I almost just skipped it and kept going. But, I had a strong impression to call, not the investigator, but a member who was friends with the investigator, whose information was on the sheet. I didn’t recognize his name but resolutely called him anyway, not having any idea what I would say. That’s how we met Salvador, who is a wonderful member of the church who had a terrible work accident a few weeks back. He had fallen 3 floors, and landed on his leg, fracturing it in several places. As I talked to him, he started open up to us, and invited us to come give him a blessing that same afternoon. We did so, and he was so grateful for the visit and the blessing. It was so incredible to see how much those meant to him, and I felt so blessed that the Lord had helped our paths cross in such an improbable way. He since has been to a fireside at the chapel, and we even went to the Family History library to help him search for his ancestors! He is such an incredible man, and we were able to bond just a little over broken ankles and physical therapy and such.

Moral of the story, if you want to help someone that needs you, pray for guidance, and then follow the whisperings of the spirit, even if it is awkward or strange. The Lord will guide you to someone who has been praying for your help! Make that awkward phone call! It could change your life!

The work goes on! Go be a part of it!
Love,

Elder Mortenson

Pura Vida Mae

Hey!

Things are going well here in Oakland! We are on bikes in the heart of Oakland, which is awesome because there are SO MANY people that speak Spanish here!

This week I got a new companion, Elder Mendez, fresh from the Missionary Training Center in Provo! He is from Costa Rica and he is awesome! So bold and loving with the people! We’re going to have an awesome time! His catch phrase is “pura vida mae” which roughly translates to “pure life, dude”. He’s awesome!

This Tuesday, we taught some people that we used to visit, but had stopped visiting because they hadn’t acted upon the things that we were helping them to learn. So, we read Alma 32 with them, and they finally began to understand the importance of ACTING on our faith. As James said, “Faith without works is dead, being alone”

Anyway, that principle really sunk in, because at the end of the lesson, our investigator J said, “I’m going to the church on Sunday! No matter what! I don’t care if it rains, or if there is a storm! I will take the bus if I need to!” We were absolutely floored by his desire to begin acting on the faith that was growing within him.

When I called him on Sunday morning, I asked him how he was doing, and he said, “Con ganas para ir a la iglesia hoy!” (with desires to go to church today). And he did. He brought his wife and their 2 little kids, and had an awesome experience there!

I invite you all to act on what you believe in, so that your faith is not dead! Every time we act in accordance to God’s will we get one step closer to Him, and we become a little bit more like Him. Don’t lose out on that opportunity every day!

With love,

Elder Mortenson

 

 

Double-Dutch Miracles

Hello everyone!


So, I was very much satisfied with our miracle in finding and talking to H last week, but this week, we had a follow-up miracle!


We went to tract the same street where H (the godless atheist) lives, but the other side. We noticed that her lights were on, so we called the English Elders really quick to find out if they had contacted her yet. They said that they had tried, but that she wasn’t home/didn’t respond. So, we went to go to talk to her. Miraculously, she was home, and she opened up! Even more miraculously, I had a fresh English Book of Mormon to give her! She was so eager to get her hands on it, but I made her promise that she would read it first! The power of The Book of Mormon to attract attention and bring the spirit is incredible, and it can happen to anyone.


This week, we also invited Y, one of the coolest people ever, to be baptized on the 30th! When I asked her about what she thought about the Book of Mormon, she said that she loved it and knew that it is true!


I repeat the same testimony. I love it, and it is true! I just finished annotating the book of Alma, and it is incredible how much meaning one can extract from every page of that book! If you don’t know what I mean, go to the Book of Mormon with a question or problem in your life, and read closely until the answers and comfort come. It is incredible!


Do it!


Elder Mortenson

Dutch Miracles

Hello everyone!

I’ve now been transferred into Oakland, the heart of our mission. My new companion is Elder Alvarado. He is awesome! He is from Peru, studying Mechanical Engineering at BYU-I and is just out of his first 12 weeks in the mission. I’m really excited to be working here!

I don’t have much time, but here is a little experience I’d like to share:

On Saturday we started talking to this Dutch atheist college sociology professor with 7 cats. She was a character. Anyway, as we got talking to her, she said that she was raised godless and that she was a scientist, that she wouldn’t believe anything without evidence. We also found out that she knew a significant amount of LDS church history. We explained that The Book of Mormon is our evidence to the world that Joseph Smith really did talk to God, and that the church of Jesus Christ has been restored anew. She remarked that she has always seen discarded bibles around, but she’d never been able to get her hands on a Book of Mormon. We said we didn’t know why that was, but that we could bring her a free copy of The Book of Mormon that she could read and examine for herself. Then we sent the referral to the English Elders. Anyway, it was incredible to see that The Book of Mormon really does respond to people’s questions, even if they have a completely non-religious background. It is true. It was truly written, starting from the time of the Tower of Babel in the Bible up until four centuries after Christ. The authors of it were real people, and Joseph Smith was able to translate it by the power of God.

Please, if you haven’t, read the Book of Mormon. You will come to know, if you search it sincerely, that it is the word of God, and that by reading it you will receive guidance for your lives!

Happy December!
Elder Mortenson

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​Elder Alvarado and I
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Homemade (almost) Pizza for P-day
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Favorite scripture of the week
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We said goodbye to a lot of great friends last week.

 

Working ‘Tirelessly’ in the Service of God

So it has been another interesting week in Oakland!


At 8:35 on Thursday night, my companion and I were about to start biking back home (it’s a 20 minute ride), but we felt like we should go by one of our former investigators really quickly before we went home. So, at 8:45, we locked up our bikes and chained our wheels, and went and knocked on J’s door.


Miraculously, he was home, and invited us in. He then told us about some things that he’s been struggling with, and we had a really great, short lesson. We left filled with the spirit at 9:10, to get home by 9:30.


We walked to the corner where our bikes were, and quickly realized that someone had stolen all 4 of our tires. They had cut the chain lock and our frames were left chained to the stop sign. We’d heard of that happening before, so we just started to laugh and called the Zone Leaders for a ride. 🙂


The next day, we were all tired out, so we got temporary bikes from the mission home, which worked ok, but I obviously wasn’t very familiar with mine, because I misjudged a railroad track and crashed. Luckily I didn’t hit anything but the ground, and escaped with only some skinned knees, bruised hand and torn pants.


At that point in the week I wasn’t feeling so great.


However, last night, we had a last-minute and incredibly spiritual lesson with our investigator M at the Oakland Temple Visitor’s Center! We all felt the spirit very strongly, and he decided that he will be baptized in 2 weeks! The blessings of the week have far outweighed the rest.


I am so grateful for a loving Heavenly Father who is always willing to pick us up after difficult moments. When we fall, when our wheels our stolen, when we think all is lost, He is there to pick us up. And, if we happen to go through a little suffering while in His service, we’ll be as those of whom Paul spoke in
Hebrews 11:16 But now they desire a better country, that is, an heavenly: wherefore God is not ashamed to be called their God: for he hath prepared for them a city.


Trust in the promises of God. You’ll find them in the Bible and in the Book of Mormon. He will never vary in what he has promised, and as long as we persevere in diligence, we will receive a place in that city that He has prepared.


Love,


Elder Mortenson

Aquí mire

Here in Latino Oakland, whenever you ask someone “como esta?” (how are you?) You either get the answer “bien” (fine), or, more commonly “aquí mire” (here, look!). You bi-lingual linguists can try to figure out why they think they are so funny. 😉

But, in more serious tones, we as missionaries have real reasons to say “aqui mire” (Here, Look!) because there is much value in what we have here to share with everyone.

Aquí, mire que tuvimos estas experiencias esta semana:
Here, look we had these experiences this week:

Elder Peguero and I have had another successful week here in San Leandro. We’re moving forward with several investigators whom we hope will be baptized in a few weeks. As we have sought the spirit’s guidance, we have been guided in several lessons this week.

We met with M and C (and their 3 little kids) on Thursday. They have been reading the Book of Mormon frequently for 2-3 weeks now, but said that they haven’t felt their answer. But, then, as we asked them about what they thought about what they had read, they said that “there is lots of great advice,” and then that “there is no way a 20-something-year-old could write this book.” We affirmed these feelings, and are working on helping them to link those good feelings with the Holy Spirit so that they feel good about being baptized. We hope to solidify their baptism date of Oct. 21st with them this week.

We met with Sister T on Friday. She is a less active with 3 children. Her husband has been having mental health troubles due to some medication he has been taking, so he was in the hospital, and she and her children were all fairly worried about him. We had asked Bishop if he could come with us to a different visit that night, but instead we asked him to join us at the T. Sister T explained it all to him, and then we gave her a blessing of comfort. It was a tender and incredibly difficult moment, but we felt the spirit so strongly.

We met with R on Thursday as well. She is living with her sister’s family, all of whom are members. She has been to church many times, and is familiar with the doctrine, but feels like she can’t commit because of an incredibly difficult gambling addiction that she has. We felt like we should invite her to come to the Visitor’s Center with us on Sunday night, and so we did. We then found out that she had been planning to go out to a casino with a friend on that night instead. She still struggled with that decision to come with us, but in the end she did come with us to the Temple yesterday, and we had a great night of learning and peace there. We hope to set a date for this month with her in the next visit.

We met with M, a former investigator who we just picked back up, on Sunday, right before the Afternoon session of General Conference. He has a really solid testimony of the Book of Mormon, and told us that even though he has lots of friends and family who are discouraging him from talking with us, he knows that it is true. We re-committed him to be baptized on the 21st of this month. We couldn’t be more excited for him, and we are focused and committed to getting him as prepared as possible for the interview and ordinance of baptism.

The work of God goes on!

Con amor,

Elder Mortenson

Getting the Door Opened in our Face

It’s been a great week here in San Leandro!

Elder Peguero, my new companion, arrived here from the MTC on Wednesday! Since then, we’ve been stressed, very busy, and we have seen many miracles.

On Thursday, we went out knocking doors and visiting former/potential investigators. There were so many people that were happy to talk to us, but I’ll just focus on one here.

We went to find an former investigator named A, and we found his sister, C, instead! She told us that the Restoration pamphlet we showed her looked really familiar. Then, she went and found the same pamphlet that had been given to her brother years ago.

The night before, her baby had been up crying, and so she got up and turned on the TV to try to calm her. Apparently, someone on the TV was talking about Joseph Smith. She listened for a little while, and then turned it off and went into the kitchen. Looking for something to read, (she loves to read), she found the Restoration of the Gospel of Jesus Christ pamphlet. She read 2/3rds of it to her baby, and her baby went to sleep.

Then, a few hours later, we knocked on the door to share the message she had just been exposed to twice the night before. Say what you will, but miracles are real!

God loves us. He wants to guide us to happy places in our lives.

Love,

Elder Mortenson

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Brace Yourself

Hello Everyone! Sorry it’s taken me four weeks here in Cali to write!

A week ago, I had a really tough experience. I twisted my ankle playing basketball. The same ankle that once upon a time sent me home from Colombia a quarter-baked missionary. The pain was similar. I thought for a little while that my life was repeating itself, and that I would once again be uprooted and grafted somewhere else, against my will.

That night, I received a Priesthood blessing from my companion and some other Elders. I iced my ankle and hoped for the best. The next day, when I was picking up crutches from the Mission home, my mission president asked me if I would be willing to train a brand new missionary! All of the bad feelings from the night before fled as I was filled with the joy that comes from focusing outward, leaving your own problems and life in second place to those of other people.

Speaking of people, the work is progressing! Three of the Murillo Family have baptismal dates, and we have some really solid new investigators to work with! The work is so hard but so joyful!

On Wednesday I’ll meet my new companion. I can’t wait. I’ve been here for only 4 weeks, but I’m excited for all of the things that I’ll get to learn through training and from my new companion.

And, now my ankle is almost back to normal, but in a brace. I’ll have to go without basketball for a little while, but

“All that is unfair about life can be made right through the Atonement of Jesus Christ”

-Preach My Gospel, Chapter 3, Lesson 2

Love,

Elder Mortenson

Like Riding A Bike

Hey guys! Elder Mortenson is back after a nice vacation in Vegas and Provo.

It is good to be in California! Stepping off the plane here was like stepping off the plane in Barranquilla, except that the air here is cool and awesome, not hot and sticky like the air there. The weather has been the best.

We’re on bikes in San Leandro! Most of the missionaries here have cars, which is super cool. But not us.

I’ve been realizing that being a missionary again is much like riding a bike.

At first, I had no idea if I could even do it. I wasn’t sure which way was up or down on the gear-shifter. I struggled to know how to talk to people here in California. It was kind of fun, but a lot of the time I had a feeling at the back of my mind like I might accidentally do something wrong and ruin everything.

But things have gotten a little better. My bike skills are coming back to me, and the missionary skills are coming back and evolving and adapting to the new environment.

My re-trainer is Elder Steinke from Bountiful. He’s a pretty cool guy. He wears baseball caps whenever he’s not proselyting, and that becomes his hairstyle. He is a really hard worker, and I’m excited to work with him. His Spanish isn’t bad either. Mine is coming back.

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I studied King Benjamin’s address this week in the Book of Mormon (Mosiah 2-5), and I found myself very grateful for one of the truths he taught. He said,

“if ye should serve [God] with all your whole souls yet ye would be unprofitable servants”

I’m learning to be a missionary again. It is hard. I am awkward. I don’t know what to do when someone answers the door who doesn’t speak Spanish. But, I know that even if I was the most practiced missionary, with the best language and social skills, it still would not be enough. The only way we can teach people and have them be converted to the Gospel of Jesus Christ is through the holy spirit. I will never be enough, but He whom I serve will always make up for my inadequacies, if I am doing my best.

So, yeah! Things are going well here in San Leandro! The mission is completely different than what I am used to, but that’s ok. I have gone where the Lord has asked me to go, and it is good to be here.

Have a wonderful week!

Elder Daniel Mortenson