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