The Oakland Temple Visitor’s Center has this awesome exhibition about families that we often view with the people we are teaching. The Spanish voice-overs are funny to us missionaries, and so they become inside jokes in the Spanish program in the mission.
At one point, the dad in the film tells his kids, who are behind a rock formation in what looks like St George, “saquen sus cabezas” which translates to “take out your heads”.
This week we watched that film with our investigator and her son. She has been through a lot of difficulty after losing a close family member.
My earliest memory, at least I think it is my first memory, is from my Great Grandfather Francis Mortenson’s funeral. I remember sitting in a church somewhere and listening to the children’s song “Families can be Together Forever”.
I shared that this week at the end of the film, and as I did I was struck by the beauty of that memory.
There isn’t much that sticks around in this life. Our high school promises to Keep In Touch sublimate faster than the dry ice in our 7th grade science class, and often our values change at the same rate.
Suns rise. Suns set. Protons decay. Ankles break and heal.
The beauty of being a missionary and of the Gospel is that there is another type of object that does not break, decay, vary, or waver. The truths taught by Jesus Christ are eternal. One of those truths restored through Joseph Smith is that family relationships need not decay or dissolve, even after death.
Families can be together forever.
Alright, now saquen sus cabezas. I have riddle.
I die. I expire. You want me now, but you’ll hate me later. All of my supposed positive effects are quickly replaced by negative nonperishable woes. You won’t believe you could be rid of me until you are.
Now, whatever sin you’re thinking of, kill it and save your eternal family. There is nothing perishable worth losing the only eternal hopes you have.
I am well here in Richmond. The mission is awesome. I love helping other people find the truth! I’m sorry I’ve been bad at weekly emails/blog posts.
Love you all!
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!
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!
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.