Monday, July 24, 2017

July 17, 2014

Dear family,

As expected, it has been a week of change. Saying bye to Elder Brinkerhoff was a little difficult at first since we've been companions so long. I definitely consider that a blessing. I think we got to the point where we were just two friends having fun doing missionary work. Elder Ball and I are getting along fairly well too. Now if only our investigators would meet with us! It's been one of those busy weeks for everyone I suppose. We were able to meet a couple new people that could potentially become investigators. They just couldn't give us an exact time to stop by again so we'll have to see what happens. I suppose that's the nature of some of the areas we work in around here.

We have quite a few people that are sort of "dipping their toes in the water" right now but are having trouble making time to meet with us. That's always frustrating but what can you do, right? We technically had an investigator at church yesterday but we just referred him to the Elders over African immigrants so he's not technically our investigator anymore. I'll count it as a success I suppose.

On the bright side, over the last few months Elder Brinkerhoff and I really connected with the ward more so that's still going. At first I wasn't sure if I really wanted to stay another transfer here but the ward makes it worth it. They're really making an effort to get to know Elder Ball as well which is great. He's slowly starting to figure out the area. Though I felt a little bad for him this week since there's so much to know about the area.

This week I was able to study Christ's millennial reign as well as a few talks. The verse that struck me most was Revelation 20:4 - "And I saw thrones, and they sat upon them, and judgment was given unto them: and I saw the souls of them that were beheaded for the witness of Jesus, and for the word of God, and which had not worshipped the beast, neither his image, neither had received his mark upon their foreheads, or in their hands; and they lived and reigned with Christ a thousand years."

I pondered about this in the context of something I had read earlier. I can't remember where exactly I read it, but it basically said that our goal is not to adjust to the world, it's to disrupt it. Anyway, I felt like that verse was saying essentially the same thing. We don't reign with Christ for those thousand years by assimilating into the world; we have to disrupt it. The world won't like it of course, but it's worth it.

Well, my last Zone Conference is this week which means I'll have to bear my departing testimony. Wish me luck! Have a good week!

Love,
Elder O'Brien (the younger)

Thursday, July 13, 2017

July 10, 2017

What a week, what a week! Fourth of July was on Tuesday of course. It's never quite as fun as a missionary since nobody really wants to talk to you or anything. We were able to get together with a few members and watch a small parade followed by some burgers and such. The rest of the day we did a bit of service and tried to contact some potential investigators to no avail. We then decided to just start texting some people since we knew they'd be at least looking at their phones.

Wednesday we had our last district Meeting of the transfer and later discovered that we had a flat tire. It's only the sixth or seventh on my mission. So, that took a chunk out of our day. The rest of the evening we had dinner and contacted some bible referrals. Later that night, around 10:00pm, is when it got crazy. Well, not really but anyway, Elder Brinkerhoff got a call to be a Zone Leader in $outhlake for hi$ la$t tran$fer. They're pretty wealthy over there. That left me wondering what would happen with me. At first, staying another transfer in the area seemed like a pretty scary nerve-wracking concept and I was getting pretty anxious about it. I've just gotten so used to being with Elder Brinkerhoff here and all the weird things that happen everyday get a little much sometimes. I also don't enjoy having to introduce a new companion to the area too much. I prayed a ton though and let the Lord know exactly what my desires were and eventually got to the point where I could say, truthfully, "thy will be done." 

Yesterday we had a pretty awesome day at church and all the members were sad to see Elder Brinkerhoff leave. I think that's when I really decided I'd be okay with staying  and, alas, I am! My new companion will be Elder Ball who I replaced in Heritage. He's a pretty social guy so that will be good. 

We got another solid new investigator this week from one of the summer sales guys. They do our tracking for us, it's great! He was anxious to read the Book of Mormon and has already "met seven or so Mormons that were really great people." This means he's statistically likely to be baptized, 'cause that's all that matters right? But seriously, he's awesome and he's searching for something more in his life so I'm excited to teach him. 

Belen also was able to make it to church once again. We had a great lesson with her on Friday and she expressed some of her concerns with us. They had had to do with her wanting to become better though, so we can work with that!

In my studies this week, I went through "Jesus Christ, Lord" in the Topical Guide. One thing I've been doing a lot of is defining words and looking especially at their origins. The word Lord comes from Old English hlāfweard, or 'bread-keeper'. That last part, weard, is the origin of the word Ward, meaning to guard or protect. Knowing this made the scriptures I read a lot more meaningful. 

Love y'all, have a great, earthquake free week!

Love,
Elder O'Brien (the younger)

Friday, July 7, 2017

July 3, 2017


Dearest family,

I hope everyone's Canada Day was enjoyable. I for one celebrated by teaching people and stuff as usual--while wearing a red and white tie. Patriotic, I know. I did also wore my new Canada shirt last P-Day. I'm repping the shirt again this week, only with blue and white shorts this time for the USA effect. Double patriotism if you will.

We've continued to see miracles in the area this week. Once again we had two completely new investigators at church this week. Now we just have to get everyone here at the same time! They both are pretty open and hopefully at least one of them, Belen most likely, can be baptized soon. She's a referral we received from the mission office this week. When we first taught her I wasn't completely sure she was actually interested in the gospel and thought maybe she just might be curious about the Book of Mormon. Lo and behold, she committed to read and pray about the Book of Mormon and came to church!

The other lady that came to church is the girlfriend of a less-active member. We taught her after church and she was open to the idea of a restoration for sure. She just doesn't want to rush into baptism too fast because her parents once joined a cult accidentally so she's a little cautious. Understandably I suppose. Her boyfriend should be a huge help though; it sounds like he's only less active because he got busy with medical school.

The scripture I'd like to share this week is Doctrine and Covenants 45:67 "And the glory of the Lord shall be there, and the terror of the Lord also shall be there, insomuch that the wicked will not come unto it, and it shall be called Zion."

This was under the "Jesus Christ, Glory of" section of the Topical Guide so that's what I focused on. It struck me that that same glory that will empower the righteous in Zion will terrify the wicked.

Have a wonderful week and try not to fry!

Love,
Elder O'Brien (the younger)

Sunday, July 2, 2017

June 26, 2017

Dear Family,

This week was pretty routine up until yesterday. Miraculously two ward members brought potential investigators to church yesterday. One was a less-active and his wife and the other was a random lady that a summer sales guy met so there's some potential there. We gave both of them a copy of the Book of Mormon and got their information so we can visit them this week. We also came across a lady later in the day who had taken interest in "the lost books" and specifically asked us about the Book of Mormon out of curiosity. We briefly explained it to her and invited her to read it. We were actually looking for someone else but she said she might come when we teach next time if she can make it. Elder Brinkerhoff and I talked about it yesterday and decided that most of our visible success in the mission has had no direct connection to anything we did like a door we knocked, someone we street contacted or anything like that. All we do is stay diligent and every few weeks something falls into our laps. Like with Amy a year ago almost to the day, Elder Reich and I worked hard all transfer and nothing really happened until the last day of the transfer when Elder Reich was packing and I was reading the Ensign. That's when a member from another Stake referred her to us and boom, three baptisms.

Yesterday I also gave a talk in sacrament meeting. I was given my choice of topic so I decided to speak a little bit about the temple and how and why it became important to me. I shared a little about the trips we would take down to Cardston from Calgary for the temple and such. To continue, I shared Doctrine and Covenants 109:22-23, 2 Nephi 31:20, and a quote from Elder Holland. He discusses the connection between the endowment and missionary success which I have certainly gained a testimony of. I'll copy and past if for y'all:

"When  you  go  to  the  temple,  you  will  begin  to  understand the  significance  of  those  temple  covenants,  the inextricable link  between  your  endowment  there  and  your  missionary  success. Indeed,  the  very  word  endowment  conveys  the  essence  of  that vital  link.  An  endowment  is  a  gift.  It  contains  the same root  word  as  dowry,  which  is  a  special  gift  to  start  a  new couple  on  their  married  life.  While  I  was president  of Brigham  Young  University,  I  spent  a  certain  amount  of  my time  trying  to  build  up  the  university’s endowment,  its treasury  of  gifts  from  generous  donors. That  is  what  God  does for  us  every  time  we  make  a  covenant  with  Him.  He  endows us. ... This  work  is  so  serious  and  the  adversary’s  opposition to  it  is  so  great  that  we  need  every  divine  power  to enhance  our  effort  and  move  the  Church  steadily  forward.  The key  to  that  for  us  as  individuals  is  the  covenant we  make in  the  temple—our  promise  to  obey  and  sacrifice,  to consecrate  unto  the  Father,  and  His  promise  to empower  us with  'a  great  endowment.' " (Jeffrey R. Holland "A Message to Future Missionaries")

As for this week's Topical Guide thought, I really enjoyed the "Jesus Christ, Firstborn" section in general. All the scriptures really brought it home to me how literal that concept is, that Jesus was the first of all our Heavenly Parents' posterity and how significant that must have been for them. I wonder at what point they realized they would have to sacrifice Him for the rest of their spirit children. I discussed it with Elder Brinkerhoff and he basically said, "Probably in a conversation like this one." Woah, crazy to think about. Who knows though?

It also struck me how much love Jesus must have had for us having been alive in the spirit to see everyone of us created spiritually. I imagined Him being like the big brother that gets all excited when He gets a new sibling to love. Maybe that's why it had to be the firstborn, so He could have an individual relationship with every single spirit. I'm excited to eventually learn about all the details of these kinds of things.

Well, have a wonderful week! I sure love ya and God does too!

Love,
Elder O'Brien (the younger)

Monday, June 26, 2017

June 19, 2017

Dear family,

This week was not as productive as we had hoped in a lot of ways but we did get some good work done nonetheless. We finally were able to meet with Jeje again this week even though she didn't come to church. She still has been making a lot of progress. She is so close to baptism right now but keeps getting in her own way! I'm pretty sure she just needs to decide one day and she'll be ready. That's improvement still for sure.

We also did some service for a member referral this week helping in her yard. She asked us specifically about our beliefs so we taught a bit in a conversational sort of way and shared the Book of Mormon with her. She then said, "my friend said I was supposed to meet with some people soon, is that y'all?" Of course we said yes so she told us she'll call us soon when her yard is under control. She sounded sincere too. It was a miracle for sure.

Yesterday was a pretty awesome awesome day at church. We had three recent converts receive the Melchizedek Priesthood yesterday so it was cool to see that. I'm getting to the point where I know most of the members in the ward so church is fun.

My favorite scripture from this week was Philippians 2:8 "And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross." I just really liked the phrasing of "being obedient unto death." Nothing special I discovered other than that. It's this kind of obedience that I know I strive for as a missionary and that we all strive for in life. Jesus Christ certainly personified this throughout His whole life. That's one of the major themes I'm finding in my study; He is obedient, even unto death out of love for us and of course His Father.

I hope y'all enjoy the beginning of summer this week. In my mind there seems to be something significant happening this summer but I can't quite put my finger on it... oh well, take care!

Love,
Elder O'Brien

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

June 12, 2017



Dear family,

It wasn't much of eventful week here overall. We did have a zone conference on Wednesday which was nice. We talked a lot about changing things up a bit if what we're doing isn't working as well as it could. It's always an adventure trying to do that but we have been trying some new things like working with the young men more.

For lunch, the Relief Society fed us these awesome Navajo tacos. Unfortunately, the meat was under cooked or something because our entire zone at least was sick the next day. I'm sure it was the same for the other Zone as well as President and Sister Whitney. It was a funny experience.

Things are starting to slowly improve again in the area. We finally got Jeje to church again this week which was wonderful! She seems to be closer than ever to baptism. We weren't able to meet with her this week but apparently she almost called us on Wednesday to set something up. While she was thinking about this, she pocket dialed us and we texted her asking if she called. She told us no but must've felt guilty because she was telling us about this yesterday. She did see it as a sign from the Lord though so that's good! Jorge unfortunately wasn't able to come to church and couldn't even meet with us this week. Hopefully things improve there.

Well, the only other news I have is that I went golfing this morning on a 9 hole course nearby. Elder Brinkerhoff and another Elder in the zone are really into it so they set it up with a member for free. It was a first for me of course so I was pretty terrible. Not the worst though! I had a good time still.

In my studies this week I stumbled across John 17:19 "And for their sakes I sanctify myself, that they also might be sanctified through the truth." I was struck by the love this shows, especially the first statement. I noticed that it says 'sakes' referring to us as multiple individuals and not as a collective group. His Atonement truly is personal. Hopefully that makes sense. I'm in a little bit of a hurry because I am 100% out of time. Ironically, I don't have time to write everyone individually... I still love all of you and it was great to hear about your weeks!

That's just about it for my life this week! Have a good one!

Love,
Elder O'Brien

Friday, June 16, 2017

June 5, 2017

Dear family,

This week really wasn't that interesting in general but it was a good one nonetheless! We were able to meet with a couple people that we haven't been able to get a hold of for a bit. That was good. Jeje is finally making progress on the Word of Wisdom so she's getting pretty close to being ready for baptism. Now to help her realize that! Jorge is making slow progress it seems. Neither of them were able to make it to church unfortunately. Jeje had a migraine and Jorge apparently has four Sundays of work then four off. That means he won't be able to reach his baptism date. I wish life would be easier on investigators somehow! Anyway, all we can do about those kinds of things is pray I suppose.

I did get the package this week and it is very appreciated! I got a kick out of all the Canadian stuff, especially the shirt. I'll wear it proudly when I get a good opportunity.

This week in my Jesus Christ Topical Guide study I really enjoyed Hebrews 4:14-16

14 Seeing then that we have a great high priest, that is passed into the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our profession.
15 For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin.
16 Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.

I believe these verses were grouped with a few other references about Christ's condescension, how He descended below all things so He could be our advocate and succor us. The first verse to me is a call to hold fast to our testimonies and proclaim them without shame. The second verse describes why we should do so, being that we have a savior that was truly "touched with the feeling of our infirmities" and "was in all points tempted like we are, yet without sin." He understands us completely and knows exactly how to help us overcome every trial of our life because he already did! How, of course, we don't understand but I believe every word of it. The last verse is an invitation to use Christ's Atonement so that one day we can "come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy," or approach God without fear or guilt. That reminds me of a statement a member in the ward made a couple weeks ago. He said, "Grace is getting what we don't deserve. Mercy is not getting what we do deserve." Anyway, that last statement, "and find grace to help in time of need," was interesting to me as well. The way it is phrased tells me that we should both seek grace for ourselves when we need it and seek grace so that we can help others when they need it.

Hope you got something from that! Love y'all!

Love,
Elder O'Brien (the younger)