Friday, November 27, 2015

November 9, 2015 - Weird Week - Joshua, Texas

Dear Family,

It was quite the roller-coaster week. It started by fishing on p-day, which we're doing again today. There's a stocked pond just past the cow pasture behind our apartment. That was nice and relaxing and I actually caught one! Later that night p-day was over and we saw that Salad Guy was on his porch again so we stopped to talk to him. He started by kindly chastising me for not talking enough. That was no problem, it seemed to be coming from a somewhat loving place. Then I talked for a couple minutes and he decided that I was now a beautiful person with good character. Also no problem--except for the fact that he had already had a couple White Rum/Coke Zero mixes and "Elder O'Brien is awesome" turned into "Elder Simmons is not." One thing lead to another and I've apparently been touched by an angel because I have a brown spot on my right iris, we're apparently a cult, my tie was undone by a drunk man, and Elder Simmons ended up holding a box of somebody's ashes. After that, we finally got out. So... Salad Guy is dropped. Sorry guys.

Missions are amazing because normally after an experience like that you would just hide out for a day but we just slept it off and went to work on Tuesday. It's about then that we get a text from one of our other dropped investigators asking us to come back. She was in a horrible state because of her relationship so we ended up scheduling and rescheduling until we finally got to meet with her on Thursday. We brought the Burleson Elders with us because we needed another male there, it was a sensitive situation, and the bishop wasn't available. As soon as we knocked on the door she came out and just started laying all her feelings out there on the table... with some strong words. That lesson itself was a roller-coaster but we finally calmed her down and helped her see that God loved her and that the feelings she was having were "natural man" feelings that she could overcome with fervent prayer and scripture study.

That same night we went over to see that lady whose friend we ended up teaching last week. On the door there was a neatly written but disappointed note on the door from this same guy. People usually do it in sharpie directly on the door but I guess he had some paper handy. In so many words, I don't think we're going to see this man again. Is it normal to have 4 or 5 investigators disappear (become homeless) in your first 2 transfers?! Someone please tell me!

I love Joshua though. Every area has its quirks and Joshua's is that people run away sometimes.

On Friday we had an amazing lesson with one of our less actives. We brought a member with us and he helped so much. He brought the spirit in with a few personal stories about his children's struggles in the Gospel and basically called the less active to repentance for not immersing himself in the Gospel. It was done in such a loving way though that the man was in tears. From there we just kept talking and we could just feel that it was the spirit that was really speaking. The lesson went so smoothly but it wasn't even what we planned at all. This is what makes missionary work worth it. I love that man. The main thing I learned from teaching that lesson was that even Satan knows the Church is true; it's our trust in Jesus Christ and his Gospel that will really allow us to fulfill our eternal potential.

Hopefully that gives you a good idea of what it was like be a missionary in Joshua, Texas this week. It had its ups and downs but it was totally worth it. I hope you have more "Brother W-type experiences" this week than "Salad Guy experiences" though.

Love you,
Elder O'Brien (the younger)

Thursday, November 12, 2015

November 2, 2015 - Joshua, Texas

Hello Family!

It was another rainy weekend in Texas. That, along with Halloween, made Saturday pretty unproductive again but what can you do. Friday night was when it really started pouring. We planned rescue visits with our ward mission leader that night so it made for some interesting times. When we drove up to this one less-active's house it was really pouring and we saw their TV on so we thought for sure they'd answer out of pity, but nope. I literally had to leap over a giant puddle to get back into the car and by then I already was soaking wet. Of course, silly me didn't think to bring a coat or
umbrella, just a sweater. Our ward mission leader was telling us about the flooding in Austin and how there was a guy who phoned his wife and told her he was floating down the street waiting for emergency services to come get him. They were taking a while so he then phoned a news station and talked to them for a couple minutes. You'll have to google or something to get the rest of the story.

We also had interviews with President Ames that day which was awesome. He just goes into these interviews knowing that God will guide the conversation and says whatever comes to his mind in those 15 minutes. It's basically clockwork revelation. In mine we mostly talked about dealing with those down days and preparing to take over the area. He started by telling me that Elder Simmons had been in Joshua a while and asked if I knew what that meant. From there it seemed like every struggle or question I didn't know I had just flowed out. President Ames ended by saying that God knew exactly how that conversation was going to go and was guiding us the whole time. It's hard to describe but it was totally true. It was definitely one of those experiences I'll never forget.

The only other interesting thing that happened this week was yesterday when we met with one of our investigators. Her boyfriend (who had a baptism date but disappeared) is in Austin right now so she had to call over a male friend before we could teach her. This friend looked a little rough around the edges but had a pretty kind personality overall. Our investigator told him on the phone that we were just there to talk to her and he didn't have to listen. I think Elder Simmons and I were both thinking "we'll see about that. You can't just ignore two guys talking about the restored gospel." SPOILER ALERT: He listened and said he'll get baptized if he finds out the church is true. Okay, now let's back up. Before we even started teaching he told us his life story and let me tell you, he had some serious "baptismal interview question #4" issues. People just see the name tag and share TMI details like there's no tomorrow. Anyway, it was a good lesson for both of them and the friend is more committed to go to church then I've seen anyone. At the end of the lesson he even chastised our investigator for also meeting with the Jehovah's Witnesses (GASP!). His exact words were "That is not the church you want."

Definitely a good week down here in Joshua, Texas. Hope you have a good week and don't get to jealous of the sunny, 70 degree day I have ahead of me.

Elder O'Brien (the younger)

Friday, November 6, 2015

October 26, 2015 - Joshua, Texas

Dear family,

Glad you were all thinking of me this week with the cold. 60 degrees is pretty rough but I think I came out alright, haha. I actually had no idea there was a hurricane going on this weekend until I read your emails. It makes sense now because it was like 80 degrees one day and the next it was pouring rain and I thought "Wow, my first Texan rain!" Then it didn't stop and I kind of got over it. I guess everyone around here is just used to hurricanes happening nearby so they don't really think much of it, especially this far inland. I think most of the water ended up pooling in random fields and such so we didn't really have any flooding per se. It was about as much as you'd see in Stirling during the spring. It's mostly dry now.

The rain did put a bit of a damper on the work though. On Saturday literally every appointment we had was cancelled. Some people were busy and some just didn't want to go outside. We also didn't think people would be quite as willing to talk to us on their doorstep if it was pouring rain so we just thought of some less-actives to visit. It wasn't the most productive day but we tried.

The weekend was made even more interesting by the fact that the members we live with/in their barn were gone and left their dogs outside. They do have a shop for the dogs to sleep in but one of them, Sam, is super scared of thunder. He was the last one I would have guessed to have that problem because he is the oldest, the biggest, and never seems to be bothered by Murphy who is hyper and
jumps all over him. Anyway, so Sam has been hanging out by our sliding door all weekend and has managed to even open it a few times. Three times this weekend we came home to find him napping in our apartment! Another time he just walked in while we were sleeping! Oh, Sam... The other dog is named Jack or Flapjack. He's pretty fat and doesn't enjoy running around quite as much as the other two. Unless it involves food.

Yesterday was pretty spiritual and relaxing despite the cold. In the morning I studied the Atonement and Sacrament a little which is always nice. It makes the sacrament a lot more special. There was an amazing talk given during sacrament meeting too. I wasn't really that focused but I could tell it was given by the spirit because I could feel it and the speaker said a lot of the same things I hear from President Ames and the apostles. That's something I've noticed lately; if people are speaking by the spirit they end up teaching a lot of the same things in the same way. The Lord seems to guide the Church in specific directions through those that represent Him and right now I think we're being pushed to make the Sacrament more meaningful and really understand why we keep commandments. One thing that is really emphasized in this mission is that keeping commitments from missionaries is preparation for keeping commandments from God, keeping commandments allows us to make covenants, and making covenants prepares us for God's kingdom. We're really just learning how to
become like Him. That's our whole purpose and it is accomplished by God telling us exactly how he lives. Once we learn this, commandments seem more like a gift than a barrier. The challenge we were given in sacrament meeting yesterday was to treat the sacrament like we would any other memorial because it is one. It's up to us to decide what that means.

So, that's what I learned this week. Hope ya'll have a good day!

Elder O'Brien (the younger)

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

October 19, 2015 - Joshua, Texas

Hello Family,

I really try not to count the days but I realized this morning that it was exactly two months ago that I left for the MTC. It's pretty hard to believe. The farther I get into my mission the better my MTC experience seems. I'm sure I'll look back to my first transfer the same way in a couple months. In case you haven't figured it out, I was not transferred last week. I just forgot to mention that. I do have a new district leader though. His name is Elder Pulver and he seems pretty loving and funny. Elder Allison was replaced by a new missionary so the district leader is now in Burleson. I haven't been out that long, but the idea of a district leader in Burleson is still weird to me... 

Should be a good transfer though. There are a couple newer members who are planning on going through the temple in November, so we may be able to go with them. We've also been invited to a less-active guy's wedding. He's marrying into a Catholic family so they're doing a reading and stuff during the ceremony. His fiancĂ© is actually encouraging him to embrace his Mormon side so they invited us over for dinner and asked us to do a reading from the Book of Mormon. Should be a good experience. 

The rest of the week was mostly full of street contacting. We went to Godley with our bikes on Wednesday and rode around talking to people. We ended up giving out two Books of Mormon and got 5 new investigators. While riding around we also came across a necromancer and a sort-of-basher. I say sort of because he just referred us to his preacher, told us we were heretics for not believing in the trinity, and gave us firm handshakes obviously meant to show dominance. That was the worst of it though. Overall, it was a super successful day. Probably one of the best by stats that I've had on my mission. People were just prepared for our message that day.
And this letter would not be complete if I did not tell you about the amazing food I ate this week. Firstly I had a Brisket Taco at Del Norte Taco in Godley. Talk about Tex Mex. If there is one place I want to take ya'll to in Texas, it is Del Norte Taco. We also ate at Nicky D's with bishop this week. Most amazing burger I've ever had. Nelson burgers come in a close 2nd only because Nicky D's toasts the buns to perfection and has crazy varieties of toppings. 

I also feel obligated to share my funny story for the week. So, we walk into the library (you know this is going to be good now) and ask to use a single computer to print a report for ward council. Obviously, we need another chair so I grab one from a nearby table and place it in next to Elder Simmons'. In front of said chair is a small wooden barrier preventing fellow library computer users from snooping on each other. Harmless right? Wrong. As I begin to sit down in my chair, I manage to whack my face on this barrier. It hurt but I'd whacked my face on things before, no big deal right? Wrong. As I'm laughing at myself I feel blood dripping from my lip. I cut my lip on the blunt edge of a wooden barrier! I then turn to Elder Simmons and we head to the bathroom so I can clean up. After a few minutes the bleeding had almost stopped and this guy about my age walks in and says, "You get punched?" To which I reply, "Well... by a stationary piece of wood." On his way out he turns to me and says, "Good luck man. Watch out for those pieces of wood." I'm hoping this guy has a more normal experience with missionaries sometime, but for now at least he knows we have a sense of humor and are prone to human accidents just like everyone else.

With that, have an awesome week and watch your faces!

Love ya'll,
Elder O'Brien (the bleeder)