Friday, March 18, 2016

March 14, 2016 - Saginaw, Texas

Dear Family,

I really need to stop saying stuff like, "Hey, it's starting to look like spring!" because something always happens. On Tuesday morning we're sitting there studying and watching the nice gentle rain outside when suddenly the wind picks up and we can barely see ten feet outside our window! We then start listening closely for tornado sirens and all we hear is the wind howling really loudly at consistent intervals. Meanwhile the rest of our district is sitting in their bathtubs quite aware that wind does not howl like that--it was indeed a tornado siren. You live and you learn I guess... I'm completely fine though, no worries! The worst this area got was a few bent signs and leaning fences. Oh, and the beautiful blossoms I mentioned last week, yeah, they're now covering the ground.

That was the first storm this week. The second one is more figurative and began on Saturday before Chris' baptism. The baptism was scheduled for 7pm and at about 6:10 we got a text from his mom saying, "I am Chris. I'm not coming because I'm not ready to be a Mormon." We texted back and asked to come over but he didn't respond so we started getting the word out that the baptism was cancelled. We waited about a half hour before we took everything down and drained the font. That sound when the font started draining was painful, I'm telling you! Not 5 minutes after the plug was pulled both literally and figuratively, Chris walked in. At that moment I just gave him one those "Wait... What?!" looks.Turns out he was super nervous and didn't feel ready but some members convinced him to come. We asked him firmly if he wanted to be baptized and he said yes so we got as many people back as possible and the baptism went on! I didn't even know what to feel afterwards. I don't have the pictures right now but I should be able to get them from Chris' mom this week.

So, another random fact. Last week I forgot to mention that I met a member in the Fossil Ridge ward that served in the Canada Calgary mission and finished in Stirling. His last name is McClure and he was one of the missionaries that got Mark Clayton baptized. Small world! He remembers staying with the Laquas and everything!

Also, tonight all my dreams are going to come true because the bishop's family is hosting a Pi Day party and we're invited! #Hallelujah! His wife said they're going to feed us pizza pie at 6, then dessert pie at 6:30 when everyone else (neighbors, ward members, etc.) come. I cannot even express how happy that makes me! It's one of those situations when your prayer is answered even though you didn't say it because it seemed like such a silly thing to pray for. The Lord truly knows how to succor His people! I've been feeling a little down lately so in all seriousness, it was an answer to my prayers. I think we sometimes forget that the Atonement is truly infinite and that Christ will make things happen to cheer us up, no matter how silly. I'll leave you with that thought and talk to you next week! Happy Pi Day!! 

Elder O'Brien (the younger)

March 7, 2016 - Saginaw, Texas

         Chris and companion at Zone Conference 

Hello Family!

This was one of those weeks when the Texan weather just blew my mind! It's barely March and all the trees and stuff are already blossoming. I've never seen even a hint of spring this time of year. Anyway, that's your weather update for the week.

Sounds like ya'll have seen the zone conference pictures on Facebook. They always make the week a little better. We started out just going over tons of rules for a while (probably to prepare for the new mission president) then moved into learning to teach more effectively. I found out that I can only attend the temple once a quarter and that to do even that we have to live about an hour away, have to be taken by a member, and it can't be in the evenings or on weekends. Hopefully Elder Wade and I can work something out soon because I really want to go! I should be able to take some recent converts for baptisms soon though. That'll be exciting!

fter discussing all the rules we talked about how to fulfill Elder Christofferson's Apostolic blessing to our mission "that in our teaching we can be more persuasive, more powerful and that our testimony will be accompanied by the Holy Ghost, as well as our teaching, that our teaching will reach people more than ever before. They have the right to choose how they will respond to our teaching and testimony but our witness can be strong enough that they cannot disbelieve it, whatever they choose to do about it." Basically, it came down to being obedient, becoming converted ourselves, and having honest conversations with people.

For me personally, I feel that means that I have to believe in myself more. I pondered a little during the role-play portion about how I always leave these meetings with a determination and ability to teach more effectively but my teaching hardly ever changes because of it. I felt that it's really just me holding myself back and telling myself I can't actually teach in the way I want to. I'm determined not to let that happen again. I've improved my teaching a ton in the last six months and I just need to remind myself of that. There's nothing more fulfilling to me as a missionary than asking an inspired question or sharing a scripture that just makes something click in people's minds.

I learned a lot more than what I wrote so I'll just send some of my notes in a separate email. Other than that, this week we taught one of our investigators, Chris, all the commandments and got him interviewed for baptism. He's getting baptized this Saturday so I'll send pictures next week. Take care!

Elder O'Brien (the younger)

Friday, March 11, 2016

February 29, 2016 - Saginaw, Texas

Dear Family,

I don't really have a whole lot to say for this week. I'm slowly getting more used to Saginaw. Yesterday Elder Wade got sick and slept all afternoon and evening so I took over answering phone calls and such. Let me tell you, there were a lot of them! Elder Wade is also the district leader so I had to call the whole district for numbers too. I was freaking out a little but came out alive in the end. Elder Wade could barely sit up so I figured it was least I could do.

I'm really starting to see that Satan does not want any of our investigators getting baptized. All four of our progressing investigators decided not to come to church for various reasons. Mainly it was because none of their fellowshippers were able to come. It's super frustrating but I know they'll get baptized even if we have to move a couple dates. We're definitely going to be emphasizing the sacrament this week.

On Thursday I was in River Trails on exchange with Elder Griffin. It was super weird because I read his blog before I came out. I felt creepy knowing about his mission and stuff when this was the first time he met me. The ward is really weird too because it covers the sketchiest part of Fort Worth. Luckily I didn't see anything too weird and/or illegal.

Oh, and according to a guy at the seniors' home, my health care career is ruined because I let hallway bowling happen.

Well, have a good week and stay away from hallway sports.

Elder O'Brien (the younger)

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

February 22, 2016 - My First Week in Saginaw, Texas

Dear Family,

It's hard to believe I've officially been out on my mission for six months. It's flown by but at the same time I feel like it was forever ago that I was in the MTC. My time in Joshua was well worth it. I learned and grew a ton there so it's definitely a sacred place for me. I really want to take ya'll back there sometime after my mission. 

When I first got to Saginaw, I have to admit it was a little weird. We live in a nice apartment complex along with two other sets of missionaries. My apartment feels like a mansion compared to the barn I was living in for almost six months. It honestly made me uncomfortable at first to have so much room. On top of that, we see other missionaries almost every day with most of the rest of the district in the same complex. The only ones not here are of course the sisters in Highland Station. Funny enough we actually all live in their ward. Anyway it's been interesting.

The work in Saginaw seems to have been booming the last few months. Currently we have two investigators with a baptismal date and another that will have one next week. People actually want to hear what we have to say here! Imagine that! I'd say I want to stay here for a while but then I'd probably be transferred in April. Which reminds me! This will be a seven week transfer to compensate for the MTC changes recently.

I wouldn't be able to forgive myself if I didn't talk about the service we do here. Imagine for a moment that you're sitting in a room with the guy who invented twist-off caps among other things. Crazy right?! Now, imagine that he's asleep with a long string of snot hanging from his nose. Yep, we spend 10 hours a week at an old folks home. A memory care center to be exact. One lady told me on Friday that another resident was a jewel robber and that the Chicago police sent her here so that we can catch her. It takes some getting used to but I'll let you know how it goes for the next while.

I guess you're probably wondering about my new companion. I think I mentioned this last week, but it's Elder Wade. He's been out for eighteen months so together we add up to a full mission! After a day or so we both realized that President Ames may have very well put two of the quietest missionaries in the mission together. Both of us are experiencing having a quiet companion for the first time. It's been going pretty well considering! I think the Lord is trying to teach us something this transfer though... Anyway, I have to go shopping and stuff. Talk to you next week!

Elder O'Brien (the younger)