Saturday, April 30, 2016

April 25, 2016

Hello family!

It was a pretty typical week here in Saginaw. Unfortunately the only news I really have is pretty sad. We went by our committed investigators without their fellowshippers on Tuesday to show them that we actually care about them and that we aren't just random teenagers that teach them. It seemed to go alright and we set up an appointment for Thursday right there so we thought everything was back on track for Sara's April 30th baptism. Unfortunately on Thursday she told her fellowshippers that she doesn't feel like she can keep all the commitments we leave and that she wants us to back off a little. So, we weren't able to meet that night and her baptism date is now dropped.

It was really disappointing for me but I sensed something was wrong a week ago, it just surfaced on Thursday. Honestly right now I'm just doing my best to keep my spirits up after having all our dates from last transfer dropped within 2.5 weeks. I know it's not my fault but it's still hard for me. Right now we're hoping to meet with her soon so that we can explain that her frustration is normal and that it doesn't come from God. Really the only commitments she's not keeping are reading the Book of Mormon and praying. We told our Bishop that and he said, "Great, she's an LDS youth already!" True statement. I'll let ya'll know what happens though.

I know my Heavenly Father loves me though because church was wonderful yesterday. We didn't have any of the investigators we expected but Big Momma came! She has been investigating for 6 years but she's finally reaching out more. I think I wrote about her my first week here. She was really humbled yesterday so we're going to take this opportunity and hopefully invite her to baptism this week. The rest of church, especially sacrament meeting, was awesome too. I felt the spirit stronger than I had at church in a while. I know that was an answer to my prayers.

I hope I haven't sounded too negative the last couple weeks. I really am enjoying my mission and  there's no place I'd rather be than Fort Worth, Texas right now. It's a weird sort of enjoyment where I'm constantly being disappointed but I'm learning a ton at the same time. I better go though. Talk to you next week!

Elder O'Brien (the younger)

Saturday, April 23, 2016

April 18, 2016 - Saginaw, Texax

Dear Family,

Like most, this week had its ups and downs. We had interviews with President Ames again this week which is always awesome. In mine he mostly helped me to see myself more as God sees me. He always tells me Satan doesn't have to get me to sin to harm me, he just has to discourage me.

One thing I thought about a lot afterwards was the way I've always thought of the Atonement. I realized that I've always seen that its necessity as making me less of a person in a way. I've always thought, "I'm nothing without the Atonement" and focused on the "I'm nothing" part. This week I learned that God never meant for us to be nothing; that's why he planned for the Atonement from the beginning. It never has or ever will matter that we're nothing without it as long as we use it. Basically, we should focus on the way things are because of the Atonement and not the way they could've been without it.

Unfortunately it seems like the adversary has really been trying to bring me down since interviews and it seems to be through our investigators. On Thursday one investigator told us that she's not sure she wants to be baptized anymore. We did our best to help her resolve concerns and understand the purpose of what we teach. She was willing to keep learning more and recognized that she hasn't experienced all the church has to offer yet. Hopefully that turns into something more soon.

Yesterday was Stake Conference and our most progressing investigator sang in the choir with her friend. That was pretty awesome. We had a lesson set up later that night so we thought we could discuss her thoughts then but she ended up cancelling. It might have been because of her mother, but either way we didn't get to meet with her. First of all, now we're panicking because her baptism is April 30th and we'll have to move it unless she starts meeting with us more. On top of that, their main fellow-shippers told us that they're worried her mom and her may not realize we actually care about them and that we're not just random teenagers a friend brings over. I feel like that might be true which is pretty painful for me. I honestly care about all my investigators a ton; it's just difficult for me to show it. We talked about some pretty simple solutions so we'll see how it goes. 

It's a lot to take in but I suppose it could be a lot worse. I'm pretty sure she will get baptized before the end of the transfer. I don't want to make her feel like a failure if it's not the 30th though. 

That's your peek into my life for this week! Have a wonderful Monday!

Elder O'Brien (the younger)

Saturday, April 16, 2016

April 11, 2016 - Saginaw, Texas

                 District Community Project

Dear Family,

Life was pretty busy with transfers this week. Tuesday we did some service and basically ran errands the rest of the day. Elder Cherry from our district was going home and was in a bike area so he needed us to take him around for some last minute things. He was the older brother figure of the district so it was tough to see him leave. It's funny, watching him go home was almost exactly like watching someone leave for their mission.

It was tough to see Elder Wade go too, especially after only one transfer. I didn't realize how hilarious he was until he was gone. That seems to happen a lot. It's always really tough to get a new companion in an area because you're so used to how your previous companion does things and how they act. I've been doing alright though, Elder Law is pretty cool. I had to take lead a little more this week because he's new to the area, new to the district, and still pretty new to the mission. I learned a lot from being a district leader's companion last transfer so I'm trying to pass that on as much as possible.

Basically as soon as Elder Law was unpacked we jumped right into it and went to District Leadership Council to plan for Zone Council the next day. Zone Council is basically a district meeting for the whole zone.

On Friday we did a massive service project as a zone through a community event that was going on. Basically, a bunch of people came together to restore people's yards and houses and were split into
groups to work on a specific house. Our zone made up one group so it was just us and a supervisor from the charity sponsoring the project. We mostly did painting, laying stone, and pulling weeds. It was awesome because so much of the zone was new but we got to know each other almost right away. Half the people were saying, "Elder O'Brien, I've never heard you talk this much before!" Apparently I'm pretty funny sometimes. All I said was stuff like, "yeah, you totally brought the property value down with that smudge." I suppose that kinda stuff cheers people up somehow. Who would've thought?

Anyway, the lady who owned the house was super emotional and grateful at the end. She shared 1 Peter 4:10 with us and then we said a prayer. It was super awesome. I'll send a picture of the zone and her later. She also had a small dog named Rusty. He was cool. Overall probably one of my favorite experiences since I came to Saginaw.

Well, take care and don't smudge any bricks with paint this week! Not that there's many brick houses around there... Bye!

Elder O'Brien (the younger)

Thursday, April 14, 2016

April 3, 2016 - Saginaw, Texas

 Conference Breakfast 
at a member's house

Dear Family,

Hope your conference weekend was awesome. Sounds like you liked basically all the same talks I did. Elder Bednar's talk, "Always Retain a Remission of Your Sins" was definitely one of my favorites, especially being a missionary. He just taught baptism and the Holy Ghost so simply and it made me wish I could teach like that. It's one of those talks I'll be studying a lot the next few months. Another talk that I really enjoyed was Sister Oscarson's. She talked about asking ourselves, "Do I really believe?" and how we need to get the gospel from our minds into our hearts. I think missions really make you ask yourself that. For me it's not so much in the "Why do I believe these crazy things?" sense but it's more like, "I'm out here telling people that there is a living prophet on the earth and that the Gospel of Jesus Christ can have real, tangible consequences now and into the eternities. What does that really mean to me and why aren't I the happiest, most fearless person in the world because I believe these things?" Those moments when I really ask myself that teach me more than a hundred personal studies. 

I've thought about that a lot this week, how there's those experiences we all have that become like our own personal scripture stories that can be applied to almost anything. Ayla's passing is one of those stories for me. It's not too often that I feel inspired to share that story with people but when I do, it always seems to be for a different reason. 

You're probably wondering about transfers so I'll get to that. First of all, I'm also going to be out a week longer because of the MTC change and the 7 week transfer. Turn back the countdowns! Second, I'm staying in Saginaw (yay!) and Elder Wade is going to Waco as a Zone Leader. It's funny because last week Elder Wade said he felt strongly that one of us was going to get a leadership call and told me that if President Ames called he wanted to answer because it's always the other person who the call is actually for. So, about 10:10pm on Monday night we think we're safe for the night. THEN, I thought, "Hey, I should check the phone one more time before bed," because it was in the other room. President Ames had called probably seconds before so I answered and he asked for Elder Wade. Should've checked the phone before me Elder Wade! HAHAHA! ahem... So, yeah. 

My new companion will be Elder Law. He's been out for six months and is coming from his first area. I don't really know him well but his trainer and his trainer's trainer have both been my district leader before so I've heard of him. 

Well, my time is up so I'll talk to you next week. Buhbye!

Elder O'Brien (the younger)

Saturday, April 9, 2016

March 28, 2016 - Saginaw, Texas

Dear Family,

Well, for your weekly weather update, we almost had a tornado again. It's funny because back home if there's a tornado an hour away everyone is saying, "Wow! It was so close, we could've died!" Down here they're saying, "It's pretty far away, we should be good." Some people were freaking out still, so I guess it's 50/50. You'll be glad to know we get better and better at dealing with tornado sirens every week. This time we felt it was serious enough to warrant a trip to the church building for shelter before it got too bad. Nothing happened in this area though! No worries!

Other than that our week wasn't all that interesting. We had 3 investigators at church though! Texans tend to feel guilty if they don't come on Easter so that worked in our favor. Sara's mom was one of those there and she said she enjoyed it and wants to come back. That was good to hear. I'm scared to say this because I'll probably leave for it, but I really want to stay in Saginaw next transfer to see this all through! 

The rest of Easter was pretty awesome too. It was super spiritual and I certainly appreciated the package as well. The whole district got more candy than we can handle so we're essentially living the law of consecration as far as that goes. I may go into a candy coma later this week but I'll let you know. 

Sounds like Easter was fun back in little ol' Stirling. I'm excited for Katie and Mathew so congrats to them. While ya'll were doing that I was on exchange with Elder Walkling riding a bike every which way in Park Glen 1st and 2nd. He planned a "not so bad" day of biking that turned into an "oops, I think we literally biked a marathon" day of biking. Stairs have been rough since then. I hope your thoughts are with me...

Well, I have to go, but I hope you have an awesome week! Wish me luck with transfers!

Elder O'Brien (the younger)

Friday, April 1, 2016

March 21, 2016 - Saginaw, Texas

Dear Family,

It wasn't quite as stormy this week but there were still some storms. The tornado sirens went off again on Thursday which was confusing because it was completely calm outside. Turns out there was a tornado around South Fort Worth--my old zone. The Spanish Sisters there apparently had something fling off their roof onto their car. But yeah, we didn't have any more than a light sprinkling here.

Thursday was really the only other interesting day this week. We had a lesson scheduled with Sara who we started teaching my first week and is a referral from a laurel in the ward. Usually the laurel's father comes as the priesthood holder but he wasn't able to make it so we were trying all day to get another man to come along. We texted 7 or 8 people, all of which said no or just didn't answer. We told the laurel's family we would have to cancel because of this and as soon as we said that they texted a priest we hadn't gotten a response from and got an answer! Thank you members!

We had planned on setting a baptismal date that lesson so we could see how Satan was trying to stop it. As we got ready for the lesson I really felt like I would have to be the one to set the date. The lesson went well and I did end up setting the date. She agreed to be baptized on April 30. It was cool because Elder Wade said he almost did it a few times but he just couldn't. The Lord decided to give me the experience I guess. It was my first time setting a baptismal date so I was pretty excited! The next day Sara and her friend went to the Hurst Stake Youth Conference and we found out later that President Ames was there to speak to all the youth. Afterwards, he apparently talked with Sara specifically. I have no idea what they talked about, but I thought that was awesome.

There's some awesome stuff going on in Saginaw right now and none of it has anything to do with Elder Wade or I!

Hope ya'll have a wonderful week and enjoy the spring!

Elder O'Brien (the younger)