Saturday, August 27, 2016

August 22, 2016

Hello Family!

It's been a pretty great week. For one, it finally cooled down a bit into the 80s and we actually got some rain. It's super weird for Texas in the summer but I'm not going to complain. It's nice to not feel like an ice cream cone in Hades all day.

Anyway, the work has been going well too of course. We set a date with Tomi and Oyin for September 17th like we were hoping and had another Sister in the ward tell us that she wants her 11 year old daughter baptized. She's only here every second weekend so it'll be a couple months but again, I'm not complaining! We also had a few good contacts this week that will hopefully become new investigators. One of them--an older lady--tried to give us $40 for a Book of Mormon. It was tempting... We said no however. She then told us "Well, you're obviously not [insert her current church membership] if you don't take money!" She said it, not us!

Most importantly, Amy got baptized this week! I was getting nervous and stressed about all the logistics but it turned out great and went forward without any setbacks. That is not normal. I was asked to give the talk on the Holy Ghost and when I got up there all I had was a few points and some scriptures but the spirit just totally took over. I still worry a bit when I don't have everything written out but faith precedes the miracle as they say. Amy had no preferences about who should confirm her so I half volunteered, half was told to do it during ward council. Apparently Amy rethought about it and wanted me to do it anyway, so that worked out. That was a neat experience and definitely a first for me. Again, the spirit just takes over and you start saying things that you never even considered before. You can probably tell that I learned a ton about the Holy Ghost this weekend. It's not too often you get to speak by the Holy Ghost on the Gift of the Holy Ghost and then give somebody the Gift of the Holy Ghost, blessing them by the Holy Ghost.

That's been my week in a nutshell. Well, other than all the Bible referrals. Texans like free Bibles, especially after terrorist attacks and apparently at the beginning of the semester. Fun fact. Have a great week and remember to read your Book of Mormon because there's old ladies out there who would pay big money to have that opportunity!

Elder O'Brien (the younger)

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

August 15, 2016

Dear Family,

As you might expect, it was another crazy week. Getting a new missionary is always a little stressful. Actually, a lot. A lot stressful. Anyway, my new companion is Elder Cockrell from Salmon, Idaho. He was pretty quiet at first but seems to be more talkative now.

We've already had some pretty crazy times together. On Saturday we started the day by vacuuming up cat hair for a less-active then discovered a flat tire. Yep, third area in a row where I've gotten a screw or nail in a tire. As a side note, Saginaw just got sisters so that may turn into another streak. Back to the tire though. Obviously I'm well acquainted with this process so I immediately called the vehicle coordinator and headed to Firestone. We then got lunch down the street, came back, and drove to the church just in time for Amy's baptismal interview. Time worked like magic! She passed, by the way.
Not that I doubted it because she's awesome.

That same day we taught Tomi and Oyin about the Plan of Salvation at our ward mission leader's house. Let me tell you, getting that set up was an adventure and a half. The lesson went well though. This week we're hoping to reset a baptism date with them for September 17th.

I'm now realizing that not a whole lot actually happened that is worth talking about. It still felt like a crazy week though.

I did have some interesting studies this week. I finished the Book of Mormon recently so I've been studying the New Testament alongside the institute manual. This week I was mostly reading about Christ's last instruction to the Apostles before and after he enters Jerusalem.

In Matthew 16:20, after giving the keys of the kingdom to them, Christ tells the Apostles to "tell no man that he [is] Jesus the Christ" which I found a little ironic at first. That's exactly their job right? In the institute manual it explains that the more people were told that Jesus was the Christ the more they would want to kill Him. The time wasn't right for that yet so that's why the Apostles were instructed not to tell anyone. That's also the reason Christ didn't go into Jerusalem until near the end of His life; He knew the people would be angry with Him and His teachings to the point that it would take hardly any time at all for them to crucify Him. Knowing this, Christ's entrance into Jerusalem in Matthew 21 becomes super profound and powerful.

I think we're all familiar with the story, He rides in on a donkey and all the people lay their garments and tree branches before him. This of course was done to show His royalty. What comes next blew my mind though. As Christ entered, the people "cried, saying, Hosanna to the Son of David: Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord; Hosanna in the highest." Hosanna means "save us" or "save now." The people plead for safety from sin and affliction at the exact moment Christ was being lead into the city where He knew he would have to perform the single act that could provide that for them. Definitely worth a read.

Take care this week and try not to get any screws or nails in your tires!

Elder O'Brien (the younger)

Friday, August 19, 2016

August 8, 2016

Dear Family,

It's been a crazy week to say the least. Monday was pretty normal but then Tuesday! Oh my... Tuesday! So, Elder Parkinson had his exit interview that day and I thought, "Well, if President Whitney has anything to say to me about leadership he'll tell me then." Literally, I looked him straight in the eyes, shook his hand, and he didn't say anything... Then he called at 10:00pm to tell me I'm training again. I then asked him if the district leader area would be changing since this has been it for the last few transfers. Basically I was asking if I'd be district leader too. He replied, "Ya know Elder. I don't know. It's not on my list and I only know what's on my list!"

On Thursday we drove down to Hurst to the new trainer meeting. Texas traffic in the morning is always an adventure so that was fun. I asked the assistants if they were changing the district leader area at the meeting and they said yes so that was a relief. I also discovered that Elder Brinkerhoff and Elder Andreason from my MTC district are training for the second time as well. President Whitney must've felt like we needed a mid-mission boost to purge the trunky out of us. Probably true.

After the meeting we drove back to Denton and had to almost immediately leave to Decatur for a baptismal interview. I hadn't eaten much up to that point because 1. I didn't have the appetite in the morning and 2. I didn't have time in the afternoon. The sisters were kind enough to provide me with a brownie and a granola bar out of pity. We then went to dinner and taught some recent converts afterward. Then, ya know, crashed in bed.

Friday of course was the day y'all were excited for and that I didn't know what to think about. The thought might've crossed your mind, "hey, wonder what that one other guy in the family is doing right now." Well, in the morning we were planning. About the time that Eric walked off the plane I was sitting in McDonalds with Elder Parkinson and one of his recent convert friends while they tried to dump all of Elder Parkinson's iPad photos onto a hard drive. That night when I saw the photos of everyone at the airport I'll admit I was probably the most trunky and homesick I've been my whole mission. Seriously it felt like having to leave my family all over again and start a whole new mission except the decision was ten times harder because I actually know what a mission is like. I kind of started to think why am I here? Why am I here doing things that are so difficult when I could be back home with my family? It's a good question really. I decided that night that I'm here because I love God and I trust Him. Plus, from what I've heard this week, coming home seems pretty anti-climatic.

Saturday was pretty good. We taught Amy about the temple and she's super excited to go when she can. At first she said it seemed pretty ominous that you can only go if you're worthy and stuff. The last few weeks though she's realized how sacred the temple really is and now has made it her goal to prepare for the temple. She's exactly where she needs to be spiritually right now. It's awesome!

Have a good week!

Elder O'Brien (the younger)

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

August 1, 2016

Dearest Family,

Where to start... Well, as of yesterday we had 8 potential baptisms for the next couple months with 3 dates set. As of right now, we have 5 potential baptisms and 2 dates set. The story is thus: Last Sunday a recent convert couple brought their 2 children, Tomi and Oyia, who just came from Nigeria to church and wanted them baptized as soon as possible. We taught both of them on Tuesday and set a date with them for August 13th. Only Tomi came to church on Sunday though so we're going to have to move Oyia's date. Tomi still technically has a date so he's one of the two.

On Wednesday the bishop in 2nd Ward introduced us to a lady who wanted the lessons immediately. Apparently she went to some health initiative conference where 75% of people were LDS women. Long story short, she had some really good experiences with them and they convinced her to read the Book of Mormon and seek out the missionaries. She found Bishop before us and he invited her 2 daughters to come to mutual that night. We taught her the next day and it went really well. The whole time she was super sincere and believed everything we said about the apostasy. She said she wanted to join the church so we planned to set a date with her and her children on Saturday during our next appointment. On Saturday she cancelled on us because she had to take her kids to see her husband who she's in the process of divorcing. She told us she would try to be at church though. That didn't happen either. At about 11:30 this morning she texted us and said basically, "Me and the kids' father decided that Mormon beliefs are not our beliefs. We disagree on some core beliefs about the trinity." We tried to get her to meet with us one more time so we could help her remember what she felt but she hasn't answered us. That's where we're at right now. Hopefully I'll have an update next week. One thing we know she can't escape is contact with all those LDS women her brought her to us in the first place. Anyway, there went 3 golden investigators.

The good news for the week is that Amy is still doing well. A member in the ward invited us and her family over for dinner and a lesson. It went awesome and we finally got to meet her two sons. Amy wants them to at least learn about the church so they can decide for themselves if they want to be baptized. I suspect they'll get there soon. They have your regular ol' preteen concerns like "fasting is too hard" but that's about it. Amy's family is pretty much a member family already: a parent who loves the gospel trying to get her kids to at least give the church a chance.

I was thinking about it this week and Amy will probably be going to the temple within weeks of my release date. So help me, if it's the Saturday after I'm not leaving! Seriously though, it's been something that's been on my mind. A big boom in the exact middle of your mission is a blessing and a curse. Mostly a blessing but you know...

So, yeah, fun week. I'm not even going to wish y'all a good week because I know it will be. Do me a favor and bring a picture of me or something when you pick Eric up from the airport. Also, don't get too trunky for me, I'll join the party soon enough! Just pray for me on Friday because I'll be thinking of you! Talk to you next week.

Elder O'Brien (the younger)