Saturday, October 29, 2016

October 24, 2016

Dear Family,

This week was kind of a blur. Well, the last three weeks really. Whenever people ask us what day we taught someone or anything like that, we're just like, "well, could've been Saturday or Friday, maybe Wednesday, who knows really!" It was a good week though, we kept busy.

No crazy experiences this week except that we got another nail in a tire. They noticed it when we went to get our oil changed so it wasn't that flat yet. Still though. I'm literally losing track of how many punctured tires I've gotten. It's either four or five. The good news from this week is that Amy's sons are all set for baptism this Saturday. I suspect I'll be getting transferred next week so it'll be a good way to end my stint in Denton. The overage child is also progressing pretty well. Our other investigator we're a little worried about. You'd have to meet him to understand. Elder Cockrell has described him both as "a 15 year-old in a 30 year-old body" and "kinda like a squirrel" if that gives you an idea.

I found something interesting in my studies about opposition this week too. It comes from 2 Nephi 2:11 - "11 For it must needs be, that there is an opposition in all things. If not so, my firstborn in the wilderness, righteousness could not be brought to pass, neither wickedness, neither holiness nor misery, neither good nor bad. Wherefore, all things must needs be a compound in one; wherefore, if it should be one body it must needs remain as dead, having no life neither death, nor corruption nor incorruption, happiness nor misery, neither sense nor insensibility."

The phrase I was focusing on was "all things must be a compound in one." To me it's saying that without opposition everything would just be one big, emotionless compound without any progression or change. The earth would have no purpose and would "remain as dead, having no life neither death, nor corruption nor incorruption, happiness nor misery, neither sense nor insensibility," full nor flat tires. It kind of gives you perspective on what life was like before the fall of Adam and Eve. Anyway, that was just something I'd missed in that verse until this last week.

That's all I've got this week. As I said it was a bit of a blur. Well, take care!

Elder O'Brien (the younger)

Monday, October 24, 2016

October 17, 2016

                  Posing with his second cake

                     Blowing out the candles on his third cake

Dear Family,

First of all, thanks for all the birthday wishes and gifts. It was an interesting day for sure. To start the day off I had to drive to a meeting about 30 miles away in Carrollton--or at least we thought so. We were misinformed and turns out we were supposed to go to Hurst which is about 25 miles from Carrollton. In normal traffic that should take about an hour but it took us two. The new GPS helped by the way! After that, we came back for lunch then headed to the prison to contact a Book of Mormon referral from a while ago. Don't ask me how a prisoner managed to order it, I really do not know. Either way, we were told to mail it directly to the prisoner. The rest of the day was pretty packed with appointments so at some points we literally had to run from place to place.

We were in this one apartment complex where we had two appointments. The first one didn't answer his door so we went somewhere else for an hour, came back for the next appointment, and that guy also wasn't there. We decided to try back at the first guy who still wasn't home but then promptly saw the second guy walking back to his apartment so we ran over to meet him. Later that night the first guy's apartment was broken into apparently. One of his neighbors remembered us running away from the apartment and suspected we were the culprits. Fortunately for us, our investigator defended our case and it wasn't pursued any further.

We had one more appointment that fell through that day then went to dinner with Amy. She insisted I have two pieces of cake for dessert since it was my birthday and she didn't know until we got there. I was fine with that until we went to a less-actives house who Elder Cockrell had surprise me with birthday cake. "We gave you the biggest piece because it's your birthday!" they said. I was struggling a bit to finish. The very next day we had a zone meeting and my district leader had told the sisters to surprise me with another cake. Needless to say, I'm caked out this week. Why do people love me?!

Anyway, it was a good birthday even though it was a little crazy. The rest of the week was pretty much just as busy but mostly with meetings and planning and such.  On Thursday we had a mission conference with Elder Kim B. Clark of the Seventy. He made some pretty good points and the conference was just awesome overall. Three out of six of my old companions were there so it was great to catch up with them. Elder Balser seems to have grown a lot and even apologized for "being a rambunctious greenie." He had a rough time with his next couple companions so I guess he came to appreciate his trainer a little more. He really wasn't that bad of a companion but I guess he felt bad, haha.

To top off the week, we set a baptismal date for November 19 with the overage child I think I mentioned last week. She and her mother weren't at church yesterday though, so that's a bit concerning. Hopefully we can motivate her mother a bit more and get them active. The desire is definitely there.

That's my week in so many words. Hope ya'll have a wonderful week once again!

Elder O'Brien (the younger)

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

October 10, 2016

Dear Family,

I hope you're enjoying your thanksgiving. I'll be enjoying mine in about a month and a half in who knows where. For now I guess I'll just enjoy my P-Day.

This week seemed to break the every second week thing I mentioned. It was actually pretty busy. We almost set another baptism date but the appointment we were planning to do it in was cancelled last minute. This one will be an overage child of a less-active member who has recently started coming back. We shouldn't  have any issues setting the date once we sit down and teach them. Unfortunately, it'll be for after transfers so I probably won't be here. Unless something crazy happens, usually the trainer leaves the area after the twelve weeks.

We had a pretty interesting contact this week. We were walking back to our car after knocking on some doors and a lady's dog got loose from its leash and ran towards us. Elder Cockrell caught it before it ran into the road and that gave us an opportunity to talk to the lady. She had the mentality that she didn't need church to know God but after we taught her a bit we asked if she would join Christ's church if it was back on the Earth and of course she said yes. I love it when people think logically about these things. While we were teaching her, a young man was being driven home from school and yelled out from the car, "Read the book, it'll change your life!" It was neat.

I'm definitely thinking of you as I walk around in the warm weather. Though, this week I was in a sweater for a couple mornings when I was in the 60s.

I enjoyed President Uchtorf's talk as well. Too often we forget how profound it is that we know God's plan and that we are His children. Our goal as missionaries is to teach the Plan of Salvation exactly like he did during his talk.

Thanks in advance for the birthday stuff. I'm sure it'll be a good day. We'll be having dinner with Amy and her boys so I'm pretty excited about that.

Have an awesome week and stay away from clowns! I've heard some things. I'm just glad Texans are all usually carrying and would take care of it pretty quick if anything "funny" happened.

Elder O'Brien (the younger)

Monday, October 10, 2016

October 3, 2016

Dear family,

Sounds like everybody enjoyed conference weekend. It's hard not to really. You can count on President Uchtdorf of course to start it off like none other. His Saturday morning talk is probably one of my favorites. That and Elder Natress' during the Sunday afternoon session. There were definitely a lot of talks about how to be happy. I've been trying to figure that out for a while now so I was grateful for those talks. Now I just have wait for them to show up in the Gospel Library so I can read them again.

We had another one of those busy weeks again. They seem to come every second week. This time we somehow managed to set three baptismal dates. The first one was with a guy named Greg. We found him when an appointment fell through a couple weeks ago and we went to help some people across the apartment complex that were moving in. Greg was also helping them and was like, "hey, I met with missionaries a few months ago but lost contact with them." He remembered a lot of what he was taught and had already set two dates before. Anyway, we taught him a couple times and set a date for November 26th. I think we have our work cut out for us with him but hopefully we can get him ready in time.

The other two dates were Amy's sons. We set a date with them for October 29th, the Saturday before I'll most likely be leaving Denton. I'm pretty confident they'll be ready. They don't really show much excitement or anything but Amy assured us that they're more into it than they show. Pretty exciting stuff! It still amazes me how much has been happening here in Denton the last couple months compared to when I first got here. All I've had to do is try and stuff has just been falling into our laps. The Lord must be on our side or something.

Enjoy your post-conference week!

Elder O'Brien (the younger)

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

September 26, 2016

Dear Family,

I almost put the date as December 26th but I caught myself. It has been chillier today; in the 60s if you can imagine that. Oh wait... you're in Canada. No imagination needed.

This week was a bit of a slow one. People just weren't answering their doors or keeping appointments it seemed. Most of the appointment cancellations were legitimate emergencies and stuff so that at least made us feel a little better. We mostly tried to look for service opportunities but did have to do some tracting too. According to one guy, we don't believe in the resurrection. I'm sure glad there are kind people to let me know what I believe. Here I was believing in the resurrection all my life! Even in teaching people about it! It was just one of those streets I guess.

I don't really have a ton to report as far as progress with investigators this week. Everyone's still doing well and Amy's boys have been keeping all their commitments which is wonderful. One of our Relief Society presidents told us yesterday that Amy and another sister whose husband isn't a member have been telling her how much they appreciate what we've been doing for their families so that was nice. It feels good to be appreciated once in a while!

I had some pretty interesting studies this week too. I've been reading in Luke lately and went over the parable of the rich man and Lazarus in Luke 16. The theme of it was basically justice and the spirit world. The first thing I found interesting was the imagery Christ used of a gulf separating spirit prison from paradise. The rich man of course couldn't cross even he had repented. When Christ taught those in spirit prison he "built a bridge" so they could cross. The second thing that stood out to me was a quote from the institute manual that said, "justice is the friend of those who rely on the atonement of Jesus Christ." I feel like most people think of justice as this concept that basically says you need to be punished for every little thing. That statement changed my perspective a little on that. As long as we rely on the Atonement, justice is our friend. I guess it just sunk in more this week.

Have an awesome day and enjoy conference this weekend!

Elder O'Brien (the younger)