Thursday, April 13, 2017

April 3, 2017

Dear Family,

We had a pretty busy and somewhat weird week. Not too weird not too normal, just as I like it. We managed to convince the mission office (via the Zone Leaders) that we need more miles so that really helped this weekend. We were able to contact most of our new bible referrals within a couple days and seem to have leveled off at fifteen to twenty uncontacted at a time. Of course, there were odd ones. The short story for this week involved a lady who ordered both a Bible and a Book of Mormon. We set up an appointment with her on Wednesday afternoon I believe and showed up right on time. She had just woken up after having "a crazy night" and kept moving her head around like she was going insane. She also had 5 o'clock shadow. Not even kidding. I could go further but I won't.

In other news, conference was awesome! I don't think I can pinpoint a favorite talk but I did learn a ton in general. There seemed to be a lot of emphasis on re-centering ourselves on Christ. I found it interesting that President Nelson mentioned that we shouldn't speak of the Atonement as something independent of Christ. President Eyring and Elder Holland mentioned that same thing during the face to face event last month so it's obviously a topic they've been discussing. It amazes me how careful the brethren are about wording and how it affects our thoughts processes. John 3:16 was also quoted several times. One thing I took away from all this talk of Christ was that I should study "The Living Christ" and the topical guide sections on Christ. That's my next project after I finish the Book of Mormon again.

Two other things that stood out to me were that it is within my power to follow spiritual promptings more and "look up and drink" as Elder Choi put it. I'm pretty sure I've felt a need to be more positive after every conference on my mission so maybe I'll do a little better this time! I think the key may be asking "what can I learn from this experience?" I'm good at doing that after the fact but not so much during. Oh well, repentance!

Have a wonderful week and remember to look up! I'll let you know how that goes in Texas rain.

Elder O'Brien (the younger)

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

March 27, 2017

Dear Family,

I had a slightly less interesting week than last week but it was still good! We were super low on our mile allotment and unfortunately a lot of our appointments cancelled but we made the best of it I suppose. I felt sort of empty on Wednesday because we didn't go to the weirdest parts of our area so the whole day felt normal. Anyway, if nothing else, Jodi's baptism on Saturday made up for it. She was excited and ready which is always a relief and the baptism went very smoothly. I even got to baptize her and only had to do it once!

Yesterday we met a few potential investigators from a few months ago that we were able to set appointments with so hopefully that will go well. They were both a little odd but hey, we don't judge. We also saw a lot of cats. Like, a lot. I've never seen so many stray cats in one neighborhood.

Unfortunately, we were not able to meet with Deloris this week. She did however stop to talk to us when she was driving by us a few days ago. Other than that, we have a few investigators who are starting to come out of the woodwork. They're all still not making it a priority to meet with us though so it's pretty sporadic.

This next week should be a good one, especially with general conference this weekend. It's like the best time of year for missionaries. Finally something that you know won't be cancelled last minute! I look forward to sharing what we've learned from it!

Elder O'Brien (the younger)

Saturday, April 1, 2017

March 20, 2017

Dear Family,

Oh my... this was an interesting week. I'll have to go day by day on this one because a lot happened.

On Monday we did our regular P-Day stuff and then had a lesson with some less-actives. They have a son, David, who's about our age and is quite the character. He was showing us a few of his knives and the spear that he got his dad for his birthday. More on him later. The dad is interesting too. Picture a mechanic who is a little larger and has a white handlebar mustache. Now picture him cuddling with cats and falling asleep several times in a lesson. That's him.

Tuesday we had a Zone Conference we didn't know about until last weekend. Luckily we didn't have any set appointments that day anyway. We talked a lot about giving out copies of the Book of Mormon and how we should never give it to someone without reading from it first. It actually does help a lot. The rest of the day we just did some finding (which is always a little weird) and taught our recent convert from China.

On Wednesday we stopped by Jodi for a bit to follow up on some things and make sure she was ready for her baptismal interview on Sunday. She was in good spirits which was nice to see. We then contacted some new investigators that hadn't been visited in a while. One of them apparently has had a couple strokes the last few years and now is completely unable to swallow--including his own saliva. He'd just spit it all out every minute or two. Nasty. I felt bad for him though.

We also contacted a bible referral named Deloris. The info said she was super nice and excited to meet us which was mostly true. She was willing to sit down with us and talk about the Book of Mormon and such but we don't know what to think of her really. She told us she'd come to our church before and that it was good up until they started talking about saving the dead. We got a return appointment though! More on that later... On the way to some more referrals we saw a lady singing some improv gospel music at the corner of an intersection so we (mostly me but Elder Brinkerhoff didn't argue) decided to go talk to her. She was super excited to see us and talked our ears off for about 20 minutes but it was worth the stop! We gave her a Book of Mormon and prayed with her. She was quite vocal during Elder Brinkerhoff's prayer so he started laughing and tried to make it sound like crying. No harm done though.

On Thursday morning I had an appointment in Carrollton and it was my first time driving there from Fort Worth. I'm wondering if they have a "Texas Freeways for Dummies" Book out there. If not, they should. The trip there wasn't too terrible; we only went the wrong way once I think. The way back was insane though! First of all, I had to merge on this one freeway and of course was in the furthest right lane. I looked at my GPS to discover that I would soon have to exit from the furthest left lane. Over to my left, to my small-town upbringing horror, I see six more lanes. I obviously am still alive to write this email but only barely. A couple minutes after merging off of that freeway I took a wrong turn somewhere and just about ended up driving through the Dallas-Fort Worth Airport. In other news, I found out the Dallas-Fort Worth Airport has a road running through it. I managed to get off of the road in time though and eventually made my way back to the apartment.

After lunch we sat down to do our weekly planning and barely got in a half hour before David, the less actives' son from Monday, called us and asked us to come over NOW. He sounded a little distraught so we rushed over as fast as we could, expecting the weirdest. When we got there he said, "Hey guys! I just invited y'all over to chill 'cause I was bored." We did stay but we didn't "just chill," we actually tried to teach a lesson. Before we began he told us a few random stories and uttered the unforgettable quote, "I got in a high speed chase with twenty cop cars! Just ask my mom." He was caught at a hot house that he didn't know was a hot house apparently. We based our lesson on standing in holy places.

Later that night we had a nice normal dinner with a normal family. A couple minutes after walking in we got a call from a Utah number. We didn't recognize it so we silenced it and left it for later. Turns out it was a call from an attorney at the firm that works with the church. She left a message asking me to call her back so I did the next morning. Apparently they're working with a senator to pass a bill that will make it easier to get R1 visas so they wanted to put some faces to the bill and were led to mine. I told them about a few good experiences I've had doing service projects and such. They're putting together an article for Deseret News that should be published around Conference weekend so I may be quoted in it.

That finally brings us to Friday. Again, we did some finding and went to our appointment with Deloris. We taught her the Plan of Salvation to the best of our ability and it went well for the most part. It went down hill when we got to the Atonement though. We tried to testify of how it has helped us through our struggles but she insisted that we were not old enough to have struggles yet. She also had problems with our claim to authority, baptisms for the dead, and a couple other things. She's been reading and praying about the Book of Mormon though so hopefully her heart will soften.

On Saturday morning we had a special mission Conference with Elder Rasband, Elder Hallstrom, Bishop Caussé, and our area seventy Elder Willis. Now that was a meeting! I don't have time to write everything they spoke about but a lot of it it had to do with how we should come to every meeting to change or else the meeting has no purpose. Elder Rasband also spoke about how miraculous it is that we have the young missionary force that we do.

Finally, on Sunday, we had a special Stake Conference with Bishop Caussé mainly talking about Christ, the temple, and proxy ordinances. It was funny because Deloris came and they taught a lot of the same things we tried to teach her. It just goes to show that we're all on the same page when it we follow the spirit.

Jodi also got interviewed for baptism and passed so she's good for this Saturday. I'll be baptizing her which will be a new experience. I'm looking forward to it!

Well, I've been writing for a while now and could still say a whole lot more about this week. It really was a weird one. A rollercoaster for sure. I hope y'all have a wonderful week. Enjoy the sunshine!

Elder O'Brien (the younger)