Monday, June 26, 2017

June 19, 2017

Dear family,

This week was not as productive as we had hoped in a lot of ways but we did get some good work done nonetheless. We finally were able to meet with Jeje again this week even though she didn't come to church. She still has been making a lot of progress. She is so close to baptism right now but keeps getting in her own way! I'm pretty sure she just needs to decide one day and she'll be ready. That's improvement still for sure.

We also did some service for a member referral this week helping in her yard. She asked us specifically about our beliefs so we taught a bit in a conversational sort of way and shared the Book of Mormon with her. She then said, "my friend said I was supposed to meet with some people soon, is that y'all?" Of course we said yes so she told us she'll call us soon when her yard is under control. She sounded sincere too. It was a miracle for sure.

Yesterday was a pretty awesome awesome day at church. We had three recent converts receive the Melchizedek Priesthood yesterday so it was cool to see that. I'm getting to the point where I know most of the members in the ward so church is fun.

My favorite scripture from this week was Philippians 2:8 "And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross." I just really liked the phrasing of "being obedient unto death." Nothing special I discovered other than that. It's this kind of obedience that I know I strive for as a missionary and that we all strive for in life. Jesus Christ certainly personified this throughout His whole life. That's one of the major themes I'm finding in my study; He is obedient, even unto death out of love for us and of course His Father.

I hope y'all enjoy the beginning of summer this week. In my mind there seems to be something significant happening this summer but I can't quite put my finger on it... oh well, take care!

Elder O'Brien

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

June 12, 2017

Dear family,

It wasn't much of eventful week here overall. We did have a zone conference on Wednesday which was nice. We talked a lot about changing things up a bit if what we're doing isn't working as well as it could. It's always an adventure trying to do that but we have been trying some new things like working with the young men more.

For lunch, the Relief Society fed us these awesome Navajo tacos. Unfortunately, the meat was under cooked or something because our entire zone at least was sick the next day. I'm sure it was the same for the other Zone as well as President and Sister Whitney. It was a funny experience.

Things are starting to slowly improve again in the area. We finally got Jeje to church again this week which was wonderful! She seems to be closer than ever to baptism. We weren't able to meet with her this week but apparently she almost called us on Wednesday to set something up. While she was thinking about this, she pocket dialed us and we texted her asking if she called. She told us no but must've felt guilty because she was telling us about this yesterday. She did see it as a sign from the Lord though so that's good! Jorge unfortunately wasn't able to come to church and couldn't even meet with us this week. Hopefully things improve there.

Well, the only other news I have is that I went golfing this morning on a 9 hole course nearby. Elder Brinkerhoff and another Elder in the zone are really into it so they set it up with a member for free. It was a first for me of course so I was pretty terrible. Not the worst though! I had a good time still.

In my studies this week I stumbled across John 17:19 "And for their sakes I sanctify myself, that they also might be sanctified through the truth." I was struck by the love this shows, especially the first statement. I noticed that it says 'sakes' referring to us as multiple individuals and not as a collective group. His Atonement truly is personal. Hopefully that makes sense. I'm in a little bit of a hurry because I am 100% out of time. Ironically, I don't have time to write everyone individually... I still love all of you and it was great to hear about your weeks!

That's just about it for my life this week! Have a good one!

Elder O'Brien

Friday, June 16, 2017

June 5, 2017

Dear family,

This week really wasn't that interesting in general but it was a good one nonetheless! We were able to meet with a couple people that we haven't been able to get a hold of for a bit. That was good. Jeje is finally making progress on the Word of Wisdom so she's getting pretty close to being ready for baptism. Now to help her realize that! Jorge is making slow progress it seems. Neither of them were able to make it to church unfortunately. Jeje had a migraine and Jorge apparently has four Sundays of work then four off. That means he won't be able to reach his baptism date. I wish life would be easier on investigators somehow! Anyway, all we can do about those kinds of things is pray I suppose.

I did get the package this week and it is very appreciated! I got a kick out of all the Canadian stuff, especially the shirt. I'll wear it proudly when I get a good opportunity.

This week in my Jesus Christ Topical Guide study I really enjoyed Hebrews 4:14-16

14 Seeing then that we have a great high priest, that is passed into the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our profession.
15 For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin.
16 Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.

I believe these verses were grouped with a few other references about Christ's condescension, how He descended below all things so He could be our advocate and succor us. The first verse to me is a call to hold fast to our testimonies and proclaim them without shame. The second verse describes why we should do so, being that we have a savior that was truly "touched with the feeling of our infirmities" and "was in all points tempted like we are, yet without sin." He understands us completely and knows exactly how to help us overcome every trial of our life because he already did! How, of course, we don't understand but I believe every word of it. The last verse is an invitation to use Christ's Atonement so that one day we can "come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy," or approach God without fear or guilt. That reminds me of a statement a member in the ward made a couple weeks ago. He said, "Grace is getting what we don't deserve. Mercy is not getting what we do deserve." Anyway, that last statement, "and find grace to help in time of need," was interesting to me as well. The way it is phrased tells me that we should both seek grace for ourselves when we need it and seek grace so that we can help others when they need it.

Hope you got something from that! Love y'all!

Elder O'Brien (the younger)

Monday, June 12, 2017

May 29, 2017

Dear family,

We had a decently successful week I think. We were able to meet with Jorge several times to prepare him for his baptismal date in June. Our lesson on the Gospel of Jesus Christ was probably the best I've been a part of in a while. He really seemed to grasp the concept of repentance well which lead right into discussing baptism and why it's important. He's super humble but just needs some help overcoming temptation. He holds himself accountable to us though which is nice, he texted us this morning to let us know he broke the Word of Wisdom and felt bad. Unfortunately he didn't make it to church yesterday... and neither did Jeje... We're working on it. 

This week I was also able to go on exchange in the Fort Worth 5th/Chapel Creek area. That was the day that was super hot so it was a bit of a struggle but luckily they got a brand new car the day before with excellent AC. The most interesting part of the exchange was probably our last lesson of the night with a guy named Brian. He openly admitted to being on the verge of drunk but chose to talk with us anyway. Apparently he acted no differently than usual. Anyway, at this point in the mission I'm getting tired of beating around the bush with people so I was being pretty bold with him. He told us he prefers it that way actually, so whenever he would say something I knew was false I'd just kind of look at him with a straight face for a moment then teach him the truth as best as I could. According to him, my body language was showing that I wasn't being straight with him. I thought I was, but I basically just didn't hold back and tried to be  even bolder. He still was not getting it but oh well. I tried.

I was very surprised this morning to find out I'll be staying in Fort Worth with Elder Brinkerhoff. I really couldn't be happier, it just wasn't something I was expecting! We already got our flight itinerary together this week and now we'll be starting MyPlan together in a few weeks. President must really have faith in our enduring to the end! Hopefully we can live up to it! 

I guess as far as my study of Christ this week, the verse that stood out to me was John 20:7, "And the napkin, that was about his head, not lying with the linen clothes, but wrapped together in a place by itself." I was wondering why this specifically was mentioned so I studied in the Institute manual and this is what I found:

Elder Bruce R. McConkie (1915–85) of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles explained: “Together they view the grave-clothes-linen strips that have not been unwrapped, but through which a resurrected body has passed. And then, upon John … the reality dawns first. It is true! They had not known before; now they do. It is the third day! Christ is risen! ‘Death is swallowed up in victory.’ (1 Cor. 15:54.)” (Doctrinal New Testament Commentary, 3 vols. [1965–73], 1:842).

"These details about the position of the grave clothes rule out the possibility that Jesus’s body had been taken by grave robbers or Jewish leaders conspiring to prevent claims of a resurrection (see Matthew 28:9–15; John 20:2, 13). Anyone interested in stealing Jesus’s body would have either unwrapped it, leaving the linens behind in a heap, or taken the body while it was still wrapped."

It was another testament to me that Christ truly did rise from the grave, allowing us to eventually do the same. 

Have a wonderful week!

Elder O'Brien (the younger)

Friday, June 9, 2017

May 22, 2017

Dearest family,

Sounds like everyone had a wonderful week and that summer is finally coming. We've had a few storms this week but they all hit us at night or barely at all. Lame. I need to see at least one more good storm before I leave Texas. 

The work has been going pretty well here anyway. A lot of our Bible referrals actually cooperated with us so we were able to teach them without much trouble. It was nice. Nobody who immediately wanted to be baptized or anything, but we at least got in the door. We still have one that's homeless and keeps chatting on asking why she hasn't gotten her Bible yet but doesn't answer her phone. We just laugh it off and keep trying to call. 

We were also able to set a baptismal date for June 24th with Jorge this week. He's been taught in the past and almost got baptized but hit some obstacles so he really wants to do it this time. He's going to begin working towards keeping the Word of Wisdom but church also seems to be an obstacle for him. He hasn't made it yet despite committing to several times. I suppose we'll have to keep working at it with him. Other than that things are great with him. He's always super happy and positive which is great. I'm thinking I may be transferred next week so I probably won't be here for the baptism. Jeje is basically in the same spot. She's slowly working towards baptism but it may be a month or two. Unfortunately she didn't make it to church this week either.

Well, since I've begun my study of Christ in the Topical Guide along with Mom, I figure I might as well share what I'm learning with everyone. The verse that struck me most this week was Luke 2:34 "​And Simeon blessed them, and said unto Mary his mother, Behold, this ​child​ is ​​​set​ for the ​​​fall​ and rising again of many in Israel; and for a sign which shall be spoken against." This of course is when Jesus is presented at the temple and Simeon rejoices over Him. I pondered a bit about that phrase "the fall and rising again of many in Israel," for a bit and wrote: What does this mean?

He is the Holy One of Israel. He is the savior and Israel's only means of salvation--all they looked forward to--yet he was rejected by them. Because they rejected him and remained in their sins, Christ had to call them to repentance and ultimately allow justice to take hold of them. This is the fall. 

Still yet, we are gathering Israel to this day under the Savior's direction and power given him of the Father. In ancient times Israel may have rejected him but when he comes again, they will see Him for who He is and He will cause them to rise again. 

He is a stumbling block, as described in scripture, and a stepping stone.

It's been an exciting study so far! I look forward to continuing it. Anyway, have a good week!

Elder O'Brien (the younger)