Saturday, July 29, 2017

July 24, 2017 (only 4 more)

Dear family,

That's exciting to hear that Southern Alberta is getting a YSA Stake. And right when I get home too! It'll be interesting to see how all that works and I'm sure a lot of callings are going to be extended in the next month. Now, as for my homecoming, I would prefer to have it on August 27th rather than September 10th. I know that will interfere a little with the big YSA meeting but I just want to do it while all the feelings and stories are still fresh. I hope that's okay with everyone.

Unfortunately we're still having a bit of trouble getting in contact with all our investigators. Belen has been dealing with some family drama I guess, so that has been distracting her quite a lot. JeJe did make some progress this week however. Once again, she shared with us a few of her other concerns about tithing and the Word of Wisdom. It seems to be mostly fear that is getting in her way; she wants to keep the commandments but is afraid enough of others' thoughts and opinions that she doesn't 100% of the time. She's working through it slowly though. We taught her about fasting a couple weeks ago so this Sunday we decided to put it into practice and fasted with her. Granted, she didn't come to church, but it was a positive experience nonetheless . We did have another random guy come to church with a less-active member. We're teaching them both on Tuesday.

My final Zone Conference went well too. It wasn't as weird as I thought it would be. Basically the whole transfer really has been pretty much the same as the last few. Other than planning for home a bit more that is.

My favorite scripture from this week was Isaiah 22:23 "And I will fasten him as a nail in a sure place; and he shall be for a glorious throne to his father’s house." I think it's an interesting comparison there. Just as a nail was put in a sure place to hold Christ up on the cross, Christ is a nail in a sure place to hold us up.

Have a good week!

Elder O'Brien

Monday, July 24, 2017

July 17, 2014

Dear family,

As expected, it has been a week of change. Saying bye to Elder Brinkerhoff was a little difficult at first since we've been companions so long. I definitely consider that a blessing. I think we got to the point where we were just two friends having fun doing missionary work. Elder Ball and I are getting along fairly well too. Now if only our investigators would meet with us! It's been one of those busy weeks for everyone I suppose. We were able to meet a couple new people that could potentially become investigators. They just couldn't give us an exact time to stop by again so we'll have to see what happens. I suppose that's the nature of some of the areas we work in around here.

We have quite a few people that are sort of "dipping their toes in the water" right now but are having trouble making time to meet with us. That's always frustrating but what can you do, right? We technically had an investigator at church yesterday but we just referred him to the Elders over African immigrants so he's not technically our investigator anymore. I'll count it as a success I suppose.

On the bright side, over the last few months Elder Brinkerhoff and I really connected with the ward more so that's still going. At first I wasn't sure if I really wanted to stay another transfer here but the ward makes it worth it. They're really making an effort to get to know Elder Ball as well which is great. He's slowly starting to figure out the area. Though I felt a little bad for him this week since there's so much to know about the area.

This week I was able to study Christ's millennial reign as well as a few talks. The verse that struck me most was Revelation 20:4 - "And I saw thrones, and they sat upon them, and judgment was given unto them: and I saw the souls of them that were beheaded for the witness of Jesus, and for the word of God, and which had not worshipped the beast, neither his image, neither had received his mark upon their foreheads, or in their hands; and they lived and reigned with Christ a thousand years."

I pondered about this in the context of something I had read earlier. I can't remember where exactly I read it, but it basically said that our goal is not to adjust to the world, it's to disrupt it. Anyway, I felt like that verse was saying essentially the same thing. We don't reign with Christ for those thousand years by assimilating into the world; we have to disrupt it. The world won't like it of course, but it's worth it.

Well, my last Zone Conference is this week which means I'll have to bear my departing testimony. Wish me luck! Have a good week!

Elder O'Brien (the younger)

Thursday, July 13, 2017

July 10, 2017

What a week, what a week! Fourth of July was on Tuesday of course. It's never quite as fun as a missionary since nobody really wants to talk to you or anything. We were able to get together with a few members and watch a small parade followed by some burgers and such. The rest of the day we did a bit of service and tried to contact some potential investigators to no avail. We then decided to just start texting some people since we knew they'd be at least looking at their phones.

Wednesday we had our last district Meeting of the transfer and later discovered that we had a flat tire. It's only the sixth or seventh on my mission. So, that took a chunk out of our day. The rest of the evening we had dinner and contacted some bible referrals. Later that night, around 10:00pm, is when it got crazy. Well, not really but anyway, Elder Brinkerhoff got a call to be a Zone Leader in $outhlake for hi$ la$t tran$fer. They're pretty wealthy over there. That left me wondering what would happen with me. At first, staying another transfer in the area seemed like a pretty scary nerve-wracking concept and I was getting pretty anxious about it. I've just gotten so used to being with Elder Brinkerhoff here and all the weird things that happen everyday get a little much sometimes. I also don't enjoy having to introduce a new companion to the area too much. I prayed a ton though and let the Lord know exactly what my desires were and eventually got to the point where I could say, truthfully, "thy will be done." 

Yesterday we had a pretty awesome day at church and all the members were sad to see Elder Brinkerhoff leave. I think that's when I really decided I'd be okay with staying  and, alas, I am! My new companion will be Elder Ball who I replaced in Heritage. He's a pretty social guy so that will be good. 

We got another solid new investigator this week from one of the summer sales guys. They do our tracking for us, it's great! He was anxious to read the Book of Mormon and has already "met seven or so Mormons that were really great people." This means he's statistically likely to be baptized, 'cause that's all that matters right? But seriously, he's awesome and he's searching for something more in his life so I'm excited to teach him. 

Belen also was able to make it to church once again. We had a great lesson with her on Friday and she expressed some of her concerns with us. They had had to do with her wanting to become better though, so we can work with that!

In my studies this week, I went through "Jesus Christ, Lord" in the Topical Guide. One thing I've been doing a lot of is defining words and looking especially at their origins. The word Lord comes from Old English hlāfweard, or 'bread-keeper'. That last part, weard, is the origin of the word Ward, meaning to guard or protect. Knowing this made the scriptures I read a lot more meaningful. 

Love y'all, have a great, earthquake free week!

Elder O'Brien (the younger)

Friday, July 7, 2017

July 3, 2017

Dearest family,

I hope everyone's Canada Day was enjoyable. I for one celebrated by teaching people and stuff as usual--while wearing a red and white tie. Patriotic, I know. I did also wore my new Canada shirt last P-Day. I'm repping the shirt again this week, only with blue and white shorts this time for the USA effect. Double patriotism if you will.

We've continued to see miracles in the area this week. Once again we had two completely new investigators at church this week. Now we just have to get everyone here at the same time! They both are pretty open and hopefully at least one of them, Belen most likely, can be baptized soon. She's a referral we received from the mission office this week. When we first taught her I wasn't completely sure she was actually interested in the gospel and thought maybe she just might be curious about the Book of Mormon. Lo and behold, she committed to read and pray about the Book of Mormon and came to church!

The other lady that came to church is the girlfriend of a less-active member. We taught her after church and she was open to the idea of a restoration for sure. She just doesn't want to rush into baptism too fast because her parents once joined a cult accidentally so she's a little cautious. Understandably I suppose. Her boyfriend should be a huge help though; it sounds like he's only less active because he got busy with medical school.

The scripture I'd like to share this week is Doctrine and Covenants 45:67 "And the glory of the Lord shall be there, and the terror of the Lord also shall be there, insomuch that the wicked will not come unto it, and it shall be called Zion."

This was under the "Jesus Christ, Glory of" section of the Topical Guide so that's what I focused on. It struck me that that same glory that will empower the righteous in Zion will terrify the wicked.

Have a wonderful week and try not to fry!

Elder O'Brien (the younger)

Sunday, July 2, 2017

June 26, 2017

Dear Family,

This week was pretty routine up until yesterday. Miraculously two ward members brought potential investigators to church yesterday. One was a less-active and his wife and the other was a random lady that a summer sales guy met so there's some potential there. We gave both of them a copy of the Book of Mormon and got their information so we can visit them this week. We also came across a lady later in the day who had taken interest in "the lost books" and specifically asked us about the Book of Mormon out of curiosity. We briefly explained it to her and invited her to read it. We were actually looking for someone else but she said she might come when we teach next time if she can make it. Elder Brinkerhoff and I talked about it yesterday and decided that most of our visible success in the mission has had no direct connection to anything we did like a door we knocked, someone we street contacted or anything like that. All we do is stay diligent and every few weeks something falls into our laps. Like with Amy a year ago almost to the day, Elder Reich and I worked hard all transfer and nothing really happened until the last day of the transfer when Elder Reich was packing and I was reading the Ensign. That's when a member from another Stake referred her to us and boom, three baptisms.

Yesterday I also gave a talk in sacrament meeting. I was given my choice of topic so I decided to speak a little bit about the temple and how and why it became important to me. I shared a little about the trips we would take down to Cardston from Calgary for the temple and such. To continue, I shared Doctrine and Covenants 109:22-23, 2 Nephi 31:20, and a quote from Elder Holland. He discusses the connection between the endowment and missionary success which I have certainly gained a testimony of. I'll copy and past if for y'all:

"When  you  go  to  the  temple,  you  will  begin  to  understand the  significance  of  those  temple  covenants,  the inextricable link  between  your  endowment  there  and  your  missionary  success. Indeed,  the  very  word  endowment  conveys  the  essence  of  that vital  link.  An  endowment  is  a  gift.  It  contains  the same root  word  as  dowry,  which  is  a  special  gift  to  start  a  new couple  on  their  married  life.  While  I  was president  of Brigham  Young  University,  I  spent  a  certain  amount  of  my time  trying  to  build  up  the  university’s endowment,  its treasury  of  gifts  from  generous  donors. That  is  what  God  does for  us  every  time  we  make  a  covenant  with  Him.  He  endows us. ... This  work  is  so  serious  and  the  adversary’s  opposition to  it  is  so  great  that  we  need  every  divine  power  to enhance  our  effort  and  move  the  Church  steadily  forward.  The key  to  that  for  us  as  individuals  is  the  covenant we  make in  the  temple—our  promise  to  obey  and  sacrifice,  to consecrate  unto  the  Father,  and  His  promise  to empower  us with  'a  great  endowment.' " (Jeffrey R. Holland "A Message to Future Missionaries")

As for this week's Topical Guide thought, I really enjoyed the "Jesus Christ, Firstborn" section in general. All the scriptures really brought it home to me how literal that concept is, that Jesus was the first of all our Heavenly Parents' posterity and how significant that must have been for them. I wonder at what point they realized they would have to sacrifice Him for the rest of their spirit children. I discussed it with Elder Brinkerhoff and he basically said, "Probably in a conversation like this one." Woah, crazy to think about. Who knows though?

It also struck me how much love Jesus must have had for us having been alive in the spirit to see everyone of us created spiritually. I imagined Him being like the big brother that gets all excited when He gets a new sibling to love. Maybe that's why it had to be the firstborn, so He could have an individual relationship with every single spirit. I'm excited to eventually learn about all the details of these kinds of things.

Well, have a wonderful week! I sure love ya and God does too!

Elder O'Brien (the younger)