Sunday, January 30, 2011

January 24, 2011 Keizer, Oregon

Dear Family and Friends,

I'm staying here for another transfer with my boy Elder White. Transfers are today but no one got changed in our district! I'm glad you liked my journal I sent home. I tried to keep the excerpts in each Journal entry as real as possible. I did this so when my kids look back at it one day, they will see that their old man was a G. I'm starting a new Journal now and haven't missed a day in the mission yet so I’ll be sending that one to you in like a couple months when I fill the pages. Anyway, this week has been great and tough at the same time. You will probably read what I have written and be like, that's not tough. But it was tough for me so let me just give you the scoop on what happened.

Last Sunday we had like 8 investigators come to church and it was nuts. It was so awesome to see them all in the house of the Lord. This week was a different story and none of our investigators made it to church. I was feeling a little down and thinking, what did I do, is there something I could have done better. But then I realized, I don't need to feel like this! This is how Satan would want me to feel, down and low about what’s happening. But then I looked around and realized that I need to put those feelings away because that's weak! I looked around and realized all the good that has happened and let me fill you in. That Sunday that none of the investigators came to church, Tiffany got confirmed a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day saints and received the Gift of the Holy Ghost. Godofredo and Charlie our recent converts were all at church with their families and living it up. So I can’t be ungrateful or look at the negative, because there's just too much good! I also turned to the scriptures and Heavenly Father and as always I felt comforted by the Spirit.

Then after church I decided to see what happened to our investigators. We stopped by Antonio's house and he was a little baracho (drunk). He told us that he has been feeling pretty depressed because he has a court date coming up and his daughter that lives with his ex-girlfriend hasn't called him in a while. It was sad to see my boy Antonio like that and most of all, the reason why he is in the situation he is in is because of Alcohol. It’s sad because the thing that has messed up his life right now is what he is turning to, to get away from his problems. I testified to him that we weren't there anymore just to try to get him to church or activities, but in all reality, this gospel and the book of Mormon is what he needs right now in his life. I testified to him that this is the change he has been looking for and the only way he can truly be happy is through Jesus Christ. We left his place after challenging him to read the Book of Mormon and telling him that the answers to his problems would be within the pages. I really hope he reads it and is willing to make the change needed to get his life back on track!

This week has been a little hard on me because we have just run into some road blocks with investigators. All this week I have been like, man why is this hard. Then it hit me one day while I was driving, MISSIONS ARE HARD. And I was like, wow, that's the answer. Because I remembered at the MTC and other people would say that they had hard times in their missions. And before now, I would be like, what do you mean hard times. Do you get beat up? Do you get shot at or something along the lines of physical punishment? Now I realize it’s not so much physically hard, it’s mentally and spiritually hard. After realizing that this wasn't just a cake walk I started to think why it is hard. My first transfer we were teaching a bunch of amazing people that I loved. Now they have all dipped out or fallen away. It has been hard to see the people that I have loved, deny what I know they felt. That's what has been hard. Also, people having the right questions but not wanting to hear the right answers. Anyway, that's what has been tough and now I can see what people mean, and now I am asking the Lord for his help, and he has answered my prayers. I am no longer sad or upset but more willing and have a harder drive to bring the gospel to people just because I know there is an opposite force working on these people and it is my calling to help them come unto Christ.

I told you how we are trying to think of more activities to get going on at the branch, well I brain stormed for a little bit and thought of some pretty sweet ideas. We ran them by Presidente Andrade, and he approved them so now we just have to get them organized and set up. Some of these ideas include: Bible study, Movie Night, Conversion Story Night, Karaoke Night, Sports Night, Branch Service Day, and Cook off Challenge. I feel like these activities will get the branch more unified and get them to bring their friends to church as well! I don't know if I told you guys but we set up Noche de Jugar or Sport night. It was a huge success as about 30 members showed up. It was so fun playing with everyone and having a good time. We had two investigators show up, Antonio and Lorena and two of her kids. Everyone was getting into it and it got pretty crazy. When I offered to play some Mormon tabernacle Choir on a radio that I brought, one of the members named Hugo shouted," No estamos aqui para Bailar!"( hey man, we aren't here to Dance!) it was pretty funny! The relief society even got into it by bringing in Pan dulce and Lechera, so people could eat it after they got done playing. it was a pretty good success and we are going to have another night come up pretty soon!

We met this sweet investigator named Tony knocking and one night we decided to go stop by and see him. When we stopped at his place, he was on his way to a bible study with some people of the apostolic faith. He invited us to go and we decided to check it out. There were a ton of people at the bible study and it was pretty interesting. We didn't get attacked too much by the Preacher but just listened to what he said. I'm not going to hate on the guy cause that's not how I roll, but I did think it was a good idea to start to have a Bible study during the week for our investigators. We will see how that goes and see if any new investigators come to study with us!

I ate dinner with Sister Robinson’s sister and it was so good! Her name is Sister Cowan and she is so awesome! Just had to let you know about that! I also got a letter from Brother Huntington and it was pretty sweet as he really helped me out to stay positive.

Good News Everyone, Maria Ceja is back from Mexico!!!! You remember the grandma that was rambling on about her neighbor’s pets and I couldn't understand her very well a month ago. Well we decided to stop by her house last night and when we pulled up at like 6 at night, she was hanging out in her driveway. We talked to her for a little bit and it was the best. Now I can understand everything she is saying and she is awesome. We are going to start teaching her again and she is cool! I can’t wait to hear what she has to say next!

Peace out!

Elder Dolor

Monday, January 17, 2011

January 17, 2011 from Keizer, Oregon

Yo Mom and Dad,

I'm extremely tired right now! I just got done playing basketball with some of my friends from the Keizer Branch, Henry Valenzuela, Juan Carlos Deloya, and Lester McBride for a couple hours. It got pretty intense and now it’s hard for me to think because I'm exhausted! But I'm going to try to remember what happened this week and I definitely should as it has been the best week in my mission so far!
We had FHE with Mario Papa and it was sweet. We taught about the power of prayer and the spirit was pretty strong as each member shared an experience or their testimony! Mario Papa is the man and after our lesson we played a game called Santa La China, Que la Tendra, or something like that. It was pretty fun and basically if you were it you had to dance or sing. We saw some of Mario Papas dance moves as he salsa danced across the room. We then topped the night off with some Abuelita hot chocolate and Pan Dulce.

This week I had to set up the activity for the branch Noche de Jugar or Noche Deportiva( Sport Night). I made little fliers and had Presidente Andrade sign the document to make it official. It is this Tuesday at 7:00 and I hope a lot of people show up. It kind of feels like most of the people in the branch treat each other like family so hopefully they will all come out to play some Volleyball.

I had an interview with President Dyches last Thursday and it was sweet. He is such an awesome guy and always answers any questions you have. I was able to tell him how I was doing and he really does have my back. Did you know he was a Seventy?  He like knows everything doctrinal wise. Anyway, we use planners out here so we can make the best use of our time and he gave me a grade on how my planner looks. He gave me an A+, Chyeah. Planning is so important because it helps you make more of your time and better use of your day! I think it would be a good idea to keep a planner after the mission but at the same time I never know what I'm going to do and I just seem to go with the flow, but for missionary work you have to plan things out so you don't waste your time.

Amancio is the Man, how did you like that picture I sent you? Amancio has been on a vacation for like 2 weeks and got back two days ago. He has a baptismal date set for the 28th of January. So we stopped by his house last night and wanted to see how he was doing. When we asked him if he still wanted to be baptized, he said, Yo Creo que no!" Which means I don't think so. Then I was like why not Amancio, you have a baptismal date. Then he said, “Yo necesito saber las reglas!" Which means I need to know the rules first. I laughed a little and then said Amancio, after we teach you the rules, then will you be baptized? He said," Claro! Yo creo que si!" This means of course! I was like ha-ha all right, good, we will stop by to teach you tomorrow. The reason I think this is so funny is because we have had this talk with Amancio once a week for some time now. He has desires to go to church and be baptized and then we teach him. Then one day he forgets it all and we have to start over and it’s crazy! Anyway, I hope things pick up with Amancio because he is a G!!!!!

We  had the baptism of Tiffani Ramirez yesterday and it was amazing. After her father baptized her she started crying and the spirit in the room was so strong. It feels weird because I feel like we just started teaching her yesterday even though it’s been a while. It is truly a miracle that two missionaries that are not fluent in the language can be guided by the spirit to help teach a girl from Mexico like Tiffani that doesn't know any English. It also strengthens my testimony that God truly does answer our prayers as I prayed to know what date to set for her baptism about a month ago. Everything went smooth and she was baptized on the day that the Lord told me.  I am so grateful to have had this opportunity to teach her and be a part of this awesome experience in her life! The Lord has been helping us to find the people that he wants us to teach and yesterday at church was amazing. We had 8 investigators at church this week and that is the most I've had my whole mission. It was truly a blessing to get that many people to church as it is usually pretty difficult. I know that I really didn't have anything to do with that many people coming to church and I give all the credit to the Lord. I'm just so glad the Lord has blessed me with the experiences that I am having every week on my mission. Our investigator Lazaro and his family came to church. They liked it and I think it was a bit of a change from the church that they currently attend. Lorena and her Mother came to church as well. Lorena has been inactive and we found her knocking and she expressed to us that she wants to come back to church. Antonio came to church and has been showing a lot of desire to attend the activities the church has like FHE and Institute.

We have also been trying to work hard with the inactive people in the branch and part member families. We had like 4 baptismal dates a couple weeks ago, it’s just that most of the investigators that had baptismal dates are not keeping up with their commitments and it’s sad. It is so crazy to look back and see who we have taught, and see that the work is never ending as there is always someone new to share the gospel with. I guess it is all about timing in people’s lives and when they realize that this is the path to finding true happiness. We are having so much success as I have been depending on the Lord. Like you said in the last letter Dad, people can come to church because they like your personality, but in the end, when you leave, so will they. So I haven't been to worried about numbers or how many people come to church or get baptized, because if I try my best, the Lord will put the people in my path that he needs me to teach! Chyeah!

A funny thing that happened this week is that I had exchanges with Elder Rangel.  We knocked on the door of an inactive Sister in the Branch.  While I was knocking on the door Elder Rangel looked through the window and said, “Uh oh, I just made eye contact with her!" And I was like," Is she coming to answer the door?" He answered with a no. ha-ha I was then like let me get a look and I saw the lady staring at us through the window. I waved but she didn't return my gesture. We stood there for a while but then realized that she wasn't going to answer the door. We walked away feeling defeated but stuff just happens like that. I just thought it was funny because I made straight eye contact with her and even waved, but she didn't budge, she was not going to answer the door! Elder Rangel and I just click so we did some pretty good teaching that day. Exchanges are good as they give you a taste of other peoples teaching skills. Anyway, that day was pretty fun and we learned some pretty good lessons. I also traded Elder Rangel one of my Alpaca hats that I have bought while I have been out here for 2 suits. One is a pretty awesome suit that Elder Rangel got from Elder Mooney when they were companions. It is a three piece suit and I wore it to Tiffani's baptism so you will see what it looks like when I send you some pictures. It’s just pretty funny that as a missionary, suits get tossed around when they don't fit anymore or no one wants them. I have 5 suits right now and they all fit great. Elder Mooney's old suit fits perfect except the legs are a little long so I have to roll them up but it’s all good! It’s all about making trades and bargaining.
My new tag came in the mail last week as I lost my other one. It says on the name tag, Elder Payne-Dolor. Chyeah! It’s the best thing ever! Everyone in the branch calls me Elder Dolor (Elder Pain)  anyway, so when they saw my name tag at church yesterday they all thought it was legit. I just had to let you know that because I think it’s pretty sweet!  The Lord is blessing me 100% because I know I'm not doing anything. I'm not even fluent in the language yet so it can’t be me, I'm just an instrument in the Lords hands and it is amazing!

I love you guys!

Keep it real,

Elder Dolor

Monday, January 10, 2011

2nd Letter of 2011

January 10, 2011

Dear Family and Friends,

Greetings from Keizer, Oregon! The pictures you sent of the snow back home are sick! I can’t believe it snowed that hard in Atlanta and everything is closed down. I am glad you guys are staying warm and just enjoying some movies at the house.

I told you last letter how we are trying to help the members more and helping those who are less active in the Branch and it is working out pretty well. We don't just go to the member’s houses to chill, we go with a purpose. Chilin is one of those purposes though; they have to know that you can carry on a conversation in Spanish too. It has been good because it has really helped my Spanish, not to mention, trying to have small talk in Spanish is pretty tough, but I’m improving at it! Anyway, the plan is going well and we are getting many referrals now! We are showing the Branch that we are willing to work and that we will treat their friends and family with respect! The Branch is behind us and it feels pretty good if you know what I’m saying. We are also setting up activities for the branch so they can be more unified and bring their friends to experience some good clean fun! We set up sports night on the 18th and I hope the members bring their friends to play volleyball! I haven’t given up on knocking on doors yet either, we are still doing it, but our main focus is the members and their families! I have to tell you, working with the members is a lot more difficult than knocking. When you knock, you go with a purpose and if they don’t want to hear your message, you keep moving. But when you go to a member’s house, you’ve got to develop that relationship so they trust you and not stay to long. You can't be a lingerer. You know that guy who always out stays his welcome or stays to long and everyone wonders when he is going to leave. Anyway, we have to plan lessons really well for the members as well so it’s a little more difficult than knocking, but more rewarding in the end I think.

We are teaching a FHE tonight to Mario Papa and his family and we are going to try to make it the best we possibly can, because if you’re on Mario Papas good side, you know you’re doing something right! Chyeah! I'm constantly being challenged on my mission to take the higher road and be more like Jesus. There is one Sister in the Branch who is an American but served her mission in South America and married a Spanish guy. She continues to try and take me down a peg by calling my scarf gay and telling me that drinking out of my camel pack is gay. I have had to take the higher road a number of times and just say , "thank you may I have another." Or “Thank you, is there anything else." I’m kind of glad she hates on me, so I can build up my tolerance for the haters. I’m not boasting that I’m taking the higher road; I’m just letting you know that when you are on your mission, the Lord helps you to do things that you probably wouldn’t be able to do before your mission like taking someone hating on you to your face ha-ha.

I can’t even begin to explain how much the Lord is blessing me and guiding me where he needs me to be. It is so crazy but so awesome that the Lord trusts me and I am able to follow the Spirit by just following my thoughts and feelings. I entitled a little part in the back of my journal “Tender Mercies”. They happen every day and I just love writing and recognizing them to see the Lords hand in my life everyday! I'll tell you an awesome tender mercy that happened this week that blew my mind! I don’t know if you remember me talking about a guy named Lazaro before. He is a referral that we got from a member named Joel from the English Ward. Well, last transfer with Elder Hanson, we went and did some service for him in his yard! After that we didn't have a chance to go visit him again and then when Elder Hansen left I wasn't able to remember where he lived. One day this week we were driving and we were in a random neighborhood on our way to a service project. While I was driving I was like dang, this looks familiar, and I need to turn left here. Then Elder White was like “yo, what are you doing? (well he didn't say yo, but that’s what I heard in my head) anyway, I was like I got this Elder White, this feels familiar. So I took that left that was not on our course of travel because I felt the need too and at the end of that street was my Boy Lazaro’s house!!!!! After our service project and later that day we drove over to Lazaro’s house and when we pulled up and got out of the car, his neighbor Joel walked outside and was like, Hey guys, I’ve been trying to get a hold of you but I didn’t have your number. I was like o snap, that’s crazy, we just felt like we needed to come here. And Joel was like that’s awesome because Lazaro has been asking about you and I am going to his church tomorrow. Joel said that he made a deal with Lazaro that if he went to his church, Lazaro would go to ours. We went and knocked on Lazaro's door and he came outside. We talked to him outside for a while and when we showed him the Book of Mormon, he was like hold on guys and said in Spanish, “I need my family to hear this”. So we went into his house and he invited his whole family to listen, they all waltzed in and we taught them about the restoration of the gospel of Jesus Christ. It was a great lesson and they want to read the Book of Mormon and pray to find out the truth. Anyway, this was a TENDER MERCY because this kind of stuff isn't just luck! When we are in tune with the Spirit, we are guided to where the Lord needs us to be, CHYEAH! I’ll let you know what happens with my boy Lazaro and his family as we are teaching them tonight!

You asked about Julie, the girl that has a sister that is a member. Well, she just got back from a month vacation in Mexico last Thursday so we are going to start teaching her again! I’ll let you know how that goes! Our investigator, Tiffany, is getting baptized this Sunday! She is the daughter of a member of the Branch and she moved here from Mexico like a month ago. Teaching her has truly been a blessing as I have really seen her faith and testimony grow. I can't wait until Sunday and I know that she will be blessed for this decision she is making.

I have seen some pretty wonderful tender mercies in my life this week as the Lord has guided me to the people I need to teach and see. There was this lady at church Sunday that I had never seen before. I wanted to go and introduce myself to her but I didn't get the chance as when I looked for her at the end of church she was gone. But later that night Elder White and I chose one less active person to see out of a bunch of names and we chose a lady named Araceli. When we arrived at Araceli's house, it was the lady I saw at church that I wanted to meet. It was a pretty sweet experience and we asked if we could come and teach her the missionary discussions a couple times a week. She accepted and I hope we can help reactivate her. The Lord is blessing me so much for being obedient and trying my best to do his will.

There is so much to say about this week but that pretty much sums up the good stuff!

I love you guys and just know that I'm trying my best out here in the Lords Service!


Elder Dolor

Mi amigo Amancio!

Monday, January 3, 2011

January 3, 2011

Dear Family and Friends,

First of all, how did you like the pictures I sent, they are pretty sweet right? I got a lot from Christmas Eve, Christmas day, the play, the baptisms and other good stuff. I will always remember those memories now! I can now delete the pictures on my camera that I sent and start fresh! What did you think about the ties I sent? Really those were the best ones I had; now I’m just rocking DI and Goodwill ties which are sweet too! In the MTC everyone was all about ties and everyone would trade. Here in the mission field its different, some missionaries wear the same tie for a month at a time. Ties just don't give you the same joy they used to give you at the beginning of your mission. But it is still cool to go to the goodwill were you can buy stuff by the pound, and then you find like 7 ties you can get for like a dollar! Chyeah! Mom did you like the apron with the mission logo OPM on it and the Christmas stocking? Those are some good things to keep as memories!

This week went by really fast and it’s hard to believe that I’ve already been with my new companion Elder White for more than half a transfer. Days go by quick out here, that’s why you have got to make the best of it out here G! Well I told you about Tiffany, Javier’s daughter. I told you how I prayed about what baptismal date to extend to her and the Lord answered me with the 16th of January. Well we taught Tiffany this past week and when I challenged her to be baptized on the 16th she accepted without hesitation! Chyeah! We have been helping her to develop a testimony about God and Jesus Christ because she didn't really know them that well. We are teaching her little by little so she can understand really well and I know she will be ready! I know the Lord loves each and every single one of his children and I am just his messenger. We stopped by to see my boy Amancio and he busted the news on us that he is going on vacation for 2 weeks in Medford! He is old so I guess he forgot about his baptismal date? He is the man and I’m going to miss teaching him ha-ha.

Well I’ve been out in the field for almost 2 transfers so far. Every day we teach about 2 or 3 people, and have about 18 lessons a week. When we don’t have an appointment with someone we knock on doors. We spend a lot of our time knocking doors looking for the Lords elect! Then one day last week I asked Elder White, why we knock doors so much, there’s got to be a better way. I don’t want to say it’s a waste of time, but there’s probably something better we could do with our time. Then I read a quote by Gordon B. Hinckley that said any good missionary knows that the best way to do missionary work is through the members. Then I thought back, everyone that has been baptized since I’ve gotten here has been through the members. Godofredo's and Charlie's wives are members, and Tiffany's family is all members of the Church. We find people every week knocking doors that listen to our message, but sometimes they lack the desire to really change and do everything necessary to be baptized. Anyway, I know there are people out there that can be found through knocking but I know it’s probably not the most effective way! Well, I wanted to find out what my boy Elder Rangel thought because he has been out for 20 months and has knocked a ton of doors. He told me over 20 months of knocking, he has only met 2 families through knocking that got baptized and the rest have been through members or other means. So I have been thinking that we need to think outside the box here, we need to rock something different. So I fasted to find out what I could do to better use the time I am given to serve the Lord and the Lord came through for me and answered my fast that Sunday! It’s amazing how the Lord answers you when you sit and listen, and ask for his will!

Well, I have been thinking pretty hard about this subject for the last week and trying to find a way to further bring people into the Lords gospel. It all began with PEC, the meeting with the President of the Branch, his counselors, and other leaders in the Branch. Elder Rangel was in another meeting with the Stake President so it was just me, my companion, and Elder Wineirt. They always tell us to drop people who aren’t willing to commit and come to church. Well I told them that if we dropped everyone that has a hard time going to church we would be knocking all week, and we already decided that it wasn't that effective. I told them that we need to start setting up activities for the Branch members to participate in and bring their friends. I told them the only way we are going to have success is if we get help from the members and it was like trying to convince 5 other people in Spanish. Elder White and Wineirt don't speak that much Spanish so they didn’t really know what we were all talking about, and they thought we were in a big argument! But it wasn't an argument at all, it was more reigniting a flame that has been lost in this Branch. So everyone was getting excited that it’s time to get the members involved again in the missionary work. We talked to the Branch President and he had us come over to his house that night to discuss the Mission plan! The mission plan consists of using the members to help their families and friends that are not members come unto the gospel of Christ. I also proposed a movie night or a game night in the branch where the members can come and bond and bring their friends to have a good time. I know this will be more effective as the time we would be spending knocking doors can be used to help spread the gospel to their families because this gospel and church truly is a blessing to have in our lives. The Lord gave me the strength and power I needed to speak what I needed to say in Spanish and touch the members of this Branch. Then I bore my testimony in Sacrament meeting in Spanish and expressed my love for the members and how my only desire is to serve them. The feeling in church that day was way different and you could really feel the love from each member. Then in testimony meeting my boy Mario Hijo (he is the son of Mario Papa and the Branch Mission Leader) bore his testimony about how we missionaries are ready to work and need the members help. It’s a good start to the New Year and I feel like great things are about to happen. The Lord answered my prayer and fast! Later that night we talked to Presidente Andrade and we devised a sweet mission plan, and he is behind us a 100%. I guess it has been hard on him being the President of the branch for 5 years, having missionaries that want to work come and go. But I think we reignited his flame and now together we are ready to merk! I’m just glad the Lord helped me figure this out 2 transfers into my mission and not 20 months out!!!!!!!!!! Chyeah!

Dang Gina, well a lot happened this week but I think that pretty much sums it up, I just had to do what I had to do, and now it’s time to plan and put this plan of action into motion! The Lord has truly blessed me with the gift of tongues and I know I am doing what he wants me to do!


Elder Dolor

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Keizer Memories

Charlie had a White Christmas in Oregon

Me, Godofredo and Brother Papa

My new companion Elder White
Christmas Play at the Branch in Keizer
Just goofing around with my new hat!
President Dyches