Monday, January 27, 2014

Week 1 in CA (Palmdale)

Zach arrived in Bakersfield last P-day (Jan 20) so he didn't get to email until today.  He did send us a couple hand written letters that we received this week.  I sent him an email on the 20th and 27th so there will be 2 sets of answers.  The picture comes from Bro and Sis Powell  who are the Ward Mission Leaders in Zachs first area.  Zach's companion is the really tall one on the right.  We were sitting in our room when a text came in.  Michelle got all excited when she saw the pic.  I was excited too.   It was pretty cool cause we weren't expecting it and Michelle got to text with the mom's of the other missionaries for a while.  It was fun.  Zach says that his Bishop designs Stealth aircraft and that the Bishops neighbor owns a Lamborghini.  What a welcome to California!!  :)

Jan 20, 2014 Still in the MTC.

1.  What was your favorite food that you ate this week?
Probably the BYU Creamery Ice Cream they gave us in the MTC.

2.  What was the nicest thing you did for someone else?
I shined all my districts shoes.

3.  What was your most spiritual experience?
When we taught our teacher, Brother Macahilahila, and practiced asking inspired questions. We taught him as himself. As someone who knows the gospel, but like everyone, needs to learn more. And we listened to the spirit and truly connected and touched him and helped him out. It was so amazing.

4.  What General Authorities did you listen to and what did you learn?
Elder Bednar: "Character of Christ" talk, he talked about turning outward. About how Christ was completely selfless. "Tuesday Devotional (Live)" He bore witness to the BoM and Christ, and it was soooo amazing. Also, he talked about how "...the Priesthood isn't male. It isn't for men. It is God's power." 
Elder Holland: "Mission for Life" This was the most powerful talk I have ever heard. Some quotes I took from this, and imagine him basically yelling this across the pulpit: "Don't you dare waste your mission!" "These 24 months are consecrated for the Lord!" "You will NEVER get this opportunity again!" He gave this long, amazing talk, all without any text. He relied strictly on the Spirit. I wish I could have seen it live.
5.  What is the funniest/funnest thing that you did?
Our teacher, Brother Bryner, told us about an investigator who always seemed to come up with false doctrine. He came to testimony meeting once, and someone bore testimony to the pre-earth life, and another to the ressurection. After the meeting, he came up to the missionaries and said "I figured it out! Reincarnation! It all makes sense now! I bet I was a president in my past life!" It was hilarious.
6.  What did you learn from your companion this week?
I learned better how to teach lessons.
7.  What scripture has helped you the most?
D&C 121. They told us this section over and over and over, and it is sooo powerful.

8.  What act of service did you perform?
We cleaned all the bathrooms in one of the rooms for a service assignment. 
Jan 27 2014  Week 1 in Area
1.  What is your companions name and where is he from?
Elder McKnight. Ogden, Utah (There's always one from Utah haha)
2.  What was your favorite food that you ate this week?
My favorite food was homemade pizza that we had two nights ago at a members home who's name I cannot remember. We have dinner every night with a family, so it is really nice.
3.  Are you getting used to cooking and preparing your own meals?
I am used to it, my companion doesn't really know how to cook so I have taken over as chef kinda. However, his last companion was a Tongan, who only ate meat. So he knows how to fry chicken and make rice. They had that every day for 6 weeks haha.
4.  What was your most spiritual experience?
My most spiritual experience was at my district meeting. We talked about Chapter 6 in PMG, and we personally chose a characteristic of Christ to work on. I felt really hopeful and determined to do it. 
5.  What did you learn from your personal/companionship study?
We have a 12 week training packet that we have to do, so that has been mainly it. Just going through the lessons and stuff.
6.  What is the funniest/funnest thing that you did?
The funnest thing was going to a random member's home to introduce ourselves, and their son just so happened to get his mission call that day. We came back later that night, and watched him open it. He is going to somewhere in Mexico, and we also got a refferal for one of their friends.
7.  What did you learn from your companion this week?
I've learned just the basics of a mission and stuff. How to plan, stuff like that.
8.  What scripture has helped you the most?
1 Nephi 3:7
9.  What act of service did you perform?
We helped a women move out of our ward and into another. Also, a potential investigator, Judy, Is really struggling to find a job and has been sooooo busy each time we have gone over, so tomorrow we are bringing over the unemployment specialist in our ward to help her get a job. She has been reading the BoM and taking notes and just really is into it, its just she is so busy and scared to lose her house, so we are going to do what we can.

Monday, January 20, 2014

Zach arrives in Bakersfield on 01/20/14

What a surprise we received this morning.  Zach called us from LAX!!  It was so awesome to hear his voice and feel his excitement.  They had a 2 hour layover in LAX so he called us.  He sounds great.  He sent us some pics this last week that we will post.  He said that the day they were supposed to go to the Temple, it was closed. :(.  Oh well.  He took some nice pics with his MTC district.  His companion is Elder Montoya which is standing right next to him.  All these missionaries arrived in Bakersfield today.  How awesome for their new Mission President.  The pics show how cold it is in Utah.  It was in the 70s in Bakersfield today.  What a difference in temperature. 

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Week 1 Letter that he sent us. Written 01/09/14

Zach sent us a handwritten letter so I am sharing some of it with you.

Dear Family,
     I hope you enjoyed the gift I left for you all. (He left journals for each of us with his personal thoughts and testimony written in them.)  My flight was really good.  We waited for a while before we could board.  The pilot got sick, so that is what caused the delay.  But it was ok because Elder Bennet and I (that was the missionary) just sat and talked for most of it.  He is really awesome.  He is the fourth brother to go on a mission in his family.  While we were waiting, a few workers walked by and asked us if we were missionaries.  We said yes and we talked a little.  As she left, she said "God bless you" and shook our hands.  That was when it all started to become real for me.  That was the first time I had been recognized as an ambassador of Jesus by someone not in our ward/stake/family/mtc.
     The flight was amazing. (First time flying that he can remember)  Half the people canceled so we pretty much sat wherever.  I had a window seat and I took some pretty awesome pictures.
I arrived in Salt Lake and oddly enough Elder Bennet and I received more weird looks there than we did in Spokane.  I'm so grateful that the Lord gave me sort of a companion for the trip before I even made it to the MTC.
     Phil picked me up and we went to Missionary Mall in Provo to swap out my coat.  On the way, we talked about his mission, how to dal with situations, how to listen to the spirit, and how important obedience is.  Missionary Mall was out of my coat so they gave me a more expensive on that has reflector strips on it.  Pretty Cool!!
     When I arrived at the MTC, I was immediately greeted by my host elder who is stationed there while waiting for his visa to Brazil.  I got my nametag, room key, and a bunch of other things.  The I was taken to my District classroom where I met my District.  4 Elders, 4 Sisters.  Elder Montoya (my companion), Elder Haubner, Elder Mansfield, and I am still learning the sisters names.  We are all getting closer already, which I love.
     We met our teacher, Bro Bryner, and he explained a lot to us.  We then went to a devotional where a couple Mission Presidents and their wives spoke to us.  Then the MTC President and his wife spoke.  I took notes and they just told us about how we will change, what to expect, things like that.  They also introduced all the foreign missionaries which was so cool.  We had a musical number by an Elder who I think has Down Syndrome. He played the most beautiful rendition of "How Great Thou Art" I have ever heard.  It just goes to show just how much love Heavenly Father and Jesus have for us, and that even though they give us trials, through the Atonement, nothing is out of our reach.  We then sang "We'll Bring the World His Truth", which has been one of my favorite songs since EFY.  They changed one very key line.  In the chorus, it originally goes "And we will be the Lord's missionaries", but changed it to "And we are now the Lord's missionaries" and that hit me really hard to say that "yeah, now I really am."  After, we went and ate Chicken Cord'on bleu (if I spelt it right) and rice and a bunch of stuff.  BTW, I'm writing this Thursday and the breakfast was great.  So any myths about cafeteria food or anything being bad, not true.  It's great.
     After dinner, we went and unpacked and set up our room, then went to something called the Wednesday Experience.  Here, about 80 of us were put into a room, and there was an investigator in there.  The instructor explained what we were going to do, which was basically a crash course in teaching through the spirit.  He told us about loving everyone and focus more on making a lesson personal to them, rather than just a lesson. 
     The first man was named George and his leg was amputated and he was in a bed at the hospital.  A lady he had never met before walked into his room.  He asked her what she was doing and she said "I'm her to see an amputee.  Are you George?"  He said yes and asked why.  She walked over and sat on his bed, looked at him and took off her prosthetic leg.  She smiled at him, set her prosthetic leg where his leg should have been and told him that he will walk again.  She then told him about the Church.  That was his story.
     The second lady was Susan.  She moved from Tennessee and left her abusive husband.  She is very smart, very very funny, witty, and has a southern accent.   She knows the Bible better than most members and she recognized immediately how, since we are the Church of Jesus Christ, there hs to be truth here because the Bible talks about how we must take His name upon us. She made a funny comment "I like you cus Christ is in your name and I understand Baptists, I guess.  But baptize is a verb! And I have no idea who Methodist was".  It's funnier in person :)  She was very angry at God however.  She loves Christ, but had a problem God.  Her baby boy was taken from her shortly after birth and it really shook her faith.  We were talking to her and she asked the impossible question "Why did he take my child if He loves me?"  The instructor passed and told us it is totally ok to say we don't know.  I then raised my hand, got the microphone, and asked her if she knew of the plan of Salvation.  She kind of did, saying Paradise and Purgatory, and how she knew her child was in Paradise because her child was perfect.  I told her she was exactly right and that she would see him again and that she would be able to raise her child.  That was a thing she hadn't heard before and was confused.  I tried explaining it but kind of lost my roll.  A sister had the mic and challenged he to pray.  Susan said she was scared so the sister decided to pray for her.  She said one of the most loving prayers ever.
     I am so excited to be here.  I can see already how powerful the Gospel is.  There are so many missionaries, it is awesome.  We really are the latter day army of Helaman.

Monday, January 13, 2014

Week 1 Jan 13 2014

Zach entered the MTC on 01/08/2014. He is doing great as expected. He has taken many pictures but forgot the cord to download them from his camera. We will post them when we receive them. Here are the answers to the weekly questions. Better have a tissue ready. :)

1. How was your trip? Did you make it to Missionary Mall?
My trip was amazing. I talked with the other Elder in the Airport and just kept each other company as we waited. We realized that part of the Missionary rules is to have a companion at all times, so the Lord set it up so we would be each other's companions. His name was Elder Bennet, and he is going to Brazil. The plane was amazing. Half the people canceled, so we pretty much sat where ever. I had a window seat and took some awesome pictures that I will try to send. And yes, we got to missionary mall. They didn't have my brand, so they gave me a more expensive one for free, so that was nice.

2. What was your first day like?
My first day, I was greeted by my host missionary who is waiting for a visa to some un-pronounceable city in Brazil. I got all my missionary stuff like nametag, MTC card, and room key and stuff then put my luggage in my room. He took me to my class room where I met my district, and one of my two teachers, Brother Bryner.

3. What is your daily schedule?
Basically, I wake up at 6, shower, brush teeth, that sort of stuff. Then I get into my suit and go to my classroom for about an hour of personal study. Then we all go to breakfast where we get food (BTW, any myths regarding food here and orange juice, all a lie. Its great.) After we eat, we go back to the class for 3 hours and are taught a BUNCH of stuff. Like, the amount of things we are to learn is crazy. We learn knowledge, but also how to be in touch with the spirit. I feel like a Jedi, learning information but also how to use the Spirit. Then we go to lunch, then back to the classroom for another 3 hours but this time is a study block. We plan, do personal study, companion study, and other things. Then dinner, then back to the class for another 3 hours with our other teacher, Brother Makahilahila. He is from Hawaii. Then we go to our residence halls at 9:30 where we plan for the next day, study, write in journals, ect. At 10:15, it is quiet time where we meditate and pray and ponder the Spirit and what we have learned. Then it is lights out at 10:30. That it pretty much my day. And I love it. Really, it's never boring here if you want to be here. Next week, my companion and I are starting to teach our TRC Investigator, which is a real investigator paid by the church that we are kind of practicing on. But they honestly have the chance to be baptized, so its just really awesome.

4. Tell us about your Companion/District?
My companion is Elder Montoya and he is amazing. He is a convert of 2 years and serving a mission. He is really smart, and knows a lot about doctrine. He is from New Mexico and the only one in his family to be in the church, and so his testimony is soooo amazing to hear. Oh, and everyone in my district is going to Bakersfield, which is something REALLY rare. My district is absolutely amazing. We are all really obedient, we get along great, we are open to each other, and getting really close. Not just the elders though. We have 4 Elders, 4 Sisters. Elder Mansfield, Haubner, Montoya, myself, Sister Lazzaratto, Luddington, Rasmussen, and Baroldy. And I'm honestly really blessed to have such a great district. We get told all the time how impressed people are by us, and how they feel the spirit with us. One day in class, we all bore our testimonies, and all of us were bawling. It was fantastic. Oh, and btw, my companion and I are our Zone leaders, so that is really awesome :)

5. What is your address? Can we send you anything at the MTC?
My address is 2009 N 700 E Unit 134 Provo UT 84604. I can receive basically anything.

6. What scripture touched you the most this week?
What touched me the most was a talk we watched yesterday by Elder Bednar called "Characters of Christ". I cannot say everything he did, his talk was 1 1/2 long, but the basic message was that this isn't about us. We don't do this expecting blessings. In fact, you shouldn't do ANYTHING expecting blessings. Because that isn't how Christ did it. He did everything outward, meaning for everyone else. When we do things inwards, that is for the Natural Man. When satan tempted Christ, he challenged Him to prove His godliness, which would have been prideful. It would have been Christ proving his powers for His own benefit. So He warded satan off, but after all of this, His 40 day fast, His encounter with the devil, and being utterly drained spiritually and temporally, He still sent angels to John the Baptist in prison instead of looking on Himself and worrying about His own needs. Elder Bednar told us a story about when he was a stake president, he had a sister call him about an accident involving 3 girls and one had died. During the call, the woman found out that it was her own daughter that had died, and immediately she said to President Bednar "Alright, we have to get in touch with the two other mothers and let them know about what happened." Elder Bednar was so taken back by the charity and Christ like character of this woman. He then realized that this was her only daughter. This was just so touching to me, because SOOOO many things just clicked for me in that very moment. I had been praying so hard for things, and was told to go to my meetings on Sunday with a question, and it was answered and I am so grateful and amazed at the wisdom of our Apostles and Heavenly Father.

7. What has been your biggest challenge and how do you plan to overcome it?
My biggest challenge has been probably staying patient. We have an elder in our zone who is just....beyond annoying. And I've really had to learn patience and Christ-like love. I've prayed for a lot of forgiveness and repentance and I am learning to love him. The biggest smack in the face was when he told me he was a convert and that he almost didn't come out because of his mistakes. I was sooo humbled and couldn't even look him in the eye. I felt so bad, and yet I am so grateful that the Lord is opening my eyes like this.

8. What gospel principle has touched you the most?
The principle that has touched me the most is that we have a loving Heavenly Father, which is the very first thing you teach to investigators. It's touched me because I took it soo much for granted. Don't do that. Seriously, we have NO idea how lucky we are to know this. To actually KNOW this. It comforts people more than anything to know this.