Thursday, September 21, 2017

I'm Warmer Than the Weather

Hey everyone!

The mission is the best thing ever. I love being a missionary. And this week has been the best yet. Not just because the weather cooled down a bunch (but a lot because of that.)

Tuesday of this past week we headed out to Taft again. Wow, what a town. We helped an older couple move in, and it was pretty fun. The wife was German, and was pretty interesting to listen to. After that we worked like normal. My companion for the day was listening to the Spirit though! We were trying to find a house and he stopped and said "Nah, we're going to Valley Acres now." Which is a little ways away. We did, and visited a family that the missionaries in Taft had helped move in, and we got to teach a mother and her daughter the restoration! Just as we were leaving, another son walked in. He's doing recruiting for the marines, and recently finished training, and told us how he'd met a lot of Mormons in basic and how he'd been studying and praying with them. People are prepared in the darnedest ways.

Thursday we got to drive up to Frazier Park, and finally met with Kathy, the lady who'd listened to all the standard works and been to church. She's still going to church and doing good, she's just not getting baptized yet because her husband doesn't like it. So we've got to act on faith and hope he softens his heart. She's a really great lady though- she goes to Tehachapi some weeks to see her mother (who is also taking the discussions from the sisters there) and her sister (who's been a member a long time.)

Friday we got to meet with Elder Costa and Elder Pingree of the Seventy- one of the longest-serving members and the newest. It was really great.

Elder Pingree talked a lot about receiving personal revelation, and what needs to happen so that we (and our investigators) can receive it. He also spoke about how that revelation should guide our planning and goals, not us just making them and trying to force whatever God wants to happen into the box of what we think is going to happen. Finding was another thing Elder Pingree spoke about- thank goodness, since we spend so darn much time doing it! He talked about Phillip teaching the Ethiopian in Acts 8 (Acts has lots of stories, but this is one of my favorites) and principles from that story that we can apply in our finding.

Elder Costa spoke to us about repentance, and how everything we do is to help people through the process. We also learned that just writing down "church" for the three hours we meet on Sunday is the "worst plan." We should always plan to find, even just at church, by prayerfully asking for referrals. Later he talked to us a lot about soccer. Really it was about goals and how hard we work, but he used a lot of soccer analogies. We also learned "Elder Costa's Rule": never mix spiritual and social. If you go somewhere to do something spiritual, always tie it back to the spiritual, and if the Spirit says "go" at an awkward time, then go anyway.

Saturday I got sick. Obnoxious 24 hour fever. So fun to have a thermometer in your mouth and slowly see it tick up into the triple digits. Like it's not even that hot out anymore, come on. Ugh. I mean, I was fine Sunday, but it sucks being sick even for a day. So we had an inside day since I didn't want to stand very much. It was like having the flu but only for a day.

This week I learned that if we really, truly believe that there are people here who are being prepared to accept the Gospel, then we will know that we MUST find them. Not a "we can find them" or a "we might find them" sort of thing, but a deep, driving force- a desire for the salvation of our fellow men. Imagine if your parents spent a long time preparing a great opportunity for you, one that would not only benefit you, but change someone else's life for the better, forever- and likely the lives of many others. Would you not work hard to make the most of that? That's what God does for us in preparing people to receive the Gospel. We've got a great opportunity to give glory to God by doing our tiny part of His work- what a blessing!

Thank you for all your support!
Elder Adams



1.I went to jail.
2.Service in Taft.

Waxing Poetic

Hey everyone!

It's been the best week ever here in sunny Bakersfield California. It's even been slightly less sunny than before, which is good! One day had a high of 92, that's paradise to us.

Monday night we got to have a lesson with a less-active member who we'd been helping to come back to church. He came to church the day before, so we were real excited to see how he felt about it. Before he could say anything, I already knew- what a spirit he had about him! He was so happy he practically glowed. While we were talking, he told us how he had always struggled with reading the Book of Mormon, and how difficult it was to understand, but how it seemed so much easier this time around, and he was getting more out of it. He might not need to be baptized, but it's still wonderful to see someone come (back) to Christ.

Tuesday we were going to head up to Frazier Park, but our appointment up there canceled. Since we didn't have one, we couldn't go! Instead we tried to come up with some plans and tracted for much of the day. That's alright, hard work builds the soul. We had dinner with a part-member family where the parents aren't members. They're also Chinese, and don't speak very much English. It was a very fun dinner, and we got to try some traditional Chinese food, like roast duck. Honestly, I like it a lot better than restaurant Chinese food.

Wednesday we worked! Working day. We both got sunburnt, we worked so hard. "It's only 95 instead of 105, we'll be fine" the sun is still there???

Thursday we planned, like normal. What a slow week so far, haha. That's okay. We realized we'll have almost no time to work in Bakersfield next week- we'll be in Taft one day, Frazier Park the next, planning, and then meeting with Elder Claudio Costa of the Seventy on Friday. What a busy week next week will be.

Friday we had district meeting. That was pretty normal too. It was just an exceedingly ordinary week, I guess!

On Saturday, at dinner, we were talking afterwards and one of the kids brought a big inflatable ball into the room. And threw it. I was worried it was going to hit the mom, but instead it bounced off her chair and landed on the table- knocking a glass of milk all over me! And the wall, and the floor. Somehow the ball hit this cup at just the right angle to send its contents everywhere. So I got covered in milk. The parents were very embarrassed, but it really wasn't a big deal- this kind of nonsense happens to us a lot.

Sunday is the Sabbath! And keeping the Sabbath day holy means serving God, so we worked!

Along with my spiritual bit this week, I wanted to include a bit of a poem I heard, William Wordsworth's "Intimations of Immortality from Recollections of Early Childhood." What a long name.

Not for these I raise
The song of thanks and praise
But for those obstinate questionings
Of sense and outward things,
Fallings from us, vanishings;
Blank misgivings of a Creature
Moving about in worlds not realised,
High instincts before which our mortal Nature
Did tremble like a guilty thing surprised:
But for those first affections,
Those shadowy recollections,
Which, be they what they may
Are yet the fountain-light of all our day,
Are yet a master-light of all our seeing;
Uphold us, cherish, and have power to make
Our noisy years seem moments in the being
Of the eternal Silence: truths that wake,
To perish never;
Which neither listlessness, nor mad endeavour,
Nor Man nor Boy,
Nor all that is at enmity with joy,
Can utterly abolish or destroy!

I also like the line about us coming into this life "trailing clouds of glory." Something about the Plan of Salvation is innate in all mankind, and it's our job to help people remember. It's not always something that new or hard to wrap our heads around. I love the little taste of heaven that the Holy Ghost brings- it is an "earnest" after all. It makes me never want to lose the Spirit.

I hope you all have a good week this week!
Elder Adams

Trees (Oak and Otherwise)

​​​Hey all!

Has this been the best week ever, or what? We got to go all the way out to Taft this week! I'm certainly getting back into the groove of driving after not doing so for 7 months.

On Tuesday we headed way out into the nowheres to the this town called Taft to go on exchanges. It's an oil town that was booming way back in the day. 1930's or something. So there's not a whole lot out there. It's got a real nice college! The people are really different than in Bakersfield, so it was an interesting change of pace.

We came back into Bakersfield really early on Wednesday morning so we could go to zone conference. I love zone conference. I know most people are like "hooray, a six hour meeting..." but it's so relevant and spiritually uplifting. It just takes preparation and work for it to feel that way. We also got to go out on some visits with our Ward Mission Leader, and compare notes about the less-active members we'd all met in the past.

Thursday was Frazier Park day! We spent a lot of time trying to figure out how to work there. Everything is so spread out and there's nowhere to park. Plus, no one is still in the mission who has served there and spent much time working in the area. We talked to people and walked around and tried to get the lay of the land- there are some pictures attached. It's hard to tell if a side road has houses on it or not... We did get to meet with Susie again though, and talk to her a lot about the Book of Mormon and prophets. She has a lot of concerns about organized religion, but is trying really hard to be humble- if God wants her in the church she'll try to do it. We know He does, it's just helping her to feel that.

Friday we had district meeting and had to plan! So it was... a day. Pretty much normal.

Saturday was so hot. I felt like my eyeballs were liquefying. BUT we did find a cool investigator named Antonio! He hasn't heard anything about our church, but was pretty surprised that there is a prophet today. I think it'll be fun to teach him and his family. We didn't get to say too much- it was hot and we wanted to let him get back inside.

Sunday was super crazy. So we go to the Stake President's house for dinner, right? And while we're there it's gotten kinda cloudy and dark. We get a text from the Zone Leaders: stay inside, there's a dust storm. Alright we'll stay inside. A couple minutes later, FWOOOOOSH. It's raining crazy hard. Their outdoor umbrellas (the heavy metal ones) blew into the pool. There was crazy wind and some thunder too. It only lasted for twentyish minutes, but that was enough for a hole to develop in the family's roof and water to start coming into their bathroom. Good times. It calms down, and as we leave President Judd tells us "careful! there might be branches in the road from the trees." We turn the first corner and there's a branch in the road alright- a whole tree of them. It snapped right at the base. It wasn't even the only one we saw driving back to our place. So there was a crazy storm!

I thought I'd share some cool things I learned about during zone conference. We talked a lot about teaching repentance, and about how we sometimes think of it as behavior change, but the Savior really works from the inside out. If we solely change our behavior, and there's no actual change in our nature, that's not exactly repentance (although both have to happen.) That's why Laman and Lemuel never really got any better, only worse- they didn't actually change for the better inside, they only stopped doing bad things (for a little while.) That's also why pride is such a roadblock to repentance- any changes that happen in our life become "look what I did" instead of "this is what Christ did for me." I guess it would be more accurate to say, in reflecting upon my mission, instead of "I've changed a lot" to say "I've been changed" because it definitely hasn't been me that's done it. I'm not enough for that :P

Thank you for your prayers and love!
Elder Adams





Optimism

Hey all!

Has this been the best week ever, or what? Week seven in Oaks Ward, and we're still killing it. Today is the best day yet.

After transfers got done and Elder Jackson settled in, we went out to work for a while. We knocked on this girl's door, and she told us "yeah, I know some mormons?" We asked her about our bishop's son, and she was all "Yeah! Like him!" Turns out she's also on the swim team with the bishop's daughter. What a small world.

The next day we also got to meet an awesome lady named Miriam. She was raised Catholic, but she and her husband have really been thinking about getting back into church and growing closer to God. Hey, we do that!

Thursday we had the chance to drive out to Frazier Park. Wow. So very different than the rest of the mission so far. I'll have to take pictures for ya'll next time- it's beautiful. Our investigator missed the appointment (and we had no cell service to call her) but we did pick up another new investigator there too! Hopefully next time we'll be able to teach her daughter as well.

Friday we worked hard and talked to a lot of people and all we got was a near-death experience with a skunk! We didn't get sprayed, but it was definitely wary of us. How fun.

Saturday was another hard-working day! Elder Jackson wasn't feeling great, but the time that we did get to spend outside, we made the most of.

Sunday is always a great day of the week. I love being able to attend church and partake of the sacrament. Not to say that the rest isn't great, it is, but that's the best part. I always feel so spiritually refreshed. I almost wish Pday wasn't Monday, so we could get right to work and use all this energy. That's what Sunday afternoon and evening are for I guess!

My dear mother commented several weeks ago how my weekly email seemed really positive. I'm working really hard to have optimism! It's a spiritual gift of sorts, I've decided, one that I really want. As I've worked on being more positive and optimistic I've seen some really cool stuff-
-Even though it's hard when people reject us, I find that expecting them to receive the Gospel helps me love them more.
-I feel that 2 Nephi 15:26-30 applies to me. Not in some crazy way or anything, but I feel that I am not "weary" nor do I "stumble" as often.
-I've had a greater faith- it's easier to take action and see results when you expect it to amount to something.

TL;DR Optimism is a great thing and we should all pray for it- I tell people literally every day that God wants us to be happy, and He definitely does.

Thanks for your support! Have a great week!

Elder Adams

Here's a district picture from last transfer!
Also- I'm hearing a lot of depressing stuff from the outside world. Here's me with a "sign of the end" times I found ;P (I look concerned. Apparently I should be!)


Oaks Ward Round 2

Hey all!

Keeping up the best transfer so far, because of this week. Was it the best week ever? Yep.

To start off, transfer news! I'm sticking around in Oaks ward for another six weeks, this time with Elder Jackson, since Elder Tasi is headed home.

Tuesday we went on exchanges with the taft elders. Elder Jones and I had a very missionary day. BUT the other elders decided randomly to go up to Frazier Park, the other ward we cover but never go up to because no one lives there, and they found an investigator who's been coming to church and just finished the standard works. So there's probably gonna be a baptism in Frazier Park. Cool.

Otherwise it was a really normal week! Which is alright, because normal here has been really good!

Our appointments with Mina this week fell through and we were super busy, so we didn't end up meeting with her. She didn't end up making it out to church this week either, their was a family emergency.

Hey, it's all good though, this next transfer is gonna be killer and people here are going to get baptized! We're going to work crazy hard, so expect good news!

One really valuable thing I've learned from Elder Tasi is how faith not only leads to action, but those actions begin to become part of who we are, naturally building our faith. If we want to experience miracles, to find people to teach, or feel fulfilled in our work, we have to do what we say we're going to do- be dependable and work hard. That's faith, trusting that we need to break out our kiddy shovels and trust that God's backhoe will do the rest. If that analogy makes any sense.

Anyway, thanks for all your support!
Elder Adams

Happy Spiritual Birthday

Hey all!

Has this been the best week ever? Yes. Confirmed. Before I talk about anything else, let's talk about Mina.

We taught her the Plan of Salvation this week! It took two visits, the first one other people were being disruptive and she had lots of questions. Seriously though, she's so awesome. When we told her about the spirit world, the gospel being preached to the dead, and the salvation of little children, she was so shocked. She told us "I wanted to believe those things, but no one taught them. No other church taught that. I thought they were too idealistic. But it's true!"

We also were going to invite her to be baptized using several scriptures, but after we read the first, she stopped us and was like "So, I need to be baptized." We told her yes, that's the idea. She said "alright, cool, I thought so. I'm down." We were so floored. We didn't even invite her, she just decided on her own! When we went to set her with a specific date, she said "well, my birthday is coming up." Turns out it's the day after the day we were going to ask her, and since her family will be around, she wants them to be there. How incredible!

On a side note, birthdays have been really lucky for us so far- Patty got baptized right around her birthday, and Stacey was confirmed on mine. It's a nice bit of coincidental symbolism. Oh the tender mercies of the Lord!

Then she came to church! Ahh! But she'll probably want to go to YSA from now on, it'll be a little more comfortable.

Mostly that's been the highlight of the week. Other cool stuff happens sometimes, but none of it is as cool as teaching someone so prepared and willing to receive our message.

We did get to volunteer at the bishop's storehouse on exchanges this past week, and that was pretty cool. Not to see people that were struggling, that was sad, but to see them helped, and how well-organized the church's program for them is. Everyone came to help, and we definitely got to help a lot of people.

This week we also had an great lesson with a less-active member. He hasn't been to church in more than 50 years, so he's understandably a little shaky on a lot of things. He was worried about prayer, but this past week he really made an effort to pray every day, and he seemed so happy! Not to say he's a grouchy old man normally, he just had a big smile on his face while we were talking, and we could feel the Spirit really well.

Oh yeah, and this family that we've been trying to get in contact with forever (along with everyone else in the ward) just showed up at church! It was so cool.

We also had interviews with President this week. That was super cool, even though mine was pretty short, I still learned a lot from it. Elder Tasi's was really long since he's heading home after next week, so I got to sit and talk with Sister Layton for forever. She shared a super cool scripture with me that she found in her studies- Doctrine and Covenants 127:4. It had something to do with what we were talking about, but it hit me hard for a different reason. While it's talking about the work on the temple, it can refer to the work all of us do. Not to say that I've been lazy, I really have been doing my best, but it's nice to know that when we falter because of our weaknesses we just need to dust ourselves off and try again, a bit harder this time. If we do so, we "shall in nowise lose [our] reward." God loves us and wants us to succeed! So when we make mistakes, He doesn't maliciously withdraw blessings to make us miserable, if He does anything it is eventually to make us happy. All we have to do is repent of our sins and keep trying.

Man, do I love missionary work. This is seriously the best.

Thanks for all your support!
Elder Adams

PS you wouldn't believe how many times I wrote the word "awesome" in this email before changing a bunch of them. I swear it was every fifth word.

Preach the gospel unto every creature, right? ;P

Instant Blessings

Has this been the best week ever or what? But for real this week has been crazy, wow.

Before I talk about anything else I have to tell ya'll about this wonderful experience we had. On Tuesday a young man asked to come to us with an appointment, and also to tract with us. Like okay, dunno why you'd want to tract, but cool! President Layton encouraged us to work with the youth, so this fulfills that directive. We were going to visit a less-active family, and the first person we talked to was interested! Well, second- we talked to the mom and she wasn't interested, but the daughter was like "but I am! Tell me more!" So we gave her a Book of Mormon and told her we'd come back the next day. We did what we were told to do and saw results immediately.

BUT the story does not end there! Too many of them do, but this does not!

We went back the next day, all of our appointments before that  had fallen through. We brought the same young man along too. She not only answered the door, but let us in! We had an incredible lesson with her- she asked tons of really good questions. She told us at the end "I totally believe everything you've told me!" She likes our religion because it's obviously from God and not from man, and she told us that even though we're just people she "could hear God in our voices." If that's not the Spirit testifying to her, I don't know what is! I don't know what I did to be so privileged as to teach this wonderful young woman, but I'm really grateful for it.

Tuesday and Wednesday we spent lots of time out in the heat, tracting with the young man we brought along with us. It was kinda like being in a trio, except that he was way more confident than I was even at the beginning of my mission, and he's only 16! Youth are so cool.

Thursday was Thursday so we planned. Same as every week! We also had a lesson at Jack-in-the-box. Kinda a goofy place, but still a good lesson!

Friday and Saturday we were on exchanges with the Zone Leaders, so everything that happened was in their area. Nothing fun to tell ya'll about. Except that while we were trying to contact a referral we knocked into an inactive Latino family and they invited us in for breakfast. It was a good breakfast, too.

We also got to go to the Bishop's son's baptism because there were non-members there! It's always cool to be at a baptism, but this one was extra great and spiritual.

Sunday! The best day of the week, except when we forgot to get gas, so besides going to church we walked everywhere. Which worked out well really, we talked to a lot of people!

I've been working hard on seeing everyone we meet as a new investigator, and it's been awesome! We've been seeing lots of success, and the ward is really getting behind what we're trying to do. I've learned a lot about what role faith plays in this work. Faith always motivates to action, and the faith to find is the faith to not only do everything we can, but to do everything we're told to do- ask for referrals, talk to everyone, work with members (especially the youth), even just keeping mission rules. Not only does doing these things help find people to teach, it also is an opportunity to exercise faith, building it stronger as we see the results of trying to do the Lord's will.

Thank you again!
Elder Adams