Monday, November 6, 2017

Preparing for a Miracle

Hey everyone!

This has been by far the best week yet in California City!

Before I get to last week, I gotta say- we tried to go visit the desert tortoise reserve this morning, and all we saw was a snake. That's not a tortoise.

On Tuesday we met a real cool lady named Kesha. She was pushing her son in a stroller and he was all "hey policeman!" not quite, buddy. Turns out she'd talked to missionaries five years ago in Lancaster, and would love to talk to us again. We also were driving along later in the day and got stopped by a pack of dogs. It was strange. We'd move and one would bite at our tires. It left tooth marks in the paint. So yeah, we were accosted, but had a car to defend ourselves. I just didn't want to run them over, y'know?

So, Wednesday. It started out kinda blaaah, you know those blaaah days where you're just like "blaaah"? But we were still trying to do stuff. We got to go talk to DuBois (the bomb guy we met from a miracle last week) and he tells us that not only has he been reading the Book of Mormon, his whole family has been reading it together! Every day! His brothers have to read for school every night, and take notes and learn about the setting, so not only are they reading it, but they're trying to understand it. Whaaaat. Best news ever, oh my gosh! Not to say I'm pessimistic, but I'm not used to it being that easy to get people to read! Things were hectic when we talked to him, but he said he really wanted to be able to sit down with us and talk about what he got out of it. #miracles

Thursday was planning. Really, it's not so bad. Even when things don't end up working out, I'm always glad we planned so we know what we would have done, and God often blesses us for it.

Friday we had district meeting and a whole bunch of appointments in the afternoon! But almost all of them fell through. It happens sometimes, but I wish things would just go more smoothly. At least the one appointment that was kept was pretty alright, we got to read the Book of Mormon with some less-active members. Bad news, too- we were going to meet with DuBois, but he had to take his girlfriend to the hospital, she got really sick. Hopefully she recovers okay.

Saturday we walked around a ton and got to talk to cool people. Unfortunately, no one was too interested. A member did buy us lunch though, so we were still blessed. While we were there, we met an investigator from out in Boron who asked us about when church was, so maybe we got to help them get someone to church. Also had the trunk-or-treat that night! It reminded me a lot of home, but not in a trunky way, just a pleasant one.

Sunday was a little hectic. Because of a misunderstanding and some bad luck, Nicole didn't end up making it to church today, and we were late. It's frustrating, but all day we talked about gratitude and forgiveness, so and enduring through trials, so I guess that's that! I felt much better after church, I just hope we can convince people this coming week that they'll feel the same!

I've been thinking about Peter a lot this past week. Maybe it's just having been studying in the New Testament, maybe not. He's been my favorite prophet for a good long while now, and I've always gotten a lot of comfort from his transformation from an impulsive fisherman to a powerful leader. I've also related some to his feelings when he denied knowing the Savior. I make mistakes too! And have wept bitterly at times over them. Something interesting about that I noticed this week though, is that Peter, just hours before his emphatic denials, drew his sword in the face of an armed mob. It was just him, the Savior, and several other Apostles there in the garden, facing what would seem to be certain doom, and Peter rushed in and chopped off someone's ear. That is not fear! Well, maybe a little, but that seems like bold action to me. Why the denial, then? If he was willing to fight a mob, then why deny the Savior to a much smaller, less threatening group?

I don't really have an answer to that, but maybe his thoughts just got to him. Like when he walked on the water, he let the waves and wind, his own internal doubts and fears, stop him from continuing. But the  Lord still saw His potential, and the fact that he had started strong, and Peter still continued to grow. It makes me feel better for being up to the task only some of the time, being bold at one moment and timid the next. God knew we'd all make mistakes, that's what repentance is for. He knew we wouldn't be perfect all at once, that's why we have this probationary state. I'm really grateful for these gifts, because even when I'm inadequate I know that God is definitely more than powerful enough, and we weren't sent into this life to fail, but to grow.

Thanks for all your support! I hope you have a great week!
Elder Adams

Friday, October 27, 2017

According To Men's Faith

Hey everyone!

Another great week here in California City, probably the best one yet! Nah, it's for sure the best one.

Tuesday we worked a bunch! It's one of those ordinary days where you try hard, and not a lot happens, but it's alright in the end because you tried hard, and as long as you have a good attitude, you'll like it more the next time.

On Wednesday we were just about to leave, when someone knocked on our door! Surprise, it's the Jehovah's witnesses! It was... surreal? I mean we knock on people's doors all the time, but to have someone knock on ours was very different. We also got to meet with Nicole again, and she opened up about some of her worries with coming to church, so we can address those now. She also shared some bomb spiritual experiences she's had while living the word of wisdom, which is real neat.

Thursday we had zone conference down in Lancaster! Having to drive so dang far made it seem like a real big event, which was neat. We learned a whole bunch about a lot of things, but focused a lot on the importance of daily planning and companion study, which were things Elder Chamberlain and I were already trying to improve on. We got back in town really late and had to hurry out to the base for dinner, so we didn't have time to do anything else that day :/

Friday we had district meeting!... at our house. All the churches in our area were being deep-cleaned, and the district leader's apartment is too small, so we all met here. It was an adventure! It gave us another good excuse to clean, haha.

Saturday we had an Incredible Miracle. Seriously, it was so cool. We did morning planning that morning and set a goal of three new investigators. Where are we finding three? not sure but we'll see what happens. The Spirit said to. So we go out to an area we were going to go to earlier in the week (but that's where the JWs were), we're walking and trying to talk with people, all we got was one guy who wanted to bash with us. Dang. We're walking along the main street and this guy pulls over "Hey do you have an extra Bible?" sort of? So we gave him a Book of Mormon and went to his house. He'd just lost his father and his girl is pregnant and he's trying to get closer to God because he's been turning his life around. Hey! We help with that! So we got to teach him and his wife(?) about the Plan of Salvation. There's two, right there! I'm seriously so happy, I know what kind of a difference covenants can make to their family. We also got to meet with Nicole again and set her with a really solid baptism date- November 11! (as a side note we might have to change that, that's the week of stake conference. This isn't even the first time this has happened to me!)

We got Nicole to church! We got her a ride and rode with them out there, and she had a great time. She really hit it off with a  recent convert who happens to be best friends with her aunt. Small town. When we got back we went to have a lesson with some people that Elder Chamberlain and Elder McEntire picked up on exchanges. I felt like such a missionary, sitting on the arm of a beat-up couch and teaching the restoration to a bunch of black kids. The mission is so funny like that- we have these moments that are like "THIS is the mission." and are just so darn satisfying.

God is real and loves us, and because of that, He wants us to know He is there. He leaves breadcrumbs everywhere! Just look at the history of His people- without Him even revealing the Plan of Salvation, it's a constant theme. Adam left his home, the garden of Eden, and his goal was to come back into God's presence. Abraham left his home and was tried so that he could receive blessings from the Lord and inherit a promised land. Jacob left his home to find a wife, have a family, and then comes back to be reconciled with his brother and receive his inheritance. Joseph is sold from his home, but comes off much better for it, and his descendants receive that inheritance. The Israelites were led from their bondage into a promised land, and their whole history is one of being scattered and leaving so they can later be gathered home under the banner of God. Everything points to that great, grand theme of creation- we left our heavenly home to come here, to be tested and tried and proved fit for our inheritance, and our goal is come back to that home, to be with our Father again. In all of these examples, somehow the power of God was manifest, and in our own lives it takes the great atoning power of Christ for us to return home. I imagine for those righteous ones, judgement day will not be stressful, but the greatest homecoming one can envision. I hope I will be able to live up to that, and I love the opportunity to show others the way here in the mission.

Thanks for all your support everyone!
Elder Adams


Saw a Tarantula This Week

Hey everyone!

Another busy week here in California City, and it's the best week so far.

Tuesday was a good day! Also kinda funky, but good. We got to meet a cool lady who told us that she saw some other elders riding bikes earlier (the spanish elders.) Then we had a great lesson with Nicole, where she told us how she saw some elders on bikes that crashed and she almost ran over them (the spanish elders.) Then, when we were talking to a member, she mentioned how she saw elders riding bikes, which is weird since we all have cars (guess who.) Then before dinner, we get a text from the aforementioned elders: "yeah sorry, we're in Tehachapi at the doctor for elder so-and-so, he crashed on his bike, so we can't make it to dinner." How much happened in one day to these elders??

Oh, and we also met a bomb dude named James who ordered a bible online so that he could give it to his wife because they're fighting and she... wants a bible?? I dunno. We're gonna give them a family proclamation too, though.

Wednesday we worked a whole bunch! Stumbled into a pretty ghetto part of town, tried to contact some people, and then realized our GPS(borrowed from a member) said "(street name) DO NOT GO DOWN THIS STREET" oh goodness, what happened on this street to make the GPS say that?? I know someone just changed the name on the GPS, but still! Also we had dinner with the Bishop, which was neat.

Thursday we planned. I've written that 50+ times now. Planning is actually not so bad when we do it right. When we have people to plan for it's great. We just have to get lots of people to plan for first.

Friday we had district meeting and exchanges out in North Edwards. What a different town that it. You can't even drink the water. We did a bunch of service, including filling water jugs for a guy who'd had back surgery. Lots of sympathy for those people (shout out to my mom.) We also got to visit with some less-active families and set up lots of appointments for service in the coming week. Well, for the elders there. Not for us. Elder Chamberlain and his companion for the day found a family for us to teach though! I'm so excited :)

We got up super early Saturday morning to help move a bunch of wood and take down a tree. The tree was mostly down, it was just the main trunk and the roots. A member brought a backhoe to help out (where did he get it????) which made the work go pretty fast. It made me think of a gospel application as well- that backhoe had the power to rip the tree out of the ground all by itself. We couldn't have done it with all the people we had- we didn't have the time or tools. But we did have to be there to help guide the backhoe and hack away at roots with an ax and chainsaw, otherwise they wouldn't get cleaned up. God doesn't interfere with everything in our life, He won't clean up all the little details for us, but He does have all the power- He can and will take care of all the big stuff we couldn't possibly do. We just need to be hacking away at what we can.

Sometimes all the problems and things we need to deal with as missionaries seem so big. I mean, that happens to everyone, with everything, but still. I think about Nephi though- he got to the promised land, had to run from his brothers, establish a new nation with cities, keep the people worshipping the proper God in the proper way, provide for his family and teach them to provide for their families, and so on. So many problems! But somehow they all still got done. And he built a temple. And they did missionary work (or tried to.) In comparison, we don't have as much to do. How could one do so many things?? With the power of God, of course. Nephi did as he was asked, and he was not left alone with the results of that. God didn't get him int trouble to leave him there- every time Nephi came up to a challenge, God was there to help him through it. Like Moses, he was made strong enough to accomplish superhuman feats- like doing all of those many things and still beginning the most important book of scripture we have today. God knew Nephi could do more than build a bow or build a boat- they were just preparatory steps to building the beginnings of a nation. Our trials are like that. There's always another one, and it always seems harder than the last, but God is always there to help us through them- "His arm is stretched out still." Because of that, we'll be made mighty, even to the accomplishing of all the incredible works God might want us to do- parting a sea, calling down fire from heaven, or something as simple as saying the right thing at the right time. We just have to do our little part.

Oops, really long spiritual thought. I guess that means I'm doing good. Thanks for all your support!
Elder Adams
                                               abandoned, unfinished hotel

The Land of Desolation

Hey everyone!

Has this been the best, dustiest week ever? You bet!

Tuesday was transfers, and we got to travel all the way down to the wonderfully dusty California City. We've got one of the only lawns in town, haha. We got settled in and went to meet some of the members.

Wednesday we got to head out and work! It's always a little exciting to be in a new area, especially when things have been slower there- who knows what untapped potential there is? We met a girl named Maria who is kinda skeptical about God, but her grandmother was a convert who came here from Mexico- something about the blessings of the gospel is multi-generational and doesn't let go easily, even if someone falls away for a time!

Thursday we planned. Normal planning. Actually it was super weird because neither of us really know where anyone lives or where anything is here, so it took some time to figure that all out.

Friday we had district meeting! For that we meet way out in Mojave. For some reason. But that's okay, because that's where the only grocery store in our district is. Not complaining about being able to go there. We also got to meet one of our investigators who is on date to be baptized- Nicole! She's really cool, but is sick right now so she's kinda out of it. Hopefully next time she'll be feeling a little better. We also got to dinner and heard news that a member of the ward had passed away, so the members there asked us to come help load her stuff up- she wanted it (or the proceeds from selling it) to be left to the church. So we helped move stuff for a while.

Saturday we got to work a bunch more, and meet some more of our investigators (who live way out in the middle of nowhere.) They came to church a few weeks ago, and had kinda mixed feelings, so we cleared up some misunderstandings. We also got to meet our Ward Mission Leader, who lives on base. Gee willikers, Edwards is totally different than Cal City. We can't proselyte there, but it's kinda cool to at least be able to visit members.

Sunday we went to church! Because on Sunday we go to church. Actually, I really enjoyed it. Even in a new place, where the AC and mic are broken, sacrament meeting is still a special experience. The church is the church, no matter where you are, and the Saints are Saints, no matter how they got to where they are. Even if that place is California City.

Thanks for all your support!

Elder Adams

Nevertheless, God Called YOU.

Hey everyone!

This has been pretty much the best week ever. It's time for transfers again! I'm headed to California City, in East Lancaster! Back to the Antelope Valley! My companion will be Elder Chamberlain.

This past Tuesday we went up to Frazier Park again. Suzie was kinda sick, so we just had a short lesson and read some of the Book of Mormon with her. She asked us "so this is what the prophets talked about then, what do your prophets talk about now?" WELL it just so happens that they're talking to us THIS WEEKEND. Haha, it was such an easy question! Plus we got to talk about the Family Proclamation, which is always awesome. It's seriously an inspired document.

Wednesday morning we had interviews with President. He gave me some good advice about how to find more people in our area and about planning. We had some appointments that day, but none of them ended up working out. That's alright, they'll just have to happen another day- they might go better then anyway! In the evening we were trying to figure out where to go, and I said "we'll go to the gated community to visit some part-member families!" And so we did. Elder Jackson's pretty intimidated by the double-gated one and the huge houses there (honestly so am I!), but we decided that if the gate happened to be open when we got there, we'd go in and visit someone. And lo and behold, it was! A sign! (or just a nice coincidence.) We did stop by one family, but they weren't interested. Now we know they're not interested though, which is more than we knew before!

Thursday and Friday we worked some more, but all that working was kinda swallowed up in the joy of conference, so I don't remember that much of it, haha.

And conference happened! Oh boy do I love conference. I'll just jot down a couple thoughts I had and things that I liked from each session.

It's really inspiring as a missionary to hear an apostle talk about how everyone has heard the "call of heaven," so I really enjoyed President Uchtdorf's talk. Knowing I've felt that feeling helps me to help others recognize it, the yearnings for an association for that God which gave us life. Elder Holland's talk also gave me a lot of comfort. We've got a lot of commandments, and missionaries have a lot of rules! 10000 talents is a lot! But I can handle doing my little bit, giving (and forgiving) that 100 pence at a time. That's not so bad. Also hearing from Elder Pingree was super cool, since we got to eat lunch with him a couple weeks ago. Another elder asked him what he felt had prepared him most for his service as a Seventy so far, and he said his mission! More motivation to make this time worthwhile.

Elder Cook's talk on Saturday afternoon was really cool- I've been thinking a lot about accountability should play a role in my life, and it helped me fit it in better. I also like how he threw down on how hateful people are these days- being "authentic" or "real" are not reasons to be un-Christlike. Elder Nelson speaking about the Book of Mormon really touched my heart, because I've felt a great desire to share this wonderful gift pretty much only when I'm doing just that- treasuring it and reading it every day. He also said that we would make better decisions if we are reading it, and that's a pretty cool blessing in my book.

The priesthood session is so cool! The combination of Elder Renlund's talk and the focus in missionary work on helping people make covenants really solidified to me that we're the only source on earth where people can get the power to make covenants to experience the full power of the atonement. The only one. That's such an intimidating concept, but it really drives me to work harder. The title of my email is taken from President Uchtdorf's talk- despite our many weaknesses (or in moments of pride, our supposed over-qualifications) God calls us to labor in certain parts of His vineyard, where we have the great chance to bring His light there. I also really appreciated Elder Eyering's talk. I've felt the faith of members here aid us in our work, and seen the faith of those under the stewardship of leaders strengthen them. It's so cool to be a part of such a great organization.

Elder Bednar's talk was a little hard for me to follow at first, but once he started comparing the Sabbath and the temple, I was blown away. Our time on Sunday has the potential to be that holy and consecrated to God. Wow. Suddenly keeping the Sabbath day holy seems like a much, much more serious commandment to me. I noticed a theme among the talks of choosing how we reacting, and choosing to act in faith- really, our eternal destiny is entirely in our hands, and we need to take charge and actively live the Gospel.

Elder Ardern sad something that I felt like really fit in with President Uchtdorf's talk- he spoke about how we have to serve God with all our heart, might, mind, and strength to really have a strong enough light to push back darkness. Satan's going to keep trying harder and harder, so we need to as well. Elder Anderson's talk was just... wow. Hearing that bit of the talk Elder Hales had prepared, the fact that Elder Anderson happened to have it, him speaking about how every subject in conference is given by inspiration and not coordinated... it was a miracle that I felt unfolded right before our eyes. He spoke about how we often feel "calls to repentance" during conference, and I certainly have a lot to work on. But I also feel confident that it's not too much to ask, that I can accomplish it. We got to hear the word of God this weekend. Isn't that incredible?

Thank you for all your support! I'll write ya'll from the desert next week!
Elder Adams

Meat and Potatoes

Hey everyone!

Has this been the best week ever or what?? 14 months so far, and it' still getting better.

Weird thing, about half of our dinners the last two weeks have been varieties of meat and potatoes. Also multiple of them included the same old lady who also got invited to dinner. Every other day "Hey Sister Palmer, long time no see!"

We got to go ice skating last Monday for our zone activity, which was pretty cool. Even if the rink was owned by the Edmonton Oilers. There are much better hockey teams than them!

Tuesday we spent much of the day trying to contact part-member families that we don't have any notes about, or that ward members don't really know. We also had our coordination meeting in the evening, where we tossed around a lot of good ideas and got some good reports from members going on visits.

Thursday night we went out to visit some people with our ward mission leader. Mostly people had just moved or their address didn't exist, but we had a good visit with a couple that's been investigating almost longer than I've been alive.

Friday we had district meeting, then drove up to Frazier Park. We had two appointments up there, and the second canceled, but the first was awesome! We didn't think we were going to have that one either, Suzie wasn't there at first, but then she showed up! It was an awesome lesson, too. She'd started out by telling us that she didn't want to join a church, just learn more about God, but now she's asking questions like "Okay, so hypothetically, if I were to get baptized..." "So if I want to be with me family together forever..." She's really warming up to the idea of joining the church!

Saturday morning we were driving to check something, and we saw Mina just sitting out on her lawn! We hadn't seen her in over a month, so of course we had to stop and talk. She's still interested too! Just had a really rough month. Now that we're back in contact things will hopefully go better. I'm really glad :)

President Layton showed up at Oaks ward's sacrament meeting, so we got to say hi to him there. It's always kinda awkward though- like sorry, our investigators decided not to come today :S I mean, Kathy probably came to church, just in Tehachapi, not here.

The guidance of the Spirit is so so important in life. We were talking to someone and she said "I just wish God would tell me 'do this' or 'hey don't do that'" and the Spirit is really the way that God does that. The gift of the Holy Ghost is incredible really, it's hard for me to imagine life without it. Even if sometimes we just get little nudges in the right direction, those can have a big impact. So many things that happen on the mission are one in a million chances (not that there are even a million people in mission boundaries, I don't think there are) without the hand of God in this work we'd never get anything done.

Thanks for all your support!
Elder Adams

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

According to Men's Faith It Shall Be Done

Hey all!

Has this been the best week ever, or what? I'm gonna say that every week, everyone said last week's letter was so positive. But seriously, we were so busy. Monday night we had too many appointments and had to go on splits to cover them all. And it's happening again tonight!

Tuesday we had exchanges with the elders from Wilson ward. That was pretty fun! Exchanges give a good chance to learn from each other and to try out new things. We were out in the sun for a long time knocking on doors, but it was a good experience in learning the area better and meeting people.

Wednesday we had a few lessons scheduled after we finished exchanges. They all fell through, but we were led by the Spirit (not knowing before hand the things which we should do) and found some great potentials! We'll hopefully have a good time meeting with them the rest of the week.

Thursday we took a drive down to Tehachapi to have a meeting with President and some other missionaries from "well-established" areas. We're real wealthy here in Oaks ward (well, not us. The other people) so we got to go. We got lots of great new ideas about working with members, but also lots of stuff about making all of our proselyting more effective.

Friday started out a little rough because we didn't know what to do. We just had no clue where to go and wanted to nap, haha. But that's okay, because trials are there to give us blessings. We persevered, and got some awesome inspiration about what to do after dinner. A couple of investigators really needed a message that day due to family trials and stuff, and we just so happened to turn up on their door! If we'd had a lot to do already we wouldn't have thought of going to visit them, and wouldn't have been able to bring the Gospel a little close to their hearts.

Saturday we had an awesome pioneer activity at the church, and we had like five investigators there! It was so cool! I mean, I wish they would have come to church too, but we gotta take things one step at a time. There's no free food at church ;P We got to introduce lots of members to them, and one had a really awesome conversation about testimony and the Holy Ghost.

After church on Sunday, we were out tracting and met this lady who I really did not think was interested at first. She seemed kinda rushed and hesitant to talk to us, but she actually seems really prepared now that we've talked to her. Her family just moved here four months ago, her son died two months ago, and her best friend is a member of the church. If we hadn't been optimistic and kept talking, we would have had no idea that she was "in a preparation to hear the word."

I really like Doctrine and Covenants 52:20-  "And the days have come; according to men’s faith it shall be done unto them." So simple! According to men's faith it shall be done. There's a phrase in Preach My Gospel, in the section about how to begin teaching, that says we should "express faith in the converting power of the gospel." As we do that and teach doctrine, people's hearts change! True doctrine understood changes not only behavior, but also attitudes, which is really what we need here. We just need to trust that God's word has that power. Which is hard sometimes! But we have the wonderful opportunity to exercise that faith every day, and it makes a difference, not only in our lives, but in the lives of others. I've really seen that this week, and understand the role it plays in our attitudes about the work.

Thanks for supporting your missionaries!
Elder Adams

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

The Best Year Ever

Happy Pioneer day!

Has this been the best week ever, or what??? I've hardly even had time to write an email. Sorry if it's not incredible as my week has been.

After dinner on Monday night, we went to go visit an investigator we had found the previous week. He was unavailable, but we walked around in the neighborhood, and found several other people in the area who were also interested in learning.

Tuesday we had exchanges with the Elders from out in Taft. Taft is a smaller town than Bakersfield, down south. It was fun to go on exchanges with Elder Allen again, since he was my first district leader (and thusly the first person I went on exchanges with.)
Wednesday was zone conference, which took up much of the day. It was about focusing on baptism, something we needed to refocus on. While it isn't about how many baptisms we get, it's important to teach investigators about it and set goals with them so they are motivated to make the changes necessary. They don't need to stop doing drugs or whatever before we teach them about baptism- they need to know about the Atonement and baptism so that they'll repent and stop doing those things. All those big commitments aren't boulders in the way of baptism- they're stepping stones that help build the faith to make covenants with God.

Thursday we planned and did service for a wonderful old lady in our ward. Well, she's actually not a member- her husband is, and he has severe dementia. He's in a hospice down in LA, so she spends a lot of time traveling, and appreciates our help with the yard. We're also teaching her to help her understand what her husband knew and how she can be with him after he is resurrected.

We had another exchange on Friday, this time with the zone leaders. I got to go with Elder Salveson, who came into the mission at the same time as me. It was actually super fun. I enjoy seeing how other missionaries have changed over the past year, as well as their different proselyting methods.

Saturday we ran around and did a million things. After finishing exchanges, we dropped off a book of Mormon in french to a foreign exchange student living here (sorry, I still don't speak french!) and attended a baptism. We're supposed to go to all the baptisms where Elder Tasi interviewed the person being baptized, so we went. The Spirit impressed upon me the reality of the covenant the young man was making- that it was performed by proper authority, in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost. What a wonderful blessing we have, of being in a church with the authority to bind on earth and in heaven!

OH MY GOODNESS SUNDAY. So we go visit this part-member family. The children are members, but the parents are not, and only the mom is interested. We were planning earlier in the day what to teach, and we were drawing a blank. She has some problems with doctrines, but has a hard time communicating them because she speaks mostly Mandarin. WE prayed, and still had no idea- not in the "oh no" way, but in a "go by the Spirit" way. Which is always kinda nice but also nerve-wracking. Anyway, we go, and it's instantly awkward. The mother and son are arguing (and have been pretty much for the past week.) We sit down and talk and ask questions for a little bit, then I pull out my scriptures and remember that I had a copy of the "Family" proclamation in them! I was nervous because I didn't want to feel like I was chastising them, but I really love this family, and when the Spirit says do... you go and do. So we talked, and a couple paragraphs in everyone was bawling. While not everything is worked out (it's not our job to be counselors after all) the young man's prayers were answered. "How did you know to talk about families?" I have no idea, besides that I was inspired by the Spirit. I can claim almost no credit, no more than a person starting a car- I didn't build the engine or make the key, only turned it. It's the natural thing to do if you want to go somewhere. We talked about the blessings of family prayer and scripture study, and encouraged them to spend time doing those things, because it has brought blessings into my life (SHOUT OUT to my awesome mother for emphasizing those things so heavily. I think I've had a solid testimony of family scripture study longer than anything else.)

Man, it's been a year now. Today, I don't really want it to end. It's not like we're incredibly successful and baptizing every week or anything. We're not. But it's just so good to wear the tag. It's so great to talk about the Gospel to people all day. I wish I could sit down and talk to everyone about how it can change their lives, but so many people don't want to listen. But God is merciful- like Jonah, he wouldn't send us here if there wasn't some soul to save.

Looking back over the past year, of course there are a lot of things I wish I'd done differently. But that's life! Out of so many things that could be construed as negative, the most important things, the ones I'll remember, are the times I've help lift my companions, strengthen the faith of members, and help people prepare for baptism. It's been a ride so far, nothing like I expected. I hope I can keep loving the mission so much. In another year I want to be able to say the thing, but with the fervor of someone who doesn't want to have to catch the plane home.

Thanks for supporting me. I know I say that every week, but your prayers, emails, and thoughts really do mean a lot.

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Work work work

Hey everyone!

Off to a good start in Oaks! On Tuesday we went right to work, and had two really great lessons. One was with a guy who'd told the elders here before to come back, and seemed surprised we actually had, and the other one was with a part-member family where only the kids have joined the church. It was really cool to see this kind of thing on the first day in an area again.

Wednesday we did service for a lady whose husband is a member (he's sick and at a facility down in LA), then had a lesson with her. And it was an awesome lesson! We really got to the bottom of why she hadn't read the Book of Mormon and made plans for helping her do it.

Thursday was planning. I'd say that's enough said, but we were still busy, even on planning day. Sheesh. We had another lesson with the guy from Tuesday, and his friend sat in on it and liked it too! You never know who'll accept the gospel, y'know?

Friday my companion went to the temple for the departing temple trip, so I hung out with the zone leaders. And had to conduct district meeting. In a district I'd never been in before. Awkward. But it was still cool.

Saturday we worked real hard all day and didn't find anyone. The last street we tracted was real bad. When we sat down in the car, some other missionaries called us to give us a referral! We freaked out like, Yes! Our work turned out to be something! But the referral was actually not even in our area. Rude :P

The very last door we knocked on the whole week we found a family! We only talked to the dad so far, but we're headed back there tonight. They've got eight kids. Eight! It's like they're members already, haha.

I've been trying real hard this past week to tell people something about the church and to be persistent. While I don't want to harass anyone or anything, if they say no thanks or insist that they have a church, it's important that we as missionaries do a little more- we've got a unique message, unlike anything else in the world. A message that changes lives, lifts our vision, and leads us into all truth. I can't let people reject something so great without telling them a little about it.

It's crazy that I hit a year since I left home this week. It doesn't feel like it. Short year, sheesh. Everyone says the next year is shorter though, so I've gotta make sure I'm diligent! No regrets!

Thanks for all your support!
Elder Adams

In(to) the Leafy Treetops

Goodbye Olive Knolls! It's been a good couple of weeks, but alas! We're getting replaced by sisters! And I'll be headed off to Oaks ward in South Bakersfield (thus came the name of the email. shout out to my mom for singing that song.) My new companion will be Elder Tasi, from New Zealand. He's going home. This sounds familiar :P Oaks is a rich area. Like I thought this area was pretty affluent, but Oaks ward has a gated community within a gated community. Why??

The fourth of July was uneventful for us. Pretty much the same as every other day, except we had to come back to the apartment early. The US is a cool thing at least. Grateful for freedom.

It was so nice Wednesday morning. And by nice I mean it was like 95 degrees with a slight breeze. Even if it doesn't get that much hotter later in the day, somehow it still is more stifling at 3 than at 11. 

We did have an interesting experience that morning, actually. We were out tracting, and a guy answered the door. We explained who we were and why we were there, and he told us that he already had a relationship with Christ. I guess he did recognize we had something though, because he kept talking with us, then asked if he could pray with us for a friend of his. He'd been having a hard time, but was focused on helping his friend and asking for blessings for them! That's a little bit of true Christian living. He mentioned in his prayer his gratitude for God sending us to him when he was sorrowful and building his faith through a sign like us. Hopefully he'll listen another day, but today we were just there to tell him that God was mindful. I can't complain, especially with all the times the same has been done for me.

After we planned on Thursday, I started to pump up one of the tires on my bike, and as I took the pump off, the tube burst right at the bottom of the valve stem. So I need a new tube. On the bright side, it's the only one I've needed in six months, which is pretty good in my opinion for a stock tube from Target. Still a great way to start the workday though ;P

After district meeting we ran by the bike shop to get a new tube for my bike and to make sure it fit. Since they didn't have a normal one of the right size with an ordinary valve, they gave me a puncture-resistant one for cheaper. Bike shop people are some of the nicest people ever, seriously. Then we met lots more people who "weren't interested" or "had a church." How many churchs are there that all ya'll can already have one? Pretty sure there are too many people too fill the churches in this area, some of them must be lying ;P

I don't know what else to write about this week. I mean, we're being scattered to the four winds.

The Book of Mormon really is written for our day. I've always heard that and seen it at times, but it's become very evident this week. There was an article in the new Ensign by Elder Bednar about Zion's camp, and how one of our potential challenges is peace and prosperity. That happens more times than I can count in the Book of Mormon. More than any other sin, I feel like the ancient prophets warned against pride. The Nephites prospered and then grew prideful, which meant the Lord could no longer bless and protect them- they were slowly led away by a flaxen cord to destruction. While many of us have our own trials that help us be humble (believe me, I know!), it's still a potential danger. Never has it been so easy to retreat from the world into our own little bubbles, where we are seemingly free of obligation. Unfortunately, the peace and prosperity experienced by the Nephites could only be achieved by actively seeking out and ministering to the less-fortunate, and continually calling upon God to protect and help them to be humble. 

On the bright side, the many worldly comforts we enjoy enable us to do work on a magnitude never seen before! A single message shared on facebook by a teenage member may reach more people in the course of several hours than we do in a week. The ancient prophets knew that the churches they helped build up would eventually fall into apostasy, but they tried their best, their very very best anyway. They knew that besides the souls they could help save then, their experiences would help us, those living in this great and last dispensation, and that knowledge gave them great joy. I know the Book of Mormon was written to help us know our Redeemer, no matter our situation, and I am grateful for this wonderful church and our modern-day prophets and apostles that invite us to come unto Christ.

Thank you for your support!
Elder Adams

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

That Is My Happiness

Hey everyone!

The temple trip was this week, on wednesday. We got stuck in traffic on the way down, so we were pretty much the last missionaries there. We were lucky we got home in time. It was still an awesome experience though. I guess it was because I was more prepared this time and had been pondering on it more. This time it was incredible and I feel like I've learned a lot and gained a lot of spiritual strength. The House of the Lord truly is a house of learning, and I love to be there.

Otherwise it's been kind of a wacky week. We had exchanges with our zone leaders on Monday, which doesn't happen very often anymore. They wanted to though, so we did. We found a few awesome people. For other missionaries. I mean, I'm always glad to help people receive the Gospel, but I do wish they were in our ward boundaries sometimes. One of them was a Latino who was busy working on something. We gave him a one of the temple cards and said that our message helps strengthen families, and he told us "We need that." He knew immediately that he wanted the blessings for his family that the Gospel can bring, so we sent his information off to the missionaries in his area. I'm glad that we did our little part, and that the missionary I was with listened to the Spirit (we don't normally bug people who are working too much.)

On Sunday we had a lesson with a real interesting part-member family in our area. The lesson itself was good, but what was really great was that the husband's mother was there, and she's been a faithful member for a long time. She's had some really cool experiences recently, too. She moved out to El Paso to take care of her ailing mother, and told the Bishop there what her talents were and that she was willing to work, at least so that she wouldn't be bored. She has a PhD in Sociology and worked as a Psychologist for a long time, which was exactly what the stake there needed and was looking for. She was an answer to prayer. Later on, after being part of the program, they wanted to find someone to help military families who struggle with having a spouse out on deployment after deployment. She was once again uniquely suited for the job, having been the wife of a soldier when she was raising her family in that very same town. All her life she'd had experiences and opportunities that prepared her to be able to help and serve in that very way, and was willing to go wherever the Lord wanted her to go. I understand a little more what it means to be a "polished shaft in the quiver of the Almighty."

I got a bunch of letters from primary kids and their teacher from my home ward! Normally I wouldn't include that in the email, but I wanted to share something someone had wrote: "I've heard about some of your converts, and I bet you're on such a spiritual high!" I thought for a second about what information gets from me to most people, that maybe it's a little bit like facebook- all just the best bits of life and not a lot of the bad. But really, on a mission, it's only the best bits that matter. Troubles and trials aren't there to be complained about, they're there to be learned from. So yes! I'm on a "spiritual high", one could say, ever growing and learning.

I also heard of an experience of some other missionaries that provoked a lot of thought. I wasn't there, but I've seen a lot of similar things. They started talking to a man outside his house, and when they mentioned that the Gospel can bring happiness, he interrupted and said, pointing at the corvette in his driveway, "THAT is my happiness." We get caught up so much in things! I say we because I am not exempt from it. I'm really glad I have the parents I have, because I learned a lot of really valuable things that have helped me focus on what's important. Having the cleanest, most well-decorated, or biggest house aren't the most important (although cleanliness and nice decor they are great!), neither is having lots of recognition for your work (but working hard is important!) nor doing what you've always thought you wanted to do (whatever thou art, act well thy part!). Life is about doing the right thing, about following Christ and having joy with our families. I know I don't have a perfect knowledge of this all yet, but hopefully in the coming week I'll be able to help the Spirit touch someone's heart so that they can know at least the little that I have felt.

Thanks for being great friends and family!

Elder Adams

Fire and Brimstone

To quote Brigham Young about some of his mission in England: (his spelling, not mine)
“It would be a difficult task to give a description of the country from Birmingham to Woverhampton. I never saw any thing that comes so near the description of the Lake of fire & Brimstone Spoken of by the Revelator John as several miles of that country for it is one universal mass of coal pits & Iron mines & while thousands of human beings are under ground at work in the midst of fire, Brimston, sulpher, Gas & cole &c. the whole face of the earth & heavens air & horizon men, women, & houses, are filled & Coverd with the composition of fire, cinders, Gas, sut [soot], & smooke of their miserry & labours that assended up out of their piles, firnesses, & pitts from day to day & from year to year.”

It feels that hot.

It's so hot.

So so hot.

We're melting. Crazy story, it's so hot that the high schools around here canceled their sports practices, indoor and outdoor. It's so hot that a lawyer was saying he was kinda nervous about running a 5k in the heat, and during it he collapsed and died. Just some highlights from the Bakersfield news. People give us lots of water, no need to worry about us.

Anyway, it's actually been an alright week for us. We had interviews with President Layton, and he told us that we should head out right after we wake up in the morning, so that we can spend time working before it's so hot. He also said it because people here know it's hot, and they also tend to be outside more in the mornings and evenings. We took his counsel, and the next day started walking at 6:50. While we were out, a part-member family we know stopped us and asked us to come by to teach them that evening! We knew the husband (who's a member) is kinda wacky and has been inactive for a long time, but we went by and his wife was actually really interested! So we found a new investigator the first time we did it! Obedience to the counsel of our leaders definitely brings blessings.

We also had a chance to teach a less-active family. We jumped through some hoops arranging things so that we could bring along a member, but it worked out really well! It turns out that the member we brought and the husband of the family grew up in the same ward! Crazy coincidence. We couldn't have known that was going to happen. We were about done, and the husband mentioned having some medical issues, and we asked if he'd had a blessing. He told us he'd just been thinking of that. We gave him a blessing and it was so great. I think it helped him a lot, even if he's not healed right away.

We had exchanges on Friday! I got to go with Elder Hayes and Elder Rindlisbacher in a car. I haven't proselyted in a car for so long... We worked hard, but had a lot of nothing happen. Oh well :/

The next day we got up and helped someone move. With five missionaries it went pretty fast. Normally we try to avoid that on Saturday, but it was extenuating circumstances for the poor people we were helping. After exchanges ended, we had a couple appointments that were supposed to happen, but didn't end up happening. Which stinks. But c'est la vie, that's the way the missionary cookie crumbles.

Sunday was ordinary. Unfortunately none of our investigators (or anyone else we were working with) came to church. It's hard some weeks! Like I get it, 9 seems early, but some of our ancestors crossed oceans and mountains and fought in wars for the privilege of being able to come to church. At least try it :P

I've been thinking a lot about prayer this week. I studied some in the bible about the history of prayer, and what effect it had. It's not very detailed, but there's still a lot to learn. Especially from Genesis. Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob are known to have inherited the Celestial Kingdom, so I feel like their attitude of talking to God is a good thing to study and possibly emulate. And it really was talking! I guess most of us don't have such clear revelations that we can record them as the ancient patriarchs did, but we still do get answers to prayers. Sometimes it takes time, and sometimes our prayers have to change a little, but bit by bit we'll gain understanding and become more like Christ by talking to our Heavenly Father in His name.

Thank you for supporting your missionaries!
Elder Adams

Baking

Now I get it. I understand why it's called Bakersfield. I'm being baked. 111 degrees for three days in a row...

Tuesday morning we got to help a part-member family lay some sod in their backyard. It went really quickly, and while waiting for another load to arrive, we got to talk to their non-member daughter a little bit about prayer and about the Savior.

We had zone conference on Wednesday! It's called zone conference still, even though there were four zones there. All the missionaries in Bakersfield came, and we got to be instructed by president and Sister Layton as a whole, and by our zone leaders in smaller groups. We talked a lot about faith and finding. I really enjoyed talking about Caleb and Joshua in the book of Numbers, giving reports on what they found in the Promised Land. It's easy to feel sometimes that we are "as grasshoppers" to the people in our areas, and that no one will listen to us. But no missionary is called to preach and never be listened to at all. If we strive to have the Spirit and follow Christ fully, as Caleb did, we too can experience miracles.

Because of the zone conference about finding, we spent a lot of time that evening with our bishop and ward mission leader, talking about how we're going to organize work with the ward from now on. We also spent a lot of time planning for it on Thursday. When we asked President about some specifics, he told us (sort of unrelated to what we asked about) to share the First Vision with members, and have them think while we share about who they know who could use these blessings. We prepared ourselves to do it at the dinner that night, and while we were there, a non-member friend of their daughter came and joined us for dinner! We went ahead and shared what we'd planned (the first vision is part of the restoration after all) and I don't think I've ever felt the Spirit that strong at a dinner in my entire life. I don't know if that girl is going to be an investigator any time soon (her parents are VERY devout Catholics), but she definitely felt the Spirit too, and won't soon forget it. Miracles happen, even if they're not by the means we expect them to.

Friday was a long day. We spent a lot of time out in the hot sun, and hardly got to talk to anyone. It's hard here at times, it seems like no one lives in many houses here- they don't answer the door at any time of day, and don't seem to like being outside. But we're working hard to give them the chance to accept the Gospel. That's all we can do.

Saturday and Sunday were a lot like Friday. Oh well. Can't have an incredible week every week!

I've been out for almost 11 months now. Weird. Time goes by fast. Even if I've only been here for a couple baptisms, I feel that my mission is starting to have the intended effect. I'm not perfect by any means, but I do love the Savior, and it's a good feeling.

Hopefully I'll have more exciting news next week. But until then, thanks for your support!
Elder Adams

Monday, June 12, 2017

Bike Nonsense


Hey friends and family!

Not a super busy week this week. But that's okay! Life is not always meant to be busy. We just had to spend more time than I'd like fixing bike problems. After 5 months biking, I finally got a flat tire. Which took much longer to fix than it should have, because there were multiple holes.

We do have an investigator who is looking pretty good. Her son is a member of the church, and she's been taught before. She was raised Catholic, but admits she was never all that into it. We've had two lessons with her since I've been here, and I've been really impressed by her feelings towards the church and the Book of Mormon. When she reads, she reads a lot of it, because she likes it a lot, and she knows that what we teach makes her feel good. She's open to being baptized, but wants to understand more first. We'll be working on that, and on helping her make it out to church and make friends there!

We also got to go on exchanges this week. I was with Elder Parsons, our district leader. Still on bike :P It wasn't too bad though, I'm fairly used to it. Well, it wasn't bad until I bumped into his wheel at the end of the day. Now mine has a nice S shape in it. We borrowed a spoke wrench from a member, and have pulled it back into a (mostly) round shape, but now the spoke tension isn't even, and I'll probably just have to buy a new wheel eventually. Darn.

I was reading John 16 this week, and was struck by the verse about "joy no man taketh from you" in relation to the Apostles learning of Christ's resurrection. It reminds me of Moroni 9:25, where Mormon tells his son to not be sorrowful forever because of the sins of his brethren. These are some of the most fallen, vile sinners, who Mormon and his son have been working with for years to convince to repent, and Mormon says there's a reason to be joyful? That reason is Christ's Atonement and Resurrection. His role as Creator, Redeemer, and Friend. His part in the Plan of Salvation and in our individual lives. His prophets, in the past and the future. We are to be joyful because He loves us, loves us enough that we can be joint-heirs with Him, and that no person besides ourselves can take that from us. I'm so grateful to know that there is a purpose in life because of my Savior. I'm honored to be able to follow Him.

Thank you for your support!
Elder Adams

Surely He Hath Borne Our Griefs


Hey everyone!

It's so weird to be in a new apartment. I'm not used to having different stuff yet, or being in a different place. Bakersfield doesn't have a grid system, how does anyone know where they live?? Also our area is really flat and dense with development, so seeing anything but city doesn't seem to happen, haha.

Olive knolls is a swell place though! It's real wealthy, but the people are pretty polite. Also the members of our church are really cool. We get fed a lot and they come out with us half the nights in a week, even if we don't have lessons set up.

We don't have a lot of investigators right now, but there are some part member families that are good potentials and lots of people who past missionaries just seem to have lost track of. It'll take a lot of prayer and work, but this place is gonna be hopping!

Not much to say about individual days this week. They're all pretty much the same, haha. That's alright though, it's good to get in a little bit of a routine so I can get a feel for how to get around. We're still on bike, after all :P

A lot of what we've been doing is working with less-active families. Several times this week I've gotten to be with and teach families who have had loved ones pass on recently. I don't have much experience with that, so I worried what I would say. But the words came, and I learned something important. I don't understand, but the Savior does. I've felt His love, and know that kind of feeling can't be from someone who doesn't understand. As the scriptures say, He truly has "borne our griefs and carried our sorrows." He knows us, and mourns with us. He rejoices with us and shares our burdens. I know that Christ lives and loves us with an undimmable love, even when we stray.

Thanks for everything!
Elder Adams

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

I turned garlic bread years old (???)

I'm headed up to Bakersfield this week! I'll be in Olive Knolls ward, with Elder LeCompte. I hear it's a great ward and he's a chill dude. Also someone please tell me why hearing olive knolls makes me think of  those garlic bread knots you can buy at Walmart? I know I'm not the only one to think that.

Other than that, Elder Watkins was sick. Don't expect too fun of an email.

On Tuesday we talked about the Sacrament with Stacey. I did a lot of pondering about the sacrament and baptism, and what they mean to me. Especially the charge to "mourn with those  that mourn and comfort those that stand in need of comfort." If Christ was willing to go through literally the hardest thing ever to be able to do so for me, I feel like I can endure some much smaller burdens in order to give some small comfort to those around me.

Wednesday and Thursday were more sick days. Being sick is so fun. It's not actually fun at all. But hey, patience. I guess we did have a pretty great lesson with Michael about the plan of Salvation. But it was a lesson to pass him to the YSA sisters. *sigh* In the words of President: "It still counts."

Friday we had district meeting and took care of some last business for Stacey's baptism. Paperwork!

Saturday Stacey got baptized! Incredible! I'm really happy about it, especially that I was able to be here for it. So many times I thought we'd have to change it, but things worked out! It was great, and I know she's on the right path. The restored  gospel truly is the way to eternal happiness.

Sunday was my birthday. Weird. No one had signed up for dinner, and while they were passing around the calendar, someone marked the day off as if it had  already happened! So we almost had no dinner. Only the relief society president knew what day it was, and she sent her son over with some pulled pork. Thank goodness for that. The YSA sisters heard about it too, and baked me a cake! Literal angels. Plus, Stacey's son, who hadn't been that interested, came to church! Hooray! So all in all, it was a good day.

It's important to try to look on the bright side when things might be starting to go bad. The Spirit will point out blessings and guide to more, but it can't if we're wallowing in misery. I'm pretty bad about that most of the time, but this week I did better and it made a difference! God can bless us more if we're grateful.

With one more year's worth of gratitude, thanks for all your support!

Elder Adams