Monday, June 6, 2011

Week 102: the last week

This week has been very interesting. It has been a week of reflection and of joy. As I finish my service here in the Texas Dallas Mission, I cannot help but think about how much the Lord has blessed me. I have had much success both in baptisms and in spiritual growth. I thought a lot about all of the areas I served in and the reasons I was there. Some areas I had many baptisms, and in others I struggled to get 1. But I think of those times and I noticed how much I grew in different areas in different situations and for different reasons.

Serving a full time mission for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has fundamentally changed who I am.

I reflect on the words of Paul as he spoke to the Saints in Corinth: "When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things. For now we see thought a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known." (1 Corinthians 13:11-12). When I started my mission, I was more like a child. It was my first time truly being on my own; I was still childish in a lot of things, and I would make a fuss over things that didn't matter. Lately, I feel that I have become more of a man and I understand better who I am. Though I do not understand all things and see only through a dark glass now, I know that the Lord has more in store for me and for each of us.

Now I am not going to lie and say that I haven't been trunky at all, because the past day or two have been pretty bad. Especially in packing everything. But at the same time, while I am going to love to sleep in for the first time in 2 years, be able to play basketball with my little brother, go swimming, watch the Mavericks play the Heat in the NBA finals, and everything else that I have kept myself from doing while serving the Lord full-time, I know that all these things simply bring temporary pleasure, and after about 3 or 4 days, I am going to want to come back so badly. But I know that I can't. That is why the Lord calls us to serve in His church and asks us to endure to the end: so that we may feel of His love and His guidance in our lives.

I was reading Elder Bednar's talk from the October 2010 conference entitled "Receive the Holy Ghost". It was an excellent talk, and one line in particular stuck out to me. In talking about things we can do to qualify for the companionship of the Holy Ghost, Elder Bednar stated: "everything the Savior’s gospel teaches us to do and become is intended to bless us with the companionship of the Holy Ghost." I thought about how profound and true that is, especially as a missionary. All the rules and standards we have in place are to help us to have the Holy Ghost with us always. We set ourselves apart from the world to be able to preach the gospel with power and authority form God. "No man can preach the Gospel without the Holy Ghost" (History of the Church, 2:477). Similarly, I believe no man can enter into the Lord's kingdom without following the promptings of the Holy Ghost. It is the cleanser and the purifier.

Being a missionary is the best thing that has ever happened to me. Now my time is over and I know that I must move on and continue with my life (college, work, marriage, etc.) but I cannot wait until I have the chance to serve again. I love this gospel. Nothing has brought me or my family more joy.

We talk to a lot of people who think we are crazy or think we believe things that are false. I bear my witness that this church and everything we teach stands or falls on the Book of Mormon. If it is true, Jesus is the Christ and this is His church. If it isn't, then we're just another one of the thousands of Christian churches out there. But I know it's true. It is absolutely true.

I love all of you and I am excited to see you. I hope that these entries of mine have helped others to appreciate what I am doing and have helped them to understand the importance of having the restored gospel on the earth.

I know that Jesus Christ lives and is our Savior and will give us answers to our prayers and will guide us as we lean on Him. I close with how I began and with my favorite scripture:

The mission has fundamentally changed who I am.

"Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths." Proverbs 3:5-6


Elder Grondel

Monday, May 30, 2011

Week 101

Hey there y'all! It has been another great week here in Texas! This last week was really rough until Sunday night and so I will tell you mainly about that. First off, because it is Memorial Day all the libraries were closed so we are at a member's house and they only have one computer so I am going to keep it really short so my companion can have plenty of time to email his family and everyone else.

Anywho, the family of 5 didn't work out. They talked to their church and decided it would not be good to meet with us. Lame. Mike also dropped off and told us he would call us. Double lame. But things will work out.

Sunday was a good day. That night, we saw a part member family, Cami and Brian. Cami grew up in the church and went less-active when her parents divorced when she was 13. Brian is not a member and they have a super cute kid named Tucker. Brian has had interest before and has had many missionaries come by before as well, but last night we focused on the temple and the importance of an eternal marriage and the blessings as well. The Spirit was super strong and they were very open to it. They committed to praying about the temple and if they should be married in the temple. It was really good.

Other than that, not much happened. It was my birthday on Saturday, so I can legally buy alcohol and handguns now. I probably won't buy alcohol. Handguns maybe. We'll see what happens.

Anyways, I hope y'all have a great week! I love y'all and miss y'all and I'll see you soon!


Elder Grondel

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Week 100

Wow. 100 weeks of missionary service. By far the best 100 weeks of my life so far. The mission is something that changes people in ways that is indescribable. I love it and will forever cherish these times and these memories. The people of Texas have changed my life, and I will never forget that.

With that introduction, Hey there y'all!! It's been another great week here in Texas! We had a lot of ups and a few downs, but it was for sure a good week.

To start off, I might as well talk about one of the most 180 experiences of my mission. About a week and a half ago we knocked on Neressa's door. She is in her mid-20's and is married; no kids yet. She agreed to let us come back and we did so on Tuesday. We taught her the Restoration, and after sharing the First Vision, we asked her how she felt. She told us that she felt really warm and at peace and that everything made sense to her. My jaw about hit the floor and we committed her to baptism on June 18th and to read the Book of Mormon and pray about it. At the end she started asking questions about her deceased mother and what would happen to her and so we came back on Thursday and taught her the Plan of Salvation. She loved that as well and understood it completely. We followed up with her Book of Mormon reading and she said she felt the spirit and knew it was true. Everything was perfect. We met her husband that day right before we left (he had been at work before but was fine with her talking to us) and she talked to him and said they would both be at church on Sunday.
So then Sunday comes around. Neressa and Dustin (her husband) don't come to church. We try calling and texting, but no answer. About 45 minutes into the meeting, she sent us a text and told us her husband researched the church a little more and had some major disagreements with some of the doctrine. I don't know where he researched, but it likely wasn't He does not want anything to do with the church for now and she can't go against him. She said she would keep reading the Book of Mormon and praying about it, and later that day we stopped by to talk about it. He was cordial but firm in his decision. He said a lot of it had to do with the fact that he was working 2 jobs and had a lot of stress and wasn't very religious anyways (he had religion shoved down his throat as a child growing up). He needed time to talk to her about it. We left them with a copy of Gospel Principles and left it in the hands of the Lord.
The interesting part of this whole experience is that I am not as torn up about it as I thought I would be, and I realize that I have developed a wonderful gift: being able to let go and move on. Yes it was hard and of course I am still upset. But I have a testimony of the Savior's Atonement and how it helps to relieve us of burdens and to push through those hard times. Neressa was prepared. She knows it's true and I believe that she will one day join the church, whether within the next couple weeks or in several years. Either way, she knows what is true. She won't stop reading the Book of Mormon, and the Lord will provide a way. Satan is powerful, but nothing can overtake us if we have faith in the Lord (1 Corinthians 10:13).

Moving on, the family of 5 did not work out last night. The mom, Lashawn, had to go do something and wasn't home, but we should be seeing them later this week. Mike is being mike, and we are trying to teach a Catholic couple that are pretty stubborn right now. However, we had a less-active family come to church with a 14-year-old daughter who is not baptized, a member is going to be marrying a non-member who wants to take the lessons (he's been reading the Ensign, the Book of Mormon, and even Preach My Gospel!!) and a 13-year-old girl named Sarah who has been going to church for a year and has gotten permission from her mom to be baptized when she turns 14 in June. Things are definitely looking up. Even in the hard times, the Lord tries us to see if we will do all that he asks us to, and then he blesses us.

On a side note, all you Californians and Nevadans and Utahns and Arizonans know about In-N-Out. Well, this week one opened here in Allen. I've already been twice. It is SO good. I LOVE In-N-Out, and I'd never thought I'd see one in Texas. They are opening a store in Frisco, one in Richardson, and they have plans for a couple in Fort Worth. All hail the Double-Double Animal Style!

That's all for this week. I love y'all and miss y'all and hope y'all have a great week!!


Elder Grondel

Week 99

Hey there y'all! It's been another great week here in Texas! The weather has been beautiful which means we have been enjoying contacting a lot more than we have before. Usually it's been cold or we've been sweating, but the past couple days have been perfect, around 72 degrees. Sadly I know it cannot last, but I will enjoy it while I can.

This week Mike did not go on his retreat thingy to fast and pray and he said he was going to do it this week. Since I am not sure if he will do it, I will no longer predict when he will do it. I will just tell y'all when he has done it. We got to meet with him last night; he is doing ok but he has not been reading to Book of Mormon like he needs to. We left him with 3 Nephi 11 and he said he would do it. We are going to follow up on Wednesday night.

Most of the week was pretty hard. We did not get in any doors Monday-Saturday and most of our appointments punched on us. But the Lord sometimes puts us through trials to receive blessings. Last night we stopped by a family of 5 that we knocked into on Easter. They let us right in and we talked a little bit about our purpose as missionaries and their religious background. It was super good and we left them with a copy of the Book of Mormon and we will teach them the Restoration this week. It was sweet!

As always, the Lord watches over us and helps us every day, especially when we least expect it.

I love you all and hope y'all have a great week!!


Elder Grondel

Monday, May 9, 2011

Dallin H. Oaks

Week 98

Hey there y'all! It was another great week here in the wonderful state of Texas! We had a decent week and got to talk to our moms for Mother's day! It was great!
There really isn't too much exciting that has happened this week. We found a couple new people to teach yesterday so that will be really good and we will see where that goes.
Mike has gone to the country to fast and pray this week. We should see him later this week and we will see where it goes.
There really isn't too much more. Elder Sullenberger and I are getting along really well and we are doing our best to find new people to teach. This has really been a growing experience and a chance to do what we can to get to know the members of the ward and the branch much better, which will hopefully bring new people to teach.
Sorry it's short but that's about it for this week! Have a good one!
Elder Grondel

Monday, May 2, 2011

Week 97

Hey there y'all!! It's been another great week here in Texas!! This week was really good with a lot of good finding experiences amid other events.
First off, I got a new companion! His name is Elder Sullenberger (I know, it's a mouthful) and he is from Lehi, Utah (what a surprise). He has been out about 9 months and he is a really hard worker. He's a bit of a goof like I am and has had a lot of good experiences already, so I am excited to be with him.
Last week we found a young couple by the names of Deep and Lolo. Not kidding, that's their name. They are really cool, though. Deep grew up Sikh, which is basically a mix between Hinduism and Islam and Lolo grew up Jehovah's Witness, but moved in with her Catholic father when she was 14 and has basically been Catholic since. They haven't been active in religion in the past 10 years or so, but they were very open to the restoration of the Gospel and to reading the Book of Mormon. Then at the end Deep said the closing prayer! I think it may have been his first time saying a Christian prayer in his life and it was so good! We taught him way simply and he did it. It was so cool!! We will see them Wednesday and will hopefully commit them to baptism then.
Right before that, we were knocking on their street and ran into Patrick, a strong Catholic that wanted to know what we believe. We taught him the Restoration and he was very open and kind about it, but he wasn't willing to have us back. It worked out in a way, though, because somehow I forgot an extra copy of the Book of Mormon and now we have an excuse to go back and to give him a copy and maybe talk to him a little more about it! His neighbor, Mahesh, came out and talked to us a little as well and we will be hopefully seeing him later this week! Awesome week for finding.
Elder Sullenberger was in Farmersville yesterday and started teaching the granddaughter of a member who is trying to come back to church. Her name is Kailyn and she is 14 and is pretty interested in the gospel. She committed to come to church this upcoming Sunday and we should see her tomorrow.
Then the highlight of the week was seeing Elder Dallin H. Oaks this weekend! It was so cool and we had the opportunity to shake his hand and meet him! He's pretty tall. And so funny! He was cracking jokes left and right. It was great and I learned so much. It really helped to strengthen my testimony that truly there are apostles and prophets on earth today. Elder Ronald A. Rasband, Senior president of the Seventy, was also there and gave excellent remarks.
That's really all for this week! I hope y'all have a good week!
Elder Grondel