Monday, August 30, 2010

Week 62

Hey there y'all! It's been another wonderful week here in Texas! It's been a good one and a hard one. We don't have a lot of investigators right now and even fewer are progressing. It's pretty difficult but the Lord will provide and we are moving forward.

This week we saw Lara's parents, Sarah and Gary. Gary is pretty analytical and it will likely be a while before he gets baptized, but I'm sure he will get there eventually. Sarah is into it more than Gary is but she isn't as gung-ho as Lara is. We committed her to be baptized on September 18th, but she said that is too soon, that she needs to read and study more. Lara stepped in and was perfect and said, "Pretend that you want to know that the Book of Mormon is the word of God by then and if you get that answer, then get baptized then." It was sweet and Sarah said she would at least do that. It might be a little slower with her right now, but she will definitely get baptized somewhere in the near future.

We are also teaching a man named Luis. He is Hispanic and living with a member named Tiffany. Luis is pretty solid and he comes to church, reads, prays, and keeps his commitments. The only problem is that he and Tiffany are living together but aren't married, and there is a concern that if they do get married, there will be a lot of expenses (Tiffany has a child that goes to a daycare and she is getting help right now because she's a single mom going to school). So it's either get married or stop living together or Luis can't get baptized. Sadly we've been talking to them about it for the past couple of weeks but they haven't done much, so we will have to turn them over to the ward if they don't progress soon.

We had a pretty sweet miracle last week; we found a family of five! Stacy (mom), Ladericka (18), Dericka (17), Derick (15), and Daisha (9). They are African-American and we had a really powerful lesson with them about prayer and Stacy said a prayer at the end of it! Sadly they didn't keep their return appointment, so we will try to meet with them again, but if they don't commit and won't do anything, then we will sadly have to move on

Other than that there isn't much going on. There's a promise by Elder Ballard that if we (as missionaries) each contact ten new people every day, then our baptisms will double and we will always be teaching. So basically we try to get 140 contacts each week. That's a lot of people, but Elder Mosca and I did it this week, and we are hoping to be able to do it every week while we are together so we can baptize!

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


Elder Grondel

P.S. This is one of the biggest churches I've seen here in Texas, and sadly it's not the best picture. It's kiddie corner to our meetinghouse in Plano. It's called Prestonwood Baptist Church, but we like to call it the Baptidome or Six Flags over Jesus. It comes complete with coffee shop, restaurants, shopping center, athletic complex, and of course, the worship center, capacity: 20,000. I have yet to see a modern church bigger than this.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Week 61

Hey there y'all!!! It's been another fabulous week here in Texas! And I got shipped back to FRISCO! I was really excited to hear it and I'm so happy to be back here. I've already seen a couple people that I knew from Little Elm and The Colony last year and I'm excited to see some more.

This week was pretty exciting. My new companion's name is Elder Mosca and he is a great elder. He joined the church about 2 years ago and has been out for about a year. I've served around him before and I can tell already that this is going to be a great learning experience for me. We have already had our disagreements, but it's because of me and my big head. Oh well; I just needed a slice of humble pie and we should be getting a long fine for the rest of our time together.

Saturday we had a baptism!!!! It was really cool. Lara is 16 and her best friend growing up is a member of the church. She got baptized this Saturday and there was at least 30 people there. It was a really good turn out and we were excited to see people there.

The hardest thing about this area is that everybody works. Which means tracting is totally ineffective. Thankfully Elder Mosca has been here for a while so I have a bit of time to figure out how to best spend my time, but it's very different from East Texas. I've picked up a bit of an accent; most people out here don't talk like they do in East Texas. We have found that contacting in the evening works out pretty well. We found 4 new investigators that way and we'll hopefully be able to keep doing a bunch of it so we can teach more people. I have faith that the Lord will provide, however.

I am so happy to be serving and love and miss you all!!\

Have a great week!


Elder Grondel

Monday, August 16, 2010

Week 60

Hey there y'all!! It's been another marvelous week here in East Texas! And I have some big and exciting news: I'm getting transferred! I'm not sure where I'm going but I know I'm heading back into the city. I'm really upset to be leaving Bullard because I have grown to love the people so much here, but I am really excited for the new opportunities that are presented to me. I will also be made a Zone Leader, so I'm thinking I may be going to Oak Cliff (the Ghetto). It will be sweet to find out where I'm going.

There really was nothing major that happened this week. A lot of things fell through and so we didn't really teach anyone and I'm so distracted about all the stuff I have to pack that I really can't think right now. All I know is that I'm moving on and I am excited. Stake Conference for the Tyler Stake was this weekend and President and Sister Smith spoke, so that was pretty exciting. AND we got to eat lunch with them afterwards with the Nielsen's. I'm definitely going to miss the Nielsen's too and I am glad I was able to get to know them as well as many others.

Well, that's really it. I'll let you know where I end up next week!!


Elder Grondel

Monday, August 9, 2010

Week 59

Hey there y'all!! It's been another great week here in fabulous East Texas! I have loved being here so much and realized something the other day: I have been here a long time...which means there's got to be another transfer coming up soon. This weekend I'll know if I am staying or leaving. Personally, I'd like to stay one more cycle with Elder Redmond just to make sure that I trained him right and fix any of my mistakes ;) We'll see what happens, though.

So two weeks, two baptisms!! Charles got baptized this Saturday and it was really awesome. His grandfather was going to baptize him initially but for some reason, he wasn't going to be able to make it, so Charles asked me to baptize him. It was really cool and really humbling, but I was honored and it was an incredible experience. The real bummer is that he couldn't get to church Sunday! His car broke down and by the time he called us church had already started. So he was not able to be confirmed this weekend, and the Bishop wants to confirm him in Sacrament meeting, so we'll have to wait two weeks because next week is Stake Conference. It stinks, but such is life. The Adversary is always on the move.

The downside of success here is that suddenly you don't have people to teach. Usually you're able to find some people that are pretty solid, but the last two weeks have been crazy with the baptisms (it's a problem that I like, however). We had to drop Tisha because she's really not going anywhere at all and Carlton is not ready at this point. We are going to try to see Carlton about once a week, however, because he has a lot of potential; he's just had a hard life. We found out recently too that he's had 4 major strokes, so his brain isn't what it used to be. So we are backing off on him and focusing on others.

We did find some new people, however. One of the Assistants, Elder Smith (there's about 3 Elders with the last name of Smith out here, and then of course we have President Smith. And don't forget Joseph Smith! There's a lot of Smith's out there) came out with us on Friday and we had a really good time and learned a lot and are going to try to rededicate our efforts. While we were with him, we met a guy named Espirio. He's pretty humble and is willing to learn, so we will see how it goes. On Saturday, we found a woman named Maribel and she is Pentecostal but believes the Bible is more important than any denomination; she simply attends a pentecostal church. She has a lot of questions but told us she is always willing to learn the word of God, so it could turn into something good. Then we found another family right after that, Antonio and Adela. They are a young couple with a 1-year-old daughter and they moved to Jacksonville recently and haven't been going to church since they have moved. We talked a lot about why there are so many churches and how we can know what is right and what is false and how we can know the way to God. We taught the Restoration briefly and they were really open to it and the idea of prophets on the earth again. We talked about the Plan of Salvation briefly and they were really excited to learn about that as well. It could be really good!!!

Everyone else is doing pretty good, although no one came to church this week!! We were pretty disappointed, so we are hoping that it was nothing major. We'll find out later this week.

I hope y'all have a great week!


Elder Grondel

Monday, August 2, 2010

Week 58

Hey there y'all! It's been another great week here in East Texas! We are now in AUGUST (crazy, huh?) and it is about to get HOT. I think all this next week it's supposed to be triple digits (I know in Vegas you've had that since May, but at least it's dry there) and so we are going to be sweaty. But such is the life of a Texas missionary in August. You sweat, knock, teach sweat, baptize and sweat some more. As you may have guessed, I get sweaty. But I love it here, so I deal with it. Besides, it builds character ;)

This last week did not go as well as we would have liked as far as new people to teach goes. We didn't put the time needed into finding and we are going to do a lot more this week in hopes to find new people to teach. While we didn't find a lot of people, we did have a baptism! Sevren was baptized by his father and it was a great service as well as confirmation. We are happy to see success here and the Ward council is as well. We have a date with Charles Shaw this weekend and he came to church Sunday so he is ready for that. I keep seeing this pattern in my mission over and over again: work hard and the Lord will provide. It's happened before and it is happening now.

We have had a couple miracles over this last week. The first is a woman named Terra. We had to get our oil changed in Tyler on Tuesday and the wait was about 3 hours. 0_0 We had to get it done, though, so we went with Elder Lewis and Elder Olvera on a mini-exchange while that happened, so by the time we got back to our area, it was about 4:45. We had about 30 minutes before dinner and so we went and tracted a street we had planned on earlier and it turned out to have only 6 or7 houses on it. We figured we'd give it a whirl anyways and knocked on her door. She is probably in her mid- to late-twenties and just went through a divorce. She has two little girls and we talked a lot about family and how it's hard to raise a family in today's world because of degrading moral values and in broken homes, much like hers is. We are focusing a lot on the Restoration and modern prophets and we will be giving her a copy of A Proclamation to the World: the Family to read this week. She is really open to all of it and we will be teaching her more on Tuesday.

The other is Stacy and David. We found Stacy and David last Saturday right before dinner and they let us in and we gave them a brief rundown of the Restoration and a copy of the Book of Mormon. We listened with the Spirit and were bold and asked questions that were definitely inspired. It was really good, even though it was short, and set up another appointment right before Sevren's baptism on Thursday. When we returned, we answered questions and talked mainly about the Book of Mormon. David is really open to the whole thing. We asked him what he thought of the First Vision and he said he believed crazier things in the Bible, so why not? (That was cool) Stacy on the other hand is a little bit more skeptical. We asked her the right questions, however, and waited and listened to where we were able to draw out a bit more of her concerns and resolve them. It was a really powerful lesson with a promise to read and pray about the Book of Mormon. We will see them again tomorrow.

Other than that there hasn't been anything crazy or exciting, besides the fact that I saw a LIVE armadillo! In 14 months of being here, all the armadillos I've seen have been victims of roadkill, either in or on the side of the road, and we finally saw one alive! They are crazy little buggers; they move fast, too. It was pretty cool.

I hope y'all have great week!


Elder Grondel

Week 57

Hey y'all! It's been another great (and fast) week here in beautiful East Texas!! This last week was pretty good with some sweet experiences, which always makes the time go faster.

So first off I was in Longview for three days. For anyone that is wondering where Longview is, it's about an hour east of Tyler. I went there for a leadership training meeting that involved all district leaders, zone leaders, and trainers Out East. It was really cool. Basically what happened was (and I forgot to tell y'all 2 weeks ago) the Brethren came out with new curriculum that is to be taught in the MTC and in the mission field. Back in the day (but not too far back) missionaries would give memorized discussions--they would say the same thing for different people. A few years ago they came out with Preach My Gospel, which is the basic handbook for missionary service. It also contains all the doctrine for the lessons, and is meant to be more guided by the Spirit because the missionaries would present it in their own words. It is an amazing and truly inspired program; the problem is many missionaries (including myself at times) fall into a routine of giving a rote lesson; basically saying the same things every time. It is in our own words, but it's not exactly guided by the Spirit. So we are going back to the basics, and teaching a very simplified curriculum. So basically for three days 6 hours a day I was sitting in the chapel with 15 other missionaries being taught by the Spirit like I never have before. It was incredible and broadened my view and vision. It has only been a few days but I have felt the Spirit stronger in the lessons we have taught the past couple days. We ask more questions and listen more, finding out their concerns and their interests. It was amazing. I'd go into more detail but I'm running short on time.

Sevren is getting baptized this week!! He had his interview yesterday and I am so excited for him!!! His dad is going to baptize him and it will be really sweet to see it happen. The Lord has been good to us!

Charles is doing good and not so good. He has read a lot of the Book of Mormon and is praying and wants to be baptized; he simply won't come to church. His car doesn't have insurance so he has to get a ride, but his grandfather lives down the street and would be more than happy to give him a ride. I'm not sure what's holding him back, but we are meeting with him tomorrow night and we will find out a little more. It's no longer a matter of if he'll get baptized; it's just a matter of when.

We had a sweet lesson with Carlton. We went over last night and we were planning on teaching him the Plan of Salvation again to review with him what he has been taught. We got about halfway through it and just started following the Spirit big time. It went a different direction but it was really good and a lot more spiritual. I am excited for him. He is understanding more and the Spirit is working on him. There have been huge changes in him.

One more miracle! We were tracting on Saturday afternoon and it was HOT. We did some service that morning and we were supposed to have appointments at 3 and 4, but they both punched on us. So we were tracting from 2-5. For 2 hours and 50 minutes, we really didn't have any success other than a couple potentials. At 4:50, we were knocking on the last door before we went home to eat dinner and a woman named Stacy opened the door. Listening to the Spirit (thank you Heavenly Father) I asked her if she believed there could be a prophet on the earth today, to which she replied yes. We asked her if we could come in, and she went and woke up her husband and let us in! He husband's name is David; they are 30 and have a 6-year-old girl. They are really nice and in 10 minutes we gave a basic overview of the Restoration. We asked them what they thought about Joseph Smith and the First Vision, and David believed it was altogether possible, considering that there's crazier things in the Bible. Stacy was a little more skeptical, but said it might be true. We left a Book of Mormon with a promise to read it and we are planning to see them this Thursday right before Sevren's baptism. Another cool thing! David already has a Book of Mormon. He had a really good friend in high school that gave him a copy and he intended to read it, but never got there. Coincidence? I think not! Needless to say we are excited.

Well, that's all for this week. I love y'all and miss y'all. Have a great week!!

Elder Grondel