Hi Mom! :)
I had a pretty good week! Elder Jones and I are continuing to get along really well. We've started to notice some of our differences...but we're both pretty good about being patient with each other, and we enjoy each other too :) The work is still pretty slow. I've felt like we hardly get anything accomplished because we have to bike so much, and people are never home, etc. Probably a pretty typical missionary experience, right? We still have very few people to teach...but we have found a couple! And we talked to a couple people on the street that might end up being interested! Our little ray of sunshine this week was Amelia. She was a former investigator that we decided to stop by and meet, and she was so excited to meet us and start being taught again! She's 10 years old, and she is SO cool! Her sister was baptized a few months ago but hasn't been to church since, and her mom is not interested but totally supportive. So she's planning on being baptized in a few weeks! It's totally brightened the week for us, and we're super excited to keep teaching her :) We've had a couple good visits with some less active members...and that's about it. We're just continuing to try to find people and work hard! We're both really working on being more diligent...with our apartment being a 10 minute bike ride from our area, it's easy to make excuses and stay at the apartment. But I've seen so many times, that the adversary is so good at convincing us to just be lazy and make excuses, but as soon as we put in a little faith and just start doing things, just start working, the Spirit immediately makes you happier and excited to work. It's super cool :)
To answer your questions: I am getting used to the biking. I'm pretty excited for how strong my legs are gonna be by the end of this transfer ;) It's pretty exhausting though. I'm starting to feel like a professional biker now...if nothing else good comes from this transfer, at least I've learned to ride with no hands! I feel pretty cool :) We're getting used to the area, and I've found that I'm pretty good at finding my way around with a map! I was always pretty decent, like when Dad and I would run around cities on vacations, and I've gotten to use that random talent this transfer! :) We are close to restaurants and stores, and we've been able to find rides when we have to go somewhere pretty far away. The city is pretty similar to an Orem/Provo feel. My last area was a little more rural than I was used to, so it's nice to be in a bigger city. I think the population is around 115,000? We only cover a section of it though. The people seem pretty well off....we've seen some dang cool cars :) I'm still loving our roommates and everything! It's been super good :)
Conference was so goooood!!! I had a hard time during some of the sessions, cause it's so much to take in! I feel like I need to remember everything that was said, and that there's so much for me to improve on and be better at, but I don't know how to, and I just got kinda stressed at times. There were so many good talks though! President Uchtdorf's was exactly what I needed! Just simplify the gospel, focus on what's important, and start where you are. God loves and completely accepts us and will help us improve. It was super comforting. And there were a few talks on the Atonement that were so inspiring and so amazing! And!! Elder Holland's talk on Mothers! I hope you paid dang good attention to that! I loved every word! He expressed everything I feel about you. Thank you so much for everything you've done for me! You seriously are the biggest example of Christ-like love that I can imagine! I hope you see yourself how I do, and how my siblings and Dad, and Heavenly Father, do. I love you so much!
That's so crazy that Bryn is turning 15! Dang! Good luck with the driving! I'm sure it'll go alright :) I'm glad the ward asks about me and I hope I'm setting an ok example. That's given me a lot of motivation when I'm discouraged - I try to think about how it affects my siblings and others, and that motivates me to keep going and work hard.
Thank you so much for all of the prayers! They make such a huge difference! My companion appreciates it too! It's so helpful! How Firm a Foundation has become one of my favorite hymns too over the last couple months! Those two verses....it's exactly what I need when I'm feeling lost and down. I've struggled a bit over the last few days cause I feel like I'm missing something - like, there's something that I need to be doing better but I can't exactly figure it out. I feel like there's so many things I need to do better and learn and improve on but I just don't know how or where to start or which one to focus on. But your email and everything helped a ton! It's nice to remember that I'm already doing what the Lord has asked. And we can always give more, improve more, but it made me feel like I'm doing an ok job. So thanks :)
I noticed during Conference that there were a few main trends. One was the importance of the Sabbath Day, and I think it's really interesting that the prophets are hitting so hard on that. I've never thought about that as an essential commandment (obviously one to really follow and be obedient to, but not like the Word of Wisdom or the Law of Chastity and such). But the prophets have promised that so much good will come as we are obedient to that law! The prophets tell us exactly what we need at this time in the world, and obviously we need to make sure we make the Sabbath a delight. The other main topics I noticed were faith and obedience, and they all tie in to each other so perfectly! It takes a ton of faith to be completely obedient, but it's the key to everything! The way we show the Lord that we love and accept Him, the way we repent and accept the Atonement, is to have faith in Jesus Christ and obey His commandments. I think that obedience is the application of faith. People always talk about how faith isn't just a passive belief, that it's acting. So we act by being obedient. I've definitely found that obedience on my mission is so critical. It bring the Spirit so much, and I definitely need the Spirit :) I'm sure you already knew these things, but I just thought those were some cool focus points in conference :)
Dang, well, I think this email is sufficiently long, don't you? :) Sorry for all the words! I love you so much and I really really look up to you. You're my hero. You're such a good example to me! I want to be the male version of you someday, mixed with a bit of Dad in there :) I miss you a lot! Thanks for everything you've done for me, and still do! It's done more for me than you, or even I, can understand :) Thanks for all the advice and love and motivation you always give in your emails. They always help me feel better! I'll be looking forward to writing you next week! I love you!!!!!
For those of you who are following but do not receive his group emails, below is the one he wrote this week, as well. If any of you want to be added to this email list, contact me and I will get you added.
Hi everyone!! It's been a while since my last email so I thought I'd just send out a quick one to give a few updates!
So I'm in a new area! After just one transfer (6 weeks) in my last area, I got moved. New companion and everything! It was super interesting because I've heard of a lot of missionaries spending a lot of time in their first areas, so I was expecting to stay a while in Ione and Jackson, but I got moved really quick. So I'm in the Tracy Ward now. My companion and I were both new to the area, so neither of us knew where anything was or who anyone was. Luckily, we live in an apartment with my District Leader and his companion that has been in the area for a long time, so they were able to give us a lot of help and direction. The ward is so helpful and incredible, they've taken such good care of us already! My new companion is amazing! We have a lot in common, and we get along super well. We're both a little discouraged at times because the work is going kind of slow. When we arrived, there weren't any investigators or really anything much to work off of, so our whole time has been spent trying to find someone that's interested. We haven't had a whole lot of success yet, but we have been teaching a 10-year old girl that is hoping to be baptized within the month. She's so cool, and she's given us a lot of hope and motivation.
I just want to share a couple things I got out of General Conference! I noticed a big trend about faith and obedience. I think those are the two stepping stones that guide us in living the Gospel. By having faith in and trusting Heavenly Father, we decide to be obedient because we know it will make us happy. I know that obedience takes a lot of faith, that sometimes it doesn't make sense why the Lord would ask us to do something. We can't see the eternal perspective. But He does, and He loves us enough to give us those guidelines that will make us happy. By being obedient, we qualify ourselves for the Spirit, which is one of the greatest gifts God can give us. One of my favorite scriptures that I've found on my mission is Mosiah 2:41. By keeping the commandments and being faithful, we can dwell with God in a state of never-ending happiness. And that's our whole goal! Never-ending happiness sounds pretty good to me :) I know that as we exercise faith in the Atonement of Jesus Christ and do our best to follow Him, He will bless us so much! He loves every single one of us, perfectly and completely. He wants to help us. By having faith in him and doing what He asks, we can allow Him to help.
I'll try to continue to give updates when things change around! I just hate group emails, I get all worried that I sound weird :) Thanks for everything that you all do and have done for me! It's made such a difference for me! Your support helps me more than you know! I know Jesus is our Savior and that He loves us. As we turn to Him and remember Him, He will give us strength, comfort, and help.