Tuesday, May 26, 2015

A Terrific Baptism and Surviving the Floods!

Memorial Day Hot Dogs and Chips
Alexis and Alfredo
Alexis and his family
Roofing service project

ALEXIS!!! is such a stud!!!  So on Tuesday, he past his interview with flying colors!  Then on Thursday, we got to meet his whole family when we taught them at his house for the first time.  They are the best!  His mom is super nice and super supportive of everything as long as her son is being a good kid.  Then he has a 15 yr old sister and a 9 yr old little brother. Then on Saturday was his baptism!  He showed up 30 minutes early too, very impressive!  His friend Alfredo, who was recently baptized about 2 or 3 months ago, baptized him.  And after his baptism, he gave his testimony about his conversion and his mom started crying!  The Spirit is the best!

After the whole thing, the mom got invited to the next relief society activity and the other kids in the ward invited all the kids to activities.  And finally, his mom, Ana, came up to us and said "Now that he is baptized in your church, I am putting you all in charge of him.  When he is at my house, he is my responsibility, when he is at the church, he is yours."  But she said it in such a loving and trusting way.  The whole baptism could not have gone any better.  We think that the rest of the family will feel the truth and be baptized in the coming month!  Faith!

Also this week, we helped Hermano Sierra redo his roof.  We helped him carry all the supplies up to the top.  BTW those packs of shingles or whatever are so heavy!  It wasn't just some walk in the park.  My back was dead for the rest of the day and the day after that haha.  I pretty much decided in that moment that I don't want to work as the pack mule for roofers. 

The next day we got to go with him to the dump and get rid of all the old roof.  I haven't been to a dump in so long!  But it was sweet because as I was pulling the roof out at like 1000 mph, one of the pieces sliced my finger and I got a giant gash across the top of it.  It bled like none other. But it was ok because I wrapped it up in the bottom of my shirt and then finished the job with just my right hand.  Plus, they got us McDonald breakfast afterwards.  #heaven.

We found out that the Sierras read a chapter each every night and they do it all together.  So they all sit down and listen to each other read until they have all read.  Super cool!  It is super cool that the are all getting really into the Book of Mormon.  So now all we have to do is help them get to the temple soon.  We will work on that this week.

Esteban and Alemari are doing super good too!  Esteban said he gets super bored at home so he just sits and reads the Book of Mormon every once in a while.  STUD!  On Sunday we went by and his mom got a little moody with us, so we might have to wait for some things to settle down before we go by again.  We still have high hopes for them.  I think that’s the secret.  If you always have a bunch of faith and high expectations, then God just kinda makes it work out.

Then with Rumalda, we taught her the restoration and out of no where she went off about her crazy past and how she came over here after a C- section so she walked through the desert for days bleeding out her stomach, and just a bunch of other stuff about her dealings here and in Mexico, and with the cartels, and then in the middle of all of this slips in that she has the gift of prophecy... Turns out that she sees things before they happen.  But yeah, she has seen/dreamed things and then it happens like two days later.  Or most of the time, she gets promptings to tell her family not to do certain stuff and then her family goes off and does it and bad consequences happen.  It was super funny when she told us because she had this "I told you so" attitude the entire time.  So now, we just need her to use her future seeing powers to see her baptism and she will be set!

So after this week, I have decided that one of my favorite chapters in the Book of Mormon is Alma 36.  We taught it to a few people this week and the spirit comes super strong in it!  It is all about Alma the younger's repentance process and the joy he feels afterwards.  It’s a great pick me up if you have a bad day or even if you just want to read in the scriptures!

We also had to give a few people “spiritual slaps in the face” this week. That's what we say in our companionship when someone needs to be called to repentance, haha.  But we always make sure to make it more of a "warning slap" before any feelings are hurt.  Sometimes, people just need to be told boldly and lovingly that what they are doing is wrong and not allowed.

We had the best baked potatoes to ever exist on this planet.  A member bought them for us and they were giant potatoes filled with cheese, sour cream, bacon, steak bits, chives, BBQ sauce, and probably some other stuff. But we all felt super full and sick afterwards, haha.

So enough of all the little things, the crazy day was definitely yesterday! We spent the whole day on bikes and let me tell you, it was a little hot.  Like 90 something degrees with a bunch of humidity and biking as fast as possible.  It’s weird because while biking it feels super nice with the breeze and stuff, but right when you stop is when it gets super hot!  And then you realize that your clothes are all soaked from sweat and your skin is just glistening.  Sometimes I have no idea why people let us in and let us sit on their super nice plush couches!  When that happens we always try to sit as far on the edge as possible and not let any of it touch their couch, haha. Plus, there were the strongest winds ever.  We would pedal super hard and be barely moving.

During the day we taught a bunch of people!  We were super blessed in that every person we tried was home and let us in.  But the real fun didn't start until about 8 that night.  After we had our traditional Memorial Day dinner of hot dogs and BBQ chips, we went over to Hermana Valdez's house.  She then took us in her car to a lesson and we left our bikes in her garage.  It hadn't rained at all that day.  By the time we got to the lesson, it was raining a decent amount for Texas (for California it would have been pouring).  So we started teaching Sami, the cousin of the Sierras.  We did it in the garage because he was waiting there for someone else to come by.  

Well about halfway through the lesson was when the heavens opened and it rained for real!  Let’s just say that if I ran from the garage to the car in the driveway, I wouldn't have any dry spot on me... And there was major lighting, the kind of lightning that sets off all the car alarms on the street... It was intense!  So we had to end the lesson quick before everything started flooding, but the Sierras needed our help with something so we sent Hermana and her small van to get home while she still could.  Then we had Hermano Sierra take us home in his big F-150 and good thing we did because we got to the point where water was up to his bumper.  

We definitely had some Divine help in getting home last night.  It’s sweet because when it rains like that the whole mission goes into emergency mode and everyone makes sure that everyone else gets home safe.  The people with trucks go and rescue the Missionaries in little cars, if needed and possible.  Most missionaries have to park their car in someone’s driveway and then walk home through all the flooding.  We got home safe and the Sierras and Hermana Valdez did too.  Then we just sat and watched the sky strobe with lightning on an average of about one flash a second!  I wouldn’t have been surprised if God was super mad and just wanted to destroy the world.  Craziest storm ever!  Everywhere was flooded at least 3 feet, with most places way more.

But the craziest part is when we get out to work the next day and there is almost no water in the streets.  Houston is amazingly good at redirecting water and within a few hours of the rain stopping all the flooding is moved through sewers and drainage to the nearby lakes, ponds, rivers, bayous... So now there is no water in the streets, but all the ponds here are super full and like 5 feet above what they normally are.  And like half the trees here blew over from all the winds.  Now all the landscaping companies are going to be super busy today!

But that's my crazy week! Hope yours was a little safer!

Love Elder Lund

Monday, May 18, 2015

I Love Seeing Miracles!

Hermana Diaz
Our White Boards Fell Down!
Check Out This Armadillo!

So over my mission I have figured out the trick to receiving/seeing miracles.  Want to know the secret?  Step 1. Every night on the way home, listen to any version of the song "Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing." Step 2.  While the song is playing, recount the day and talk about any and all blessings and miracles that were seen.  Step 3. Include the little things such as, but not limited to:  not losing any limbs, not being pulled over, people giving us water when it is really hot, seeing a really cool looking lizard, having the opportunity to make someone smile... the list goes on. And the results from all of this is that any person will see that their day is filled with hundreds of mini miracles and tender mercies of the Lord, but miracles non the less.

So I don't know if I told you about Nidia, but she is the coolest person ever! She pretty much is super prepared but also super pregnant... And by that I mean she has a 12 lb baby in her stomach.  She looks like she has an excercize ball under her shirt... pobrecita.  But we taught her the restoration on Monday and she accepted all of it perfectly. At some points I didn't think she was legit just because it went so well.  And when we asked her to be baptized she said yes but that there was just one problem. The problem is the fact that she had a C-section on Thursday and because of it, she has to stay in the hospital for like 2 weeks and then stay in bed at home for like 3 months... so that might put a damper on things. But if we are still here in 3 months, she is getting baptized!  And hopefully we will be able to visit her a lot while she is on bed rest to keep her faith up.

Then we met the coolest lady named Rumalda!  She is the mom of a member named Hermana Cuevas, she’s definitely on my all time favorites list. Our lessons consist of us teaching a point, Rumalda having a somewhat serious but not question, and then Herman Cuevas answers her and somehow leads every comment back to the fact that Rumalda needs to pray and ask because she should only be baptized for herself and not for anyone else.  Then they just start yelling (more like friendly bickering) at each other for 10 minutes.  And finally the circle comes all the way around and we teach another point.  They are the funniest but slowest lessons ever.  We spend an hour there and only teach one simple point.  So hopefully we can start seeing her every day during the week and hopefully teach one full lesson worth a week, haha.  And we just need her to start reading the Book of Mormon and coming to church and she will be solid. She didn't come to church yesterday, :( but next week for sure!! 

Alexis is still the man!  We finished teaching him all the lessons this week but the only problem was with church.  Sunday morning there was a family emergency so he had to take his brother like 45 minutes away and he couldn't make it back on time to come to church... But we are still planning to have his baptism on Saturday.  All he needs to do is get his baptismal interview on Tuesday and we need to get his mom's signature on Wednesday. But he says that she’s ok with it so it shouldn't be that hard. And Alfredo, our recent convert, is going to baptize him so that should make it extra special!

We also met some cool kids named Alemari and Estaban.  They live next to Amairani and seem super interested.  Well not at first, but they are getting there!  I'll hopefully have some cool experiences to talk about next week!

Other cool miracles:

We got a washer and dryer in our apartment so now we don't have to go to the washeteria and pay!  But it was a pain in the tracero to get it up into our 3rd floor apartment!

I did splits with the coolest guy ever!  Hermano Pinto!  He pretty much made friends right away with anyone we met and then taught all the lessons, haha.  But we finally figured it out and taught with some crazy good unity!  But he just motivated me to be like him:  Be friends with everyone right away, be super nice and motivating, have a super good knowledge of the scriptures and anything spiritual, and be manipulative in a good way, haha. Not like he gets people to do things they don't want to, but he helps each person understand and see the good and importance in things.

We got invited to two birthday parties!  One with recent converts, Dajana and Antoni and the other for Aileen Sierra.

We biked on the hottest day ever, sweated through all of our clothing, and got to talk to a bunch of cool new people.

Well I think that’s enough for one email...

Love Elder Lund

Monday, May 11, 2015

Biking and Baptisms!

Companions for life!
Mother's Day Party with Mariachi Band
Turtle catch and release
This week was super good!  We saw a lot of miracles.  It started off with me and Elder Beveridge biking.  That’s never done in our area so it was pretty crazy.  But we found ourselves without a car so we dusted off the bicycles.  And it was Pday so we left at 6 to go teach. Luckily we got a ride to our first lesson.  So we taught and biked and biked and talked until a family home evening with members at 7.  By the time we taught and ate, we got out at 8:30 and we had quite a ways to get home.  So we left from there because we thought it would take us a while to get home but we were cruising.  I mean like super speed.  Especially because we were on a lot of big roads with no shoulder.  But we ended up getting home in 35 minutes somehow which surprised everyone.  So now we know that I still have my biking legs, haha.

Also, at the Diazes, when we got there, their dogs were barking and scratching at the fence so we went to check it out. Turns out a turtle got stuck in the fence. So I heroically jumped the fence and seized it from its resting place.  But let me tell y'all that he wasn't very grateful because he tried to start swimming in the air and his inch long claws kept slicing my arms.  So I had to hold him with one hand on top and one on bottom so he couldn't reach me.  But anyways, we got him back over and in a bucket and after the lesson, me and Elder Beveridge took him to a pond near by and let him go free.  It was so cool.  And that was me and Elder Beveridge’s last bonding moment together before he got transferred.

Then we had transfers and he left, but now me and Elder Tate are training! His name is Elder Valentine.  He is from Vernal, UT and loves music and doing Parkour.  He's pretty cool!!  And he is doing super good.  His Spanish is great and he loves the work!

Other worldly events this week, we had a ward Mother’s Day party.  Parties in H4 are the best!  We had a bunch of food, a DJ, and for an hour, even a mariachi!  It was legit!  Ward parties are the best just because it is great for investigators and less actives, and we can spend a bunch of time getting to know the members in the ward.  Sometimes it’s just not the most spiritual thing we do in the week, haha.

But on the spiritual side, Alexis is a stud!  The big things we wanted with him this week was for him to get an answer that he should be baptized and to obtain his parents permission.  Well we went over and had planned to teach all about how the Spirit works and how we can know of gospel truth but that all changed within the first 5 minutes.  We asked him how his reading went, and he replied something along the lines of... "It was really good, and afterwards I was trying to pray to get an answer because I really wanted to know, and I got my answer.  God says I need to be baptized." And then we were like... "!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!" Something like that, haha ;)  But I can't remember if I said all that or just thought it.  But now he will for sure be getting baptized on May 23, and he told us that his parents are ok with him being baptized!  Now all we have to worry about is teaching him all the lessons in time, but that should be easy.  We are so blessed to be teaching him!!

Also, we have been trying to visit Amairani again, and it’s been super hard. She has changed a bunch and doesn't have any of the good feelings she used to have about being baptized.  But she now is way more spiritual and has a better personal relationship with God!  Well we finally got to have a decent talk/lesson with her and we got in!  I was super stubborn (because I know how she was before and that she was inches away from baptism) and my companions were super mellow and calm and more loving/willing to compromise.  It pretty much ended up like good cop bad cop, haha.  But she agreed to read the Book of Mormon daily to she if she should give it another chance.  And in her prayer she thanked God for our stubbornness and niceness, so I guess it worked out.  She is definitely getting baptized! And I am going to make sure it happens!  Keep her in your prayers! 

It was great to talk to both of you! Miss you!

Elder Lund

Monday, May 4, 2015

Stake Conference & New Investigators

Standard of Liberty we made with the Sierras
Sierras Baptism with all their missionaries except one
Mega plunger I made to unclog the font

Hello!  So last Sunday a recent convert, Alfredo Valdez, brought a friend to church, Alexis.  We talked to him at church and he seemed super cool so we set up a lesson with him.  When we went to teach him, we found out that he loved church, every part about it!  And we found out that he has no religious background, and is looking for a church.  So its perfect, he is 17 and we have super strong youth, plus he already knows 3 or 4 people at church.  So we taught him the restoration and it just all made sense to him: the apostasy and the restoration of the church, prophets, and authority... He is the easiest person I have ever taught.  He is super prepared to receive the gospel right now!  And since then, we taught him the Plan of Salvation, he read in the Book of Mormon, and has a date for May 23.  Plus he knows he felt the Spirit, but he said not enough to get his answer about the truth yet.  But we are still working with him.  Except he didn't come to stake conference... but that won't destroy my faith!  We have a lesson with him on Tuesday so we can see why not.  It might me because everyone stayed up late to see the big fight.  A lot of people here get way into boxing.

We also taught some more English Classes.  It’s one of my favorite things we do all week.  And this week we had more than 3 people, we had 4, haha!  We need to figure out some better advertising.  We are thinking to make posters and put them up in all the taco shops!

Update with the Marquez family:  I don’t know if I told you guys about them, but this week she randomly texted us and asked us to come over for a few minutes. That never happens with her!  So we went over and read in the Book of Mormon to help her gain a testimony of it.  But we have been realizing that she never really does anything to progress.  She never really reads on her own, or comes to church, and it is almost impossible to set lessons with her.  So we dropped by yesterday and we talked about the Atonement and how we can achieve nothing in this life unless we repent and follow all the commandments.  Well that turned into a big discussion that covered everything that she and we wanted to make known. At the end, we decided that we are pretty much dropping her.  We will go by if she asks us, but besides that we are going to leave her alone.  So this should give us more time to focus on other people.  And hopefully, when we aren't there as much, she will feel the lack of spirit and want to come back and progress!

We also found another new person.  Jesus Baez.  He is the brother of a part member family.  When we used to teach him (when I was here before), he would always just fight with us.  Well we went over on Thursday, and he has had the biggest change of heart!  We went over and he just told us all about how he wants to read the Book of Mormon and come to church and he wants us to visit him everyday... miracles!  So that’s what we did... until he went crazy...  We went by one day and he was gone and his family told us all about how he never sleeps anymore and just stays up all night either clutching the BoM to his chest or repeating one verse over and over for hours.  And now he says he has crazy visions and a bunch of other weird stuff.  So the family first sent him to another brother’s house, but last night they sent him to the hospital.  So we shall have to see what happens with him.  I think the spirit just made him so pure hearted that his old dirty self couldn't handle it and he went into shock, kinda like King Lamoni.  Hopefully he snaps out of it this week.  But the family does say that he is always calmer the day after we come and teach him, so they know what we do somehow helps. :)

Then this weekend was Stake conference.  And because they changed the presidency, Elder Halstrom from the Presidency of the Seventy and Elder Haney from the First Quorum came!  I’ve never been so close to General Authorities before.  It was so coooooool!  They talked a lot about ward and family councils, and the atonement, and how it relates to missionary work.  I wish I could have met them after, but every time I would get distracted by members/investigators and then I would miss my opportunity. But I did get a lot of notes so that should make up for it!

But now on to the stuff you really care about... Mother's Day calls!  We will be calling from the Diaz house again and doing it sometime between 2 and 5pm on Sunday.  But she has all your info so she will contact both of you and will set everything up.

PS. Transfers are happening this week and Elder Beveridge is leaving. So me and Elder Tate will have a new companion next week!

Love you!

Elder Lund