Tuesday, June 7, 2016

We Had a Baby!

 So, I'd love to say we're training a new missionary, but he's only a mini-missionary. His name is Hugo Campos, and he's staying in our apartment and accompanying Elder Grimes and I for the week :) He's super cool! Totally going on a full time mission later. He's 18, from Chapas Mexico, and lives in Port La Vaca, Texas. That's the second picture.
     The first picture is awesome. Yesterday, about half way through the testimony portion of Sacrament meeting, someone opened the door, and I was coincidentally sitting on the back row. I look over, and it's FAVIO and MILTON! Flippin' awesome! They came to visit me :D So the picture left to right is Milton, Marcos (One of my Kemah investigators), me, Favio, and Hna McMullin. Hna McMullin served in Kemah with me for two transfers, and was there for five in total. She was also stoked to see them. They came to class for an hour and took off. I love those guys so much!
     So much rain... we've been trapped inside several times the past week due to constant rain. We got to take young Hugo on a pretty rainy bike ride yesterday; it went well! He's a trooper.
     So, bad news, there was no Physical Therapy on Friday due to who knows what. Also, I might have thrown my back out that very day doing, once again, who knows what. It hurts so much worse, and it's in a different part of the back, so I can't really do the exercises or stretches that were assigned. Not stoked.
     As I've mentioned, Satan is putting up a lot of walls this transfer. I have had to reach pretty deep down into myself and receive a lot of help from upstairs to push forward with faith, hobble back onto my bike, and keep working. But I sleep with a clear conscience.
     We've been working with Julian, the Argentine whose records got lost, a lot. He's homeless, so a lot of our lessons have been over the phone, which is actually pretty cool. He has a baptismal date for Tuesday the 21st. Pray for him, please!
     So, I love so many people here in the ward! We went to visit the family Olaya, and Hno wasn't there, so we couldn't go in. Hna decided to be amazing anyway, and took us to some of her friends' apartments in the complex, and we taught them with her. I love her so much! As well, the Suarez have been more than pulling their weight on the helping out the missionaries scale. Hna made the best flautas (taquitos) that I'd ever had yesterday. Then, because the elders didn't leave us enough gas in the car, they agreed to drive us to Sugar Land to pick up Hugo! I love them! Arturo spent hours with us this week, and has dedicated SO much to his calling as ward mission leader. He organized Thursday visits in which we would go on exchanges with the members. It was a smashing and recurring success. I love that guy!
     Over all, this ward has won so much of my love! And this district, and this mission, and the Savior. I'm here because of Him. I'm trying to be like Him, and trying to help others come unto Him. I know this church is true, and we all play a big part in it! Member support in missionary work is so important! Member work is missionary work! Stay firm in the faith! To quote President Monson, "May we ever choose the harder right instead of the easier wrong." I love you all!

-Elder Spjute

Monday, June 6, 2016

The Sprint Begins

 The first week of the new transfer was really good! Elder Newby, the new guy in the apartment, plays basketball, so makes a good addition :) We're trying to break his seriousness, and we're having fun. I've gotten pretty tight with my companion. We've discovered that we both love Strongbad emails, and have been quoting that a lot! Our unity has to be up because we've got huge goals that we need to achieve! We set a goal for 3 baptisms this transfer, which will be quite the challenge.
     So, long week! A lot has happened! On Tuesday (the day before transfers), the four of us elders and the three hermanas went to our ward mission leader Arturo's apartment for dinner. He and Rafael, his ward missionary room mate bore super strong testimonies, and it was such a melancholy feeling that Elder Seal, one of my best mission friends was leaving. He walked out in tears after hugging them goodbye. Man, saying goodbye the next day was tough for me too. I'll miss him a lot.
     Our weekly planning session on Thursday was really great! We felt the Spirit really strongly, and set super high, but achievable goals.
     Physical Therapy for my back is going well. I'm finally progressing. We found a work out that seems to work pretty well :) I touched my toes after doing it a couple times, for the first time in months!
     Never mind being soaked daily by sweat, we tried to bike on Friday afternoon, which was a bad idea. It was pouring rain, and we got absolutely bathed. Shows how important it is to get members out with us. We could have gotten a much more successful ride!
     On Saturday, we had two HUGE lunches and one big early dinner, and were dying by the end of the day! Fortunately we've developed a plan to work out. If we don't contact 10 new people every day, we have to multiply the number less than 10 by 10 push ups and 10 ab rolls. It's intense!
     Ward Council on Sunday was quite the hiccup. We have been begging for a long time for more visits to be made by ward members for home teaching, visiting teaching, etc. It just doesn't happen. So durring the meeting, our ward mission leader just blew up. He went off on everyone's pride, which needed to happen. But he got shut down by the other leaders with even more pride. It was the saddest thing ever. He left crying. It was all we could do to try to help them see that we really do need more visits. So disappointed in this ward right now. The bishop got there with 5 minutes left in the meeting. Kind of annoying. We're working on humility and patience haha.
     Don't get me wrong, it's tough, but I still love it here, and wouldn't trade it for anything. I love you all, and appreciate your support. Happy Memorial Day!

-Elder Spjute

My old district. :) Love them!

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Trunky Papers

 Well, it's official; last transfer is here! I got my letter from President telling me to sprint to the end yesterday. It's something every missionary somewhat dreads. I had to send in a bunch of info for my flight preparations which are in the making. Yes, it's nuts.
     But I'm going to work so hard this last transfer! I'm gonna come home so tired! I had a nice long chat with President Hall on Wednesday. It was sorely needed. He came to our district meeting, which was a little stressful for me, but good. He taught a lot of stuff, and I was getting fairly overwhelmed by the end. I have a really bad problem sometimes of comparing myself to others. He pulled me into another room to talk about stuff for a while, and I brought that up. I lost it, and cried. It's such a trap to compare myself to others. He handled it super well, and I feel so much better about him. He is so loving. He apologized if he had ever come off as too busy to care or unloving. I was highly impressed. We established that I need to focus more on working hard this last transfer. As such, I am no longer District Leader. That should be a decent little relief. I'll be staying here in H2 with Elder Grimes. Elder Seal is leaving, and I'm super sad about that. I'll miss him so much.
     It was over all, a good week! As you can see from the second picture of my planner, we met our goals last night! Once again, that is really rare to get all of our goals for the day; it's only happened three times on my mission, I think. Granted, they weren't super high goals, but I'm still sufficiently impressed.
     Yesterday, our ward mission leader got super mad at the bishop because he didn't make an announcement about members going out with the missionaries that he had asked him to make a couple times. He went home after Sacrament meeting, and was ready to up and quit. He sent a text to Hna Olaya saying he was just fed up; that the ward doesn't put enough emphasis on the work; that it's not worth the missionaries' sacrifice; that it is too much for him as ward mission leader. The man's got a point! Every member a missionary needs to work its way deeper into our ward members' hearts. Pretty sad. We went over and let him make us dinner later, which made him happy :)
     Physical Therapy is hopefully working! There wasn't much change this week, but I'm still doing exercises to strengthen the muscles in my back so they hold everything in place like they're supposed to. It's pretty annoying, but a test of patience I probably needed.
     I'm still learning so much, and I love it! I hope I never stop learning! There's a part of my patriarchal blessing that mentions an unshakable testimony, and I definitely feel that working itself into a reality within me! I love it. I love you all, and thank you for your support and prayers. Until next Tuesday,

-Elder Spjute

Temple Tuesday!

So today was my last quarterly trip to the temple! I'll go through one more time for my final trip, but that's it! I love the temple so much, and have grown to love the Houston temple even more :) It's such a beautiful temple! I have so many good memories there!
     So bad news, sports fans, I'm standing up, and typing is super uncomfortable. I'll type as much as I can bear. So hang in there.
     It was a great week! We got contacted by TWO different teenage guys. They both stopped us on different days, and asked us questions. One of them named Jose was going to get baptized when he was living in Laredo Mexico some months ago. He seems super interested :) He might be gay. Pray he can resist temptation! He has a baptismal date for the 11th of June. The other guy, Zachary, is Tex-Mex, so doesn't speak Spanish. He's cool though, so we'll turn him over to the English Elders. The Lord has been blessing us lately with more people to teach! Our finding efforts aren't helping a ton, but we're still finding! :D
     One of our friends, Vanessa Villatoro, has a friend she goes to school with named Jackie who also has told us she would get baptized if she got her answer. Super great :D
     We taught this less active guy yesterday that I'd known about for quite some time. He only has Mondays off, so it's a little tough for us. It turns out that he's a total stud! He's been in the states for only 5 months, and he came to church for the first 2 or 3. He was Elders' quorum president in Guerrero Mexico! His testimony is rock solid! His conversion story is super incredible, and man, you could feel the spirit in his place. He's been detained by work, so can't come to church for right now. But he's gonna ask for Sunday off. His name is Angel, and he's 25. Super cool guy! It blows my mind how many Hispanics are so in tune with the Spirit! He's had visions, and warning feelings that all turn out to be right. And he's NOT the first Hispanic that has happened to. I have several companions who have similar stuff. Kind of a cool cultural fact!
     I finished Alma in my Libro de Mormon, and am well on my way to finishing it in Spanish for the second time before I go home. I love it so much! I love Spanish, and I love the Book of Mormon!
     On Saturday, we got stuck in the chapel after another one of the hermanas' baptisms due to the rain. It rained SO HARD! We were in the chapel from 2:00 to about 6:30. Then on Sunday as well, we were stuck in the apartment for a little while. We were still studying, though, so it was good. Crazy Texas weather. It's about to get really, really hot.
     We got to teach Gospel Principles because the teachers' apartment flooded again for the second time in a month. Poor folks. I absolutely loved it, though! I love that situation; especially because my Spanish is a little over par, if I do say so myself. It was all about the Spirit world, so I thoroughly enjoyed it. That's about all that's fit to print for the week.
     I want everyone to know that I love being a missionary. Marc was on the phone with me last night and he told me he believed I liked being a missionary, but didn't know if I loved it for sure. I need you all to know that I wouldn't trade this time right now for anything! I love it so much; I love the people, even with all their flaws; I love Texas, even with all its humidity; I love the Spirit, even when I feel so little of it; I strive for the Spirit. I strive to help others because I love it! I love you all, and once more am so grateful for your contribution to my mission!

-Elder Spjute

Monday, May 9, 2016

Mother's Day email

  Well, seeing as I just talked with my family, they are mostly aware of what's interesting right now.
     Suffice it to say it was a slow week. We are struggling to find investigators, and work is rough. It's getting hot, and my companion got super sunburnt on Saturday. He was so white, and is now so pink!
     We both got really sick/ alergic. It was bad. We took 3 or so hour naps on two different days. It was not very fun. But the naps helped a ton, and we're both getting back to normal.
     So the pictures. One is Elder Seal and Grimes who both had to eat the flower part (bud?) of the rose after losing a bet. Pretty bad tasting, I guess.
     I gave a family of 6 baptismal interviews on Saturday, which was really cool. They'll be a strong family.
     All good here in Houston. I love you all. I especially love my mama. She is the best, and has been through so much! I am so happy that I got to talk with her. Also, I'm happy to have met so many wonderful mothers here on the mission. I know each of them was specifically called by our Heavenly Father to fulfil this purpose, and they do it! Happy late Mothers' Day!

-Elder Spjute

Monday, May 2, 2016

Back into the Groove

Well, flood service is pretty much over. We didn't even get to do any this week. It was all done. We had to become proselyting missionaries again haha. I love it; I really do.
     There were some fun parts of this week! Last monday, we met a vigilante called Crazy Mike. He was a pretty cool guy. Thinks he's a much bigger deal than he is, but it was fun :) He had us make a video introducing ourselves for his twitter page. Real good guy.
     District Meeting on Tuesday was totally a spiritual high. It was one of the better one's I've had. In my second or third month in the mission field, President Ashton had the zone leaders give a training based on Leviticus 1 and how our Sacrament sacrifices are similar to those of ancient times. I tried to reproduce it, and it was actually really cool! The district seemed to eat it up, which is great because I'm the only one that was here for that! They were all too young, and weren't missionaries yet. It's important because we all prepare for the Sacrament every Saturday, as it should be. It just gave it more purpose.
     The rest of the meeting was spent discussing how to make our Personal and Companionship studies better. There was a lot of revelation from this meeting!
     Later that day, we ate at a grocery store called La Michoacana with Efigenia. I had this tortilla loaded with stuff that's called a huarache. It had chicharron as the meat. Super good! I've developed a fondness for chicharron. It's pretty much cooked pig's skin/fat. Yes.
     I had my last quarterly interview with President. It was pretty good! We had it in his house! That was the first time I'd been there since my very first day in the mission field. He messed up his back, called an audible, and we met up there. It went well. He talked to me about having hope for my mission. Something I needed to work more on. It's been a little difficult in a fairly dry area. BIG lesson learned is that you cannot compare yourself to others! It's a trap!
     We sang our song as a district again for a baptism from the sisters' area. Super cool; it went much better this week than it did last Sunday. I love music!
     I went on an exchange to a Burmese area. It was the first one I've ever been on where I flat out understood nothing of the other language! So crazy! I was with my zone leader, Elder Ames. It was pretty interesting. They are in a four person companionship, so they usually just split one zone leader with a junior comp. Kinda crazy.
     I crashed my bike for what I hope was the last time on Saturday! My pinky got pretty cut up and is fairly bruised now. Also pretty funny. I was swerving to miss a bus station, and didn't see the big, rock trash can that took me out completely. All fine, just laughs.
     Things are great here! I love this area, and will dearly miss the people here. I'm stoked for Mothers' Day when I'll be able to talk with my Mom face to face one last time before the airport! In advance, Happy Mothers' Day, Mom! I love you all, and wish you a great week!

-Elder Spjute

This was a bus someone had that they cut to look like this awesome truck. Pretty cool.

This is Elder Grimes. He's my companion.

Monday, April 25, 2016

Holy Service, Bat Man...again

So we served 25 hours each in the district this week. That is incredible! Our other numbers were way down, but the Lord is still blessing us a lot. The Hnas have 3 baptisms scheduled this week! Two of them are little kids I interviewed who were waiting forever for their mom's signature and permission. Woohoo! :D
     So service thus far has consisted of many hours in one guy's house and a few hours in oth
ers. The guy's name is Tony. He's a house flipper, and had just gotten the house pretty much done after the last flood. There were so many people with that same thing that were just finnishing up after last May. Pretty sad.
     At Tony's house, we cut the sheet rock, remove it up to like 2 feet, take off the door frames, remove the insulation, and all other sorts of fun stuff. We've also worked with carpet in other houses a decent amount. Quite heavy work. I was on a news station after doing some service. They interviewed me for a minute it was ABC13 I think.
     So. What a day. For starters, I think I threw out my back a couple weeks ago helping Cleofas move. It has been a pain durring service. So we decided to go to the chiropractor. Strap in.
     I got adjusted, and they throw in a massage with what feels like eucalyptus oil. We get in the car to go home still tingley with the oil. About a quarter of the way home, it starts burning pretty bad. Like more tingles than there should be. Pretty soon, it's really bad. If I don't touch it, it burns badly, so I have to keep adjusting my shirt, and I'm driving. We get to a third of the way home, and I'm starting to get light headed a little, and decide to pull off. The nearest exit of the freeway was in like 2 miles, and traffic was horrible. This was honestly, the worse pain I've ever been in as I'm all but yelling in the car!
     Finally, we pull of to a gas station, where I tried to splash it off in the gas station. I just put my proselyting shirt on, no tie, and walked out to the car with my companion. I told him, "no questions asked, you're driving, and I need a blessing before we go." It was still stinging pretty intensely. We went behind a dumpster and he gave me a quick blessing, and we rushed home. Holy cow! That was so ridiculously painful. The worst is that my back is still really sore; possibly worse than what it was before. I'm hoping it's just my muscles adjusting to the adjustment.
     As I showered, and got out, we heard a knock at the door. It was about 7:30. Much, MUCH to my surprise, it was my cousin Sherri! She gave us some of the best food I've had on the mission, gave me a huge hug, and left within a minute! It was pretty funny. I let President know, and he laughed as well.
     On Sunday, the missionaries were in charge of Sacrament meeting, and some gave talks (I still have not haha). We did the same musical number that we sang for the conference when Elder Nelson came here, only it was just the elders in the ward singing, Hna Hofheins on violin (she is incredible!), and Hna McMullin on piano. They had me translate the lyrics to Spanish, and I think it went pretty well :)
     That's about all the interesting going on here for right now. I love you all so much, and thank you for your prayers. Have a wonderful week!

-Elder Spjute

Three different houses that had their sheet rock and insulation piled on the sidewalk.

Tell me this doesn't look exactly like Stephen!

This was in a guy named Tony's house.So much demolition work!

The puzzle we put together having been trapped inside last P-day.