Monday, September 29, 2014

Baptism Week + pictures

 This week has been ridiculous! I've grown so much! I continue to love Galveston more and more. Though there are challenges, it is always worth it. For example, last night, we went walking and had one lesson. The whole night. It was a rough night, but the important thing is that we were kind to all that we talked to. We are continuing to strive to be more like Christ. That is our goal in life, to become more Christ-like. 
     We had exchanges this week. Elder Rockhill stayed in Galveston and worked with ZL Elder Hudson, who had to give baptismal interviews to a couple people! I went to a town called Kemah, where I worked with Elder Post. He's only been out a transfer longer than me. He was awesome! I learned a lot about how to speak up and just show energy! 
     He also encouraged me to talk to Elder Rockhill about what I needed to to let me speak up. I needed that because once again, we skipped comp inventory. But I said what needed to be said, and he thanked me, and promised to try to help me more. I love Elder Rockhill, and we are still trying to work together! 
      One really cool experience while exchanging: we talked to a guy who didn't believe in God. I, being dumb, listened a little harder than I should have, and felt the Spirit slip away. I prayed for it to return as I knew it could, and the Lord answered. The song Danny Boy as sung by Vocal Point came on in the car. By the third verse, I was choking back tears. I know that my Father in Heaven is there and loves me!
     Funny story #1 there's a little girl who is the daughter of an investigator we were teaching who was dancing in the background to What Does The Fox Say. I could barely contain the laughter. Little Hispanic girls are the cutest things! Funny story #2 On Tuesday, Hermano Idiaquez (this same investigators step dad, and our branch elder's quorum president) asked Elder Rockhill if when a pregnant woman is baptized, does the baby get baptized as well? Pretty dumb question, right? Then, this morning, we went to teach Ivonne, this investigator, and she wasn't there. We called her, and she was in la clinica; she said she was sick. Then, my all-but-intelligent comp asked her if she'd be sick all day. She said no! It all made sense... she was pregnan!!! We called to confirm, and her step dad told us she wasn't, but man did we laugh about it. 
     I got a baptism! It was the old heart attack lady :) I performed the ordinance. It was a wonderful and spiritual experience! I love this gospel, purely want to help people right now! I love you all, and with you the best,

-Elder Spjute

The first is riding home from the hospital. The second is at Johnathon's 3rd birthday party. He is a recent convert's son

First is our Zone Idol stage with 2 of 3 judges on the right. The second is a restaurant on Seawall that we get free food at because the owners are lds. From left to right is Elders Stoker, Johnson, and Rockhill.

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Monday, September 22, 2014

Another One Down

This week has been pretty great! I've found myself facing more challenges than I have in the past whilst being here. But all things will be for my experience and benefit. Time is really starting to blur together again. I fear that it isn't going to stop for the next couple years. 
     My biggest struggle comes from the language. Not that I can't learn it, or feel inferior with it, but just the block from using it fluently. Kinda a funny complaint, right? Elder Rockhill has been here for about 4 transfers, so he is really good friends with everyone. That is awesome, but that means that I don't get to talk much in a lot of lessons. There have been a few times in which I've gone home disappointed in myself for not saying anything, and frustrated at him for not letting me. Then last night, at a family's house called the Luevano's, Hermano was making fun of me because I didn't know the language well. It was really discouraging. Those nights, I write quickly in my journal, then immediately begin supplicating myself to extreme prayer. I'm in too foul of a mood to talk to Elder Rockhill on those nights, so I try to talk and listen to the Lord. That works out better. Therefore, I have a strengthened testimony of the power of prayer. I felt an intense sense of peace come over me as my thoughts are purified, and I can return to the love of the mission that I desire.
     We had a new missionaries meeting in Sugar Land, 2 hours away, on Wednesday. That was pretty cool. I was feeling good about my Spanish that day (it really isn't too bad). President Ashton gave a big discussion on the Atonement. It pretty much blew my mind. I realized that I never fully understood the Atonement before my mission. The way that the mercy of Christ fulfills the requirements of justice on account of our repentance is fascinating and incredible. I have a greater love for my Savior. 
     I went on Exchanges with the world's most quiet and awkward elder, Elder Ormsby. I learned a lot about how to lead in an area, and in discussions. He didn't even speak Spanish, so that was ALL me! We ended up with 6 lessons, and one new baptismal date from the lady with the heart attack last week. Pretty cool! 
     We're struggling to get people to church. I thought missionary work was almost all about finding new investigators. WRONG! We have SO many inactive members. They take a lot of really hard work. Like I've said before, we get about 30 people in church. Always praying for them! 
     I am still, as ever, loving the work! I bore my testimony yesterday, under recommendation, for my third time in three weeks in front of the pulpit! I really love this gospel, and it's light and influence in my life. I love all the support I receive from everyone as well. I'll see y'all soon!

-Elder Spjute

Monday, September 15, 2014

The Work Presses On

 I love it so much out here! There should be a rule against this much joy. Don't get me wrong, it is hot, there are mosquitoes like crazy, and things can be discouraging every now and then, but this is where I need to be, and that feels fantastic! We finally had some cooler days this week. That is super nice. 
     Night time stories! I generally sleep with just a sheet because I've been warm in our apartment. In fact, I haven't used a blanket since the first night in the CCM! However, we went on splits with the English elders on Wednesday, and their apartment got nice and chilly! I actually had to curl up a bit! Then, Saturday night, I woke up at around 3 a.m. because it sounded like Elder Rockhill was trying to plan stuff; I thought 'great, I missed the alarm.' Then, I realized the time and that he was still asleep. He was giving a lesson in his sleep. And it wasn't like mumbling either. I mean full voiced, out loud, fluent conversation with someone he was teaching in a dream! I giggled, rolled over, and went back to sleep a half hour later. 
     So for exchanges, Elder Johnson (English) went Spanish with Elder Rockhill, and I went English with Elder Stoker. It was way cool! We biked so much that day. It was good to be with someone else for a day to observe what that was like. We do a lot with the English elders because they only live like a quarter mile away from us. Cool guys!
     We got two baptismal dates this week! One for  a 22 year old named Ivonne. Her sister got baptized a few weeks ago. At her baptism, her son (9) said a prayer asking that Ivonne would get baptized too. So cool; he's going on a mission! Our other date was a 15 year old kid named Jordy. His cousin, Orbit (less- active) came and taught with us. The Spirit was really strong there! That was really cool as well because it means Orbit has to come to church to take Jordy!
     Other cool things: we taught D&C 4 in seminary this week! That went well. On Saturday, we went to a Fiestas Patrias, which is a hispanic cultural party thing. It was really fun. I got to know a couple investigators and ward members better. On Sunday, Elder Rockhill and I gave talks! I was so nervous! It's a good thing I had it written down, because my Spanish left me for some reason. I was told it went well, though. My subject was "Why is it Important to Be Honest?" Kinda hard! Yesterday, for the first Sunday I can remember, we did sweaty, hard work in service of a lady who was gonna be evicted if she didn't clean up her yard. We weed-whacked and mowed the lawn and destroyed this nasty shed for about 4 hours. It was really cool, and, I feel, brought me much closer to Christ!
     I love you all, and will talk to you soon! The church is true!

-Elder Spjute

This is me and my blurry companion with recent converts Alex (girl) and Johnathon. She's his aunt, and is so cool!

Monday, September 8, 2014

2nd letter

    So I love being a missionary; just thought I'd get that out of the way. It is so great here! So, I need to do a brief cover of the last two weeks!
     Houston!!! After stepping off of the airplane (which was tiny, by the way), I was hit with a huge blast of American freedom and humidity. We met the president, who is amazing, and had dinner at his house. We went on runs that first day. For this, we go with a temporary companion and proselyte as much as we can; my Spanish is really good from what I hear! I've had very much Mexican food since I've been here. That's nice :) We are decent friends with an inactive member who owns a Cici's. We get free pizza like every week! We've been talking with the waitress there, so hopefully, we'll get a call from her. 
     I LOVE teaching! I love helping people; it feels so wonderful. Last week, we were teaching a woman for the first time in a trailer park, and I probably got 15 mosquito bites just in that lesson. But in the middle of this distress, she accepted a baptismal date! So cool! I haven't had one since I've been here yet, but we have a few baptisms coming up! Also, this isn't a tracting mission, We never knock doors, we go through members or we do OYM which is open your mouth to whoever you see :) It's kinda like running. We also teach early morning seminary occasionally. So.. early... we get up at like 4:25! Gross.
     I have an assignment for anyone with time on their hands. Listen to a talk called "God Science". It will blow your mind! Also, I've told a few people, but another great talk is "His Grace is Sufficient". So good! Also, if you have the time (trust me, I know that can be hard to find) our mission president tells us to have one 15 minute prayer a day. It is an AMAZING experience; one that I would highly recommend to all! Afterwards you feel so rejuvenated and also so exhausted. It is wonderful.
     My companion is a stud. His name is Elder Rockhill. He doesn't sing much, which is kinda sad. But he tries! He's 20, and has been out for almost 14 months. He was big into football in high school. I've enjoyed learning from him. He reminds me INCREDIBLY much of Preston. Like they're the same person. It's crazy. And great :)
     I can't decide which is a bigger challenge; the sweat, or the mosquitoes. We were in Texas City on Saturday, and got bit like 40 times each in the span of like 5 minutes. We were waiting around outside a guys house, and saw this big spider on a web, so we were feeding it mosquitoes that were biting us. It was fun; I'll have to send the video of it next week. But whenever we ride bikes (3 or 4 times a week), I just sweat buckets. I love the challenges though; they build character!
    I've been driving a little bit around here. It is cool. I don't know how fond I am of our Toyota, but it is interesting. There are some cool sights. Being on the island, there are a lot of cool boats we can see from the bridge from the mainland to Galveston. We aren't allowed to go on seawall street because it is like a raised wall of earth that blocks the beaches. It is convenient! The members here are all good at feeding us! The trick is, if you tell a Hispanic woman her food is the best you've ever had, they'll want to feed you again :) I need to learn how to make some foods though!
     I bore my testimony yesterday in our Spanish Branch. It was really special! I am so happy being here. I want to give a huge thank you to all who have made my service possible. Thank you to everyone who has helped support me with donations and love. I love you all so much! This gospel is true! It is my rock and my foundation. I know that all is well because I have my home built on gospel sod. Until next week, God be with you!

-Elder Spjute

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Short letter

  I'm sorry everyone, I have like zero time to write. I have made it safely to Houston, and it is hot and humid! The teaching is so amazing! I have never felt the Spirit so strongly as with investigators! My Spanish is coming along well, don't worry! It was hard saying goodbye to my CCM (MTC) family, but I know we're all on to bigger and better things! 
     I've been sore from riding a bike for the first time in probably 3 years! The food is pretty good ;) I get to exercise every morning with my companion, Elder Rockhill. I love that guy! He's such a great missionary. I wish I had more time to write! I love you all, and know the church is true! I'll get more specific next week! Loves!

-Elder Spjute