Monday, March 26, 2012

It's not Supposed to be Easy

I DID IT I FINALLY GOT MY VISA CLEARED!!!!!!!!! WHOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO I head out April 3rd!!!! Nah, JUST KIDDING!!  But man, it's a really good thing that every week gets better in my mission or I would be really bummed that I didn't get to see any of that (New Zealand). In all seriousness, this has been the best week of my mission. I don’t know if I say this every time, but it really has!

Saint Bosco…shucks! (That is the volleyball team Highland lost to at their tournament in California this past weekend)  That had to be pretty disheartening!! I still bet it was super awesome and I really hope that Collin wasn't too bummed about 5th place. It still blows my mind how good they are. Hey is Bryce still on the team what happened there???

HAHAHA Disneyland is just way too stressful to be this so called "Happiest Place on Earth", but yes I do remember going that day with Trevor... what a punk. That does sound like typical Ava. Good job dad on well... just good job. Oh and that saying is really funny! (Be an instrument not a tool.)  It's just too bad that there are a lot of tools in and out of the mission field... I actually have a story on that later. Sorry again for the Visa joke I really appreciate that you guys are fasting for that. Oh, and yes mom, I got the package. My life is complete now... except Elder Bills has thee worst taste in music. He doesn't even like Alex Boye, but that is the worst I will say about him because I know that God had a reason or reasons for putting me with him... no doubt!

So, yes the work is still SLOW numbers wise. We have been following Elder Evans counsel and have been working through our members. We received 15 member referrals this week which according to his math…1 in 5 equals 3 baptisms. So yeah, we haven't seen a whole lot of results from our efforts, but I know they’re coming. Anyways though, Thursday we just had a BAD day. Our appointments fell through, we have very few if any progressing investigators, and we had to do weekly planning. I was struggling but I still had a pretty good attitude, but Elder Bills was just frustrated and angry and well just whining. So at the end of weekly planning, I asked him for companionship inventory and if there is anything I could do to help him. He said no and just slumped in his chair and well I just rebuked him (not in a mean way, but in a not as loving as I should have been way) and said you need to have a better attitude… you’re killing me!! He just said, “I’m fine"... Then this is when I slowed down and just asked him what was wrong (in a loving way, don’t worry).  I basically told him that we don’t come on missions for it to always be easy and baptize everyone we talk to. I used dad’s mountains and humility analogy and said that it’s going to happen and that if he is being obedient and working his hardest than there is nothing you should ever be mad about. So, whadya say we go out and tract like we used to for a good 10 minutes before we go visit the Neidholts. That day got a ton better after that!

Friday night though, sheesh, we went on exchanges with some other elders.  I was with an elder who, lets just say can be difficult to work with.... Well, Friday we had district meeting finish at 2:30pm. We got back to the house at 3 so I could drop off my things. From 3 to 4 he sat in the bathroom. When he got out I asked him if he wanted me to call anyone or if we had any plans. He said no and then ate 3 packs of Ramen. So, I took the Ammon approach and just tried to love him and win the heart of the person.  I just talked to him and, boy o boy, he just talked about how much he wants to go home and how obedience is pointless and way inappropriate stuff. I WAS ANGRY... so anyways we sat there till 5 and then we got a ride to our dinner appt.  Our dinner, by the way, was all green. We had corn beef and cabbage, green corn bread, green jello, and green lime ice cubes with sprite. But anyways, the family had me say both the prayers while we there and give the message. It was quite the experience! Elder Bills was not happy about it either, soo yeah, we are going to be working some things out with him.  I promise though that I just loved him and encouraged as best as I could. So that is my story about not even missionaries are instruments all the time some of them are just big tools.

Last story! Last night we went out on a team up with a youth leader in our ward and we worked with him for awhile. When we got back in his car around 7:30pm, he started telling us about his son and how he is falling away from the church. He is really concerned about him and his ex-wife is just pulling his son farther away... ohh and his son is 15. He was really upset and I just didn't know what to say to him except maybe we can come talk to him. So we went to his house and we just sat down and talked with him. While I sat down I caught a glance of something on the computer screen between all these icons… STARCRAFT 2!!!!! So, long story short, we didn't go in and rebuke him and tell him to go to church and repent but I won his heart! We talked about that stupid game and we became fast friends as we debated over whether the Zerg or the Protoss were better. He confounded me... Anyways though, I really know that I can help make a difference in that kid’s life and if I can just be a part of the reason that gets him out on his mission, then well, I don’t think I could be much happier!

I love you guys soooo much and think about you everyday. It’s sometimes like Adventure Time when Jake the dog can’t focus on anything and he microwaves an ice cream cone... Collin knows what I’m talking about. :) Have a good week. General Conference is going to be sweet!!!


Elder Ward

p.s. My theory is that when I finally get to leave for New Zealand, the night before I will stay the night in the mission home. and the first presidency might be staying the night there too before the Kansas City temple dedication or the cultural celebration (early May), and I will get to eat a box of frosted flakes with the prophet... just wishful thinking but man that would be cool!

Monday, March 19, 2012

The Greatest Superhero of all Time

Whoops! I think I offended dad last week... cuz I didn't get an email from him. Before I forget, no mom, the chest pains are gone. Don’t worry about the exercise either, it absolutely does not take me off focus in fact it just helps Elder Bills and I, plus the zone leaders stay SUPER FOCUSED all day. In fact, yesterday I actually woke up at 6:30 for church instead of our usual 5:30 and I absolutely crashed on the way to church at the YSA ward that’s like a 15 minute drive away. So, we are trying to pull some strings to change the white handbook for all missions around the world to have a 5:30 to 7:00am crazy nutso workout. It has really has improved my studies because I have more energy in the morning and I'm learning SOOO much everyday! And, hey, I can finally straighten my arms out! It did not make for good volleyball last week though. Oh, and as far as the extra weight goes I think a lot of it is probably water (I drink a ton) I went pee 15 times one day last week. My pants fit fine and I weighed myself on 3 different scales the most recent was an electronic one that said 154… Oh, there we go, I just saw dad’s letter.

Monday: We had a super awesome black guy from the YSA ward buy Elder Bills and I Costa Vida. He was such a good missionary because he was bold in a super loving way.

Tuesday: Elder Evans from the First Quorum of the Seventy came for zone conference and it was AMAZING! I learned so much! Elder Evans is also speaking at general conference next month too! OHHH man though…it turns out President Keyes is pretty much the highest qualified and most inspired mission president ever! He used to be a member of the 70 and man I don’t even know, but he is really an awesome man. We pretty much just got rebuked for not working with members as well as we should and we talked a lot about desire and discussed Alma Chapter 17 to 42. We have had amazing results since hearing from Elder Evans and President Keyes and it is amazing how inspired these men really are. Oh, and we taught Bernard again and our plan is to take him and his family through the Kansas City Temple open house so the spirit can slap him in the face.

Wednesday: We started working with members and less active people and whadya know?! We found 4 really solid new investigators: Jeff, Mark, Debbie, and Connie! Anyways though, today we got invited into someone’s house while we had a member from our ward with us. He invited us in which usually means they really want to hear what we have to say or they want to contend with us. This guy was sadly the 2nd type. So let’s call this guy who let us in Zeezrom, okay? Well he began to tell us all these reasons why the BOM could never be true, and the member of our ward would argue with him. Eventually the phone rang, and I leaned over to him and said, "hey, don’t say anything anymore. I just wanna share my testimony and we’ll get outta here." So after he finished, I bore testimony on the BOM and how I knew without a doubt that it was true. But anyways, Zeezrom was not confounded and I did not convert him like Amulek, but it did feel good to hear the spirit whisper “you’re right”.

Thursday: We helped 2 different people move and it was just awesome! I love service!  I did feel guilty though because one of the houses we helped out with were really nice members from Oregon who had a daughter that died recently.  So we were there helping them out, and they gave us a total of 50 dollars for lunch. We tried to give it back, but they would not allow it. So we went to Ava’s favorite place in the whole wide world, CHICK-FIL-A!!!

Friday, Saturday, and Sunday: I’ll be honest…we trimmed a lot of fat from our teaching pool. That sounds really bad that way. Don’t worry…it kills me to erase anyone’s name off our board and I love all of them because they are God's children.  But anyways though, Elder Bills and I have been working these past three days with the members to build there trust and, well you know, do missionary work the right way. Our "numbers" might go down a little, but we are still going to work our hardest. That is also something else we learned from Alma 29 and personal experience. I cannot get angry with myself if  I’m working my hardest because I should be content with what the Lord allows me. The better I have learned to do that and go back to my chilled relaxed attitude, the easier it is to really enjoy the work I’m doing and well, you know, just being happy.

This week though, I learned mainly about Jesus Christ. I started reading the New Testament and WOW it turns out that He is kind of a big deal. I read in gospel principles and studied the atonement and what He taught, and I’m literally just dumbfounded.  In my patriarchal blessing it says that I... awhh bummer I don’t have it with me. It says that I will have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ, and that I will have a full understanding of the Atonement (something like that), but that’s a huge promise! It is definitely humbling to be his representative. I know I already said this, but He truly was the greatest Superhero of all time. I really like the picture of me in that photo album you sent, standing kind of as His sidekick or something which is pretty accurate. Like Robin (was to Batman), I’m really not that big of a deal. He really did die for us. He understands everything, absolutely everything. He has been there, done that and been lower than all of us. I love him so much.


Elder Ward

Monday, March 12, 2012

Oh that I were an Angel...

?, ?, ?, Elder Bills, Elder Ward, Elder Taufas
MOM?! Do you even think I care about a letter just from dad?! You better be dying or something!!! (Mom’s letter hadn’t arrived yet when Connor started writing). Nah just kidding dad I love your letters too. Except now I don’t have a whole lot to respond back to... haha. I wish my mission work was a lot more like 24 (this refers to an analogy Mike used in his letter to the show “24”)…you wanna know why? Because no matter what was going on, Jack Bauer always came out on top and fixed the problem.  Just recently, over the past two weeks, we have been losing our more serious investigators. I have no idea what happened, but we went from having 4 on date for baptism to a big fat 0. Stupid Satan!  It's alright though…we haven't lost any of them completely :) and even if we do, I just have to remember Alma 29:1-3. Oh that I were an angel... But that’s enough of the bad news! Let’s get down to the knitty gritty (Nacho Libre).

Elder Taufas
Monday (Pday) we played some sweet volleyball at the stake center after we emailed and stuff. I've been teaching a lot of the missionaries how to play and they have been progressing along great! I had a sick bounce into Elder Taufas face and he was standing right up against the net. He and I are good buddies still and he is even teaching me a song he made up on the piano about the scriptures being true. We had lunch at Panda Express and a lady came up and paid for us. We tried to fight her but she said, “you two are missionaries and one day my son will be a missionary too and I want him to be taken care of.” What a good mom! Oh, and I bought a stuffed green alligator that I named Barney. Now its not so lonely.

Tuesday, the highlight was we visited a widow in our ward who has been having a real tough time because of health issues and whatnot. She cried when we walked in which was surprising cuz normally she is a ROCK. We read scriptures with her for an hour or so and we saw her again on Sunday and she was doing a lot better. :) I love my new ward so much and everyone in it. Don’t worry, Gilbert third will always have a place in my heart. So, I had been having chest pains and finally this day I called the nurse. Turns out it was just indigestion or heart burn. Don’t worry…I’m feeling better. I should probably eat a little more healthy, huh?

Wednesday, we found a lot of people. Elder Bills and I are really good at doing that. We just stink at helping them progress. Other than that, nothing too special happened but I did get to plan Thursday without any help because of exchanges and stuff.

Thursday was awesome! Elder Top and I taught 4 lessons and met some really cool people and have a couple of return appointments. We ate lunch at Jack-in-the-Box and I saw a deaf lady! As Elder Top and I were leaving, I just signed Jesus loves you. She told me that Jesus loves me too with a big smile on her face. Then later in the day, Elder Bills came back and we visited Suzie. We had a real good lesson! We have been meeting with her a while and I call her Grandma Suzie. She believes the BOM is true and that Joseph Smith restored the church but she has some other crazy ideas we won’t get into right now. At the end of the lesson, I was grabbing my chest cuz it was hurting (this is actually when I called the nurse. I swear I’m okay though mom. Don’t worry) and this is where things got a little strange.:) We offered to have a closing prayer and she said she would give it for me. She usually has us hold hands in a circle, but instead she put one of her hands over my heart and Elder Bills held her elbow. Then after she gave me a hug and kissed me on the cheek... Missouri is weird!

Friday. we have all our meetings. Our ward mission leader told us a cool story when he asked me how I feel about Missouri, which I love of course! This is just the short version.  These 2 guys moved from one state to another on two separate days. The first stopped at a gas station and talked to the cashier guy and asked about the town he was moving to. The cashier asked why and he said he hated the people where he used to live.  The cashier said, “Oh yeah, you will definitely hate the people there too”. Then the next day the other guy came in and talked to the cashier and asked about the town he was moving to. The cashier asked why he wanted to know and he said, “Well, I loved the people in my old town. They were really great. I’m just wondering how it will be over there.” Then the cashier said, “yeah, the people over there are awesome you will love them!” Speaking of love, this same day we met with a lady who had been excommunicated a long time ago and no longer has custody of her 4 kids. She really wants to change and get her life in order. Heavenly Father wants her back too and I felt that love He has for her or probably just a small part, but it was amazing.  I got to meet her kids. 1 boy has autism and is 12. He calls me sir all the time, gives me hugs, and takes me everywhere with him. Then she has 3 girls. They all have been abused by an ex-husband of hers. But anyways, the mom wants Elder Bills and I to teach her kids and have a good influence on them to show that not all grown men are complete trash. ( Sorry, I’m still flustered that a father could even do such things), but I love their family so much and I think her girls really like me too. :)

Saturday, Elder Bills and I live really close to the zone leaders so we hangout with them a lot getting lunch and whatnot. These guys are nuts though, they wake up at 5:30 and do super beast crazy workouts like nothing I’ve ever seen, and whatdya know Elder Bills and I have joined in! Right now I cannot move my arms. This is seriously the most sore I have ever been in my life. More good news…I have added another 5 pounds to the 15 I’ve already gained, so 20 pounds so far whoo! I’m running out of time, but mom I just got your email thank goodness! That’s a sweet picture! Hey, it turns out I can email missionary friends. Can you send me Robby and Karson’s email? WHOA ROBBYS story about getting hit by the car was nuts! And as for another package, the cd's and hats are really all I need, but feel free to throw in whatever…it’s always appreciated! I Love you family! Yes, mom pay my tithing on that check that came! Please! And, oh yeah, Sunday went good too! Dad, once again, I really do appreciate your letters. Mom, never doubt for one second that your kids don’t appreciate you!
Snow in Missouri
Elder Bills

Monday, March 5, 2012


DARN IT! How did those pictures not send?!!!!!! Sorry guys. I will try again next week... Man, after reading your letters I am so mad! I had absolutely nothing to do with my time before I left on my mission and now all these awesome cool things are going on?! Joey, Blake, Robby, Travis, Justin?! Man, I miss those guys! All I had while I was at home was Starcraft 2 and Collin’s friends... Give Joey my love. Tell Justin I owe him a serious apology because I did exactly what he did and made fun of him for it. Blake & Travis, well, make sure they don't go back to their old ways. :) BEFORE I FORGET, MOM DON’T SEND THAT PACKAGE!!! I need copies of those CD's that we put on my iPod, or just the missionary “must-have” one, or whatever it is. I know there was something else but I can’t remember... Dad, I loved your lawn mowing story! I can totally put myself in your shoes (the same exact shoes that have giant, grass-poop clumps stuck to them right now). MIIIKKKKKKEEEEEE!!! CAN AVA PLAY?!

 So let’s get down to business.

 Monday, we taught Sarah and Dale. They just had a baby and they were super interested but now they are really busy and Satan’s winning the battle... It was a little awkward cuz Dale pounded 3 beers and dropped an F bomb while we were there (we had the Relief Society President come as a team-up too) but I think Sara is starting to realize that the Gospel will really help in her family...

 Tuesday, we had a team-up arranged with a 16 year old named Austin. He is a super cool kid and reminded me a lot of Collin just with big muscles. It started out as a bummer night cuz 2 of our appointments fell through so we decided to stop and pray. We were sitting outside of someone’s house parked in the car and I gave the prayer. I don’t remember exactly what I said but right after I said amen, whadya know??? A car pulls up into the driveway! Long story short, it was a huge black guy named Randy. We talked with him and shared the Restoration with him and then he said we could come meet with his family later in the week. (He also showed us his street bikes. Holy cow! He races and gets up to 216 mph on his bikes! They are sick bikes!) Anyways though, whether that family accepts the Gospel or not I know we left an impression on Austin.

 Wednesday, we taught a guy named John who has a 170-pound English MASStiff or in other words ONE HUGE GOG [DOG]. The lesson went well.

 Thursday, we had a good weekly planning session and did some Less-Active work from a list the Bishop gave us. The Coolest part was meeting a 19 year old named Brian. Man, he has life set! He has a job as a nurse, earns 40 bucks an hour, his hospital pays for his school, he is engaged and is starting up a restaurant... I have no doubt that he is happy but that night I went to bed smiling knowing that I am in the right place, and that I’m totally going to become a nurse when I get back ;) ...Nurse Connor.

 Friday and Saturday we taught 11 lessons combined and we are on FIRE! It’s frustrating that we haven't baptized for so long, but we are doing a lot of good, and we are super close with a guy named Eric! I probably already told you about him a lot but we got him to church and to commit to the W of W!

Sunday was just super good and we’ll leave it at that. I’m runnin out of time.

The main lesson I learned though this week is Daniel 2:44-45. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is that stone cut out of the mountain! Joseph Smith promised that this gospel would reach everywhere in the world and IT WILL NOT FAIL... My testimony of that increases as I see God’s hand in this work and as I see my friends go out and think of them sitting in some random person’s home teaching the same exact thing I'm teaching but in Spanish, Mandarin Chinese, Croatian and Japanese. Temples are being built. The one in Kansas City is about to have their open house in a month which is making the mission work go CRAZY!