Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Happy Christmas!

Friends and Family, 

I feel like I need a new header for my emails. I'm open for suggestions. Also, I hope you're all enjoying the subject of this email and reading it in your minds in a British accent. 

The weather has dropped very low here in Yakima. We haven't had a day where it's been higher than 20 degrees outside. One day I thought I saw a sign while out walking that said it was -3 degrees outside, but I'm pretty sure that was referring to Celsius. The snow makes everything fun. Surprisingly, I'm one of the better drivers when it comes to driving in snow. I guess growing up without any snow plows or any snow gear and having to drive on ice anyway is finally coming in handy. 

On Saturday the Englewood Branch had a Branch Christmas Party. I was asked to be one of the Los Tres Reyes Magos (Three Kings/Wisemen) because my last name is King. I got to wear a ridiculous outfit, so that was fun. There was a photo booth and people were lining up to get pictures with us and it was really fun. Activities like this in the branch are always really productive as missionaries too. There were about 25 non-members there! Elder Kiser and I are now working with three new families, thanks to the amazing members here in the Branch for inviting their friends to come. 

A couple months ago when I first got here to Yakima, Elder Wilson and I starting teaching this man named Gerardo. He was so into the Book of Mormon and asked so many questions and teaching him was always fun. His apartment was always super dark and poorly lit, sometimes we would just teach him with our eyes closed because we couldn't see anything anyways! Right before he was about to get baptized, he disappeared. We were really sad and couldn't make contact with him, but this week we got a call and it was Gerardo! He explained to us that he had something with work come up and had to go to California for a little while but he's back now and wants to start meeting with us and he's progressing and working towards being baptized on December 31st! He studied Electrical Engineering in Mexico, so we get along really well. He loves to talk about science with me. 

I hope you're all staying warm for Christmas. I love you and miss you all. 

Happy Christmas, 

Elder King

Monday, December 12, 2016

Parting the Red Sea

Friends and Family, 

Snow is falling, and so are the miracles. On Thursday while I was on exchanges with one of the Elders from the zone, it started to snow really really hard. The roads started filling up with snow and driving turned into ice skating. One companionship called and told us that they were stranded 40 minutes away in a small town because all of the roads heading back were closed due to traffic and accidents! Thankfully, we were able to help them get back home. Despite all of the winter weather and the craziness that comes with is, two people were able to enter the waters of baptism this weekend. 

First, the story of Jose Estrada. When I first got to this area in Yakima, Jose was one of the first people I met. He first tried to set me up on dates with the youth in the branch, so I was a little concerned about spending too much time around him. As time went on and I got to know him and his family, they have become some of the most incredible people I have met. Jose and his wife Karla met many years ago, she was inactive and they started dating. At some point, she decided to start coming back to church and started bringing him with her. He met many members and loved what he learned and what he felt, but due to unfinished divorce papers between Karla and her ex-husband he couldn't get baptized. He's been attending the branch since it's start and going out and doing priesthood visits and everything since he's started coming. Although he hasn't been a member for the past four years, he's been one of the most active people in the church. Last week, he and Karla got word from the court that the divorce papers went though and that they could get married. Everyone in the branch and all ten missionaries from the branch all stepped in and got everything prepared and ready for a wedding and baptism. It was incredible. Jose asked me to be his best man and be one of the witnesses for the wedding, and I wish I could describe how powerful it was to be there and witness the two of them coming together in the holy order of matrimony. Words can't do it justice. The baptism that followed was just as powerful, if not more. To think, four years of waiting. Talk about a trial of patience. After the baptism, Jose gave me a huge hug and told me "You think today was powerful? Wait until one year from now when we're all sealed together in the temple." 

On Sunday, Paola was baptized! She is one of the sweetest people I think I've ever met. So sincere and genuine in everything she does. She was so nervous about her baptism, but to help her feel more prepared and ready she went to Jose's baptism on Saturday. We were sitting next to her and talking to her about how she felt, and she told us she still felt nervous. We looked at her and said, "Paola. Do you know that it's true?" She looked down and thought for a moment and said, "Yes. Yes, I really do." Elder Kiser and I looked at one another and looked back at her and told her, "Then you have nothing you need to worry about." She smiled, and we could see the worries melt away. 

I've been thinking a lot about both Paola and Jose, and the trials that they each had to go through in order to get to where they are know. I've also been thinking about Moses. Specifically about when he had to part the Red Sea. It has felt like so much has been thrown on my plate these past couple of weeks, and at times I felt very overwhelmed. One day the thought came to mind, "At least I don't have to part the Red Sea." I can't imagine what it must have been like for Moses, having armies chasing after him and he's in charge of getting the people of Israel out safely and he comes to find a giant sea in the way. I like to think that he looked out over the horizen, looked up at the heavens, and whispered to himself, "...you have got to be kidding me." 

Like Moses, each and every one of us will encounter our personal 'red sea'. Whether it's getting a divorced finalized or feeling ready to get baptized the next day, we all have times where we may feel overwhelmed, that God has put too much on our plate. I know that when we reach those moments, if we just remember the words of Mormon, "But behold, I will show unto you a God of miracles, even the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob; and it is that same God who created the heavens and the earth, and all things that in them are." (Mormon 9:11), we will see the miracles of God. All it takes is faith, patience, and some guts. 

Con Mucho Amor, 

Elder King

Monday, December 5, 2016

December already?

Friends and Family, 

I can't help but comment once again on how quickly time seems to fly be. With the start of December, I can so very distinctly remember the start of December of last year. It seems like it was truly just the other day, almost as if I could reach across time and touch the memories. 

This past week has been really great. The nice couple we're teaching who knew missionaries back in Mexico read in the Book of Mormon and promised us they would come to church. We've been talking about baptism with them a lot, and they're praying about it almost every day. There's just something invigorating about talking with baptism with investigators and extending the baptismal invitation that's unlike anything else. They promised that they would come to church yesterday, but alas we did not see them there. That's missionary work sometimes. You love big, and you hurt big. We've started teaching this other really great family who love meeting with us and reading in the scriptures. Their schedule is super busy, so it makes it difficult to meet with them regularly, however every time we get a chance to see them they have more and more questions about the Book of Mormon. 

The weather is getting colder and colder, so my companion and I last night decided we would move our beds out onto our patio and sleep in the cold winter air for fun. Closest thing we can get to camping as missionaries. 

Con Mucho Amor, 

Elder King

Monday, November 28, 2016

Scriptural Insights

Friends and Family, 

First off, late Happy Thanksgiving! I ate a total of three Thanksgiving dinners that day, #missionarylife. Still eating leftovers from members and loving it.

Over the past week I've been studying gratitude a lot due to the holiday season, and I've been directed time and time again to the story of the 10 lepers. My Dad shared something that stood out to me a lot. Ten were healed, but only one came back to return and give thanks. I think sometimes we think the other nine must have been bad guys or something, I know I used to think that way. In reality, they were probably just overwhelmed and distracted with being healed and the new life that they were going to be able to live. We too can easily get distracted from offering thanks. It's not that we are not thankful, we just don't set aside the time to express our thanks and make a habit of it. How often do we offer thanks for the little things, as well as the big miracles, that we have in our life?

Another scriptural insight from this past week came from zone conference as we were reciting D&C 4. Verse 4 stood out to me for whatever reason, especially the last little phrase. "...the same layeth up in store that he perisheth not, but bringeth salvation to his soul" That verse talks about how white and ready for harvest the field is, something that almost every missionary knows. Most of the time, at least for me, I've always related this to the fact that we as missionaries can bring salvation to all of the souls out in the field who are white and ready to harvest. Never has it truly occurred to me the promise here that when we thrust in our sickle with all our might, we also bring salvation to our own soul! I don't know how I've missed this for so long. Really changed my perspective on a lot of things, especially all of the things that can sometimes get a missionary down. 

To close, I'll share a scripture that stood out to me this past week. 
"And now, O my son, ye are called of God to preach the word unto this people. And now, my son, go thy way, declare the word with truth and soberness, that thou mayest bring souls unto repentance, that the great plan of mercy may have claim upon them. And may God grant unto you even according to my words. Amen." (Alma 42:31)

Con Mucho Amor, 

Elder King

P.S. Zone Conference was this past week, and even though Hermana Hull is now serving in the same branch and district as me we had to take a longhorn picture. Shouts outs to the only other fellow longhorn here in the WYM \m/
P.P.S. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mJmAV0gTp_Q

Turning Weaknesses Into Strengths

Friends and Family, 

One of my weaknesses that Heavenly Father has blessed me with is a poor sense of direction. I get lost in hotels trying to find my hotel room and coming out of grocery stores trying to find a car. Unless I've taken a route about a hundred times and know exactly where I'm going, I'm always directional confused. Thanks to modern technology and GPS, I get lost a little bit less. 

Late one night this week, Elder Kiser and I were out in the streets of Yakima knocking doors. I felt impressed to go up a couple streets and try and find a former investigator that I taught a couple of months ago who was on date and progressing towards baptism. As we were walking out in the dark, cold night air, I realized after a block of so that we had been walking in the complete opposite direction that we needed to be going. I looked at Elder Kiser and started to laugh, and told him that we are nowhere near close where we were supposed to be going, however there must be some reason why Heavenly Father gave me this weakness. Perhaps it is so that I could be more easily lead to where He truly needed us to be. 

We stopped on the street corner we were at and saw a house with lights on across the road. Like moths to the flame, we flew over to knock the door. A shorter gentleman opened right up and said, "Dios les bendiga, pasanse." He welcomed us right in and had us talk with his wife and his children and sat us down. We asked him a couple questions about his religious beliefs and background, and learned that he is very good friends with some recent-converts up in Tieton and has spoken with missionaries a while back before he moved. Since the move, they haven't been back since. As we shared the Restoration with him and his family, as he said the closing prayer tears filled the eyes of him and his wife. The Spirit was strong, and they knew we were sent from God. 

As I've reflected upon this experience, along with many others, I have learned to view weaknesses as blessings from a loving Heavenly Father. It is very very easy to have a perspective that our weaknesses are what are holding us back from what our Heavenly Father needs us to be. I used to view them in this manner, but I no longer view them as burdens, rather as blessings. Heavenly Father gives us our weaknesses so that we can humble ourselves and turn ourselves to Him. If we turn to Him and humbly offer ourselves and work with faith and patience, we can turn our weaknesses into strengths. 

"Nevertheless, the Lord God showeth us our weakness that we may know that it is by his grace, and his great condescensions unto the children of men, that we have power to do these things." (Jacob 4:7)

Con Mucho Amor, 

Elder King

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Friends and Family, 

Transfers have come, and I am now serving with my new companion Elder Kiser. He was in the MTC with me, and served around me up when I was in Wenatchee. He's already served in the Engelwood Branch for 6 months, so all of the members already know him. It was hilarious seeing everyone's reaction when they all found out that he would be my new companion! He's about the same height as I am too, which makes two giant trees every Sunday as we make our way through the crowd of small Hispanic people in the branch. 

We've been really really busy with a ton of administrative stuff this past week. Making sure that missionaries are where they are supposed to be with transfers and orienting the district leaders in the zone, exchanges with new missionaries, so Elder Kiser has only spent one hour tracting in our area so far. 

I've had a little more time because I've been staying in the area for exchanges since I know the area. Last Tuesday I was able to do what we call 'fear busting' and take the brand new missionaries out into the missionary world for the first time. My new missionary and I went to this trailer park in our area and said a prayer asking for success in our efforts. The very first door we knocked opened right up, and welcomed us in. It was a nice feeling, something that hasn't happened for a couple of weeks now! We sat down in his living room and talked with him. He told us that his name was Santiago and that his wife had met with missionaries before back when she was living in Mexico and that he has heard stories about missionaries and wanted to see what our message was. We taught him about the restoration and invited him to be baptized. He said he wanted to come to church a couple times first before he does something like that.

Elder Kiser were able to go by and talk with both him and his wife the other night, and she is also very kind and friendly with missionaries. She told us that she had some member friends back in Mexico that were very very kind to her, and that she became very good friends with missionaries down there. Such good friends that her young daughter cried when one of the Elders got transferred!

It got me thinking about why it took all the way until now for us to find a nice family like this to teach. Why now? Why couldn't Heavenly Father help us to find these people sooner? Many things in the mission, in the zone, in the area, and personally have lead me to this scripture.

"...wherefore, dispute not because ye see not, for ye receive no witness until after the trial of your faith." (Ether 12:6)

One thing I have learned so far on my mission is trust in the Lord and trust in His timing. There are times in each of our lives where we may find ourselves asking the same type of questions. Why now? Why didn't the blessing come sooner? The answer is "Because." Our Father in Heaven has a reason for each thing that happens in our lives, good or bad. He knows what will benefit us the most in the long run. Just like a young child looking up to a parent and asking "Why?", at times our Father in Heaven looks down at us and responds with the parental response of "Because I said so."

Con Mucho Amor, 

Elder King

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Ode to Elder Wilson II

Friends and Family, 

Well, the time has come. Elder Wilson has brought me into this world, and now it's time I take him out of it. Almost a year ago, after he was emergency transferred away I wrote a letter titled 'Ode to Elder Wilson'. Little did I know then that I would have the pleasure of serving with him once more. The title for this week's letter was only fitting. When I first got the call in Moses Lake that I would be serving with him again, I was less than excited because I had only been serving in Moses Lake for one transfer and was absolutely loving it there. Hindsight being 20/20, as it always is, the gratitude I have for these past two transfers with Elder Wilson is indescribable. 

My new companion will be... Elder Kiser! He was in the MTC with me, part of the lost tribe of Mexico that was stranded at the Yakima Airport a little over a year ago. He's from Seattle and I've served around him a little bit when I was up in Wenatchee, and I'm super stoked to have him as my companion. 

This past week was filled with a lot of preparing Elder Wilson to return back into the world, so we worked a ton with the members and less actives this past week. Not too much to update on, so this week's email will be a little shorter than others. To close, I'll share a scripture that stood out to me from my personal study this week. 

"Behold, the field was ripe, and blessed are ye, for ye did thrust in the sickle, and did reap with your might, yea, all the day long did ye labor; and behold the number of your sheaves! And they shall be gathered into the garners, that they are not wasted." (Alma 26:5)

When I read this scripture, I thought of the talk from this past General Conference 'Serve' by Elder Carl B. Cook.  I thought about the fact that most of the time, while we are out in the field thrusting in our sickle and reaping with all our might, it's pretty hard to see the number of sheaves that will soon be upon our backs. Know that wherever you are and with whatever calling you have, from home teacher to Stake President, our efforts to magnify our callings and to serve are noted and bless our own lives as well as the lives of others. 

Con Mucho Amor, 

Elder King

Monday, October 31, 2016

Happy Halloween

Friends and Family, 

This week, like the previous week, has been a lot of working and knocking doors but not a lot of interested people. However, I've come to realize that the lack of other people to work with has been a blessing and opportunity from Heavenly Father to help me to focus and work on myself! 

At the very end of the week, we were able to see a miracle from all of our consistent efforts in these past two weeks. My companion and I were walking around the area, trying to contact some recent-converts and less-actives when I asked him how deep into the streets our area goes. He said that it doesn't go very deep, that we've worked most of the lower parts except for one little round-about. For whatever reason, I asked if we could walk to the other side of our area to go see if there were any houses on the round-about. 

We made our way across the entirety of our area, which isn't too big in the first place but seems a lot bigger on foot, and saw a single house on the side of the round-about. We saw a young man and a young woman outside trying to round up a lost chicken that had escaped the fence. My love for farm animals made it really easy to go up and approach them and help them chase this loose chicken around until we finally caught it. I explained who we were, and what we do as missionaries and started bearing my testimony of the importance of the message we bring. The young man responded with the fact that he struggles believing in God, however his family inside might be interested. 

He brought us into his Grandmother's house where his sister and mother and uncle and grandma were all gathered around talking with one another. Right as we walked in, the older sister started talking to us and we learned that her father was a member of the church and was baptized a couple years ago. She and her ex-husband had taken the lessons with the missionaries after her father was baptized and used to read the Book of Mormon every night. At that time, she was struggling with depression, divorce, and a difficult pregnancy. We talked to her about the Holy Ghost and pointed out the feelings that she used to feel when she met with missionaries. She looked at her mother and looked back at us and told us that back when the missionaries used to come, that was the highlight of her week. As she began to recount her experiences with missionaries she told us that she thinks that she wasn't ready for the message then, but that now might be her time. She jokingly said that God let that chicken out of the fence just so we could find her family again. She also said that she was very impressed with the LDS church, because despite the fact that her father hasn't attended church in over two years, home teachers have continued to come by and visit. 

On church on Sunday, we found the home teacher that has continued to visit this brother of the church for over two years despite not seeing any fruits from his labors. As we told him everything that had happened and that because of his efforts to magnify his calling, a family is open and welcome to the gospel. His eyes filled with tears as he looked at us and said, "When I first began home teaching that family, I felt discouraged because no matter what I did, I saw no fruits. The Elder's Quorum President promised me that if I kept diligent at it, I would see miracles." 

The spirit touched me as I related to this faithful brother and his feelings of discouragement and disappointment. God's timing is perfect. Magnifying our calling brings blessings and miracles. No matter what may be going on around us, miracles are waiting right around the bend. 

"And they went forth whithersoever they were led by the Spirit of the Lord, preaching the word of God..." (Alma 21:16)

Con Mucho Amor, 

Elder King

Sunday, October 30, 2016

Life Experience

Friends and Family, 

Serving here in Yakima is really something else. The area that Elder Wilson and I work is the most dangerous area in the mission and we see a lot of crazy things. Over the past three months that I've been here, I've seen some of the most humble living conditions and situations.

I went on exchanges with some of the Elders in our zone this week and while on exchanges, Elder Anderson and I knocked some houses and met this really sweet woman. We talked with her and got to know her and talked about the message that we share as missionaries. She told us that her husband was working but that his grandmother is a member of the church, so she was slightly familiar with the LDS church and missionaries. We asked if we could set a return visit and she told us that we could come back Sunday evening. 

Last night, Elder Wilson and I went over and knocked on the door and her husband was home and instantly let us in. We talked with him for a bit and he went and got his wife and son and brought them into the room to talk with us. I followed up with them on all of the hard trials they were going through. Their landlord is selling the house they currently live in right out from beneath their feet, they can barely afford filling up their car with gas, their house is haunted, and it's nearly impossible for them to find a new house to rent because they both have a criminal history and can't find anyone that is willing to rent to them. As we were discussing, the mother told the son to go to the room to work on a piggy bank for a little bit. As he left, she looked at her husband and they both opened up to us and explained that she was being charged with secondary robbery and they aren't sure what is going to happen to their family. They both broke down in complete tears for the fear that their family would be split apart. The wife left the room to try and recompose herself for a moment and while she was away the husband told us that it was very hard for him to have faith that things would work out fine. He said that when he went to prison the last words he said to his mother was "I just don't have faith anymore" and those exact words are what his wife said to him the day prior. 

The wife returned and the husband asked if we could give her a priesthood blessing. I looked at them both and told them that we could, and explained a little more on the priesthood. I explained that the blessing comes directly from God, not from Elder Wilson nor I. I explained that I did not know what was going to happen to them, but I did promise that God was aware of their situation and conditions and would help their family. 

Before I gave the blessing, I flashbacked to one very fateful day over one year ago when Elder Wilson and I were out tracting in the rain in The Dalles. We were knocking these apartment complex doors and nobody had opened until the very last door. A nice gentleman had opened the door, told us that he was busy and that another day would work best. We came back the next day and the same thing happened. We went back one more time, discouraged and believing that the man would just disregard us again. We knocked, and to our surprise he opened the door and let us right in. He introduced himself as Gary and asked us if we would share our message with him. We taught the Restoration, and afterwards he told us that his wife is a member and had been in prison for the past two years and that he had been watching over his kids while she was away and he had spoken with missionaries before and wanted to be baptized. One month later, Gary was baptized. His wife is now free, and they are working towards the temple together. I'll attach a picture from his baptism.

I shared that story with them, and told them that I knew that no matter what they could keep their family together because I had seen it personally. We gave them a blessing, told them we would come back during the week to help them clean some things up, and went on our way. 

There are many, many things that I learned from that experience. I could go on for hours talking about things that I learned from that. Rather than make this email any longer, I want to share just two things that I took away. One, the atonement of Jesus Christ is for each and every single one of us. Through Him and His sacrifice, any mistake we make can be completely erased, forgiven, and forgotten. There is no depth that we can reach to where the grace of Jesus Christ cannot reach down further. Second, Heavenly Father gives us trials and tribulations to help us to grow and progress. Every thing that happens in our life, can be for our benefit. 

I'm grateful for each and every one of you, and love you all. Thank you for all of your support, thoughts, and prayers.

Con Mucho Amor, 

Elder King

Monday, October 17, 2016

Unexpected Fruits


Friends and Family, 

These past couple of weeks have been an interesting trial of patience for both Elder Wilson and I. We've been working really hard and have spent a ton of time out in the streets of Yakima, trying to find new people that need the gospel, but what seemed to be to no avail. Nobody we taught seemed to keep commitments, and every door we knocked seemed to be another stale contact. I knew that what was happening was part of the Lord's plan for our area at that time, however the rejection didn't get any easier. 

Despite seeing no fruits from our labors personally, we knew we would be blessed for being diligent and obedient. On Thursday we went over to visit Angelina, the less-active lady we found earlier in the week. We talked with her about scripture study to try and help her to have the spirit in her home. We talked about coming to church, but due to some medical conditions that she was facing she told us that the odds that she would be able to make it to church were very slim. We discussed priesthood blessings and talked told her that we would come back on Saturday to give her a blessing and talk about coming to church the following day. 

That Saturday after we gave her the blessing she thanked us over and over again and kept referring to us as her angels for coming to help her and bring the spirit back into her life. She still was unsure that she would be able to attend church, but promised us that she would do her best. 

On Sunday as we were welcoming and greeting people as they entered the building, we saw little old Angelina with her walker get out of a recent-convert's car and start heading towards the building. She had the biggest grin on her face as she saw us and scurried as quickly as she could to get into the building. We were so happy to see her, the joy was indescribale. Members came up to us throughout the day thanking us for getting her back to church, telling us that they haven't seen her come to church in over ten years. The blessings didn't stop there! We had another less-active recent convert come to church as well that hasn't been in quite some time. 

Seeing two of Heavenly Father's children return to church and partake of the sacrament that day was something special. The joy we felt seemed like Heavenly Father giving us a sneak peak to the joy we will have as we continue to labor diligently in our little part of the vineyard he has assigned us to. As I reflect on this experience, two things come to mind. We can be ministering angels to those around us. There are Amulek's out there, just waiting for their Alma's to come and help bring them back to church. Second, every effort we make in the work of the Lord never goes unnoticed by Him. Time spent serving God and others is time well spent. 

Con Mucho Amor, 

Elder King

Temple Trip


Friends and Family, 

Our zone had our temple trip today and it was great, obviously. I don't think I've ever heard anybody come back from the temple saying, "Ahh man that was terrible, I really regret doing that!" I started fasting last night for some guidance and direction from Heavenly Father today in the temple, and it was very cool to really take the teachings in D&C 9 and apply them to my personal life. I've decided to set a goal that after my mission I will strive to attend the temple at least once a month. The members that drove us today go once a week! At least!

It's been a pretty busy past week and a half. Super weird, with Elder Wilson going home in a couple of weeks. I find myself having deja vu since he was my trainer and now I'm his final companion and I feel like we've done all of this before. We've had MLC and Zone Training Meeting and Elder Wilson and I really tried to help our zone lift their vision and their faith in the work of the Lord. There is really such a huge difference between doing things just because we are supposed to do them, and doing them with an 'eye of faith' as Alma describes. Test it out this next week. Really focus on the faith you have in your prayers and in everything you'll do. You'll see a difference, I can promise that.

A couple weeks ago after general conference while I was waiting for my companion in the bathroom, a gentleman came up to me and I started talking to him about how he liked conference. We chatted for a brief moment, and then he stopped and looked at me and said that he could really feel the spirit about me. He began talking about this single lady that he knows that lives in an apartment complex in our area. He explained that she's a member, but hasn't been to church in a very very long time. He asked if I would stop by sometime, and I promised him I would. 

Last night we were finally able to have an appointment with her where she was home and we were able to come in. We talked with her and got to know her better, and learned so much about her and how due to medical conditions she hasn't been able to attend church for a long long time. She has a friend who lives on the floor beneath her who comes to help her with household things every once in a while, and as we talked he would ask a question every once in a while. We began to catch her up on all that has happened with the branch in the past couple of years, and she became so excited to hear all about it that she just kept smiling and laughing and clapping. We had a recent convert with us for the lesson and as he talked about how his girlfriend introduced him to the church and how it changed his life, this sweet sister looked at her friend and said, "Andale! Vamos!" and invited him to come right then and there. It was really cool to see the miracles come due to one member having the faith to ask us to visit somebody, and us as missionaries having the faith that there was a reason for us being there. 

Con Mucho Amor, 

Elder King 

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

My First Baby

Friends and Family, 

To begin this week's email, our story begins Monday evening. In the branch, there is this family that Elder Wilson and I are very close to. The Estrada Family. Hermana Estrada and her kids are members, but her soon to be husband, Jose, is not. He is planning to get married and baptized towards the end of this month. He is really really cool and is practically a member, he just hasn't been able to get baptized for quite some time due to some legal complexities with getting married. Hermana Estrada has been very pregnant my whole time I've been here, and Monday she asked if we could come by and give her a blessing. We stopped by towards the end of the night and talked with the family and somehow made it out of there without giving her a blessing. Later that night we both realized we had somehow forgotten to accomplish what we had originally planned on doing. We thought to ourselves, "Ahh. No worries, we'll just give her the blessing tomorrow."

The next morning at around 6:40am, we were at the gym in the church working out when the sister missionaries run in screaming their heads off about how Hermana Estrada is having her baby and how she needs a blessing. Elder Palacios, Elder Wilson, and I all had our own reactions. Elder Wilson got super excited and happy and started heading out the door almost immediately. Elder Palacios was more like, "Hold up, let me change my shoes." I was very confused and just looked around trying to figure out what was happening. Foreshadowing for what our reactions will be like when we become future fathers. 

We hurried out of the church and rushed home to put on a shirt and tie and then rushed quickly over to the hospital. We got permission to enter her room to give her a blessing and took some pictures with her to capture the moment. We kept telling her. "Smile!" and her response was "I can't!". I guess that's what having a baby will do to you. We stuck around the hospital and helped her and Hermano Estrada out with anything that they needed, and about 5 hours later the baby was born. Waiting in the hospital felt like a TV show or a movie or something. It was cool, I liked it a lot and learned a TON. 

While out tracting in this one trailer park in our area, we ran into a less-active member who attends the English Ward. He had a bunch of really cool swords on the wall and a record player and was a really cool and humble guy. We talked with him and invited him to start coming back to church, and he promised he would! We saw him at the church building yesterday. Goes to show that small and simple invitations can have a huge impact on people's lives. 

Conference this weekend was very enlightening. I went into the weekend with three questions in mind, and had all three answered. I'll just share some highlights that I took away from all of the talks. 

"A loving God is as close as a prayer away." -Carol F. McConkie
"Boys, be ambitious." -Kazukiko Yamashita
"Whatever the cost of repentance, it is swallowed up in the joy of forgiveness." -Linda S. Reeves
"Service is not something we endure to obtain the Celestial Kingdom, it is the very fiber of eternal life." -Carl B. Cook
"Even the darkest nights shall turn into dawn for the faithful." -Evan A. Schmutz
"The gospel is truly about the one." -K. Brett Nattress

and one final quote (not from General Conference) that I saw in a member's home this week that I really enjoyed. 

"Comparison is the thief of joy." -Theodore Roosevelt 

Con Mucho Amor, 

Elder King

UT Takes over Zone Conference

(September 19, 2016)

Friends and Family, 

This past week has been so crazy. Elder Buchanan, one of the Elders that we live with, had to go home to get surgery this past week so Friday morning we had to help him pack up and send him off. It was really sad to see him go, but I'm already so excited for his return. It'll be even better than Lord of the Rings: Return of The King. I'll be Return of Elder Buchanan. 

His trainee, Elder Palacios, is now in a tri-pan with Elder Wilson and I. It is very weird and different being in a trip-pan but super fun because when we are out tracting and street contacting we run from door to door or person to person teaching Elder Palacios everything we know about missionary work. The other night as we were out finding people some guy in a truck just pulled over and got out and asked if we were missionaries. We responded with a classic "claro que si" and he began talking to us about how he wants to learn more about God and come to church so we gave him the address right then and there. 

At Zone Conference on Thursday, I was finally able to meet Hermana Hull. She is serving down in The Dalles Zone and was at UT this past year! It was so much fun to catch up with her on all that is going on down in the Capital YSA Ward at UT and hear about the fun experiences she had there. It was also partially an answer to my prayer. I've been really thinking and trying to decide where to go back to school after the mission, UT and BYU, and she gave her everything at trying to convince me to go back at UT. It helped me realize that either way, everything will all work out! 

This weekend we get transfer calls, which as always catches me off guard. The beginning of this transfer was pretty tough but these past couple of weeks have flown by. Stay tuned for what happens next week!

Con Mucho Amor, 

Elder King

Hearts Filled with Joy

(September 26th)

Friends and Family, 

Transfer calls have come and gone and I will be staying here in Yakima for another 6 weeks with Elder Wilson! It is his final transfer in the mission, so it's super weird that I will be his last companion considering that he was my first companion. When President Lewis called to give us the news, he told us that part of the reason why they kept us together is because I'm the only person they trust to keep Elder Wilson on track for his last 6 weeks haha! 

I feel like so so so much has happened since last time I've emailed you all. Last P-Day Elder Wilson and I put on a big event for the Yakima Valley Zone where we cooked carne asada and played mini games in an Olympic style. It was so much fun. This past Saturday as we were contacting people there was a huge parade going on down Yakima Ave from people from all over Washington. I saw R2D2 and the world's largest shopping cart! Check that one off the bucket list.

Friday morning I got some really crazy news. One of my investigators from Wenatchee, Rafael, was getting baptized that evening at 6pm. I taught him and his family for the entire 6 months that I served in Wenatchee, and to hear that he was finally getting baptized was the biggest blessing. I called pretty much every person I knew in central Washington to try and find a ride, and ended up borrowing one of the High Councilman's car and having a member from the branch drive us up so that I could be there for the wedding and the baptism. It was very very special to be there, and Hermana Villa and Rafael and Emelia were very surprised and happy that I was able to be there with them.

Last night, we had two baptisms in the Englewood Branch. Gregorio was someone that Elder Wilson and I worked with briefly for the past two weeks since we were put in a tri-pan with Elder Palacios. He has a broken foot, but insisted on being baptized last night because he didn't want to miss out on any of the blessings. As we gave him the gift of the Holy Ghost he couldn't help but cry because he was so overwhelmed with joy. Before he said the closing prayer, he started singing hymns to everyone and explained that his heart was filled with so much joy and he knew of no other way to express his thanks to God other then singing. 

"The greatest battle of life is fought out within the silent chambers of the soul.” -President David O. McKay

Con Mucho Amor,

Elder King

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Praying for Cow Licks

Friends and Family, 

I don't have a bunch of time today because a lot of stuff has come up so I just want to share a quick story that happened this past week. There is this family that got baptized on Sunday and their wedding was the Saturday night before. All of the missionaries in the Englewood Branch were helping out with setting up and I even got to be the wedding photographer which was pretty cool, mark that off of my bucket list. It was so much fun and so cool to hear the Branch President marry them and then talk about how one year from now they can be sealed for time and all eternity. 

While we were cleaning up after the wedding, the field next door had these two cows that came up close to the fence. I took some of the kids over and showed them the cows and used my special animal powers to get the cows even closer so that the kids could pet them and whatnot. The cow kept licking our hands and it felt so weird and cool and I thought to myself, "I wonder what this would feel like if it licked me on the face? I've always heard of the term 'cow lick' when it comes to hair, and it would be so cool to have a legitimate cow lick." 

Let me just make a quick note, that I love farm animals. I think they are so cool and fun and just the best. With that being said, I decided I wanted to try and get the cow to lick my face. Crazy and weird and gross, I know. But I thought it would be so cool. I leaned over and did everything I could to try and get the cow to lick my face. I called them over, whistled at them, I even put grass up against my face to try and trick the cows by offering them food. None of it worked. I spent a good 5-10 minutes trying to get it to happen, but to no avail. All of the kids had left and my companion was off behind me talking to some other missionaries and I was left there alone with these two cows. The crazy idea popped into my mind. Pray about it. 

I immediately disregarded the idea. Why would I pray about something so silly as that? Why would Heavenly Father care? As all the doubts started flowing through my mind, I started thinking about it in a different way. God is my Heavenly Father. I thought about if I had asked my Dad to help me to get a cow to lick my face, and realized that he definitely would lend a hand. Not only because he has a lot of the same quirks that I do, but because I'm his son and he loves me. The same applies to Heavenly Father. I began to realize that as silly as a cow licking my face was, it meant something to me. Which means it meant something to Him. 

I started to pray. "Dear Heavenly Father, I know this is probably the silliest request you've ever heard, but it would really mean a lot to me if you could tell these cows to give me a nice ol' lick on the face. I just thought since you're my Father, I might as well ask." As I began to close in the name of Jesus Christ, I began to imagine Christ carrying my prayer up to Heavenly Father, looking through the prayer papers (or however it works) and reading my request with a face of "...what in the world?" I said Amen, and just a moment later one of the cows stepped forward and with his slimy long tongue he licked me right up the side of my face. 

I don't know or understand how prayer really works. I don't know how God decides to answer prayers. I don't fully understand how He answers them either. One thing I do know, is that He is our Father. He wants to hear our pleas, just as any father would want to hear the plea of their child. From the small things like a cow licking a face, to the big things like college, work, family, he cares about it all. You can bank on that. 

Con Mucho Amor, 

Elder King  

Thursday, September 1, 2016

3 Voices

Friends and Family, 

Over the course of my mission thus far something that I've somewhat struggled with and really focused on has been recognizing the voice of the Spirit. In Moses Lake I learned something that helped me out a ton with trying to be in tune with the Holy Ghost. There are 3 voices in our minds. The voice of the adversary, our own voice, and the voice of the Holy Ghost. Every thought the adversary puts into our minds ends with an exclamation mark. Our own thoughts seem to always end with a question mark. The voice of the Spirit, however, always speaks and ends with a period. 

The other night as Elder Wilson and I were out in the streets of Yakima, trying by potential and former investigators, we went to a specific former and knocked on the door but nobody was home. As we were walking away, Elder Wilson looked at me and asked, "Well should we move on to a different area or try and do something around here?" I took a moment to think about what would be best, when I recognized a period. "Walk up the street." I told Elder Wilson we should at least walk up the street a little bit and try and find another house to knock. As we walked up the street a particular house stood out to me for some odd reason. Another sentence ending with a period come across my mind. "Knock the house." Almost immediately after that thought, another stream of thoughts came flooding in. "Do I have to? Does it need to be this house? Why can't it be another house? The sprinklers are on, we'll get wet! There are tons of other houses, we can just knock one of those!"

I told Elder Wilson that I really thought we should knock this one house. We started walking up to the door, through the sprinklers, when we heard voices from around back. We walked around and found a these two ladies talking with a young girl. We introduced ourselves and they kindly introduced themselves and we began talking with them. It was a grandmother with her daughter and granddaughter, just sitting out back enjoying the nice weather and spending some time together. We talked some more and got on to the topic of missionary work and what we do as missionaries. They asked us to please sit down and share the message we kept talking about because they wanted to know why it was so important. We sat down and began teaching them The Restoration. It reached a point where I was teaching and testifying of Joseph Smith, and tears started to build in the young mother's eyes. We gave them a copy of the Book of Mormon and invited them to read and pray about it, and they assured us that they would and asked if we could come back again. I don't know what the future has in store for that family, but I do know that the Lord needed us to be there at that time for them. 

Other highlights from the week include a trip in the back of U-Haul with half of the Englewood Branch, playing Skip-Bo and dancing with old ladies at a senior center, and a carne asada party. There are tons of fun and crazy things happening here in Yakima! 

Con Mucho Amor, 

Elder King

Monday, August 22, 2016

The Adventures of Yak Valley Begin

Friends and Family, 

Leaving Moses Lake was so sad. On Monday after FHE my heart was broken when I had to say goodbye to the YSA. The next day after institute, the YSA threw a surprise party for me and attacked me with cupcakes and covered me in icing. I may have lost a white shirt to red icing, but it was totally worth it. Moses Lake 11th Ward and YSA will always be very special to me. 

Life down here in the wonderful valley of Yakima is going well. My purpose here is the same purpose I had in Moses Lake, to invite others to come unto Christ by helping them receive the restored gospel. It's very different here in many ways. Hispanic culture is so different! For member dinners, the wives slave and cook SO much food the whole time and the daughters run around and wait on us and get us anything we need. It is so different. We aren't even allowed to stand up to put our dishes away! We get fed authentic Mexican food every night which is a huge blessing. My stomach has a little bit of adjusting to do, and I'm going to have to be extra sure not to eat everything they get me, but my tongue is super happy with it all. 

We are working with this really solid family right now, the Valencia's. Elder Wilson has been teaching them for a little while now and they just recently started getting super interested and serious about learning more. The Mom already has a testimony of the truthfulness of everything, but she's just concerned that after baptism she'll fall away and she really doesn't want that. It's awesome to see that she understands the importance of enduring to the end and how that ties in with the gospel of Jesus Christ, however she's holding herself back from enjoying the rest of the blessings that come from the doctrine of Christ. We're really focusing on her needs and what more we can be doing to help her feel more sure of herself. 

Her oldest son Christian has previously never been involved in the lessons, but the first lesson we had with them this week he came out and we got to talk to him more and he really opened up and started asking some really great questions. It is so much fun to see the whole family working together to learn more, and how they are all at such different levels in their own testimonies. Teaching the family gets real interesting and engaging when we have to teach to the needs of every investigator and they are all so different! 

A really cool little miracle that happened this past week was on the day of transfers, while at the Quincy transfer site I was talking to Elder Wilde and I found out that a family that we found and taught back in the day in The Dalles had their hearts softened and are now working towards baptism! It really strengthened my testimony that people are ready at the right times, and that the Lord is "able to do mine own work." (2 Nephi 27:21)

Con Mucho Amor,

Elder King

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

RIP King's Row

Friends and Family, 

Transfers struck. Something completely unexpected happened and I am getting transferred from Moses Lake to serve in the Yakima Valley Zone. It was so out of the blue and unexpected that I would be transferred after only one transfer here in Moses Lake. I absolutely loved it here. My companion Elder Roe had become my best friend and we had so much fun together. I grew so close with so many of the members here, especially in the YSA, and now it's already time for goodbyes.

Goodbyes stink. 

I will be serving with my trainer, Elder Wilson, again. It is going to be so crazy being his companion again. I guess we didn't do a good enough job together the first time. Our area is the ulta-ghetto of Yakima. We cover some of the top neighborhoods in the US for gang violence. We aren't allowed to wear certain colored ties on certain days because the local gangs will shoot us if we wear the wrong color. There should be some crazy adventures up ahead for me! 

Elder Roe and I have seen some incredible miracles this past week. On Thursday we received a call from a man named Ramon, informing us that he had just moved to Moses Lake from Warden and wanted to start meeting with missionaries and work towards baptism. Our jaws dropped while we listened to the call, and set up church tour for later that afternoon. We met with him and showed him around and at the end of the tour we took him to the baptismal font and testified of the sacredness of that ordinance. The Spirit was so thick in that room you could cut it with a knife. I challenged Ramon to pray right then and there about September 2nd for his baptism, and he knelt down and asked Heavenly Father if it was what he was supposed to do. After the prayer he stood up, looked at us, and just smiled and told us that he really felt that September 2nd was what Heavenly Father wanted for him. We had a mud football activity later that night for the YSA and he came to that and came to church on Sunday and started fellowshipping himself and meeting all sorts of new people! 

On Friday we met with Jonny, another one of our investigators. We knocked on his door and right as his roommate let us in, he showed up and walked in the door! He was so happy to see us and apologized for being a little bit late. He went and grabbed both his Chinese Book of Mormon and English Book of Mormon and we sat at the table and had a study session with him where we read the introduction to the Book of Mormon and he was taking notes on it the whole time! So cool. Earlier in the week the Relief Society President in the 11th Ward threw a BBQ and invited Jonny and he came and I was able to talk with him about the Olympics and China and taught him how to make s'mores for the very first time! 

Serving here in Moses Lake has taught me so much about the kind of person I want to become. I learned so much from Elder Roe and from the friends I made in the YSA, and they will always hold a very special place in my heart. 

Iré, haré, seré, 
(I will go, I will do, I will be,)

Elder King