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