Monday, January 30, 2017

Living in the Mission Office

Friends and Families, 

Well, it's been an interesting transfer weekend. My reign in the Englewood Branch has come to an end. On the bright side, I won't be going too far and I'll still be in the Englewood Building for the new ward that I cover. President Lewis hit his head really really hard Saturday morning while making some transfer calls and thought that it would be a good idea to call me to be one of his assistants. I had to start packing right then and there to get ready to move in with the current assistants to prepare for all of the transfer craziness that will take place on Wednesday. Thankfully, since I was already so close, I was able to go to the Englewood Branch one last time yesterday and say all of my goodbyes and have one last final member dinner and then officially leave.

We had Branch Conference yesterday, so the new stake president came to speak. He served his mission in Japan and doesn't speak a single word of Spanish, but he wrote out his entire talk in English, then translated it into Spanish with the help of one of his brothers who does speak Spanish, practiced it, and then gave his whole talk in Spanish to the branch. It was very powerful to see him do his very best to speak. Although he did not know what he was saying, you could feel the Spirit so strongly and so could he and he would tear up despite being lost in translation.

Saying goodbye was really sad. Little did I know when I was first called to serve in the Englewood Branch that I would be finding a new family. All of the members in that branch will forever hold a very special place in my heart. I took a lot of pictures with all of the members, but I won't be able to send any of them unfortunately. We just finished an office meeting and my camera is still back in the apartment and we don't have too much time for emailing today. Look forward to the farewell pics next week!

The biggest spiritual insight I'd like to share from this week comes from Saturday morning. Right after the phone call from President Lewis, I knew that I needed to say a prayer and ask for all of Heavenly Father's help. I remember back in my first transfer when I was first serving with Elder Wilson, right after he got the call that he was going to be emergency transferred I saw him kneel down and pray. That really stuck out to me, and I've always tried to do the same. As I began my prayer, I started to offer up the feelings of my heart. I started off by expressing gratitude for all of the areas that I've served in and all of the companions I've had and everything I've learned from them. I gave thanks for all of leaders I had back home. Bishops, Stake Presidents, teachers in school, Scoutmasters, Young Men's Presidents, etc. I then began to express all of my concerns. I didn't know how I was going to be able to do what I was just called to do. With all of the faults and weaknesses that I have, how can I magnify my calling? I started to think of previous assistants that I have seen throughout the course of my mission, and I began to feel very inadequate. As I began to ask for all the help I could receive, a feeling of peace came over my heart. A line from a talk that I had recently read came very strongly to my mind. "You can't do it, Elder King. But the Lord can. He has the power to do His work, and if you will be worthy and work hard, He will do it. You will see.”

The Lord doesn't call the qualified, he qualifies the called. Despite all of the personal flaws that we may find ourselves with, He will help us to overcome any task, trial, or tribulation placed before us.

Con Mucho Amor,

Elder King

Note from mom:  I've attached a couple pictures Sister Lewis took and shared on the mission blog.  If you'd like to see her story, here's the link:  New Assistant Elder King

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Ministering Angels

Friends and Family, 

First off, I may now honestly say that I have eaten grasshoppers. Apparently they're a commodity in Mexico, some really expensive dish. In Pasco a plate of grasshoppers can go for up to $25. Our investigators, Pedro and Rosa, had a whole tub of them and made me try them. Elder Kiser didn't want to, so I had to. They weren't too bad, flavor wise. The worst part is picking the bug parts out of your teeth. I've attached a picture where I have to kneel down to fit in the frame with them. They're from Oaxaca, so they're very very small.

A common lesson that I've been seeing throughout my time here in Yakima is how easy it is to be an angel in somebody else's life. We got a random call from a phone number that we didn't recognize and answered the phone and started to talking to some stranger. He explained that his name was Rafael and that he felt that his life had no purpose anymore. He wanted to take his own life, but something told him that he should call the missionaries. We were all very taken back at what we had just heard over the phone, so we asked for some clarification on some things and realized that this man was truly on the brink of taking his own life. We asked him if he had any weapons or anything nearby, and he answered no. He told us that he lived out in Naches, about half an hour away from where we were. We felt helpless with the great distance between us, but we promised him that missionaries would go and talk with him. We called the Elders that covered Naches, and I said "Elders, someone is about to take their life. Are you up for the challenge?" We gave them the address, and they headed off to visit Rafael.

They called us back and told us that everything was going to be okay, that Rafael wasn't going to end his life. The gospel had begun to bring light into his life again. A couple days later I went on exchanges with those Elders, and we felt a very strong need to go and visit Rafael before Sunday. He lives out in a lonely garage in the middle of nowhere. The only social contact he may have in a day is with his dog Blackie, who has a broken leg. We went and knocked on the door with a whole new light about him. He let us in and we started talking with him about his life and what has happened to him. His entire family was killed by the Mexican cartels, and it caused him to lose faith in everything. He told us that everything has gone downhill since that moment, until missionaries went and visited him. Since that first visit, he was miraculously able to find a new job, after being unemployed for a very long time. A sad look started to come over his face again, when he confessed that he does not have very much food, and that he was afraid of starving. We promised him that God would look out for him, especially since he's been reading in El Libro de Mormon. We said a prayer with him and continued talking to him about the blessings of the gospel, when we heard a car lock up outside his garage. Very puzzled, we all went outside to see who it could be, since Rafael isn't accustomed to visitors. It was his new boss, from his new job, with a box full of meat from a hunting trip he and a friend went on. He also brought some spinach and other odd items of food. Rafael thanked his new boss, and we thanked him for being the answer to our prayers, and went back inside as his boss went on his way.

We were amazed. We had just witnessed a serious miracle. A humble prayer was answered.

It doesn't matter what trials we are going through in life, God will watch out for us. There is no depth that we can sink to, that the light of the gospel cannot reach to bring us back up. 

Con Mucho Amor, 

Elder King

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Sacrifice brings miracles

Friends and Family, 

First off, I must apologize. I set a goal at the beginning of the transfer to try and take a picture every day, and so far this week I have taken one picture. It's a lot harder than you'd think. Taking pictures just isn't in my natural disposition I guess. With all this being said, I have no pictures to share. The one picture I did take I took of the door of our apartment, just for the sake of taking a picture that day, 

As a mission, we're really trying to encourage all of the missionaries to spend at least one hour tracting each day. Spending at least one hour each day out knocking doors has had such an impact on the work in so many ways. We have seen the Lord bless us in many unexpected ways because of our efforts to find. On Tuesday we needed to go and try and visit a new investigator that we had found a couple days ago, but after we knocked on his door his wife told us that he had left about half an hour earlier to go pick up their kids from school. We asked the wife to please tell her husband that we had stopped by, and went on our way. As we were walking away from the door and back towards the car to go visit our back-up plan, a thought came to my mind. I looked at my companion and said, "Why don't we go tract the street up the block?" The wind was beating hard, our toes were very frozen, and the temptation to get into the car and drive to visit another investigator was very present in our minds. We had already planned an hour of tracting later on in the day, but he looked back at me and with a shrug of the shoulders we started walking up the block. Once we arrived at the first door, we knocked once and nobody answered. We started walking back down the pathway and onto the next house when a car drove by and honked at us. We walked over and the driver rolled down the window, and to our amazement it was our investigator who we had just tried to contact! He was on his way home from picking up the kids, and saw us knocking doors and told us to come back to his house so we could teach him more. 

If we had not decided to sacrifice the warmth and comfort of the car, we would not have been able to teach our investigator that day. Sacrifice brings miracles. Every time we make a choice to sacrifice something for the Lord, whatever it may be and however small it may seem, the Lord blesses us greatly every single time. Whatever you might be holding back from the altar of sacrifice, know that the blessings will make whatever it is worth it. 

Another miracle from this week comes from Tuesday night. We had a member come out with us to visit a less-active member in the branch, but our appointment fell through. Happens every once in a while as missionaries. We looked at the member and asked him, "Who do you home teach?" He mentioned some families and one stood out to me for some reason. We went by and knocked on the door and a familiar face opened up. Many moons ago, I shared a story about finding a family because I helped some kids get a chicken back inside a fence. Ariana, the mom of the family, opened the door! We haven't been able to find her for so long, and it was because she was living with her parents now. Her Dad, Procoro, is a member of the church. The one that our member was assigned to home teach. 

We taught Ariana and her kids and her brothers while Hermano Webber taught Procoro. We set a return appointment and went back and invited them to church and Ariana and her two kids came to church! I was on cloud 9 the rest of the day. They are SUCH a cool family, and seeing them at church and love it filled me with joy. My companion and I decided to go to Primary to sit with Ariana's kids and help them feel comfortable, so it was also a nice throwback to the good ol' days with sharing time and singing time. 

The Lord has truly been blessing us this week. Love you and miss you all, as always. Special birthday shout out to the best younger brother anybody could ask for. Happy birthday Aaron. Shouts outs. 

Con Mucho Amor, 

Elder King

(note from editor-mom:  since William didn't send a picture, I'll share one he sent to me.  these missionaries do some crazy things with their spare time!!)

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Blessed to Bless Others

Friends and Family, 

I forgot to update you all on my New Year's Resolution from last year! Some of you may remember that last year I set a goal to not drink soda for the entire year of 2016, and for the first time in my life I actually completed a New Year's Resolution! Still going strong too. Eating with Hispanics for almost every meal makes it a little hard because they love to drink soda with everything, but I have withstood all temptation. Last night I had a dream that I drank a Mountain Dew Pitch Black and I woke up feeling all guilty. Weird how things like that work. I wonder if any of you actually read this part of the email? I feel like my emails are like sausage. Nobody actually knows what's in them and you can cut them off anywhere.I'm sure most just look at the pictures, but I can't blame them. Who wouldn't want to look at this face? *wink*

Anyways. Last P-Day was crazy. Since we've been getting so much snow recently, our district decided we'd go to this famous sledding hill in Yakima and go sledding. We borrowed some sleds from some members and hit the slopes. Being a southern Texas boy, I've never been sledding on a hill so big. It was a blast. It was actually really good that we were there because a ton of people crashed and ate it hard. One of the sisters took a gnarly fall off her sled, but thankfully she wasn't hurt. Towards the very end, right as we were about to leave, we had just finished our last ride down the hill when we saw a young girl walking away when somebody came flying down the hill and nailed her right in her legs, causing her to flip up into the air and land on her back/head. I ran over immediately and my somebody else was already there trying to talk to her but she wasn't responding. 

My lifeguard instincts kicked in immediately, and I actually got down and tapped her on the shoulder and said, "Hey hey, are you okay?" for a real life situation. She looked over at me in extreme pain. Her leg was kicking around and she was trying not to move at all but the pain hurt so bad. I started asking some questions to try and figure out what had happened and she told me that she had hear a crack when she landed. The more I talked with her, the more I realized how serious this actually was. I got behind her head and put my hands under her head and neck to support and stabilize her spine to make sure that didn't get injured any more and I started barking commands for people to call her parents and an ambulance and to help lift her up so we could get her off of the snow and onto a sled to use as a temporary backboard. Once we got her onto the sled I started pulling the sled as slowly and carefully as I could away from the sledding hill and towards the fence. I asked her some questions to help keep her calm and prevent her from going into shock. She told me that her name was Natalie and that she was on the swim team and did drama. I told her the story about when my sister got punched in the face once during a play. She laughed, and then cringed with pain, so I told her I'd stop saying funny things. 

We got her over to the fence and I took off my jackets and put them over her to try and keep her warm and while doing so her eyes closed and she passed out. I tried getting her attention, but no response. I tilted her head back and put my hand on her neck to check for a pulse and breathing. I could see her chest lifting up and down and could feel the breath upon my cold face, but my hands were so frozen that I couldn't feel a pulse. I grabbed somebody's hand warmer and warmed them up us much as I could but still couldn't feel a pulse. I wasn't sure if the frozen state of my hands was what made it so I couldn't feel a pulse or the fact that her heart had actually stopped. I rubbed my hands together and one more time put the side of my face over her nose and mouth and my fingers on her neck and said the quickest prayer to ever be said and she gasped for air and woke up again. 

She looked very alarmed and confused as to what just happened, but I tried to calm her down and just started talking to her about life again and sneakily asking questions about her medical history. After a while the father and an ambulance showed up and I told the EMTs everything that happened and helped them get the sled onto a real backboard and get her into the back of the ambulance. 

I'm not sure how this whole experience translates over email, but it was pretty intense when it all went down. Right after it all happened, all us missionaries were pretty frozen and shocked at what had just happened, so we all went to my favorite hot chocolate place in Yakima to warm up a bit. 

As always, I must share the insight I take away from this experience. We never know how we may be prepared to help somebody else out. Thanks to my work experience as a lifeguard, I had been prepared to help out in a small way in Natalie's life. We all have experiences and gifts and talents that we are blessed with, so we can bless others. I think about one of my first weeks here in Yakima. A family had just been baptized, and during my baptismal interview with the mother of the family I asked her how the whole experience with meeting with the missionaries was. Her response touched me. She looked me right in the eyes and said, "You missionaries, you missionaries were the angels I was praying for." Sometimes we're the ones that are praying for angels, sometimes we're being prepared to be angels. No matter what we're going through, we're being blessed so that someday we can bless others. 

Con Mucho Amor, 

Elder King

Monday, January 2, 2017

Resolution Time

Friends and Family, 

I'm hoping you all had a wonderful Christmas weekend. Christmas morning another Elder and I cooked twenty cinnamon rolls for our apartment, so you know we had a good Christmas morning. 

Funny story from this week. Usually in the morning we go to the Englewood building to work out because our apartment doesn't have much space, and Monday morning the Sisters ran in asking for our help. They told us that they had left the key to their apartment on their table and they locked themselves out and assumed we would know how to break in. They assumed correctly, and we got in the car and drove to their apartment. Elder Kiser went around back and hopped a fence and started taking off the window screen to see if they had left a window unlocked and I went around front to try the same on the front windows. As I was checking windows, I hear hooping and hollering and swearing out back. I was a little surprised, and thought "Maybe Elder Kiser fell or he's just really upset or something?" but I kept on with my breaking-into-apartment-skills. I had finally found an open window and was about to climb in when Elder Jensen came running from around the side of the house and said "Elder! No! We're at the wrong house!" My leg was halfway through the window and it all hit me at once. The Seahawks flag, the fence out back, their car wasn't there yet. We were breaking into some strangers home. Elder Kiser came running around back and told me that as he was checking a window a woman came and started screaming and swearing at him and threatening to call the police and his response was "No no no no it's not what it looks like, we're trying to help the Sisters! Do you... uh... know where the Sisters live?" As you could imagine, she didn't believe his story. So he just bailed and we all jetted off, hoping to cause as minimal trouble as possible. 

Recently, two of our investigators, Pedro and Rosa, have been progressing so much. They're the couple that we found a couple weeks ago due to my lack of sense of direction that lead us to knock on the wrong door. The couple that showed all of their family the #ILUMINAelMUNDO video right after we left their house. It has been so much fun to use our companionship studies to the maximum and plan for our lessons with them. One morning, we both felt the prompting to call a couple who were baptized just over a year ago to join us in our lesson with Pedro and Rosa. They had recently moved from our branch to the other branch, but we still felt the need to ask them to come out with us. They gladly accepted, and when we walked in the door we soon realized how inspired it was to have the Estevez' out with us. Hermana Estevez saw Rosa and her eyes opened up big time and they gave each other huge hugs. Elder Kiser and I were both pretty confused, it looked to us like two friends reuniting after a long period of no contact. To our surprise, that was the reality of the situation! They both knew each other from the small town that they grew up in back in Oaxaca and instantly connected. It was so cool. We taught them the Restoration and it was especially powerful to hear Hermana Estevez bear testimony to one of her childhood friends. We watched the short 20 minute Restoration DVD with them, and the next time we came back we walked in on them watching Bible videos from! They loved the Restoration DVD so much that they found the full-length hour and a half movie online and watched all of it after we had left. Talk about progressing! 

Other updates, I got my eyebrows plucked by one of the sister missionaries in my district on Tuesday. Now I can preach the gospel with my eyebrows on fleek. With New Year's Eve on Saturday, it's time to come up with a New Year's Resolution. Last year I set the goal to not drink any soda for the year of 2016, and so far I have stayed true to my resolution! I'm pretty proud of myself. If you have any suggestions for good resolutions, please let me know. 

Con Mucho Amor, 

Elder King

New Year, New Me

Friends and Family, 

Don't you just love the classic white girl subject title for this week's email? It was only fitting, considering the recent turn of the year. 2017 already. Aren't we supposed to have hoverboards by now or something like that? 

2016 ended with a lot of really cool experiences. Our mission president's son was visiting in town for the holidays, and all of his siblings are married and spending their time with their in-laws so he was here alone while his parents fulfilled all of their mission president responsibilities. He recently got back from his mission in Chile a year ago, so we took him out with us for the day on his one year home mark to celebrate. We went and visited a lot of people, and tried by one of our investigators Osvaldo. He wasn't home, but we saw his neighbor standing outside smoking a cigarette. I had talked with his neighbor when I first got here almost five months ago, but haven't seen him since. We wen't up and talked with him for a little and he made a comment about how cold it was outside, which is one of my favorite things for people to say because it gives me a perfect opportunity to invite ourselves inside. He took us inside and we asked him about what he knew about missionaries and he knew a TON. He started talking to us about the Doctrine and Covenants and about how he used to go out with missionaries all the time. We had thought he was our golden investigator, but alas we asked him why he wasn't baptized and he told us that he was baptized in California and received the priesthood and everything but then one day his wife got mad at him and he had to stop going to church and moved here to Yakima and hasn't been back since. One minute we're talking to a stranger, next minute it turns out he used to be super active and hasn't been to church in years! 

We talked with him about how the gospel will bless him and his family, and he started to cry. He told us that he hasn't been with his kids for a long time and he really misses them, so we promised him that God will help him to get his family back and that through the gospel families can be together forever. He told us how guilty he feels about smoking and told us how badly he wanted to quit. I looked at him and said (in Spanish of course), "Carlos, do you believe in God?" He answered with a firm yes. "Carlos, do you believe that God can help you to stop smoking?" Once again, a firm yes. "Then Carlos, give me your cigarettes." 

He put his hand in his pocket and pulled out a box of cigarettes and handed them right over. We could see the burden begin to be lifted off of his shoulders as he took a step of faith to overcome his addiction. 

Like Carlos, if we have enough faith to hand over to God whatever we may be struggling with, our burdens will be lighter. We each have struggles that we personally face, and often times we lack the faith that we can overcome our trials. True, we alone cannot overcome the trials we are faced with, but we don't have to face them alone. "With men it is impossible, but not with God: for with God all things are possible." (Mark 10:27)

On New Year's Eve we went to the Martinez-Farias family for dinner and I can now say that I've eaten cow tongue, lip, and head! Cow tongue is really really good, I wouldn't recommend cow lip. The texture was too weird for me. I was also asked by Presidente Moreno to give a talk in Sacrament meeting on prayer, so I started off the new year giving a talk in church. Hermana Hull also gave a talk, and I'm convinced that Presidente asked us because he knows that when a Texan is given a job, it'll get done and it'll get done right. 

Con Mucho Amor, 

Elder King