Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Happy Half-Christmas

Friends and Family, 

For those of you unaware, yesterday was half-Christmas. It marks six months until we'll all be gathered around the tree once again. I think some of the wiring inside my brain is all messed up because I think I get more excited about half-Christmas than I do about real Christmas. I think it's the warm weather or something.

Last P-Day we went on a hike out in Naches to do some cave exploration. It was really fun. I took some pictures inside the cave, but it was pretty dark so you can't see much. Go figure. You'll just have to take my word for it that it was really cool inside. 

I was able to reconnect with Elder Taele this past week while on exchanges in Moses Lake. He's serving in my old area now in the Moses Lake 11th Ward and YSA Ward and we had a really cool experience together. We were out tracting in one of the neighborhoods when this car with two girls inside pulled over and asked, "Are you the Mormons or not?!?" We both smiled and walked over and introduced ourselves. The girl in the passenger seat, Alissa Kolosnitsy, moved to Moses Lake from Russia a while ago and she has been attending the Russian Orthodox church but really doesn't feel that her beliefs are in harmony with that church. She has a friend who is Mormon, but hasn't made the best decisions in his life. She asked us, "Are you bad people too??" We chuckled slightly to ourselves and said we try not to be. We taught her about how we are always striving to become more like the Savior and to live according to his teachings. Although we are always striving for this, we don't always succeed. We had a GREAT conversation with her and by the end she looked at us and said, "Hmmm.... Maybe I should become a Mormon.... Will you teach me more about your church?" Pretty incredible to think about the Lord's hand in bringing this girl alllll the way from Russia to Moses Lake and having us out and about so she could stop and talk to us.

On exchanges up in Omak, I was able to teach a REALLY cool family. The Morgan family was a referral from a recent convert up in Omak. They have made many life changes and have LOVED learning about the restored gospel. Lydia, the ten year old in the family, relied on faith and overcame a strong temptation. Her grandparents, who she doesn't see very often, invited her to a Seattle Mariner's game. Of course, the game is this Saturday. Lydia was faced with a very tough decision. Push back her baptism to attend a special opportunity to attend a baseball game with her grandparents, or miss the game to be baptized with her family? Last night, the Elders had a lesson with the Morgan family. They followed up on Lydia and her prayers about whether she should push her baptism back or not, and she still felt uncertain. After teaching about how Heavenly Father will answer her prayers, the missionaries knelt down with the family and Lydia asked Heavenly Father specifically about when she should be baptized. After she closed the prayer and the last 'amen' was said, there was a brief moment of silence when Lydia pipped up. "...I need to be baptized with my family this weekend. I really want to go to the baseball game, but God told me this is more important. He'll help me go to another baseball game some other time."

"Verily I say unto you, Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven." (Matthew 18:3)

Lydia has been a great example of how we should become as little children. Working with such amazing people has completely changed my life.

Con Mucho Amor, 
Elder King

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Trying New Things

Friends and Family, 

Happy Juneteenth! Lots of stuff happened this week, so I this week's email will be long. Long story short, life is good. Evelyn's baptism is being pushed back to the 30th at 6pm so that the Gilman Family can be in attendance. I'm SUPER excited and happy that she is finally getting baptized. Everything is going great for her. Exchanges were great.

Now, read below if you'd like the short story long.

While I was on exchanges with Elder Bird this weekend, we had a pretty interesting experience regarding Juneteenth. This past week I've been trying something new. In an attempt to contact an enormous amount of people, I've been on bikes in our area almost every day. It's SO much fun. I love biking, it is definitely the best way to be a missionary. While biking down in the streets, we noticed some ladies setting up for something at Martin Luther King Jr Park. We asked what was going on that day, and they told us that there was going to be a Juneteenth festival in the afternoon. I was really excited for multiple reasons. I think the history of Juneteenth is pretty interesting, and on top of that it was going to be such a different way to contact an enormous amount of people. After lunch, we biked to the park and saw an older gentleman walking with crutches. We immediately locked our bikes up and ran to go help him. He told us that we should just call him Rev because he was a reverend for a long time. As we supported him and walked him over to a table, so many people came up to us very confused and asked Rev if he was okay. He was so kind, and told each of them, "Oh yes, I'm fine. These two nice young gentlemen are just helping me to a table." His reaction to our presence made me even more excited for what was to happen as we talked to people at the park. 

Unfortunately, everyone else did not have the same reaction to us as Rev. I went up to a man wearing a hat that said "STOP HATE" and his opening line to me was, "I HATE WHITE PEOPLE." I learned a lot about first impressions from him. He told me that his name was James, and expressed to me a plethora of feelings against white people. I talked with him for a while and told him I'd be his friend, and he didn't like that too much. I just listened and nodded for a while as he ranted, and then at the end told him that I cared about him. His attitude changed. It didn't change much, but it did change a little. He said, "....I can't be mad about that." 

Everybody else wasn't as abrasive, but they were very confused about us being there. Kind of ironic. They spent a lot of time talking about unity in the community, and it felt very segregated. We tried talking to more people, but nobody really gave us much attention. I decided that in order to try and soften the people's hearts, we'd focus just a little on the kids. A group of children were playing soccer, so we went and helped them set up some tables for goals and coached them a little. They LOVED us being there. It was nice to feel wanted. After a little bit of that, we decided our efforts were better spent elsewhere. We were talking about if anything we did at that festival even made an impact, and on our way back to our bikes the oldest woman there called us over to her. She had oxygen tubes and gray hair and looked us in the eyes and said, "Thank you. Thank you for watching over the children. You two are great young men." We may have not found any new investigators at that festival, but at least we changed one person's perspective of the Church.

Also while riding bikes on exchanges with Elder Kiser, we knocked into this lady named Mildred Shoemaker. She was very old and had a hard time getting around. We talked with her and explained who we are and what we do, and she said that she wasn't very interested but did want to know if we knew anyone who would mow her lawn for cheap. We told her we'd do it for free. She didn't believe us and kept chuckling to herself. Why would two twenty-one year olds want to mow some old lady's lawn in shirts and ties for free? She couldn't even fathom it. We told her we'd return in the afternoon and if the lawn wasn't taken care of, we'd do it. We returned later and to no surprise, the lawn remained untamed. We knocked on the door and asked where we could find the mower. She was hesitant at first, but eventually opened up and told us it was in the backyard. We brought it out front and began to mow. Just as I was about to finish the lawn, this couple came up to us and introduced themselves. The man said his name was Jeremy and that he was raised in the church, but never baptized. He and his girlfriend were looking to change their lives, and when they saw us mowing an older woman's lawn they took it as a sign. We got their phone number and set up an appointment for the following week. It's always fun and exciting to see how Heavenly Father will bless us for our efforts and service. 

Laurette is doing great. We've had three lessons with her on family history, and she's just soaking it all up. She's beginning to make great friendships in the ward with the members we bring. We're planning on bringing Carolyn with us to our next lesson, hopefully they kick it off. It'll be interesting to see how Laurette progresses. She just said her first prayer with us today at the end of the lesson. She also made a comment to us on our way out that she thinks her husband (who recently passed away) brought us to her door so that we could show her "some fun new thing to do". Family Search should really use that in their marketing. FAMILY SEARCH: Some fun new thing to do. 

I love summer. I think it's my new favorite season. At least up here in Washington, summer in Texas is can be very humid and hot. 

Con Mucho Amor, 
Elder King

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Apostolic Visit

Friends and Family, 

B_SY W__K. 

Care to buy a vowel?

It has been a very busy week! We had transfers on Wednesday, and on Saturday we had to get every single missionary from our mission (ranging from the Canadian border all the way down to Oregon) to the Stake Center in Richland, WA. It was quite the task. Elder Neil L. Anderson of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles and President Donald Hallstrom of the Presidency of the Seventy came and did a mission conference with both our mission and the Kennewick mission. Aside from the spiritual insights I learned, I was able to reconnect with Elder Stevens! He was an Elder I served with in the MTC in Mexico, and talking with him was so much fun. He's still the same Elder, hilarious and kind.

Elder Anderson shared some really interesting things with us, his visit wasn't entirely what I had expected it to be. He was very laid back and casual and discussed things in such an informal manner, it was fun and different. Towards the end of his remarks, he asked the question, "If you were stranded on an island for ten years, alone, with nobody else, would you say that you still believe Jesus Christ lived, died, and was resurrected?" I'd like to think that I would!

He shared the a secret that he's learned is to get the teachings of Christ deep into our bones. How do you do that, you may be wondering? His advice was to memorize ten scriptures from the Book of Mormon and ten scriptures from the New Testament and to call upon them anytime we need the Spirit of the Lord in our lives.

As I've been working on the challenge he extended, I have felt the power of the word of God in my life. There is so much power behind words, and especially when the words come from our Father in Heaven we can feel their power in our life. Try it out yourself! You'll notice a difference in how you think, feel, and behave. I'll share one scripture that I have been working on getting deep into my bones.

"And the Lord provided for them that they should hunger not, neither should they thirst; yea, and he also gave them strength, that they should suffer no manner of afflictions, save it were swallowed up in the joy of Christ. Now this was according to the prayer of Alma; and this because he prayed in faith." (Alma 31:38)

Con Mucho Amor, 
Elder King

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

1 Year in Yakima!!

Friends and Family, 

Transfers are upon us, and Elder Moser and I will be staying together for another transfer. This will be my eight transfer in Yakima, adding up to ONE WHOLE YEAR in the great city of Yakima. My heart is so happy. Little did I know, August of last year when I was reunited with Elder Wilson, that the next year of my life would be spent in the crazy gangsta hood that is Yakima, WA. It's also my last complete transfer in the mission, which doesn't seem real. I'll only be staying for half transfer next time due to this weird thing called 'college'.

Evelyn is getting really close to baptism. Her Mom says that she just wants to attend church one more time for all three house before she'll allow Evelyn to be baptized. Working with God's timing has actually been really beneficial. Because we've been patient with their family, Jessica has made tons of progress. She is praying every night with her kids and LOVES coming to church each week. She was going through a reallllllly hard time this past week with a lot of legal issues regarding custody over the kids. Elder Moser and I decided we'd write her a thank you note, expressing our gratitude for allowing us to teach her family and for being so supportive of her daughter's desire to come unto Christ. Jessica texted us later that day and told us how much she appreciated the kind gesture, and that it meant a TON to her. It was perfectly timed, exactly when she needed a little encouragement.

"...by small and simple things are great things brought to pass..." (Alma 37:6)

Matt expressed to us that his top desire is to get his family reading the scriptures daily. We've been working on it and we've helped them to set some goals and make plans on how they will accomplish the vision they have for their family. The biggest struggle we've seen is the oldest son, Calvin. Elder Moser and I have both agreed that the reason he is such a challenge when it comes to scripture study is because we were the same way not too long ago. It's been an interesting obstacle to overcome. If any of you have any suggestions or ideas on how to help teenage angst-balls gain the desire to read the scriptures, we're open to all help and advice!

Con Mucho Amor, 
Elder King