Monday, June 28, 2010

Johnstown Week 18

My week wasn't the most exciting week we've had but it sure was a good one! Just kidding, it was a great week! Particularly this past weekend! It was Thunder in the Valley!! What is that you ask? Thunder in the
Valley is this ginormous motorcycle rally that they have here in downtown Johnstown! There were probably 50,000 bikes (mostly obnoxiously annoying Harleys that sounded like a bomb was going off or gun shots)
lining the streets, filling parking lots, and riding around. It was crazy!..,,. We went down there to see if there was a chance that we could talk to a few people about the gospel, but it was impossible with all the loud music, loud motorcycles, loud people, and alcohol! So accepting the fact that we couldn't talk to anyone, we bought a t-shirt and then walked around for a little bit looking at all the bikes. There were some pretty sweet ones there, not gonna lie. The bad part about it was we live downtown and the motorcycles love to circle around the block where our apartment is at, and the worst part is, there is a stop light right next to us, and it takes FOREVER!! Well it seems like that at 2 in the morning when there are 10 Harleys outside all revving their engines. Ear plugs helped, but only a little. So that was cool.

Other than that, it was Elder Page's last week, so we spent a lot of the time visiting members that he liked, teaching them, and taking pictures with them. That was fun! We got to have dinner with Alphonso and Dawn.
Alphonso is doing fantastic! He has changed so much it's incredible! He's changing the music he's listening to, the way he talks, the way he acts, dresses, and even the friends he has on facebook! I love seeing the changes in people, it makes what we do all worth it! All the doors that are slammed in our faces, all the things people yell at us, they all don't mean anything, and they don't matter, because once you see that change in someone's life and how happy they become because of the gospel, makes eveything worth it. And we're looking forward with Paris for her baptismal date of the 24th of July!! We talked to her and she has expressed her desire to be baptized and it's very exciting! Hopefully everything will go well! Continue to pray for her, and for us so that we can progress.

Elder Serrano

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Johnstown Week 17

Chris and Nicole are doing fine. We haven't seen them in about a week and a half so that's no good.... They didn't come to church even when we had a ride set up and they went to go and pick them up for church, Chris
didn't answer the door. So that's a bummer.... I was hoping that they would finally come but I guess not this week... But we did have our other investigator, Paris, Come to church!! That was so exciting because
we haven't had an investigator at church for almost 5 weeks! That's too long. But she came and hopefully this next week we'll be able to set her with a baptismal date! Hopefully that will pull through.

So this week there have been some pretty exciting things going on here in Johnstown. The first item of business: Bed Bugs!!!!!!!!!!!! We had somewhatofa infestation at our apartment with bed bugs. For that past
few weeks we had been waking up and having little red bumps on our arms and legs and were wondering where the heck they were coming from! So Tuesday morning Elder Page woke up, got out of bed and found 5 little red bugs crawling on his bed! So we killed them and pulled off his comforter and found some more! So we then pulled his bed out from in the corner and they were all over the side of the mattress and all on the
wall/wood trim on the floor. It was pretty Gnasty!! So, we got the vacuum and sucked them all up and then got some bug spray/killer and sprayed it all over where the darn things were. then we checked my bed
and I only had about 6 total so we did the same, then moved our beds out of the places they were to a different place. Then we washed everything we had in hot water just to make sure we purged the suckers from our premises. So finally we got some good nights rest. They're all gone now, so no need to worry.

Also Alphonso got baptized!!!!!! But sadly, we weren't able to go...President would let us. The baptism took place about 2 hours away from Johnstown in a place called Butler where he lives. But it was so satisfying to hear that he continued to take those steps to be able to live worthily and to make those promises with God. He called us on Saturday and thanked us for everything we helped him with. He also said that he was happy to be baptized but would have been happier if we had been able to do it. But it's okay, as long as it happened, it really didn't matter who did it. I'm still counting him as someone I "baptized" because I was a part of teaching him everything we're supposed to. We taught him everything and then sent him over to Butler to be baptized basically. So I'm counting it! He's such a great guy.

Well Elder Page is going home in a week! So that means I'll be getting a new companion and possibly training! That'll be exciting! And I'll be in Johnstown until August 10, and possibly longer than that. Johnstown is great, I've been getting to know the area very well, and it seems like I've tracted every single street here, I haven't, but it seems like it! The ward here continues to be great and supportive, It's amazing! It's kind of hard sending home a missionary because once he gets to having about 2 weeks left, they start talking a lot about home and what not, and it reminds me a lot of home!! And I miss you guys a lot, it's hard because I've still got 19 months left, but it's okay. More time for me to work!

I feel like I've grown so much already in the gospel and in my testimony. It's great to be able to completely submerse yourself into a "career" where it is completely centered on the gospel and serving others. I have been learning so much It's great! Now that I've finished the Book of Mormon in my studies I'll be moving over to the NewTestament and studying that more too! It'll be great. I love it!

Elder Serrano

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Johnstown Week 16

So there are a few awesome things that happened this week.

First off, our investigators Chris and Nicole are doing fantastic! They still continue to learn and to grow, it's amazing! They were supposed to come to Stake Conference but they couldn't... The stake center is in a city called Altoona, and that's about 50 minutes away from Johnstown. So we had a ride arranged for them to get up there, and when we got to their house it turns out that his son had to go to the hospital and have some kind of respiratory examination because he was really sick so they couldn't come, but next week they will be able to! Finally!

Our other investigator Paris is doing great, she is very excited and feels that this is the right path for her, the one true church! She told us that and we were very excited! The only problem that's in the way of her being baptized is.... marriage! It's been the common thing, but her and her boyfriend are engaged, she has a ring and all, they just need to buckle down and get it done! It seems like that's the common thing that's a problem lately. But other than that they are doing great!

Stake conference was amazing! We had a member of the seventy come to speak to us and guess who it was..... Elder Richard G. _HINCKLEY_! Before the Saturday sessions started, Elder Page and I were talking to a branch president and then we heard this, "hello elders." and we turn and there was a man that looked just like Pres. Hinckley looking at us right in the face! It totally caught us off guard! It was so cool! We got to shake his hand and he conversed with us for a little bit and then went on his way. Wow. I swear he was glowing. When the meeting began, and when it was his turn to speak he got up and from where I was sitting he looked and sounded just like his dad! It was incredible. And his humor was just the same too! He told many stories about his dad, one in particular was about a time where Pres. Hinckley was in the temple after
the sealing he performed for his last grand child. Pres. Hinckley was saying a few words to the people there and he stopped and thought for a second. Then he said, "I have sealed together all 6 of my children and all 23 of my grandchildren. I think that is the finest thing that I have ever done. I have sealed together my posterity." That's so amazing to see how important his family was to the prophet. It was more important to him than building more temples than any other prophet has. That was a very special thing that he shared. It was so amazing to hear him speak.

On the Sunday morning session, Dawn ... was able to come! There was a special meeting that was held for recent converts to the church and investigators in which Elder Hinckley would preside and speak to them.
After the meeting our mission president, who was there also, came up and met Dawn and was talking to her (he really wanted to meet her because we have said so much about her to him) then up walks Elder Hinckley and meets her too! He asks her name and how long she's been a member and gets to know her too! It was so cool, but not the coolest part. When Elder Hinckley got up to speak, he said, "I would like to invite someone to come up and share their testimony. Sis. Dawn ....., will you come up and share your story with us?" That totally caught us and Dawn off guard! She got up FOR THE VERY FIRST TIME and gave her testimony! So the very first testimony she gave was at stake conference, by unexpected invitation by Elder Hinckley. She did a fantastic job too! She's just amazing! I love the leadership of the church and am very grateful that we have Prophets, apostles, seventy: Special witness of Christ here to be able to guide us through this crazy time in our lives.

I love serving and being able to serve the Lord in doing this Great work.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Johnstown Week 15

For Memorial day there wasn't anything special that went on, and no, we didn't have a barbecue.... it's sad but that's the one thing that everyone feeds us once the summer hits. Barbecue chicken or hamburgers, and really that's pretty much it, on occasion we'll get fed steak or spare ribs but, everyone says that it's barbecue season!

So I was going to send out a picture with this e-mail but, I forgot my camera and chord so I could put it on the computer. I was looking at a picture that was taken of me at the Top of the Inclined Plane and I started laughing! Why? Because i'm getting chubby! HA! I looked at that picture of me at Dawn's baptism and then the picture of me taken yesterday, and I couldn't believe it! It was so funny, but Elder Page says it's inevitable for it to happen, and there's no way to be able to get into better shape than when you came out. So yes, I have gained weight, I'm a little more plump around the face and stomach haha! It's not too bad, but it's noticeable.

So you wanted to know what an average day is like for a missionary? okay!
* 6:30 am the alarm goes off,
* exercise for a half hour or so,
* shower, shave, brush teeth, etc. (prepare for the day)
* eat breakfast
* 8 am begin personal study
* 9am begin companion study
* 10am head out the door for work
Our work days go from 10 am to 9pm with an hour long lunch and dinner break in between. when we're not eating we are knocking on doors, talking to people on the street, teaching people we have appointments with, visiting members and seeing if they have anyone that we can talk to about the gospel and what not. At 9pm we get back to the apartment, and plan out our next day, then it's lights out at 10:30pm, then the alarm goes off again at 6:30 the next morning and we start again the next day. That's a normal day for missionaries.

This week went by pretty fast for me and there wasn't that much exciting that went on! I got to go on exchanges with an Elder that has been out about 3 weeks, so I was basically senior companion. It was crazy to have that experience because that's what I'll be doing in a few weeks if things go according to plan: training and teaching a new elder how to be a missionary. wow. It's very exciting and I'm very honored that President Summerhays had found me to be ready to be able to take on such a responsibility already. It will be hard I'm sure, missionary work always is, but I know that the Lord will be there to help us and make us the best instruments in his hands that we can be! So that's comforting.

Our investigators Chris and Nicole, are doing well! They are really willing to learn and wanting to live right! We taught them the word of wisdom this past week and they understood it well and why we need it. They really love Iced Tea and Iced Coffee but we committed them to cut back and eventually quit drinking it one day. They also need to get married!! They said that the only thing that's keeping them from tying the knot is the money issue. We let them know that our Bishop here will do it for free and they can use the church building for free. They also say that when you get married, costs start going up, like insurance, taxes, bills and what not. They feel like they are married at heart, meaning they know that they are going to be together for the rest of their lives, but just "can't afford" to make it official for now. They just need to know that when they start making steps to live the way God wants us to, then God will help them and "provide a way for them, that
they might accomplish the thing, which He commandeth them." They'll do what's right, they're good people.

Being out here and being a missionary has really opened up my eyes to how important this church is and how important Joseph Smith was to restoring the church! As a missionary we have the opportunity to teach people about him and the things he did, and every time we talk about him and his vision of God the Father and Jesus Christ, the Spirit is so strong there and strengthens my testimony of the reality of his vision, and how he really was a true prophet, and it's amazing to see people find that testimony too! And discover for themselves that this is the only true and living church on the face of the earth, and we have the   privilege of being a part of it. I'm very grateful for the Holy Ghost and how it plays such a profound part in all of the work that we do and
in the lives we live. There's is nothing better than helping people find the truth. And it makes it worth all the many many many doors that are shut on us when people refuse to listen. My skin is probably 3 inches thick by now, no kidding! ;) But that's okay, that's what comes with the job.

The people out here are really nice and and all the trees have turned green too! It's so beautiful, I've never seen so many trees in my life! It's pretty amazing! I know the Church is true. Joseph Smith was and is a true prophet of God. Christ lives and loves us. God loves us.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Johnstown Week 14

This week there were interviews, So I got to speak with the Mission President one on one which was pretty cool because he told me that even though I'm the junior companion that I need to be starting to do 70% of the work in preparation for me being Senior Companion this coming transfer! Senior Companion already! And training! me? at 4 1/2 months, it's pretty awesome so pretty much Elder Page is going to be super lazy when it get's to be to the last two weeks of the transfer because he'll be going home and I'll be doing all the work. It'll be good though, because President told me to do that. So it basically gives my companion an OK to be trunky (trunky= super ready and dying to go home, the term trunk is pertaining to putting all your stuff in a trunk of suitcase and just getting ready to go home) So that's exciting!

But what's even more exciting is we met a couple, that is really interested in the church! Their names are Nicole and Chris and they are really solid! We met them on the street and they invited us back and are asking us a ton of questions about everything and some really deep doctrine things too! It's great, as a missionary, you absolutely love it when you get an investigator that asks a ton of questions and wants to learn a lot. Another great thing about them too is that they don't really have any much of a religious background so we're starting off with a clean slate with them only to build them up with the truth and nothing but the truth. We taught them 3 times last week which is really uncommon, usually you get into teach once or twice if you're lucky, but three times! wow, they are amazing. The only problem with them is that they aren't married..... but the have 2 kids too! They'll get married soon though, hopefully we got them talking about it because we mentioned that they would have to be married to be baptized so, that'll be interesting to see what happens, they seemed open to the idea though! which is good. Our other investigators aren't progressing as well, but
they are still wanting us over to teach, the only problem is that they aren't coming to church! They have to come at least 3 times in order to be baptized, so that's the real hold up! oh well things are going good nonetheless.

Hmmm,... what else.... Oh yeah, we were visiting this less active man and he has been having some really bad back problems and he asked us to do something for him... do the dishes!! of course we said yes because we're missionaries and we help out people as best as we can. Anyway, when we got there, (there were 2 other missionaries with us) and there was a sea of dishes that had old crusty food fused to them and "the
stink was great thereof"! Oh man that was a bad idea... my hands were all prunny and greasy plus while the other 3 missionaries were cleaning dishes (we took shifts, that's how immense it was) I was talking to the
man and he told me.....(edited because of TMI, ask the Elder when he gets home). Gnasty....

I think that's pretty much all that happened that was exciting or interesting, if I think of anything else more I'll let you know next week.

Elder Benjamin