Monday, November 29, 2010

Pittsburgh Week 16

There's a great big Christmas tree! And I got a picture by it! So here's a picture, Merry Christmas! haha! it's a little dark

Elder Shipp got sick and I was afraid that I would get sick again but I didn't, so I'm good! I did get the package and it's totally awesome! I'm so excited to do that advent calendar! My companions are wanting to open them all up and find what things are in them, but I told them that it's against the law of the advent calendar to do so.

This Thanksgiving was pretty good! It was a little weird seeing as to I wasn't at home. It's the first holiday season away from home and it's way different. The dinner was great! It was supplied by a Bro. and Sis. Steimer. They are way cool and are recently re-activated less-active members! We helped them get back into church and the routine of it all so that was way exciting! We had all the works of a traditional thanksgiving dinner, and it was wonderful! My favorite part of it all was..... the cranberry sauce straight out of a can and cut up into round patties! :) Just like home. It was a most fantastic meal, and the company was way nice to us. But during thanksgiving day previous to the dinner was pretty hard because most people didn't really want to talk and we didn't want to tract because no one would have time due to cooking and family over so it was rough, but a great feast ended the day perfectly. The day after thanksgiving was great too for 2 reasons. 1. We got invited to a leftover thanksgiving meal which was fantastic. and 2. WE COULD OFFICIALLY PLAY CHRISTMAS MUSIC!!!!!! :) Which brings me to my next topic.

We only have 1 Christmas cd here at Maple Terrace and we are in need of more. Do you think you could send me some in the coming letters or something? If you have any MOTAB Christmas cds that would be great, we would love them. or you could make me a burned one. Remember: hymns, classical, motab. That would be most wonderful thank you!

It barley snowed out here and it's getting warmer for some reason for a little bit. Although it was bitter cold for the past few days. The humid wind just cut right through everything I was wearing And it was not warm. It really needs to snow within the next week or 2 so that I can get a picture of me and Pittsburgh when it's snowing to use on a Christmas card!

For our investigators. We still haven't found out anything with Baily... She is still deciding on what she needs to do. She's been to church enough times to get baptized and I know that she wants to, but she just need to figure out her living situation. So we'll see what's going to happen. We did find a new investigator however! His name is Justin. He's really cool and is really excited to learn about the gospel. He said that he started changing his entire life around and really wants to pursue the gospel in order to really go forth with his life changing experience! So we're pretty excited to be able to get to start and teach him.

Hmmm.... I don't think too much has happened other than that for this week... yeah...

Elder Benjamin

Pittsburgh Week 15

Sounds like there was a good week back in Utah! And no I haven't started to stink because of the hobo disease, I battled it with cleanliness! :)  You're so lucky that it's starting to look like winter over there! right now it's in the high 50's here in Pittsburgh, I'm actually just wearing a t-shirt right now and plan on doing something outside. But by the end of the week it should snow, at least I'm hoping it will!

So I have a few things exciting that happened this past week.

-I had a Jehovah's witness guy come up and try to proselyte me and my companions. It was kinda funny because he was giving us some of their pamphlets that they have and, well, we took them out of politeness. When he first started out talking to me he mentioned something about if we read the Bible, and I said, yes, we do, and we also read from the Book of Mormon, have you heard of that? And when I said that, he got all flustered and started stuttering because he didn't know really what to say to that. Apparently Jehovah's Witnesses don't like Mormons haha! But anyway I didn't get to say much to him there at that time because our bus came that were were waiting on, so it wasn't too bad!

-DAWN AND ALPHOSO GOT MARRIED!!!!!! I was so excited to hear about that! I asked Dawn to send me an announcement even though I couldn't go. But I sure hope that everything went well! It makes me so happy to hear about my 2 converts getting married and raising their kids in the church. So that was super awesome! They got married on the 20th of November. How cool is that! This year was probably their most life changing year that they'll have. They converted to the True church of Jesus Christ, and got married! How awesome!!!!! :)

-Okay this thing terrified me. So you know how I'm district leader and I have to host a District meeting that includes me training and coming up with a lesson to share with the district? Okay yeah, well President Summerhays called me up 2 hours before I had District meeting and said that he and Sister Summerhays would be attending.....!!!!! Yikes! my stomach dropped and I got really nervous. So then district meeting time came and so did President. And it started and I went through the plans that I had made for the Meeting, and after it was concluded  an hour later, President commented that the district meeting that was just held was a perfect district meeting!! he said that that was just how he wanted them to be and that the missionaries in the district were among the best in the whole mission!! Oh wow was that a reliever.... so that was awesome. President Summerhays thinks I'm an awesome district leader!! Hooray!! :)

But other than that things are going well. Baily is doing okay, she still doesn't have a baptismal date. And is still in the situation as last week so nothing really has changed there. which is sad of course. We had a totally awesome week in finding people that we can see and teach! Something I really like and have noticed a lot lately is working with the Spirit in talking to people on the street. There have been many instances in which I have started talking to people and I say something that I totally wouldn't have said in my normal approach with talking to people. And they, most always have worked out to where I was able to teach the people about the gospel. And I know it's like that because the Spirit was able to work through me, and teach those people. It was really cool.

Well I'll close for this week. Have a fantastic Thanksgiving!

Elder Benjamin Serrano

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Pittsburgh Week 14

We did get an invite to Thanksgiving, quite a few actually. So we'll be going over to a members house for Thanksgiving, so we're pretty excited for that, and we are set. Do you remember when I got my shoulder surgery over Thanksgiving weekend? That was horrible, haha! I remember laying on the couch and watching you all just stuff your faces, then you brought a plate over to me and I couldn't even eat it because that  medicine was making me sick. Oh what a terrible day... Anyway! I love Thanksgiving. :)

So I have a funny story to tell. Don't freak out, and as a precursor, I'm fine. So the other night we were walking down a busy street talking to people and we see our friend Kevin the hobo. We say hi to him again and just talk to him for a little while, then he shakes our hand and tells us we're awesome and to keep up the good work. Then after he shakes all our hands, he goes and gives us all hugs. While doing so he tells us that he loves us. In the non-creepy way, more like, "thanks for always stopping and talking to me, you guys make me feel important" kinda way. Anyway, when he comes to give me a hug, he kinda presses his face against mine. It was really weird because he had some scruff and it poked the side of my face then we leave. Then while we're walking away, 10 minutes pass or so and my face starts to feel all warm and throbby and itchy. So I ask my companions if there's anything on my face and it was all red and looking rashy! They then proceeded to tell me that I got hobo disease, and now that because I have the disease I'm going to lose everything and become all scruffy and dirty and smell bad, and then laughed at me haha. I asked for some hand sanitizer and then rubbed it on my face. As I quickly rubbed it on my face, my companions are laughing their guts out. It went away by the end of the night so it was no big deal. It was funny because my companions got such a kick out of it! Oh well, the moral of the story is, don't hug hobos.

Anyway, this week was a very good week for us. We got the highest number of lessons that we've had since I've been here in the South Side. As we are doing finding, we are striving to make our street contacting more
effective in the sense that we are focusing on teaching, more than just handing out paraphernalia. The results of such are prominent, because we are finding and obtaining more return appointments for potential investigators. We found 2 new investigators this week and we excited to be able to teach them in the coming weeks! The companionship is doing well, with the addition of Elder Shipp we have a new determination to work harder and more effectively. Baily is doing pretty good. We have come to find out that a couple weeks ago she allowed her boyfriend to move in with her (prior to us teacher her the law of chastity) because his roommates in college were doing drugs and he wanted out of there. When she found out that that was a bad thing, she expressed sincere remorse in an expression of emotion (crying) and didn't know quite what to do. Currently she is praying to find out what she should do now, because we had a great lesson with her on chastity. So hopefully things will work out. She says that they're going to get married and she doesn't believe in long engagements. We're praying for her. This week was a great week and we felt very accomplished about the things we are doing here in the South Side.

Other than that I don't think anything too exciting has happened. It was just a regular week.
Anyway, that's all for now!
Elder Benjamin
Elders Serrano, Hurley and Shipp with the Pittsburgh Steelers Stadium in the background.  I'm sure Elder Serrano is wishing her were there, for a little while at least.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Pittsburgh Week 13

So as you already know, Elder Hurley and I are staying here in south side and we got a new addition to the group! His name is Elder Ryan Shipp from Salt Lake City! He's pretty awesome. He's been out just 4.5 months, and doesn't speak Spanish. We thought we would be getting a Spanish speaker here joining us, but I guess not. He's a really fantastic missionary, and he really knows how to work, which is a total relief. I was so happy that night when we went out to work together for the first time as a tripanionship and found that he was trained right, as a missionary. I think that together we'll be a great influence on the other companion. I'm happy to have him here in the companionship. 

We had a lot of great quality finding time in which we were able to teach a lot of lessons and find lots of people to get down as potential investigators or set up return appointments with them. Our investigator Baily was out of town this past weekend and so she wasn't able to attend church here so we have decided however that we are going to push back her baptismal date and reset her with one. She is progressing very nicely and she is still very excited about the gospel. We have yet to find new investigators that are really solid. We are currently in a finding stage right now. Nothing too exciting happened this week. The only big thing was the addition of Elder Shipp which is awesome. The work in South side is doing great and started to pick up.

Anyway I'll close for now, Thanks for all the love you send to me and the support! It is very much appreciated.

Elder Benjamin
Elders Hurley, Serrano, and Shipp

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Pittsburgh Week 12

P-day Pumpkin Carving
Elder Serrano and Elder Hurly's Jack-o-lanterns
Hey hey! This week was alright...... Not too much has gone on there's not much new to say or talk about. So this morning as we were leaving the apartment to get on the bus that takes us to the library, right as I walked out the door, I slipped and fell down the stairs leading up to our front porch!! /(Steve's letter indicated the steps were frosty). /It was pretty funny looking I would imagine! I'm perfectly fine no worries I just ended up sitting on a stair a few down. It was a great way to start off a p-day :) Yes I am doing great, and I am staying positive! At least I sure am trying to. I love serving a mission.

Steve tells me that you all for halloween were boring!!! I am so disappointed... :'( ----- Crying face. I even carved a pumpkin! It is so cool! I attached a couple of pictures on to this e-mail so that you can see it. I am very proud of it! We also set a bowl of candy out for the kids to take a one and that would be it, but we came back out to check on it an hour later and someone took the whole bowl!! And it was a big bowl too!.... we totally got robbed. It bothers me how dishonest people are out in the world nowadays, it's really too bad, but hey, thank goodness for the gospel!

I'm not moving!!! And neither is Elder Hurley!!! So we'll both be staying in South side until mid December. But hey the exciting new news is we'll be having another missionary joining us here in the south side so it'll be a tri-panionship, or a three-some. So when we go tracting we'll have 3 missionaries standing at the door as opposed to just the regular 2. So that'll be fun to have a party of three! So that's exciting! 

Sadly we didn't get any investigators at church therefore we have no progressing/with a date investigators. We did however pick up a couple new investigators that are very promising and they are really cool and very interested in the gospel. One lady's name is Nancy -- and she really wants to learn. She's had a rough life and is just starting to come out of a hard stage. I think we caught her just in time! Baily is still doing great, we have an appointment with her this coming Thursday. She wasn't able to make it to church because there was a death in her family and she was spending time with them this weekend, and so we'll have to push her baptismal date back, but she still is loving the gospel!

I think that's pretty much it for this week, like I said it wasn't very exciting. Picture explanation: one is of my pumpkin and Elder Hurley's all lit up. Mine has the Pittsburgher saying yinz! and Elder Hurleys is the pacman one. and the other is a picture of all the pupmkins carved, that participated. We were at the church when we carved them it was us, the sisters, and a couple members. the zone leaders were there too but they didn't buy a pumpkin. lame-o's! :)

Elder Benjamin Serrano

(The following is a letter written for our Ward Newsletter. It was great so I thought you might like it as well. -SS)

Hello Park 7th Ward!!
This is Elder Serrano here writing to you from Pennsylvania! I'm actually serving in the heart of the big steel city of Pittsburgh! It's pretty cool because the ward I'm in right now is called the Pittsburgh "7th" ward, so I still get a taste of the home town out here.

Pennsylvania is so beautiful and the people out here are really friendly and nice! There are so many trees out here it's unbelievable! I know they call Pleasant Grove the "city of trees", but those are saplings compared to the immense density of the foliage out here. It's so beautiful, God is love.

One thing about here, though, is there are so many different churches. I can see why Joseph Smith would be confused when it came to him deciding which church was "right". It turns out none of them at the time were,
thus leading to the Restoration of the Gospel, of which I am so thankful for.

While I've been out serving a mission, I have been immersed in the scriptures more than I have ever before experienced, and I have come to know with a surety that the Book of Mormon is true. Like Jeffery R. Holland said it in the October 2009 General Conference, "No wicked man could write such a book as this; and no good man would write it, unless it were true and he were commanded of God to do so."

I absolutely love serving a mission here in Pittsburgh, and I thank you, Park 7th Ward, for your amazing influence and example you had on me as I was coming up. To the youth in the ward, if you're thinking about going on a mission, hear me when I say, do it! It is the most rewarding experience ever! I can tell you that and I've only been out 9 months. It is amazing! I love you all, and I bear you my testimony that I know now, with all my heart, that the Church is true, that Joseph Smith was a prophet of God, and that Jesus is the Christ. He is the way, the truth, and the life.