Friday, January 28, 2011

Avalon Week 6

Yeah! In one week I'll be at my 1 year mark!! Holy smokes that's so crazy! Can you believe it's already been that long? For me it has flown by so fast, it's unbelievable. It's probably because we're always on the go, always doing something that makes the time go by extremely quickly.  Actually for the burning stuff we're no longer allowed to do that anymore. Some missionaries burned some things outside (of course) and were dancing around the burning article, and of course someone (which happened to be their landlord) saw them and called Pres. Summerhays exclaiming that they didn't know that we were "Satan worshipers" and did
"satanic rituals". So Pres. told everyone to stop doing that, and to find some other way to celebrate. Otherwise I would have burned a shirt. Oh well that's okay, I'll probably go out to eat or something.

So this week is transfer week and Elder Lee is getting transferred which is a bummer because he's a really good missionary. I'll be staying in Wexford for a little while with new companion who is a zone leader.
There are 9 companionships, or, 19 missionaries total in our zone and 9 out of the 19 are getting transferred so there will be a huge change in the zone, (in case you're wondering why 9x2 doesn't equal 19, there is a
companionship that has 3 in it, just to clarify) So that's fun

We're still working with Stephine to stop smoking it's going to be hard but she'll make it. We also obtained 4 new investigators this week which is really exciting! One is a former investigator that we came into contact with a few days ago. We were able to teach a full first lesson to her and it was very plain and understood. I do believe that the Spirit was there to help us in that lesson to make it more understandable for her to grasp the claim that we make. The other 3 investigators are an Egyptian family that we tracted into. They are a
really neat family and want to learn. We're excited to teach them, and it would really help if we could find a couple copies of the Book of Mormon in the Arabic language for them. The parents can't read English that
well and they requested a couple in Arabic so hopefully we can get those soon.

To answer your questions Mom,
Do you still have time to practice/play the piano. Any more opportunities at church.
-I do get to play the piano once a week on p-day or at district meeting. People are always asking me to play the hymns for the meetings. You were right when you said that piano skills would come in handy on the
mission. And I did get to play a little prelude music one Sunday while we waited for the organist to come. I was on the piano playing because we came really early for a meeting we didn't have. Anyway I was playing
and few people came in and sat in the pews and were reading their scriptures. So I decided that I would just keep playing the hymns that I was as a sort of background thing, and I did and more and more people
started arriving so I ended up playing some prelude for church.

You never did tell us about your service. What do you do at the Alzheimer's center?
-we basically just sit and talk to all the old people. It's funny because Elders have been going there for years and we're still new every time we go there! It's really funny.

You haven't told us any driving stories. I think you are a good driver...i think. Did anything specific happen to make Elder Lee question your skills?
-I drive every time Elder Lee is really sleepy and it would be dangerous for him to drive. So I would. And I am a good driver! Elder Lee is just half asleep every time I am driving so he doesn't know what's going on,
when I'm wide awake and fully aware of the situations. Like, we were driving down a narrow road and there was a car coming in the opposite direction. So I pulled over to the shoulder to let him through, and because I was in the shoulder there was a telephone pole right in front of me. Now I was rolling forward slowly, and had plenty of room between me and the telephone pole and Elder Lee happened to barely wake up and freak out because he saw the telephone pole in front of me and try to grab the steering wheel to steer us out of the way! and he kept accusing me that we were driving full speed right at a telephone pole when he had no idea of the situation going on. I tried many times to explain but he doesn't listen. So since then, and that was a few weeks ago, I've only driven a couple times. Which is stupid. Anyway! That's one of the experiences.

It's been a great transfer and I've been able to learn a lot here. I am learning everyday to have patience. More and more do I have opportunities to have patience with people; companions, investigators, and people we talk to on the street. And with the Lord's help I've been getting better and better, and I can really tell. When you learn patience you have to learn love, and a more perfect form of love; Charity. To think that the Savior's perfect love for us is infinite and long-suffering, how can I get frustrated when a wonderful child of His struggling and failing to quit smoking? And how can I be not patient with people if I expect the Savior to be patient with me in my iniquities. It's an ongoing process that will be rewarding.

Elder Benjamin

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Avalon Week 5

This week for us here in Avalon, was a pretty good week. It's still a great area and I'm starting to learn the area better now! I don't get to drive that often because Elder Lee doesn't trust my driving. Every time I get to drive is when he's tired (did I tell you about this?) and he's always half conscious when I'm driving because he's asleep. Anyway he freaks out over things when he semi-wakes up. So all in all he has no say because he's not all the way conscious. :) I am a good driver trust me.

 We were able to reach the mission standard of total lessons (20) which was a good thing for us. We had a good number of Less Active lessons, but it didn't reflect on the number of LA's at church, which was a bummer. An investigator that we had at church was a daughter to an active member. We haven't been able to set something up in the past while because of custody issues during the holidays with her divorced parents for her but we do have an appointment set up now that she was at church and we were able to talk to her dad who is the member. Our investigator Stephine didn't come to church.... and she smoked... She was doing great for a while but then went to a Steelers party for the playoffs and smoked there which was a bummer to hear about. She totally needs new friends. It's been a long struggle with her and hopefully we'll be able to work with her more. We're planning on giving her a blessing to help her stop smoking. It's something that we've really wanted to do, but keep on forgetting about it. That's our step and hopefully it will work.

That's way exciting that Steve can put in his papers so early!(We just found out you can submit your papers 4 months before your birthday now) How cool is that? That's a whole extra month before his birthday than I was able too. I'll probably be hearing about his call sometime is August right?

Well it snowed a lot this week and we have shoveled many-a-walkways! The old ladies in the ward call us to go and shovel. Also this non-member lady that we work with at the place where we do service (a Alzheimer care unit) asked us to and we went over there. She wasn't home at the time so we just did it anyway. She called us up that night and told us that she got a message on her machine from her neighbor telling her that "there were two guys shoveling your drive way in dress shoes"! That's us! We do everything in those dress shoes :)

Reading the Book of Mormon so fast has been really cool! Right now I'm in mid-Mosiah I think. And it's really cool to see how the story flows. The only bummer part is I can't really stop to study any cool passages I come across. I just have to make a little red dot by it and continue on. King Benjamin's address is so classic! I think I talked about this a couple months ago when I decided to study it on my own. How awesome! The Book of Mormon is true!

Well I think that's all for this week. Not too many exciting things happened. No dogs thankfully, only nice ones :)
Elder Benjamin Serrano

Avalon Week 4

Yup yup! I've been out for just over 11 Months now! Isn't that crazy? How does the day counter you have for me look? Just about half way full right? Haha! Sweet!

It's been pretty chilly out here too! Our 60 degree days are over. It's not too bad all I gotta do is just layer up and I'm good for the most part. Last night we went to go and try a referral that a member gave us for their neighbors and this guy comes out and wants to talk to us. Well it turns into an "argument" he was just saying that we were wrong, and that we didn't believe in Jesus, etc. All completely ridiculous things, anyway! We sat and chatted with him for 15 minutes or so, but halfway through the conversation I was shaking like crazy! It was so cold! It felt like we were out there for an hour! That was fun, the guy was stubborn and really didn't care for a word that we said.

Oh and another crazy story! I was bit by a dog!
So again we were out trying a referral that we got from HQ and so we knocked on the door to her house. Her house was an absolute wreck by the way! We looked in through the window and there was garbage everywhere and there were probably 100 totes outside surrounding her house that were full of who knows what. Anyway she wasn't home, and so we tried her neighbors to see if they knew anything about her. So we walk up to this house that is faced perpendicular to the street so the side of it is along side the street. The doors then, were on either side of the house, so we tried the one on the left side of the house and no one came to the door. So we tried the door on the right side of the house and as I was walking up the steps to get to the door I look up and see the doors are open and I hear voices. So as I'm rounding this bush I look up and see this dog, and it just howls at me! It didn't even bark, it just screamed like a wild banshee!! I ran up to me, eyes wide like it's seen a ghost, and it stops a foot away from me just screaming at me. All this happened so fast I really didn't get a chance to react much. Then it lunged at my knee! It bit it! And by that time I realized that the cord that was on the dog wasn't keeping it back at all. So I high tailed it out of there and just booked it down those steps because I didn't know how long it's leash was. I made it down the steps and turned around to see it turning it's wheels trying to get to me, but the leash kept it back. By that time the owner was out and reeling it in like a fisherman. Then when she got the dog she slapped it across the face! Good riddance. Anyway, we didn't really learn much about the referral. The neighbor really wasn't any help. As we were walking back to the car, we had a good laugh. Good thing I was wearing my long-john-thermal garments so the mangy mutt couldn't break through that wonderfully holy fabric. I only had a little red mark that looked like a light scratch of a nail. (if you took your nail and press it lightly to your arm and slide it, it makes a red mark, but it's nothing big at all) It was a wonderful day! haha! This happened on Saturday.

So! Stephine finally came to church! we weren't able to set her with a baptismal date yet, she's a little scared to. Whenever we set her with a date she gets nervous for some reason, when it come up and starts up smoking again. So that's a bummer. We were able to teach Michael and Marcia again, and they are totally awesome! They had a lot of questions, and they also kept their commitment to read the book of Mormon. That was really awesome! They didn't come to church which was a bummer, they'll make it one of these days, they've gotta!

The mission has set out a goal for all the missionaries in the PPMission to start and finish the Book of Mormon by Feb 18th! It's been great so far! I love the Book of Mormon so much! The words that are contained in that book are so amazing. I just read 2 Nephi 9 this morning, and it is incredible! I suggest that chapter for your next study/read. The Book of Mormon is true, no matter what anyone says. Most, if not all, of the time, those who bash on it, have never even read it. Like the guy I talked to last night, he said that a friend told him that it wasn't true, therefore to him, it wasn't, and he wouldn't even accept a free copy to read it for himself, but he wanted to rely on the lies of his friend who hasn't read it either. It's too bad that he didn't want the fountain of spiritual nourishment that flows from it's pages.

Well I think that's it for this week, that was exciting! It was a pretty eventful week :)
11 months has gone by so fast, it's incredible. Mothers day will be here in a flash :)

Elder Benjamin Serrano

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Avalon Week 3

Merry Christmas!

Happy Birthday!
Well a few cool things happened I guess. Well last Monday was my birthday so I guess I can tell you about a few things that we did for my Birthday. We went to the Burlington coat factory and I got a few new and
awesome ties, a sweater, and then I went and bought a new pair of shoes at the Macys. They're a good pair! Waterproof, good traction, and fairly durable, they are the Timberland brand, so they'll do pretty good from
what I was told. So anyway after I did that.... Nothing really much that was really exciting happened haha! we just went to the apartment and relaxed a little bit. That was way nice! It sure was a good birthday! Nothing really different than any other day really. So yeah it was good.

New Years eve, I was on exchange with a couple of new missionaries in our zone, we had to be in by 6 to the apartment, so that we weren't out proselyting when there were crazy drunks everywhere. So we went over to
a members home and played some games with them for about an hour, then went back to the apartment. I didn't stay up to the new years because, 1. I was so dead tired anyway and didn't want to waste 2 hours of sleep,and 2. it's part of the rules that we retire to bed at 10:30. It was a great night anyway.

The exchange the next day went really well though! We were able to pick up a couple new investigators to work with. They are a really cool couple! Their names are Michael and Marcia. During the lesson they mentioned that they were searching for the truth, and that was a super awesome heart pumper! As we were explaining that Jesus Christ appeared to the Nephites in the Book of Mormon, Marcia had some questions about the resurrection and how that worked with Christ being able to appear places with a physical body. So we were able to explain about the resurrection and the doctrine behind it. It was a really cool lesson! As for Bailey, I don't know what's happening with her. Hopefully things are going fine.

So as Zone Leaders we go to a meeting called the Zone Leader Council. It's a meeting where all the zone leaders in the mission gather together with President Summerhays and discuss the things of the mission and howto improve the mission. It was really cool to be able to discuss ways that we as the leaders of the mission can help to further the work that's going on in the mission. We discussed things like being good examples and helping to motivate missionaries using the scriptures and what not. It was a really cool meeting.


Sunday, January 2, 2011

Avalon Week 2

From Sheryl:  We got to skype with Elder Serrano for 30 minutes on Christmas day, plus have phone time.  It was great seeing him!  He looks great!  He was happy and laughing and having fun.  He really likes his new companion and his new area.  The ward members are great and love the Elders.  That, too, is a change from the southside.  I've attached pics that ward members e-mailed me from Christmas.  Here is the e-mail we got the following Monday.  Short, because we had just spoke.

Hooray for Christmas phone calls! That was so fun to hear your voice and to see you over Skype! That was great! Thank you for the Christmas presents! I failed to bring my camera chord to the library to send you pictures of me opening them. So next week for sure I'll send pictures of Christmas and birthday! It'll be great!

Well lets see. Yesterday our investigator didn't come to church which was a let down.... She promised she would but didn't because of her Boyfriend. Satan is working extra hard on her for some reason. She's totally awesome and I hope to see her baptized and everything!

We're going to that mall today so I can pick up some things for my birthday. Thanks for that card!!! I laughed when I saw the names attached to the animals in the Card! They totally fit exactly!! Dad's made me laugh the hardest! The cat with that big ol gut! Then someone drew the belly button on which was awesome! haha! We'll I don't have too much planned for my birthday today so we'll see what happens. It's been a great day so far!

Well I think that's about it. Not much has happened with in the last day.


Christmas Eve with the Suiter Family


Saturday, January 1, 2011

Avalon Week 1

Holy Smokes Christmas is on Saturday! And I get to talk to you! I remember back in May that I was thinking that it was going to take forever to get to December so that I could talk to you all again! But to be honest I can't really believe how fast that went by, it's crazy!

Yeah so serving as a Zone Leader. It's pretty cool! My companion Elder Lee is great. He's an awesome missionary and we get along really well! It's a total relief, I'll tell ya what! And yeah Wexford really isn't that far from the outhside. I pulled out my mission map to outline the boundaries of my area and I was like, woah, I really didn't go that far! haha! I just went to the neighboring zone, it was pretty funny. Yeah, there's totally a Steeler (Chris Hoke #76) in my ward here. Although since it's during the season we hardly see him around because he's so busy with practices and what not. And about watching practices on p-day, that would have had to happen when I was in the Southside... Their practice field is in that area. It's a bummer because I never got to go there and see it! oh well. Maybe sometime in the future. I think I'm just going to talk about Zone leader stuff when you call, then I'll have more of a solid understanding of all the things we're supposed to do. I'm still a baby zone leader :) Elder Lee is about 10 inches taller than me, and 10 pounds less than I am! haha! oh while we're on the subject of weight... so when I left Johnstown I was at 175, and when I left The southside I came to the Avalon (that's what the area is called) apartment and weighed myself and.... I'm now at 160!!! hooray! I lost 15 pounds in South Side!!

Okay so I just found this out from the Assistants to the President. So it is okay for missionaries to use Skype to talk to the family at home, for Christmas!!! The only rule is though that we get 30 minutes of that, and we can call for... however long. :)  So when I call on Christmas we can arrange stuff so we can see each other on live video feed! That would be so much fun! We should do it! So go get one and we can arrange things on Christmas okay?  yay!! :)  Sound good? :)

So we also have a pretty cool investigator her name is Stephine (stephanie) and she is going to be baptized within the next couple weeks. She just had a problem with smoking. We're going to break her of that habit though and we'll be able to baptize her. She's about 20 years old and way cool.

It is so nice finally being in an area that has a car! It keeps me warm in the freezing winter months. I got out of Southside just in time :) oh yeah we get to cruise around in a 2011 Chevy Malibu. We're privileged. :) Well, That's all for now! I will talk/see you on Saturday! :)


Elder Benjamin Serrano