Sunday, March 27, 2011

Avalon Week 14

I am glad that you had a great time on your birding trip, it sounds like it was pretty productive too! All the birds are coming back now and when I wake up a I can hear all the birds chirping and what not. It's pretty cool because our apartment complex is surrounded by trees (well all of Pennsylvania is filled with trees, but this complex more than my past apartments)! I see blue birds, cardinals, and the common ones like robins, sparrows, and chickadees. I saw a few seagulls the other day and was really confused because there really isn't any place for seagulls up here, and I didn't think that they were common. I guess that they were passing through. Who knows. 

I am doing well, and am staying healthy.

So there are some exciting happenings that are going on here!
-Do you remember Bailey L.....? The young lady I was teaching in South Side? Well I saw the missionaries that are there at a meeting last Tuesday and they gave me a wonderful update!! All of the things that were hindering her from being baptized had passed and she’s ready to go! Her boyfriend found a job and moved out, her friend that was dying of Leukemia passed away, and she’s out of mourning. So she’ll be baptized within the next couple of weeks! A guy I tracted into in SS, and taught a couple of times, is getting baptized this weekend, and Courtland H...... is going through the proper repentance process and is humble and working to get his priesthood restored!! When I found out all of this my heart was filled with joy and I felt like I could run for miles, I was so happy! Even though I’m not personally seeing the fruits of my labors, I am happy to know that they are there and being harvested. You know that that was a hard area for me, with being doubled in and working an area that wasn’t worked in for 4.5 months. Knowing all of this makes my mission. I am so happy I can’t even describe with words, and if I tried it wouldn’t do justice. I know that this kind of happiness only comes from doing the Lords work and I love it!

-Danielle (turns out she’s read the Book of Mormon 3 times!) is thinking and praying on baptism right now and will let us know tomorrow on what she says. She has an intellectual testimony of the Book of Mormon and somewhatofa spiritual one, but there is some bad news that goes along with this story though. She might be moving. Just outside of our area too! She’ll be moving due to work commute, just so she could be closer. We strongly encouraged her to move to one cities in the outer boundaries of our area so she could be at a half way mark. Not because we’re selfish and want to baptize her but because she really loves the ward and wants to stay in it. So we’ll see what she decides tomorrow, pray hard.

-The C........s are still thinking on where it should be. There really is no rule and keeping them in the area and having them baptized there, but it will still be counted for our area/ward. We’re going to talk to them more and hopefully get Bro. C...... interested in getting baptized as well. -We were able to obtain 2 new investigators, and we are excited to be able to teach them. One of our new investigators is named Will, he so cool. We had tracted into him before and stopped by to talk to him and he was out on his porch enjoying the nice weather. We got into a conversation with him and he brought up how he was watching a televangelist and said that the proper way of doing baptism is by immersion, and he hadn't had that done before, so we told him that we could do that for him! He seemed very interested, and asked if we had power to be able to do that, and we of course said that we did, and it was the proper authority too. We were able to set up a return appointment with him to teach him more. It was just a testimony strengthener for me that it's not that scary or awkward to talk to people about baptism just in regular conversation, and now he knows that that's what we want him to eventually do, and be a part of.

And that's about it for this week, I'm having a great time serving here and are finding a lot of cool people to be able to teach! This area is great and the ward is great here too! I am currently reading through the Doctrine and Covenants and I am loving every page! It's really cool because a lot of it in there is the Lord speaking towards missionary work, which was and is the main focus of the Church. It's really motivational!
Elder Benjamin Serrano


           The Pennsylvania Pittsburgh Mission office will be relocating as of April 1st, 2011. It will be important that you notify your families, friends, and other necessary contacts of this change as the office staff will be unable to do so. The current address will no longer be a valid address for mail.

            Old Address:

            Pennsylvania Pittsburgh Mission

            2589 Washington Rd. Ste 410

            Pittsburgh, PA 15241

            New Address:

            Pennsylvania Pittsburgh Mission

            2600 Boyce Plaza, Ste. 101

            Upper St. Clair, PA 15241

Avalon Week 13

I am doing well thank you! I'm a little tired because of the time change, but other than that I'm doing well. Elder Taylor and I are getting along well and striving to work hard here while the day lasts! The weather was starting to look good then it started to snow, then it melted, then it got really cold yesterday, now the sun is somewhat shining, so we're having somewhatofa roller coaster when it comes to the weather.  As to what we've been up to, just the same great thing we get to do everyday! Share the gospel! Here's what happened this week:

This week we had a successful week in helping people come out to church, as well as picking up new investigators. The investigators (3) that were able to come out to church said that they had a great time. One, Danielle S..., just randomly came to church last week and came again this week. She moved here from Altoona and has done A LOT of studying about the church and even the standard works. Apparently she had been taught a couple of times by missionaries in Altoona and since then she has read the whole Book of Mormon, Pearl of Great Price, and she’s almost done with the Doctrine and Covenants!!!! Not to mention she told us that she’s read Preach My Gospel as well!! I’ve never met a Non-Member who has done that much reading and studying!! So we set an appointment with her this Thursday and plan on setting her with a baptismal date for within the next 2 weeks because she's come out to church for 2 weeks now. So that is really exciting!

With the other 3 new investigators, one is an 11 year old girl, Abby R..., of an active couple that we started teaching (she had been taught in the past but hasn't been taught for some months) she’s really cool, she would have been baptized a while ago but her biological mother won’t allow it for now. The other 2 are a sister and friend of a former investigator, Kat F... (catfisher, get it? Like dad! J ) and her friend Jess. They are really cool, when we were teaching Julie F..., Kat’s sister, she said that Kat was an atheist and a lost cause, so when we met her and found that she is heavily involved with a church youth group we were a bit surprised. Plus, after talking with her she was interested in hearing about the Book of Mormon, so last Tuesday we were able to teach her about that. We dropped Jeff and Brian as investigators because they’re really not that reliable and didn’t seem like they wanted to change, so that was a bummer.

The C......s are doing well. Sis C..... talked to us about getting her children baptized!! Apparently her brother was re-activated and got the priesthood restored to him, so he’s able to baptize. So she wants them baptized by him out in Ohio, which is a little odd and we’re not sure if that’s allowed or not having them baptized not in the ward that they reside. It’s exciting that they want to get baptized but we need to figure out what’s going to happen where it takes place.

Our week was pretty great I would say. It was an absolute tender mercy and blessing that Danielle came to church and is so prepared! I was getting kind of down on myself and discouraged because I hadn't seen a baptism in a little over 10 months. I know baptisms aren't a measure of success but it's kind of hard when it's been that long. But I know that the Lord is aware of my situation and the desires of my heart, and I feel that this is a great blessing that was received from Him. Now I just need to do my part to make sure everything goes well. :) Please continue to pray for me, it is much appreciated!

I love you and miss you mom and hope that everything goes well for you this next week!

Elder Benjamin Serrano

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Avalon Week 12

Yes yes! it's the end of another Transfer, and I'm started number 10 of 17! So I'll be staying in Avalon with Elder Taylor for this up coming transfer! I'm pretty excited, he's a great missionary to work with. Being a ZL, we get told who is getting transferred in our zone and that's pretty much it (I asked him if he had any inside info regarding transfers since he's a zone leader). Not who's going where, which would be nice. You only get told that if you're really close with the Assistants to the President (AP's) and even they're told not to tell anyone. So usually it's an unknown thing as to who goes where. But I'm staying, and I'm happy about that. (I also asked him about ZL duties) Also ZL's collect all the numbers for their zones and report them. We also go on a lot of exchanges with other missionaries, where I would go and exchange spots with another missionary in a different area for about 24 hours and use that time to work in that area and train the missionary I'm with. So that's fun. We also get to meet with the stake president once a month to discuss the happenings in the zone (The zone boundaries are the stake boundaries): how many recent converts and their status, how the ward mission process is going, how many member referrals we received from people, etc. I actually haven't had the opportunity to go to one of those meetings in the 3 months I've been a ZL Things just keep happening to where it has to be canceled.

There's actually a missionary coming out to our mission that is one of my friends from back at MV!! His name is Keeton Stewart, and we graduated together. It's really cool because we receive a little paper that has all the people coming in and going out so we get to see the new missionaries' pictures and I was like hey I know this kid! And it said that he's from Orem!! It'll be pretty exciting to be able to see him because there's a slight possibility that we'll be going to the transfer meeting tomorrow, and there is a possibility that he'll be coming to my zone/district because there are 2 missionaries that have been assigned to be trainers, and there's only about 5-6 missionaries coming out. It's pretty cool!

In other news: Since President Summerhays is going home in July, there are some missionaries that are excited for the music restrictions (only MoTab, hymns, and classical music) to be lifted upon the arrival of the new mission president, President Topham. Due to that concern, myself, another missionary and the AP's have been assigned to be on the music committee to determine a new set of rules. This has been established in the hopes that we can come out with a new, more "relaxed" set of rules, that are specific and defined, so that it will reduce the anticipated explosive effect of removing this particular restriction. The restriction was put in place because missionaries in the past had abused the mission standard of music as far as to listen to bands like "The Killers" on grounds of "the lead singer is a Mormon." Ridiculous. So we are establishing a new law so that we can slowly drain the reservoir, as opposed to removing the dam completely. It's hard determining what music will be appropriate or not so we'll be having a conference call later tonight to brainstorm ideas and boundaries. Fun!

This week was a relatively good/odd week for us! We received 11 referrals this week which was an amazing thing that we got 10 of them from one of our members. We had dinner with this family, shared a lesson, then a couple days later tracted their street. We reported our findings which weren't very much. Then on Sunday the Mom from that family came up to us and handed us a little piece of paper that had 10 addresses of people in her neighborhood that she wanted us to go and visit! It was incredible! From those 10 names we received we were able to contact 9 of them; 1 was said that we could come back and another wasn't home at the moment. That was a wonderful blessing that we received from that member! What a great experience! We also had one of our part member families come out to church this week! They are the C......... and they are a great family. Sis. C........ is the only member in the family and her husband, Jeremy and their 2 kids aren't members either. It was great to see them out to church and they said that they really enjoyed it! We've been working with them for the past couple of months and we have discussed baptism with them a few times, and they said that they would like to but need to discuss it as a family more. However it is something that they want for their kids.

I think I'll wrap this one up, it's relatively long. :)
The church is absolutely true! I love it! I love being a missionary!

These are from his memory card with no explanation so I'm guessing at the caption.
Elders Serrano and Lee on their way to work.
Day of Transfers-Good Bye Elder Lee
The district or zone or maybe just a group
Snow Day in Wexford
Snowy apartment parking lot

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Avalon Week 11

It sounds like you had a pretty cool week this past week. My week hasn't been as eventful, so if this e-mail sounds very bland, it's because our week was relatively bland.

-At one of our investigators house, Brian, we went to an appointment and were going to watch the Restoration DVD with him as a part of our lesson. He had a couple other people over at his house that were just completely drunk. And during the movie one of the ladies, who is probably in her 50's or so started yelling and cussing at our investigator and he ended up getting mad, and then that lady gets up and starts smacking our investigator in the face! He just took it because, I think he knew better than to hit her back. Anyway, when that started happening, we just up and left! The Spirit was NOT there and we thought it would be best if we got out of that house before anything else happened. We left the DVD playing and got out of there. On the way out to the car we started laughing like, what just happened in there? So I think it will be a while before we go back there. Hopefully when we do it'll be a quiet environment.

-Oh yeah, I just got your email about the new mission president! Yeah we're going to get a new mission president! President Summerhays will go home in the beginning of July so we'll be getting Pres. Topham here to govern the work in this mission. It's pretty weird and exciting at the same time. I'll have a new mission president for the last 6 months of my mission. I wonder how much it will change. Guaranteed they have completely different ways of doing things and it will take some getting used to especially for the Zone Leaders since we work so closely with the President in our callings. So that will be exciting. :)

-Today and last night we got A TON of rain! This morning we got a call saying that Stephine's house's basement was getting flooded out and that we need to get over there and help move some things. We got there and there was at least 3-4 inches of water in one part of the basement and we got some buckets, stood in the freezing cold water, and started dumping all the water into this big washing sink that was in the basement. Now we just got a call from one of the older ladies in the ward that her basement is flooded too and we need to help her out. At any rate we were driving home this morning and we saw big parking lot off the side of the road that got completely flooded too in the middle part of it. So we decided to take a few runs through the big puddle :) You'll see it on the memory card that I plan on sending off today. :)

-None of our investigators came to church this week which was a bummer... The ones that we are working with have some potential but not a whole lot. The A... family is doing okay. We have a good relationship with them, they love the church, they love the people, they love the Book of Mormon, but they said that they won't get baptized because the church they go to is in their language and it's the one that they know the most. We're still going to help them out as best as we can on a weekly basis. They said that they'll still come to church and what not but they don't think they'll get baptized... yet. They're awesome, I just wish I could speak Arabic....

Well mom that's about it for this week. Like I said, not much has happened. I am loving the scriptures more and more everyday! It's really a bummer if there ever is a morning that I don't get to study as much as I would like to have, like today. They are the best! They are true! I love you and miss you Mom!

Elder Benjamin