Monday, May 9, 2011

Avalon Week 21

We had a wonderful skype/phone call from Elder Serrano yesterday.  He looks great!!!  He wasn't in his hometown of Wexford.  There were some missionaries that needed to be split up for disciplinary reasons so he was in Butler.  No meal appointments, but they did find a member that would let them skype.  He is doing just amazing.  It was great to see him laugh and have an opportunity to talk with him.

So It's kinda weird not having a p-day in my natural habitat of the 4th Ward but cool I guess. We're doing laundry at a member's home, then de-junking the Butler apartment (it's pretty much FILTHY), and that's pretty much it. So anyway. I think you're pretty much updated on my life because we talked all yesterday. (Right now there is this dude right across from me with a bald head and huge headphones jamming out to his music he's listening to. It's funny. Then there's this black lady across from me too that's laughing her head off at something she's reading on her computer. haha Oh Pennsylvania.)



Oh yeah! I was going to send you this in you're first e-mail but I forgot. I got an e-mail from Bailee L....(he was teaching her in the South Side) today!! So I felt like I would share some of it with you. I think you may appreciate it as well. :) She was baptized this past weekend and It was so awesome! I didn't get so see it but, I heard it was. Anyway here it is.

"Thank you for your congratulations, too. Yes I was finally Baptized! Woo Woo! It was beyond amazing. My family all came for my Baptism and since they all have their own callings on Sundays to be at, President Sumerhayes (spelling?) said I could be confirmed on the same day! My Uncle Confirmed me, his son Baptized me, and his daughter spoke on the Holy Ghost. I also had Brother Stoddard speak on Baptism. It was all around incredible and everyone did such an amazing job. I only cried like..7 times haha. 

I have been thinking so much about the first time I met you and Elder Hurley and how much my life has changed since then. Living according to the Gospel has brought so many blessings into my life, I know everyone can say that but it's just so true. I know also know that while it has been a personal decision, I owe you a huge THANK-YOU! I am so thankful for the time you took to teach me and share your testimony. I appreciate your patience when I was not an easy investigator and the fact that you never passed judgment. I'm sorry that I couldn't be Baptized with you and Elder Hurley. I told Elder's Swensen and Heinrich that they should thank you two because you did all the hard work! By the time they came to 7th ward I was ready to be Baptized.

It feels awesome to finally be Baptized and live life how Heavenly Father wants me to. I had such a huge weight lifted when I was Baptized/Confirmed and it felt like the end of a long, long journey. It's not really the end though, it's just the beginning -which is so cool. I have so much more to learn and look forward to. I even received my 1-year temple recommend today! Yay. I'm going to the temple on the 21st and I am SO excited."

She and her boyfriend went off to Vegas and got married so now she's officially Bailee L.... E....... She is so awesome! I love it when your friends get baptized.

Avalon Week 20

The Church now welcomes Brother Jeremy C...... into the fold of God! Jeremy was baptized on Saturday and confirmed a member of the church on Sunday! It was such a wonderful day, and everything went so smoothly! Heonly needed to be baptized once, the water in the font was nice and warm, on the hotter side, but it's much better than on the colder side:) The font took about 3 hours to fill so we had to get to the church at 7 just to make sure that it was full and warm in time for the baptism. And everything went perfectly. God was with us that day and the Spirit
was so strong! Sis. C...... got all teary eyed, and Jeremy felt like aclean man! I am so happy that he was able to accept the gospel.

And in 2 weeks we have another solid investigator going to be baptized, David K..... He's such an awesome guy and is totally humble. We're so excited!
I am doing wonderful and doing so great here, I love it. So it's pretty accurate when you tell people that I'm doing great, because I am!

It sounds like it was a rather eventful week back home! A lot of cool things happening. Everybody is getting married!!! Steve, Kelly, Katie, Sis. Gallop, and who knows who else is going to be. Mel and Steve went to prom, wow, everyone is growing up! It's Steve's senior prom, and Mel's first one. That just blows my mind. Good ol' Colton. I bet they had a blast!

So as for phoning/skyping home, I'm really not sure of an exact time, but I have a dinner appointment at 4 so that'll be about an hour, and then we'll be going up to the K......'s house (the same one that I was at when I skyped the first time and from there we'll be doing that. So probably around 5:30-6pm I'll be calling so it would be 3:30 to 4 your time. I am so excited!!!! I won't talk too much about things on this e-mail so we can have lots of things to talk about on mothers day. Can you believe it's already been about 5 months since we've talked last, and this one will be 3 of 4 times I'll be calling. Wow. Time is going by so fast! Anyway I love you and I look forward to talking to you on Sunday!!
P.S. I checked yesterday, and it turns out, the church is still true :)
Elder Benjamin

Avalon Week 19

I had a fantastic week!!! This Easter Weekend was a fantastic one too! Especially Sunday. We had the whole C...... family come again, they're coming quite consistently but will walk in late and sit in the back (intentionally because Jeremy is VERY shy at first. An "introvert" he called himself.) They are doing amazing! Jeremy is doing amazing! He's going to be baptized this weekend!!!! And another cool thing that happened, he asked me to baptize him! How cool is that? I'm so excited! It feels so good. So  the plan is for Jeremy to get Baptized then in 3 weeks he will have received the priesthood and then he'll be able to baptize his children on May 21st. It's  going to be such an amazing experience. I am so excited for it!

Our other investigator David K.... is doing great as well! We were able to meet with him this week and set him with a baptismal date for May 14th! He's way excited for it too, he's such a cool guy. It was funny, when we were talking to him about baptism he had a few questions for us and one of them was, "Am I going to have to be naked for this?" HAHAHA! Of course not! That was a first one for me and Elder Taylor! He was serious too, but we assured him that he would be wearing white clothing. That was funny. I was pretty happy and surprised that I didn't get transferred as well but it's all super awesome!

I sure hope that you start to get to feeling better mom! Being sick is not fun especially since you have to go to work and what not. No fun at all! But like you said, sickness brings an appreciation for good health. It's all part of the plan right? Thank goodness for Adam's fall! It's so cool to have the understanding of the gospel that we do, because most of the christian world condemns Adam and Eve for their transgression, but it was necessary, and a way was set up so that we can overcome the fall and that was the atonement of Jesus Christ. What a wonderful blessing it is. :) Alma 7:11,12 is a good scripture to look up for that.

Thanks for the update on the family and on Missy(our dog-ss), it's good to know about her health. I don't know if she'll make it through the rest of my mission but who knows. I am doing so great this is by far one of the highlights of my mission, serving here in the Avalon area. Definitely one of my highest moments because I've grown to love these people so much here. It's awesome!


Avalon Week 18

I'm glad that the weather was good for you in Quail creek, I loved camping there! It's a really pretty place and enjoyable when it's not so windy. Seriously that's all I could remember of that place was all the wind there.

Well I'm doing awesome, especially since I'M NOT GETTING TRANSFERRED!!!!! Hooray! My prayers have been answered! I'll be staying another transfer and probably get to see my awesome friends over here baptized. Jeremy C....., his son and daughter, Melissa L... David K....., and who knows who else! There are some awesome things going on! Jeremy actually asked to have his baptismal date pushed back a week so that he can get off coffee to enable him to be baptized. So his date is April 30th! Exciting! Melissa was taught in the home of Chris Hoke since she kinda knows their family already, and there she accepted the challenge to be baptized on May 14th! David K..... has been to church 2 weeks in a row and came to a fireside that Bro. Hoke put on last night so he's totally doing awesome! He's thinking about baptism right now and we'll be inviting him to a date next time we see him on Thursday. I am so happy right now! I love it here! I think it's funny that in the course of my mission I've been in only 3 areas. Johnstown for 6 months, South Side for 4.5, and now Avalon for (soon to be) 6 months. I know some missionaries that have been out for shorter periods of time and have been to many more areas than myself. But I really like having long periods of time in areas because you really get to know the ward, the people, and the area so much better, and you have more time to work and see great things. I really feel bad for some missionaries that stay in an area for only 6 weeks then go to a different one. I feel I've been very blessed to have the areas I have at this time.

This coming week is Easter and I'm really excited about it. It's a time for a more emphasized remembrance of Jesus' life and atonement for us so that we can be cleansed from sin and return to live with Heavenly Father again. He lives! And I love having the calling of being His representative and teaching and testifying in His behalf. I think about that often so I can remember who I represent while I'm out here.

Elder Benjamin

Avalon Week 17

The weather in Utah sounds absolutely horrendous right now! Yesterday for us over here it was nearly 80 degrees! It was a wonderful day and the first time this year that I actually got to wear my short sleeve shirt out and about! It was great! Today is equally awesome in temperature wise, it cooled a little bit but I think it'll still be in the 70's finally! The weather here is almost as bad as it is in Utah in that it doesn't want to make up it's mind if it wants to have spring or go straight to summer. I think it went straight to summer this year. Phil (Punxsutawney Phil-ss) was dead wrong. I'm glad that you got that letter that Kimball (Hill now serving in the Philippines-ss) wrote. I thought it was addressed to me at first too until I got another one in english! Oh well, I was carrying it around with me all day just in case I found someone that was Filipino and could translate the letter for me. I didn't this week... I have in times past found a few Filipino ladies. Strange, their always women. I don't think I've met a Filipino man out here yet... Oh well!

Yeah this transfer has gone by so fast! I really want to stay another transfer so that I can see the C....... family get baptized and then a couple other people as well! The C......s came out to church again and stayed this time for 2 out of the 3 meeting which is really good! The kids seemed like they had a really good time going. We had an opportunity in the week to have the Bishop come out with us to teach them. It was really a fun experience and the ward is really excited about Jeremy's baptism. So when we went over to the C......'s with Bishop, I noticed something different about Jeremy. Well for one, he shaved off his mo-hawk so now he has a buzzed haircut, and he's much more involved in the lessons and participates more in the lessons. He's doing awesome and is still ready to go for April 23rd!!

We have another investigator by the name of David K...... He's a 24 y.o. guy that we met on the street one day, and we were able to set up a return appointment and teach him in a coffee shop. He seemed really receptive about the message of the Restoration. Well he sent us a text message (yes, we as zone leaders have texting) and told us he would be coming out to church and sure enough he did! He came out to church and came to a Sunday school class after sacrament. He said that the sacrament meeting was a little noisy because of the kids (and some parents too, >:( [angry face]) but he said that it was something he would get used to and committed to come back next Sunday and was telling some members of the ward he would do so too! Awesome!

Another totally cool investigator that we have is Melissa L.... We talked to her while she was doing some gardening and she was really interested. It turns out that she has had a lot of interaction with the church, or rather, church members. Her mom's best friend back in HS was a member, she used to nanny for some Members somewhere, and her son goes to the same elementary school and is in the same grade as Chris Hoke's daughter. So that is was cool! She's very interested too and was telling us last night that she was wondering the best way to talk to her not-very-religious husband about going to church and participating in lessons, and we've only been meeting with her for 2 weeks! She's totally going to get baptized one of these days in the near future!

The Lord is really blessing us here and it is really a privilege to be a part of it. I am having the best time of my life out here and I have never been happier! It feels good. Thanks again for everything! I love you and miss you so much!

Elder Benjamin Serrano