Thursday, September 22, 2011

Harrisburg Week 16

So first off I want to answer your question about noisy kids and lazy parents in sacrament meeting. It is pretty different out here in the mission field! Since we do have investigators coming often for their first time, we do want the experience to be a good one and with a minimal noise level. So the bishop and ward council do discuss about people being prompt and taking their kids out of the chapel if they start acting up. I think it's 1. because of investigators, and 2. I think there are more naggy, and complaining old people out here so they definitely speak up to the bishopric if the noise is out of hand haha. Of course kids are kids, and every once in a while you get those parents that let their kids run around the cultural hall and make ruckus, but the majority of the wards are good about being noise conscious. It's funny to because there aren't nearly as many families with a lot of little kids as you would find out West. So that helps. Do you remember David K...s? His comments after his very first sacrament meeting were, "I felt like I was in a Chuck-e-Cheeses.", he ended up getting baptized, but you better believe that the Bishopric quickly addressed that!

Anyway, I am doing quite well and things area going pretty good! This week was a relatively slow, but some really good things happened! I had a chance to go on an exchange down to a place called New Holland, or Ephrata. That place is really cool because there are lots of Amish/ Mennonite people! They were riding their bikes, horse and buggies, push scooters, everything! I guess we get that kind of attention too when we walk around in our white shirt and ties. So that was fun! I ate some delicious Amish donuts! It was awesome!

5- hours later....
Sorry this letter has taken so long to get to you! The libraries today are closed because of some staff meeting for all the library people, so then we came here to  HACC (Harrisburg Area Community College) to do our emails and about 45 minutes in, the library people asked all that aren't doing academic work to give up the computers to people that were waiting to use them for such. And that meant us, so we got kicked out. We decided to go to this pizza place, and it was INCREDIBLE!! Then we went bowling for free, then we went and hung out at the church and played wall ball with a dodgeball. Now I'm back and ready to finish up this e-mail before the Pday is over.
Things are pretty much back to normal weather wise, as normal as central PA weather gets. They say over here, "If you don't like the weather in central PA, wait 5 minutes. It'll change." That reminds me of UT!
So in about an hour we're going to go and visit Obed C.....!! He's so awesome! He actually called us and made sure we were still coming over! What a good guy. I'm way excited to be teaching him the gospel, it'll be great. I don't know if I'll get to stick around to see his baptism ;) but I know that he'll progress as the Lord helps us help him.
So this week at Zone Conference, I learned something completely awesome that has changed my life forever! It is about recognizing promptings from the Holy Ghost. Often times I ask, is it just me thinking, or is it the Holy Ghost. I don't know if you have had that question or not, but I got an awesome answer of how to tell if it's the Spirit. Elder Jay E. Jensen of the Presidency of the Seventy actually did a surprise visit to the mission and only a few missionaries got to speak with him. Elder Nielsen (one of the Assistants to the President) asked him about recognizing the Spirit and Elder Jensen gave him this: he called it, "Revelation, the First Presidency does it." There are three scriptures, all in the Doctrine and Covenants:
1. DC 6:23 "Did I not speak peace to your mind concerning the matter? What greater witness can you have than from God?"
     -The holy ghost gives us peace when we ask for an answer. Peace is something we can all recognize, and is an answer to prayers for guidance. Peace is the Comforter, not ourselves.
2. DC 128:1 " As I stated to you in my letter before I left my place, that I would write to you from time to time and give you information in relation to many subjects, I now resume the subject of the baptism for the dead, as that subject seems to occupy my mind, and press itself upon my feelings the strongest, since I have been pursued by my enemies."
    - When we are receiving a prompting from the  Holy Ghost, often it will be something that we keep thinking about or something that we really feel strongly to do, or say. This happened to me just last week where I kept feeling like I needed to go see someone that was kinda far away and out of the way. I put it off once, and it came back so I went. And that person needed a blessing and was praying that we would come. Incredible.
3. DC 11:12,13 "12 And now, verily, verily, I say unto thee, put your trust in that Spirit which leadeth to do good—yea, to do justly, to walk humbly, to judge righteously; and this is my Spirit. 13 Verily, verily, I say unto you, I will impart unto you of my Spirit, which shall enlighten your mind, which shall fill your soul with joy; "
    - I think that these are pretty self-explanatory. The Spirit, when it prompts us, will invite us to do all the highlighted. If what we feel we need to do, and think it is a prompting, falls under these categories, than it is of the Spirit.

These scriptures have been amazing to me and my growth in the gospel. I love it! It is the favorite thing that I've learned lately. I hope that these will help you as well. I think I better finish this one up, it's a pretty long one. Thank you so much for your support, love, testimony, and encouragement. It means a lot to me! Have a great week!

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Saturday, September 17, 2011

Harrisburg Week 15

Yes we were a little more than wet. :) But we were all safe! With all the flooding we were instructed to park the cars and not drive through puddles. Since we're zone leaders though and we have a truck we were allowed to drive around. Quite a few basements got flooded and in one part an entire street and neighborhood was sitting in a puddle that was probably a foot deep. There were a few stores that were by a creek that flooded quite majorly. The Creek rose probably 8-10 feet and became a river and it completely soaked and flooded out many streets and stores. Hershey PA, which is only 20 minutes away got hit pretty badly. Nearly all the roads leading into Hershey were flooded and sink holes appeared on some of the roads. It was pretty crazy! Luckily we were far enough away from the river we didn't have to get evacuated, and none of the missionaries in my zone had to either. So that was a blessing. We live on a 1st floor apartment so we didn't have any problems. I was thinking during all of this that missionary moms must be freaking out right now. Why? Week 1: an earthquake, week 2: a hurricane, week 3: Major Flooding. I wonder what will happen this week!
I'm glad that there was a blessing recognized this week! Indeed it was a blessing. I really love being a missionary because blessings seem to flow in all directions. For me, for people I'm teaching, for my family (yinz)! It is incredible to see the Mercy of the Lord poured out on everyone. I love it! The Church and Gospel are true! Keep reading the Book of Mormon, it is our keystone.

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Thursday, September 8, 2011

Pictures of Harrisburgh

Elder Serrano and the beautiful Pennsylvania countryside

Elder Serrano, Elder Killpack and an unknown Elder

Elder Serrano visits Hershey World

Harrisburg Week 14

This week was kind of a slow/fast week. Slow teaching wise, and fast time wise. It was Zone Leader Council week! And Exchanges with the Assistants too. We started the exchange on Tuesday and went to Friday. We had to drive a couple hours to a city called Bedford to meet the assistants coming from Pittsburgh. Then on Thursday we drove out to Pittsburgh which is a 3.5-4 hour drive. That was fun! ZLC was great, we were able to discuss the roles and responsibilities of Zone Leaders, it was very good to learn, and affirm responsibilities. But the moral of the story is, I have done a lot of driving this past week, and I was pretty much defecated by the time Sunday came around. Elder Barry is doing great! He's a really nice kid! The thought occurred to me that he reminds me of Jared Lunt. We'll have a good transfer together though. And Yes, he is a Zone Leader, a brand new one! An awesome thing that happened! Kaylee Y.....r, the youngest of the Y.....r family has a baptismal date of the 29th of October!!!! We are so excited! I don't know if I'll be here for it though... I really hope I'll be able to be in the area for it because they asked me if I would do the Baptizing... it broke my heart to tell them that I probably wouldn't be able to be there for it. I did ask President today to possibly transfer me to a nearby area in the zone. There are 3 areas that will have need for openings that are not far away at all! So I'm crossing my fingers for those.
That's really exciting how dad was ordained a High Priest! He gets to hang out with all the old dudes now! It's funny, do you remember Mr. Clark, my geology/physics teacher? He call the High Priest group the "geriatrics group" where they put "all the old guys to die", haha, that made me chuckle to think that Dad is part of it now. Anyway, I'm glad that you had a good week this week, and everything went well! I love you! Have a great week!

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Monday, September 5, 2011

Harrisburg Week 13

Yes, this week was a busy one! It always is when it's transfer week. I got my new companion! His name is Elder Barry from all over the place, but more recently, Utah. He's an "airforce brat", so he's been all over
the place! Japan, England, then many places in the US. He's pretty cool,kinda antsy, but has a great reputation. This is his 4th area, and he's been out just about 14 months. Sounds kinda like me!

So the Storm... It was somewhatofa bust! It really didn't rain all that hard but there was some good gusts of wind. The major of the storm came Saturday night and I was asleep by then so I really didn't hear much of
the storm. When we stopped by the apartment Saturday afternoon our neighbor was outside and he stopped us a gave us a walkie-talkie with the weather broadcast on it so we could find out what was going on. It
was kinda funny because when he walked up to give it to us, in his other hand he was smoking something he called "sage", it looked like some leaf rolled up around a straw, so I asked him if he was smoking weed, and he said no! And said that sage was legal to smoke. Anyway he was really nice! I don't know if it was the "sage" or what but it was nice of him.There were quite a few trees that were knocked down in the storm and we lost power for about 12 hours Sunday morning. And the bishopric canceledchurch because there was a weather advisory that instructed people to stay indoors until noon. I was watching outside the window and the wind wasn't blowing that hard, but we decided to play it safe. It was cool!

This week there was an earthquake too! I was sitting in the car on transfer day and it all of the sudden started rocking back and forth!The elders that were in the car weren't moving and there was no oneoutside the car shaking it. Then while we were knocking on some doors a lady asked if we felt the earth quake and it made sense! So it was a week of natural occurrences! Yeah!

The Y......s are doing great, we didn't get to set her with a baptismal date yet because her mom wanted her to know more about it, so we gave her a pamphlet to study and we plan on setting her with a date this Saturday when we meet with them. We're pretty excited! When we met with the S........s they seemed like they were at the same point as they were in the past. They got some information about Joseph Smith off of the History Channel Website, and it was very misleading. So now they have all these bad assumptions about the reliability of Joseph Smith. Which kinda is a bummer. We're still meeting with them so we'll be able towork with them more. We keep encouraging them to read and pray.

Well I best be going now. I'm having a wonderful time out here in Harrisburg, and I love being here to serve the people and in turn serve the Lord! The Church is true! The Book of Mormon testifies of Christ! He is our Savior!


Harrisburg Week 12

I'm totally going to surprise you when I come home! I'm guessing that Taylor's (Otteson) mom was under the impression that he was coming home on a different date, and Taylor and his dad were in kahoots, so they were able to fool her and bring him home. I think that's what I'll do. I'm coming home on..... February 15th...... haha! Nah I don't think I could fool you. Anyway, that's pretty exciting that Christian is home too. I was wondering when that time would be.

Well another transfer has come to and end and sure enough, Elder Killpack is going to another area and  I'm staying. I am happy and healthy, I'm very excited on finding out who will be my new companion, I'll find out tomorrow, or later tonight, which ever. So with this coming to pass, it is assuring the future of my mission more. It probably means that I'll stay in Harrisburg for one more transfer, then go to my last area where I'll be there for 3 transfers. Pretty exciting!!!

Yesterday evening there was a crazy rain and lightning storm! It was intense! We  had just gotten into an appointment when it started torrentially down pouring and lightening was cracking all throughout the sky. It was great! I really wanted to just run out there and get completely soaked but, that wouldn't have been too good. Anyway, our investigators are doing pretty good. We just got a hold of Jim and Elizabeth S.....n today and were able to set up an appointment with them! Elizabeth said they still wanted to meet with us so hopefully everything goes well on Thursday! The Y.....s are doing great! They came out to church yesterday and I heard Sis. Y.....r say, to someone who said to her that they hope to see her back again, "Oh I plan on being back for a long time." YEAH!!!! I'm so happy to see the Spirit of the Lord work in their lives! She started reading the Book of Mormon again, and soon enough her daughter will be baptized! She doesn't have a date, but I hope to report next week that she does.
Things are going great here in Harrisburg and I love the area! I can't wait to see what the Lord has in store for me this next transfer.
The church is indeed true!

Harrisburg Week 11

18 Months I know! I just made my planner today that begins my 14th of 17 transfer which means that I only make 3 more after it. What I mean by making a planner is I put some gospel pictures on the front and back covers of it, just to give it a little more character.
So I have some exciting news!! The C..... kids(from the Avalon area), Armond and Jade, got baptized and confirmed this past weekend!!!!! Jeremy was able to get the priesthood last Sunday so he was able to baptize his children yesterday. Elder Taylor gave me a call to tell me that the baptism went well (yes, he's still in Avalon) and it was a great day for the family. I wrote them a letter this past week because I knew it was coming up, and they were able to get it I think the day of the baptism or the day before. I love that family and I'm waiting on a picture that Elder Taylor will be sending me today. It is so wonderful that that family has been united in the gospel! So Awesome!!
So our investigators... I really haven't seen any of them since last week or even 2 weeks, but apparently they're doing great! I've been gone, when the appointments are, on exchanges. We haven't been able to meet with the T......s family this week, or with Connie R.....e, both canceled appointments. We haven't seen or heard from Verna for the last 4 weeks or so. Jim and Elizabeth S.....n were gone to Vacation Bible School then they called us (!) and said they were going to a wedding for a week in Maine, hopefully we'll be able to see them this week. But! the Y.....s are doing amazing! Sis. Y.....r is super committed on coming more often now! She wasn't able to come yesterday because she works every other Sunday, but we are so excited for them. We plan on setting the 10 year old with a date so that she can get baptized! Please keep the Y.....s in your prayers because the dad of other family, who remained, that was involved in the mishap, is still pretty angry about the whole situation even though it's been 4-5 years since. So pray that nothing happens.

The work is doing okay, we're back finding a lot again, which is fine! We're praying and having faith that the Lord will lead us to those He's preparing. I am so happy to be a missionary at this time, and be in the service of God. I know that I'm in the last part of my mission and I look forward to working as hard as possible to bring about much good, and hopefully see more of God's children accept the fullness of the gospel. The Church is true. The Gospel brings true and lasting happiness. And most importantly, He Lives!

Harrisburg Week 10

I had to ask what these terms meant-Sheryl
White Wash or Double In: When 2 missionaries get sent to an area at the same time, so when they get there they know nothing about the area, the ward, the investigator, and in some cases the bus systems.
My Exchange over in Pittsburgh was great I really enjoyed it! I was somewhat long but it really made this week go by really fast because of the driving and not really knowing where I am. As well, we had zone leader council, so that makes things go by really fast. The days were packed with things to do and we always stayed busy, so that was nice. It turns out that while I was over in Pittsburgh they were filming some parts of the New batman movie that's coming out next year. A couple missionaries that were in the south side said that they saw the bat mobile parked on the side of the road with a couple cops standing guard by it. And they saw Christian Bale and a couple of his stunt doubles talking on the side of the street.
There was this family that we have been working with for the past 3 months and that missionaries have been working with for a long time that finally came out to church! They are the Y....r family that has a 10 year old girl that hasn't been baptized that wants to. I think I told you about this ward and that they have gone through a lot of stuff that offended a few families? Anyway, this family was a victim of an incident. They had a really good reason not to come back to church because of the gravity of how bad  of what happened, but sure enough the Lord was able to soften their hearts and the hearts of others, so that she could make it out.
So, Missy(our 16 year old dog) died. Those words jumped out at me right when I opened the e-mail. When I saw those I was in shock, so I just began at the beginning of the letter so I could see what happened. Even though I'm sad inside, I'm smiling. She was the best. It was a wonderful blessing having her in the family.  I can't help but smile when I think of great memories with Missy, and those memories will be forever cherished memories of my childhood. The Lord comforts us in all times of sorrow by means of his Comforter. I feel him now. And I thank God for this Gospel that is true. I hope this week is a good week, I'm sure it will be. Remember, Everyday might not be good, but there's good in everyday.