Saturday, December 31, 2011

State College Week 11

So I haven't enough time today to write you back individually to day, so here's a general letter.

Christmas was awesome!! I had so much fun talking to everyone there. I love all of you! Speaking of calls. That makes me sad that I missed Steve's call. (Steve was able to call from the MTC, but it was unexpected on Sat. night)  Guess what else? Apparently the message that Steve left, the beginning of it was just mumbling or something, I don't know, but when Elder Mason heard it, he thought it was something unimportant, so he deleted it right away. So I didn't even get a chance to hear the message that was left. So basically Elder Mason isn't allowed to have the phone this weekend ;) I'm going to talk to Pres. Topham about letting Steve call me this weekend. I'm pretty sure he'll allow it, but I don't know yet. So what I'm going to have to do, I'll talk to president Topham tonight and see what he says. He may allow me to email you again tomorrow and let you know, so you can tell Steve when he calls from the airport, otherwise I have no way of letting him know. If I can't email tomorrow I'll have a member like, Sis. Hulet contact you and let you know.

The rest of Christmas for me was great! The Heidrich's dinner was great. They cooked some really good turkey, green beans, cranberry sauce, sweet potatoes, rolls, and pie. While we were at dinner the subject of the Book of Mormon came up, and for my very last planner I made it out of gold paper and put some characters from the original book of mormon on there. Heather was studying ancient languages and she pulled out some of her old books with characters from ancient Egyptian, and we compared the characters I had on my planner to the ones, and they are surprisingly similar! There were similar characteristics and even some of the characters were the same. So that was pretty cool!

So I'll be staying in State College for the rest of my mission and I am very excited for it! This place is awesome! I hope that my memory card will work (the last memory card he sent is able to open, George is working on it), there were some awesome pictures on there! It's pretty surreal that there are only 6 weeks left on my mission, but I won't think about that too much. I'm going to use it to accomplish the best. I am so thankful to God for allowing me to have such an awesome experience. I plan on having a successful last Transfer, and a great Birthday to day too! The Church is true. I love this gospel, and I love all of you! Have a great week! Pray for snow. :)

Elder Benjamin Serrano

Monday, December 26, 2011

A letter to Elder Serrano the younger!

My brother, Elder Serrano,

My goodness I can't believe that it's already here.  You're going to be set apart as a missionary for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints tomorrow night. I am so excited for you Steve! It sounds like you had a good last week as a Civee. The talk you gave was excellent. I felt like I was reading it from the November Ensign. Well done!

-No you don't need to bring it to the MTC. They will provide a pillow and blanket there. But you will probably not have any when you get to your first area in the field. I didn't, but luckily there was a blanket there waiting for me, I just needed a pillow. I've been using the same blanket ever since! Can you believe it?

-There is so much advice I could give you. But some of the most important pieces of advice I could give you, is
 *always be humble. When you are humble you are obedient. When you are humble you are always seeking advice and continual improvement.
*You are pretty prepared to go on a mission, but don't think that you know how to serve a mission. At least not yet. That will come through time.
*Be patient. Be patient with your companion, with investigators, with members, with the ward, and most importantly with yourself. There are many things to learn as a missionary, and they can't all be learned in the MTC, or even learned in the first 6 months as missionary. I am learning new things every single day.
*The Spirit is there to guide and teach you. Study the 4th chapter in PMG, and find how the Spirit works through you. Learn to recognize it's promptings and you will never feel like you wasted a day.  You will lay down at night knowing that you have done what the Lord wanted you to do, if you learn to recognize the promptings of the Spirit.
*Never give up, because this is a hard Work that you are embarking in, expect to be tired. Expect opposition. Take it in the Strength of the Lord.
*Never get discouraged. If you get discouraged, it will lead to disobedience, which leads to doubt, then to disbelief, then to death of the Spirit. If you get discouraged, Pray.
*Be bold.
*Be loving. Love everyone! If you love the people you serve, you will love the work you work.
*Always work to improve. If you feel like you've reached a good point, and feel like you're plateau-ing, there's something wrong.
*Follow to the Lord's instruction in the scriptures. Follow your Mission President's instruction. Follow the examples of righteous missionaries. If something doesn't fit the standards in the Missionary Handbook, don't do it.
*BE YOURSELF! That's the most important, Steve. Be yourself.

And that's all for now. I'll be happy to give you advice when situations arise. I'll e-mail you every week Bro. I promise! Love you Elder! I'm excited for you to begin the best two years for (not "of") your life. The work is true. The laborer is worth of his hire.

Elder Serrano

Friday, December 23, 2011

State College Week 10

Thank you so much for the pictures. It seem so unreal that Steve is now a full-time missionary for the Lord. I love the picture where Steve is walking off with his escort with his bags. That was a weird experience when I did it nearly two years ago. I e-mailed him and told him to see if he can call me on Christmas. Usually they don't let MTC missionaries call home but I'll see if he can get special permission to call his missionary brother that won't see him for 4 years.

This past week was a pretty good week.  Wednesday just seemed like a regular day, with another life changing even going on back home. It's weird, it's hard to describe. I think that if missionaries work hard the Lord gives them peace when huge things happen back home, like a brother entering the MTC. This week seemed to go by really fast.

Heather is doing great! She's still ready and excited to get baptized in January! Other investigators this week will have family over or will be out of town so they won't be able to meet with us. That's okay though. The wards over here have a fun thing that they do each Christmas. They make Christmas cards they want to give to their friends and they give them to us to carol to the friend and deliver the card. Often times we get new investigator from it, so we'll see how it goes. It's really fun!

We'll I won't say too much because I want to talk about a lot when I speak with you on Sunday! Merry Christmas!! I love you Mom! Your hair looks great! It reminds me a little about Rogue from X-Men :)


Sunday, December 18, 2011

State College Week 9

This will be a pretty hard week for me too. It's hard thinking that I won't see Steve for another 2 years. I asked President Topham if it would be okay for Steve to call me in the Airport on his way out to Wisconsin, so we'll see what happens with that. I'll be thinking so much about you all on Wednesday. That maybe all I am thinking about. I'm so excited and sad, just as you are, for Steve. It'll be so great for him. I read his talk, and it was a really really good one. He's going to do great on his mission. As long as he stays humble he'll do great.

So wow, my homecoming address day has been picked out huh? (Feb 19 @9:00) That's pretty surreal!  haha!

Heather, Fei, and Rashid are doing wonderfully! Heather and Fei are still set to be baptized on January the 21st! I'm so excited for them! The Lord keeps blessing them with understanding and a desire to do what's right. We're working with a great guy named Eddie Boal. He's such a humble guy that is willing to learn about the gospel. The past 13 months have been an excruciatingly trying time for him. He went through a bad divorce, and other things and it really humbled him to the point where he's looking for answers. He'll do pretty much anything we invite him to do. A member introduced us to him, and he asked us in our lesson this week if we would consider ourselves happy people, and we all said yes. Then we explained that we are happy because of our faith in Christ and by our keeping the commandments, so basically he wants that.  I'm very excited to be meeting with him.

I have been having lots of great experiences lately. I gave my "departing testimony" in a Zone Conference this past week. It was really weird, because that's the last big meeting I will go to for my mission. This church and Mission has changed my life incredibly. So much that words can't explain. They are true. There is nothing like it.


State College Week 8

Sounds like a really good week! I am so excited that Steve was able to go through the temple! I wish I was there. Actually, really cool story that happened yesterday for fast and testimony meeting! So, Elder Mason and I go to two church sessions: one at 9 am and one at 12:30. During the 9am session many of the testimonies that were given mentioned the temple, and it struck me that Steve had gone through the temple this past week! I  had totally forgot! Then I felt like I should go up there and bear my testimony. I didn't during the 9am session, but the prompting came again during the 12:30 session. I felt like I should, but I wanted to have the ward members go up. Then guess what happened. There came a long silence. No body was getting up and there was about 15 minutes left in the Sacrament meeting. I closed my eyes, because I was a little tired, and then... I heard the Spirit. Mom, it was the very first time I've ever heard a whisper. It said, "Elder, go up there." I opened my eyes, and walked up to the podium and bore my testimony. And now I know why I received such a special prompting. We all as a family bore our testimony! It's too bad that Nate wasn't there, if he was that would have been so cool to have the entire family bear their testimony! Incredible.

This past week flew by for me! There was I baptism that I played piano at on Saturday. I was given the music for the piece on Wednesday. Luckily it was an easy accompaniment for "Come Thou Fount of Ever Blessing". The Saturday night I did perform a musical number of Carol of The Bells for a Christmas Nativity Program. I recorded separately the piece for you on my camera so you can see/ hear it. It wasn't the live performance, but the same song. Everyone seemed to be pretty impressed, it was fun, and I was super nervous because I had never played a solo piece in front of an audience as big as this one. There was maybe 150-160 people. It was so much fun though!

Heather and Fei Yang have a baptismal date for January the 21st!!! I am so excited to be able to teach them! They are such great people! Heather is super prepared, and Fei is on his was. He has a desire to know God and we are helping him achieve that desire. I love it! I am so happy and blessed to be serving here in State College.

I am having a great time with the advent calendar. The scriptures used are perfect!! I love the tie I got yesterday. It's awesome! I've committed to only wear Red and Green ties for all of December. I'm excited!


Sunday, December 4, 2011

State College Week 7

The trip to SF sounds like it was a great one! This week was pretty fun for me out in SC. Tuesday I had a Leadership Training Meeting down in Harrisburg, so we spent Monday evening driving down there. It was a great meeting! Although the night before I didn't sleep well at all!! The apartment I was staying at didn't have a lot of sleeping places so I got a "lazy boy" type chair except it didn't recline or have a foot stool thingy. Needless to say it wasn't a good night sleep. Maybe 4 hours or so. Plus my sickness and sore throat didn't help at all. So in summary I spent more time driving than sleeping between Monday and Tuesday haha. I wasn't as tired as I thought I would be at the meeting, so that was nice. There were some blessings there (including Lasagna for lunch).

Thanksgiving was a great day! That morning we spent some time at a ReHab/Alzheimer home, similar to where Lola (his grandmother) lives, or lived, or... the place where I last saw her. Anyway, we went around from room to room, visiting some residents and talking to them about Thanksgiving and other things, just to cheer up their days. Then we went and taught Rashid, who is doing awesome! Then we, with the Sister missionaries, went to a big Thanksgiving feast in the afternoon!! It was great, there were some delicious food. All the common things that go along with a Thanksgiving dinner, except Cranberry sauce, which was a huge bummer! It was great! It was the same family that had us over for a Halloween dinner. I am so "mean" to the sisters sometimes ha ha! You know how some girls eat? Not a lot. For some odd reason they think it's not lady-like to eat a lot. So I usually say something along the lines of this, when the host asks if we want dessert (pie), "Yeah! We all want pie! All the missionaries do!" The sisters object. "Oh no, come one sisters! It's part of the Thanksgiving holiday tradition! You have to have pie. (looking at the host) We would all love some pie. (said with a huge grin on my face)" Then the host gets us all pie. And the sisters all just glare and laugh with me as we eat pie. That was fun. Thanksgiving was a great one this year. I had lots of fun. I sure missed hanging out with family though! Especially with all the cousins and aunts and uncles, and everyone! I sure hope so too, that Lola will stay around long enough for me to see her one more time. But I know that the Lord works in his own way, and it's up to Him.

Heather H......h is doing wonderful! We visited them on Thanksgiving. The H......s are the best! She wasn't able to make it out to church yesterday because she was sick, but that's okay because she's come to every church activity since she and Brendon started coming to church a month ago. She's still going to get baptized in January. Rashid is doing great, he expressed that he would like to get baptized before he leaves State College, which means before May. We're very excited for him!

I got the package that you sent! I'm so excited to do the Advent Calendar! It's so fun. I pulled out the Little Christmas Tree that You sent me last year and put it up. I'll have to send you a picture next week. It's now officially okay to listen to Christmas Music! Hooray! Anyway, I look forward to calling you in a little less than a month!


State College Week 6

Yeah! Another Transfer is gone! It blows my mind about how fast time seems to go at the point in my mission where I don't want it to end so quickly. It's so crazy! Anyway. Things are going well. I woke up this morning with a sore sinus-passageway-that-goes-to-my-throat, kinda thing. So squeezed some 8 Clementine this morning, and made some uber-vitamin C juice. So hopefully that'll help me out. I'm doing great though overall in the aspects of health. Actually, usually I'm pretty physically exhausted by the end of the day, but I guess that just means that I'm doing Missionary Work right, hopefully that's what it means :)

The work is going very well! Heather H.....h is amazing! And so is Bro. Brenden H......h! They're just awesome! They came to Stake Conference this weekend, went to all the sessions, and loved it. They are so wonderful, the members are doing such a great job hear helping them to feel welcome and loved. She's set for getting baptized in January. She found out I was leaving in February, and was like, oh I'm definitely getting baptized before you go! I don't like to tell investigators that I'm leaving an area, because I don't want them to do anything out of an obligation to me, but for their own desire to come to Christ. So she decided before she found out, so we're good! She's recognizing the Spirit, and really loving everything that she hears and learns. I'm very excited for her!

So lately, within the past few weeks, I have really been feeling the Spirit work through me, and prompt me to do things. I feel like the Lord has been teaching me more, and more lately to have faith, and follow the promptings of the Spirit. Emphasizing the, having faith part. Sometimes the Lord may prompt us to do or say something that might seem hard, or scary to do. But I know now, and continue to learn, that when we follow the promptings of the Spirit fearlessly, and faithfully, we can bring about much good in this world, and in the lives of our loved ones. With the specific instances I've experienced lately, there is no doubt in my mind that God is aware of all our circumstances and that He really does love us. It has been amazing!