Tuesday, October 25, 2016

WEEK 10 - October 24, 2016 (West Haven, Utah)

Hi everyone,

It has been another great week. First of all, Lily and her sister were baptized on Saturday :) That was awesome to see some of our work pay off. The room was packed at 9 a.m. with friends and family. It was great to see these girls take a big step in their life, and what is also amazing is their dad's story. His name is Sam. He was raised in an LDS family, but fell away from the church in his teenage years. Not long after, he was in a gang, living that lifestyle. A bit later, he realized this wasn’t the life he wanted to live. To get out of that life, he went on a mission and became fully converted to the gospel. But not long after his mission, he fell away again. Recently he has absolutely turned his life around again. When he saw the missionaries (us) he asked us if we could start teaching his kids and have them baptized as soon as possible. Seeing him in the font, somebody who has absolutely turned his life around for the better, baptizing his daughter, brought me such joy. It really teaches me you should never judge somebody by what they look like. Sam has tattoos from neck to toe, but has fully changed his life and has absolutely turned to Christ and wants his family to have the gospel in their lives. It teaches me that as missionaries we need to talk to everybody, no matter their appearance. I have loveddddd teaching the Fluckiger family.

Alright, so last Monday night we had a lesson with Alex and his family (The Russians). We decided to bring a guy from one of our wards who speaks Russian with us hoping maybe Alex will understand the lesson a little better. So we get in there, and these guys just start chatting in Russian. Laughing and joking and just being friends. And they talk back and forth for about 45 minutes. I have zero idea what they are saying, but at one point I could tell they started talking about the restoration. He seemed to understand it waaaay better in Russian. And at the end of the lesson we asked him to pray about the Book of Mormon.  He said in a thick Russian accent.  "I don't need to, because I know that it true. I just don't think I need it. The Bible is enough for me. It's like when I eat sandwich. I eat sandwich and I full. I need nothing more. Bible is sandwich. Book of Mormon is dessert. I don't need dessert. I am filled."

Soooo basically we just need to help him understand why the Book of Mormon is needed. I'm sure Nelson can attest to this, but the guy that came with us to that lesson said that Russians have a really hard time understanding the priesthood and authority. He said that you can talk to a Russian all day about authority but sometimes they just can't get a grasp on it. So hopefully we will be able to get through to him about those things he doesn't understand. Nelly should just come down to Ogden for a few weeks and help us out for a bit haha.(Cousin Nelson served in Kiev.) We have two Russian investigators including a family. One of them is an 18 year old kid that says he's from Moscow, but won't tell us where he lives. He's a mysterious kid. But we have a few guys in our wards that can speak, so we have some good help.

We have a few new people we are teaching this week, so I will update you on them as they start to progress. So frustrating - this one family we've been teaching canceled on us for one of our lessons. They are a busy family, so it is hard to get a hold of them. And then they weren't at church so that was a little saddening, but the willlllll be there next week. Let's see what else happened this week. I've been eating a bunch of Taco Time because we eat free. I’m soooo sick of it hahaha makes me feel so sick.. but hey, it’s free food. Thank you Aunt Renee sooo much for the pumpkin pie. I have absolutely loved having a slice after a long day of work. Also having a guitar here at my apartment has been nice. Whenever I have extra time (which is rare) I can just sit back and strum for a bit.

So, one thing I have learned about Utah missions is that there are actually a lot of people to teach to here. Before I got here I didn't really think there were that many non-members. And sadly, that's what a lot of the members think here too. But there is tons of work to do here. I feel bad for not going on more splits with the missionaries when I was a priest. Because that is what we need haha. Member help is soooooo needed and it helps the missionaries soooo much.

Thoughtful member texted this to me after feeding these fine missionaries  :)

One thing that has bugged me a bit while being here is when people are legit scared of us. We are innocent young boys walking around with smiles on our faces, and I guess people are a little frightened by that. We had somebody shut the door on us the other day and then lock the door with like 7 different latches. Not kidding. The poor guy was scared. I love being a missionary here though. Just going up to people and talking to them about anything and being friendly is amazing. I'll definitely miss being able to talk to people in English as much as I want. 

Another little story. So we went and visited somebody who was on the nonmember list. And it was an older lady in a wheelchair. Turns out the whole right side of her body is paralyzed and she has a prosthetic nose. She also really, really struggles to talk to us. But she really wanted to show us around her house. So she showed us around and then took us into her garage and there were a ton of paintings and like 15 Bob Ross books. Haha. She then expressed her love for Bob Ross and showed us all the paintings. After going through them, she offered us one! Haha I was actually way excited 'cause they were all actually pretty good. So we each chose one and promised to visit her when we are in the neighborhood. And even though she isn't a member, we noticed tithing slips all around the house, so that's good too.

I love being a missionary and teaching the gospel to people. There is nothing I would rather be doing than to be meeting new people every day and handing out copies of the Book of Mormon. It's awesome when they open the door and you immediately try to find something in the house or something that they are wearing to talk to them about and build some kind of connection. 90% of the time it has to do with sports of some sort haha. Yesterday we were knocking doors at around 2:00 and I knew that's the time that people like to sit down to catch an NFL. We knocked one door and a 20ish year old guy answered the door holding a Budweiser. I asked him what game he was watching and he seemed surprised that I knew he was watching football without even seeing his TV. He said he was watching the Niners game, and I told him I'm a fan. We talked about football for a while and he invited us to come back a different time. So there are good things that are coming out of all that fantasy football playing and all sports watching haha. 

We had a Stake Conference broadcast yesterday and Elder Christensen and Elder Gary Stevenson spoke to us. They talked a lot about missionary work and how members can get involved. So I was glad that he shared that message. They also talked about how the Book of Mormon is such a great main conversion tool. They both shared very good messages. Oh and yesterday evening we went to visit an active family. And it turns out both the mother and father served in the Roseville Mission. And the wife (totally forgot their names) served in Gridley for 7 months. I named off just about every family that I know from Gridley and she says she remembers all of them. Apparently Bishop Havens (Ryan's uncle) was her bishop while she was serving there. I think she said it was 16 years ago. But yeah that was pretty cool to make that connection. 

Quick update on my elbow - rehab has been going great. My very loving Uncle Sam has been doing a great job, and the numbness and tingling has pretty much all gone away. President Jaggi is going to call my Philippines mission president tomorrow to see when I will be sent out there. He said it's most likely that it will be in 3 weeks, at the end of the transfer.

Well I'm looking forward to a good week hopefully with lots of work and lots of finding new people to teach. Hopefully I'll have so cool experiences I can share with you all next week. I love being a missionary and I love the gospel. Going to try and make the most out of these last 3 weeks here in Ogden. Love you all.

-Elder Jenkins

Monday, October 17, 2016

WEEK 9 - October 17, 2016 (West Haven, Utah) - A Trio No More

District gym time :)

Hellooooooo friends and family,

This week seemed to go by really, really fast. So I don't have too much to write about but I'll give ya a rundown of what happened this week. 

Well, sadly the trio that I was in has come to an end. Elder Hernandez got his visa last week and flew out to Brazil this morning. He had been waiting for it for almost 8 months!! Definitely sad to see him go though, he was a good trainer. So now it's just me and Elder Stoner. We have sooo much more space in our room now, which is nice. He also forgot a pair of shoes and a nice sweater, so that's also nice. And I get shotgun in the car now. So there are good things that come from this.

So first of all, Lily's baptism was pushed to this coming Saturday because more family will be in town and be able to attend. So we are very excited for her. Ok so it was a pretty solid week for us finding new people to teach.  On Wednesday, we met with a family that is pretty new to this area. Their name is pretty hard for me to forget because it is "The Jenkins!". The Jenkins family has one daughter who is 11 and a son who is 7. Mike, their dad, is a less active member of the church and his wife, Monica, is not a member. So we found them through our ward mission leader, Brother Gibson. This guy absolutely amazes me. He is a blind man who has been blind ever since he was a kid. When you walk up to him and say hi, he immediately recognizes your voice and reaches out to shake your hand. He was driving with us to one of our appointments the other day and he gave us directions on when to turn and where to go. He is incredible haha. But anyway, back to the Jenkins...so we met and taught them The Restoration on Wednesday and they loved it…especially their daughter. She absolutely wanted to be baptized, and so did her little brother but he isn't quite old enough yet. So she is set to be baptized on the 5th of November. But what was also awesome his how much Monica seemed to love the lesson. We would love to see her be baptized with her daughter on the 5th.

After that lesson, we, as a trio were feeling so confident because of how well they received the message. And of course, not soon after that, Elder Hernandez got a call from President telling him he's headed out on Monday. Right when we were kind of feeling comfortable, changes had to be made. God wasn't going to let us get comfortable and hunker down haha, He wants us to grow and get better and we all understood that.  

So another solid investigator we have is a girl named Kelton. She is friends with one of the girls in the Riverbend Branch. We actually went to a little Halloween festival with them and hung out for a little bit, and then taught her right after. She understood everything really well and also wants to be baptized. 

I realized something the other day that I can't help but notice. Whenever we are teaching about Joseph Smith and begin to recite his First Vision, there always seems to be a potential distraction. I'll give a few examples. When we were teaching Kelton and we started talking about the First Vision, a bag that had a candle in it lit on fire and went up in flames. People started racing over to put out the fire. When we were teaching a family about a week ago, a car drove by slowly, blasting music. The other night, it was kind of comical but still a bit annoying… somebody absolutely ripped one during our explanation of the First Vision. Yes, it was a bit funny, but yet again it was another distraction. I firmly believe that the devil really does not want people to hear about the First Vision because of how strong you can feel the spirit while listening. Every time one of my companions is reciting it in a lesson I feel so much peace and comfort. And I know that is the spirit testifying of the truthfulness of Joseph’s experience.

So tonight we are teaching the Russian family. We are bringing a member with us who speaks Russian - that will be a big help to us. One of Alex's (the father) biggest concerns is that the Sabbath should be from Friday night to Saturday night instead of on Sunday. So we will try to work out that problem for him and help him understand. 

My therapy seems to be going well. My wrist seems to be a lot looser and flexible (editor: last basketball season injury that was never rehabbed correctly - Uncle Sam's taking care of that too). The only thing that is still a little numb is my pinkie, but it's not too bad at all. 

Well this should be a good upcoming week for us. Hopefully I will have a lot to tell all of you. I hope it doesn't get too cold over here. And let's hope that people stop feeding me so much because I am not loving eating a big meal on a full stomach haha. And let's just say it's putting on a few unneeded pounds. Alright I love you all, talk to ya next week :)

-Elder Jenkins 

(Editor: one huge perk of stateside...we get random pics sent to us from kind people who know we love seeing our boy. Below are a couple that we got this week.)

Monday, October 10, 2016

WEEKS 7 & 8 - October 10, 2016 (West Haven, UT) - Stateside is Niceeeeee:)

Editor: This letter needs a little prefacing…bear with me. On Friday, September 30th, Ryan was scheduled to see a neurologist about his numb pinkie. My brother, Sam, who is an OT specializing in arm/hand therapy, offered to go with him. The long and the short of it is that Ryan was diagnosed with cubital tunnel syndrome and was being “transferred” to the Ogden Mission for 6-12 weeks to do missionary work AND to be treated by his Uncle Sam. His original mission call to the Philippines remains the same, this is just a little detour. Ok – now Ryan’s letter should make more sense.

With President & Sister Jaggi
first day in the mission field

Wow, it seems like it's been a while since I've talked to everyone. Let me tell ya, it has been a crazy week. So I'll get into what I loved about General Conference and everything later in the letter, but I just want to go through what has been going on. So on Tuesday morning, I was called into the District Presidents office in the MTC. It was about 9:30 and he pulled me in and said "OK you have about an hour and a half to pack all of your stuff, then you're taking a train to Ogden, and you will be there for one transfer, two if needed” (I don't think it will be two). So I got back to my room and threw all my stuff into my bags and hit the road. Had to say bye to all my new friends again haha so that was rough. But I got to the mission office in Ogden at about 2:00. They told me to drop all my stuff off and they put me with a trainer and we immediately went finding. The very first door I knocked on was a bit wild, and I probably unfortunately won't forget this experience haha. So we knocked and there wasn't an answer, so we knocked one more time. All of the sudden the door opens in a fury!! A large older woman was standing there only in a towel -__- this was not the sight I wanted to see from the first door being opened to me. She was sooooo angry and said "We didn't answer the first time, why would you keep ******* knocking!?!!" She then SLAMS the door in our faces and we walk away chuckling a little, yet a little distraught. We go to the house right next door, but before we knock, the lady's husband from the house before opens the side window and begins yelling at us "You are terrible representatives of Jesus!!! You kept knocking after we didn't answer the first time and that is horses***!!!!" When we walked back by their house to get to our car, they put a big sign on their door that said "NO MORMONS" haha. A couple houses down we knocked a door and a nice lady let us in. We started talking and it turns out she just moved to Ogden from Roseville (editor: a city close to home)!! So that was cool. We then taught her the restoration real quick, and she seemed to really like it. Sadly, she isn't in my area, so I don't get to teach her :(  - but she has good potential. 

So the next day I met my TWO companions: Elder Stoner from Virginia and Elder Hernandez from Ohio. They have both been out for about 7 months. Hernandez is visa waiting for Brazil. They are awesome, and we got a car, so I was happy:) However, our room is soooooo small haha. We have about 5 square feet of space to walk. So we are pretty packed in there. We live with a member, and share a bathroom with his 10 year old son Haha. The best part of this house was when I walked in and saw a guitar sitting there. Finding the time to play it is a little difficult though – so, so busy all the time. But yeah, I'm starting to get settled into life as a missionary out of the MTC. 

On Friday we were knocking doors in an apartment complex. And one of the doors we knocked opened up, and before we could say anything this larger man in a thick Russian accent yells "Come in! Come in! Please!" They just moved to Utah from Portland and have been living in the U.S for 13 years. He has a wife, 2  daughters, and 1 son. They are very open about and love their Christian church, but really liked the restoration lesson. They are soooooo cultural. They refused to let us leave until they either fed us or had tea with us. He offered us some "stuffed papers".   We were so confused until he brought the stuffed PEPPERS to us haha.  They fed and fed us even though we really weren't hungry at all. They are extremely, nice and told us they want us to keep coming back. So I am looking forward to teaching them. We also have a baptismal date for a 9 year old girl named Lily for this Saturday. I have only taught here once, so I don't know her very well, but she is a very sweet girl. 

Man, I thought back home that 3 hours of church was brutal - I hit 7 hours yesterday, but I surprisingly enjoyed it. We went to 3 different youth Sunday school classes to try to get to know the youth better.

So I am in the West Haven area in Ogden and am kind of starting to get familiar with this place. I am extremely happy that we have a car though. First, because it is starting to get frigid here. Also because my legs are sore all the time. We go to the gym every morning. And since I'm resting my elbow, all I can do is hit leg days hahaha. But yeah, I really enjoy the car.

OK so I loveddddd General Conference. I'll talk about a few talks I really enjoyed. So one thing I love about conference is that it seems like every talk is applied to you and your life. I loved Elder Nelsons (https://www.lds.org/general-conference/2016/10/joy-and-spiritual-survival?lang=eng). I was reading his talk the other day and I counted 48 times he used the word "Joy". One part I liked that he said is:

"If we look to the world and follow its formulas for happiness, we will never know joy. The unrighteous may experience any number of emotions and sensations, but they will never experience joy! Joy is a gift for the faithful. It is the gift that comes from intentionally trying to live a righteous life, as taught by Jesus Christ."

Just being on my mission for a few months, I can see how this is so true. The main message of Elder Nelson's talk was to Find Joy in Your Journey. And that is exactly what I am trying to do through this journey. Another cool experience I had was during the Sunday afternoon session. For some reason ever since I walked into the building, I was really looking forward to Elder Rasband's talk (https://www.lds.org/general-conference/2016/10/lest-thou-forget?lang=eng). I'm not sure why, but it was on my mind. When he stepped up to the pulpit, I felt like I needed to listen closely. And there were a few things he said that really caught my attention. One of the things he said that I really liked was:

"I encourage you to recall, especially in times of crisis, when you felt the Spirit and your testimony was strong; remember the spiritual foundations you have built."

After he said that I started to think back on times I have felt the spirit stronger than usual and times that I have felt my testimony grow. It is so important to remember these things when we are struggling or going through trials. These memories can lift you back up and encourage you to press on.

Sorry I don't really have any good picture to send you guys, I'll try to do better this week. Hopefully I'll have one with Lily in some baptismal clothes. 

Love you all, have a great week :)
-Elder Jenkins