Monday, December 23, 2013

oops, I missed a week - here's a little information from December 17th 

It's definitely a.."different" area.  It's also (I believe) the biggest in the state.  I was obviously prepared to work here, having experienced both the "little Mexico" of Maryvale (Phoenix) area as well as the nicer Trailside ward.  Since this is essentially just a combination of the two, I'm a perfect fit.  I am so excited to see how I can change this ward.  I know that we're going to do it, it's just a matter of time.  We figure that we're going to work Phoenix for the afternoon hours before dinner and bike everywhere, then in the evening (people in Laveen have jobs) we put the bikes on the car and drive them down there, and bike Laveen in the afternoon.  It's going to be legit.  I really believe that the Lord has prepared me for this area.  It's going to be hard but... whatever.  I can do hard things!  As far as safety is concerned (MOM), I have never felt threatened or even close to threatened in any of my areas.  Since we aren't affiliated with any gangs, we're safe.  Oh, and the simple fact that we're representatives of Jesus Christ and have angels buoying us up.  Whatever though, no big deal.
As far as miracles this week, here goes.  We have been going through our list of names that missionaries have talked to before, and just praying about who we need to see, when, etc.  Most of the time, whenever we go to a house, it turns out that the people don't even live there anymore.  So, we were out looking for a former investigator to see if we could get our foot back in the door.  We knock on the door and we ask for the guy and the person at the door just says "they don't live here any more".  Typical.  So as I usually do when we have disappointment, I ask "why did God send us here".  So we knocked on the next door neighbors house.  A teenager answers the door and we introduce ourselves.  He says "let me ask my mom" or something like that.  (he doesn't even live there, it's his girlfriend's mom... weird.)  She comes to the door and we ask her if she's ever talked to missionaries before.  She said no, and then invited us inside.  Wait, what?!  Yeah.  Never talked to missionaries and then just invites us inside.  That.  Never.  Happens.  Long story short, we taught the Restoration and they said they'd get baptized when they knew it was true.  Once again shows that because God seemingly leads us into failure, a lot of times it's because another door (PUN) is going to be opened.
What's up?!  It's a chilly 52 degrees here in Phoenix, AZ (ha!) and Christmas is on the way!
Truth be told?  I completely forgot that it was Christmas time.  A Mexican guy said "Feliz Navidad" to me the other day and I was like... "Oh yeah!".... It's Christmas!  I forgot!  Pretty sweet!  Super excited to talk to mi familia this week!  
Baptisms this week!  Well I guess just one.  Another nine year old baptism.  She's super super smart and just absorbs everything we teach.  She's going to be a rocket scientist or something.  Super nuts.  We just have to work out some logistical details and we're all set for another baptism this week.  Woo woo!  She lives with a member family who more or less adopted her and they're one of the really strong families in the Phoenix area.
We also put someone on date for baptism for the following week!  We met this super neat-o family that is going to be super legit.  The mother has family that's all LDS and has been pushing this for a while, and the Dad-guy has a little bit of religious background, but just loves it.  He loves the Book of Mormon too!  We read with them last night and they really understand the importance of the gospel and everything.  He says that it just makes sense that if we had prophets before, that we'd have prophets now, etc.  Super good family.  They came to church too!  Just when we think they wouldn't show up, BAM, there they are!  Apparently they had a good experience even though the bread for the sacrament was late and...etc.  All good though.  We'll keep working with them for the next couple of weeks and baptize the heck out of them.  They have 6 kids.  We only thought they had like 2.  We saw them in church and was like, holy cow, they... they have a lot of kids.  They even said they want to feed us some time!  Boo ya!  Member dinners in this ward are few and far between!  Luckily I have food storage fit for a king and, for example, we didn't eat dinner yesterday because we were just... Busy.  Didn't have time.  Funny how that works!  Still fat though.  Plenty fat. 
So I get a call on...Wednesday, from the Assistants to the President.  Elder Jurgensmeier, one of the guys I lived with in my first area, says "Elder Cox, we're having our Mission Leadership Conference tomorrow and we have people from Salt Lake coming down to do some training.  President Toone is inviting some other people to attend as well, and he wants you to be there."  Uhh... okay.  What the heck?  He then tells me that it's just me going, and not even my companion.  Uhh...okay.  What the heck?  So I get off the phone and tell Elder Wilcox, who happens to be a District Leader, that I'm going to this Mission Leadership Conference tomorrow but that he's staying and working the area.  Thought comes to my mind:  Wait, Elder Wilcox and Cox are pretty similar names.  So I text the AP's and ask them, "Did you mean Elder Wilcox?".  Nope.  Elder Cox.  What happened is that Brother Donaldson, who is in the Missionary Committee (or something) over the Church, essentially was coming to our mission to absolutely nuke everything that we've been doing and change some things.  Apparently he wanted a bunch of the "younger" missionaries to be there so that this training wouldn't be given to people that are going to leave the mission in a few months.  In any case, it was super crazy and confusing.  Really I guess it wasn't a "nuke", but they did change a lot of things.
See you on Christmas!
-Elder Cox

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Elder Cox's new address is:

475 N 43rd Ave
Apt #131
Phoenix, AZ 85009

Okay, so transfers!  I am now in Capitol ward, one of the other English wards in the Phoenix stake.  I just keep jumping around from English ward to English ward in the Phoenix stake.  It's too bad I can't stay anywhere long enough to really do some damage, but I'll make do.  Capitol ward is the ward just south of Maryvale ward, so really I'm pretty much where I started.  Trailside ward was down south in Laveen, just like 20 minutes south.  Still in Phoenix zone and everything.  Make sense?
So, not only am I transferred again into a new ward, but so is my companion Elder Wilcox.  President Toone probably thinks he's so funny putting Cox and Wilcox together.  I can imagine his 7 foot tall fram just chuckling at the thought of Cox and Wilcox together.  Anywho!  So, we are doubling in the area which means that neither of us were in this area before, and neither of us know what's going on.  Pretty interesting!  I've said throughout my mission that I think it would be fun doubling into an area.  I was definitely wrong.  It's pretty hard!  I'm sure it would generally be easier, but because of situations (drama) with missionary companionships in the area before we came here, there really is absolutely no paperwork done for anything, so we don't even have a teaching pool yet. 
On the bright side, we got a baptism on Saturday!  Yes, a baptism after three days of being in the area.  The other missionaries put a nine year old on date and then left us to figure out the logistics of it.  Either way, we got the credit for helping someone enter into eternal covenants.  BOO YA!
Currently, we're on track to baptize weekly too!  There are 2 other investigators, one whose nine, and one whose been investigating for like four years, who are both going to be baptized in the coming weeks.  Couple that with faith, finding some new elect people, teaching them, and baptizing them, I'd say we're pretty set up to baptize every weekend for this transfer.  It's going to be legit.  As far as Elder Wilcox is concerned, he's like 6'3" or something, super nerdy -- but not in the "i play video games" or "i like science and Star Wars" kind of way, but in the super awkward kind of way, which might even be better-- and a great missionary.  Love him to death.  Still offended that they'd have the audacity to separate my eternal brother Elder Francis and I, but I will make due ;)
In other news, the new missionary that lives in my apartment came here sick, and now everyone in the apartment is sick.  Myself included.  What a jerk, bringing biological warfare into the mission field.  Tisk tisk.  The apartment we live in is pretty big and nice (for Phoenix) as opposed to the nice...*comfortable*... room that Trailside has.  Granted that Trailside is newer, but this apartment has a kitchen!  I was so excited to have a kitchen and be able to cook things that I spent like half my monthly allowance on tons and tons of cook-able food.  I just grabbed things that looked good that I knew I needed to cook and bought it.  I even bought a single can of green beans.  The weirdest part is, I totally could've cooked green beans at Trailside too, but that's beside the point.  In any case, while the apartment we live in is pretty legit, the people I'm rooming with aren't exactly the exciting type.  I'll get over it I guess, and maybe they're just shy and need a little warming up.  We'll see.
I really wish I had more to report as far as missionary work is concerned, but we really haven't accomplished a whole lot this week!  You know, other than helping someone enter into the waters of baptism and open the gate that leads to exaltation.  Whatever, no big deal.  It was especially hard too because we had Stake Conference yesterday instead of church, so we have no idea who any of our members are.  Makes things a little difficult.  We'll figure it out though.  YOLO.

Love y'all!
-Elder Cox

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

AGAIN!  What my heck?  At this rate, I'm going to have no one to visit after the mission because I'll only have been in each area for 6 weeks.  *SIGH*.  All well.  We'll find out where I'm going on Wednesday, so once again don't send anything unless it's already been sent.

Kinda lame, especially because Elder Francis and I get along so well.  But, what can you do.  I understand the Lord wouldn't put me anywhere unless I needed to be there.

Thanksgiving!  Yeah, it was pretty legit.  We had Thanksgiving with the Bundy family who is actually from Murray as well!  I was like "what the freak?" because it seems like everyone is from Murray.  They are pretty cool though.  I think she's been a lifelong member and he recently converted, or something like that.  So we gorged there and had our second dinner at about... 8:30 that night.  Super late, and really it was just leftovers from the dinner that the old Ward Mission Leader had.  So we ate all his leftovers and then slept, which made for a nice feeling in the stomach the next morning.  But yeah, Thanksgiving was good.  Elder Francis' mom overnighted some rolls too, which actually just got here today.  So much for "overnight".  All's well, they're still good.

Once again I failed to write down things that I would tell my family about this week.  We had a pretty cool miracle yesterday when someone decided to come to church out of the blue.  He's the son of a recent convert and he's been in prison a bunch and just decided he wants to change his life around and he came to church!  We were able to teach him a lesson (pow, thwack, bam!) and then set up an appointment for today!  So hopefully that goes well.  *Cough*, excuse me.  It will go well.

I dunno if you remember me talking about our super-solid investigator Jeff Itoh.  Probably not.  Well, Jeff was supposed to get baptized on Saturday but it didn't end up happening.  I'm pretty sure I already told you it wasn't going to happen last week, because that's when he decided.  It's super frustrating too because he knows everything is true, really wants to get baptized, and absolutely LOVES the church, but he's just hung up on one thing:  His 4-year-old triplets are bored during Sacrament meeting.  What?!  Of course they are!  I'M bored during sacrament meeting, and I'm a missionary!  It's all good though, because the primary is assembling a "sacrament kit" you could say that has all sorts of kiddie things to play with.  Hopefully that'll work out.  He's done for sure. (in the baptized sort of way)

I was hoping to have the title of this email be "A very Trailside Christmas", but seeing as how I'll be spending Christmas elsewhere, I guess it's not "very Trailside".  Super sad, because we DECKED the halls, that is, our room, with jolliness.  We made snowflakes, put up stickers, were even going to have a tree, we have a Santa door-hang, lights on the bunk-bed... But alas, Christmas in Trailside is but a dream.  All well.  I'll get over it eventually.

Hope you guys have a great week! :)

-Elder Cox

Monday, November 25, 2013

I didn't think it would ever rain here, but it totally did this week.  For like 3 days or something.  That being said, the temperature dropped a bunch, and it feels absolutely amazing outside.  It's probably in the 50's?  Something like that.  Super nice.  Maybe even the 60's.  I don't know whether it's disobedient or not, but I wear my short-sleeves even in the cold.  There ain't no how I'm 'gon wear a suit biking around.  Ah, who am I kidding, we've been using the car this week.  I'm getting fat.

Cool life experience about teaching by the Spirit!  So we knock on this guy Michael's door.  We've been trying to get in touch with Michael forever and this time we knocked and he said, "Look guys, I think I'm just going to be non-denominational and just stick with the Bible" or something like that.  This was all remedied with a simple question from Elder Francis of:  "What brought you to that decision?"  His response was... "uhh, I'm not sure..."  Well okay!  So, we talked about the Book of Mormon and how it in no way replaces the Bible, and he brought up a concern of "Well I heard in the church that you are only allowed to marry another Mormon."  Well, that's not really true buddy, so... awkward.  By the end of the lesson, he had a Book of Mormon in his hand, and follow-up appointment, and his last words before he shut the door was, "You guys are good!".  No good sir, the Spirit is good.  That is a testimony that when we teach by the spirit it will touch the hearts of the people we teach, and they will feel that it's true.

This week, I met a sweet 94-year-old less active lady named Sister Miller.  She was great.  I've always been confused when people say that they love old people, because I just don't get it.  It's very difficult to carry on a conversation with an old person.  However, this instance changed my thoughts on old people, or at least this old person. (Anyone offended yet? :P )
Sister Miller said a couple things that I (probably) will never forget.  (Until I'm an old person...ha!...)  We were just talking to her about...whatever it is that old people like to talk about, and looking back on her life she just simply said.. "Yeah, it's been fun."  I don't know why, but this had such a profound impact on me.  I imagined myself as a wrinkly 94-year-old man, and my only hope now is that I can look back on my life and simply say, "Yeah, it's been fun!"  Great.  The other thing she said that was so funny is, "When I get to the other side, I hope that there's a suggestion box because I have a few things to mention".  Haha, what a sweet old lady.

Do you remember me talking about Paul Sheck?  Have I mentioned him?  He's a less-active guy in probably his thirties.  Well come to find out, he's from Murray! Graduated from Murray High in '98.  Weirdest part?  He's the step-son of Mister... DANG IT!  What's his name?!  Biology teacher...  Scheidell! That's the one.  I am teaching the step-son of Mister Scheidell.  Weird huh?  In any case, I don't think I mentioned one of the miracles that happened during a Paul Sheck lesson.  Essentially, Paul has told us that he will never go to church.  He thinks he knows everything and that he doesn't need it.  We taught the "big 3" (church, read, pray) in an object lesson and asked Paul what he think he could do to improve.  He said "I could definitely read and pray more, but I'm not going to church."  By the end of the lesson, we had Paul say the closing prayer and in his prayer he asked God to "help [him] read and pray..."  he paused "... and go to church."  Hahaha, sucker.  The spirit is telling him he needs to go to church and he just asked GOD to help him go to church.  His butt is going to church sooner or later.  Trailside miracles!

Welp, that's it!  I'm super excited for Thanksgiving so that I can binge at two different dinners.
Game time.

Love you all!
-Elder Cox

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

I need to repent.  Usually I write down things in my planner that I plan...(ha...) on writing home about.  This week however... I didn't.  All well!  Let's hope my memory serves me well.  Speaking of memory, I've realized that I must be developing photographic memory, because... my memory is simply amazing.  I'm pretty sure it's only when the Lord needs me to remember something and the Spirit allows me to, but still.  It's legit.  

Hmmm... let's see.

So!  Jeff Itoh, the one I said that dropped us last week because of his wife not support him?  Yeah, he called us that night and said something like "She changed her mind" and we're teaching him now!  Better news, he's getting baptized on November 30th.  Woot woot!  He's seriously the most solid investigator I've ever met.  His testimony is probably better than mine already!  Really cool moment that happened was when our Bishop during a lesson asked him, "What would it mean to you to have a prophet today?"  and his response was "Oh, it'd be huge!".  Just goes to show how often we (maybe just "I") take the prophet for granted.  It really is huge.  We have a person who communes with the Lord regularly.  So sweet!  Anyway, so Jeff is super solid.  Did I mention he has triplets?  They're 4.  And they're crazy.  Super awesome though.  Matt and Liz, just be glad you aren't having triplets!  The next step for Jeff is to get his wife involved.  She's not really interested right now, but she will be, given enough faith.  I could probably have enough faith to take away everyone's agency and then I'd be a REALLY good missionary.  And Satan.

Our investigators Ronnie and Cassy are getting married today!  Best part?  We didn't even teach them the law of Chastity!  They are just prepared by God to be baptized.  They've had the plans for a while and now they should be all set.  The Lord really does provide!  The really cool part is.. their son Jarell.  He's 12 and is in scouts, and has a bunch of friends in the church.  First thing he says to us when we meet him?  "I want to get baptiz-md."  Well, okay Jarell, I guess you can be baptis-md.  He has such solid understanding too.  When we asked him what it means if the Book of Mormon is true he said "that means Joseph Smith is a prophet."  What does that mean?  "The church is true!"  What does that mean?  "I can get baptized!"  What does that mean?  "I can go to the Celestial Kingdom!"  What the freak Jarell, we never even talked about the Celestial Kingdom?!  So sweet.  They're done for. (In a good way)

We're teaching this girl named Shabrea, and she's getting baptized too!  Same day as Jeff! Just kidding actually, she had to push back her date... So that's exciting.  Because she's 16 we're worried about her not having permission.  The familial support is definitely not there right now, but hopefully it'll work out!  Dang girl just needs to gota' church.

What else...hmm.
Oh yeah!  So Grandma Hinkle got baptized!  Her last name isn't actually Hinkle because she's sister Hinkle's mom, but whatever.  She's grandma Hinkle to me.  She's one of the people we taught in Maryvale who was super against the Church and thought we worshipped Joseph Smith and thought we were a cult.  That was like, a month ago.  And now she's a member.  BOO YA!

Oh, how could I forget about Trailside Miracles!  Only one that I can really think of:
We were at church yesterday and the sister missionaries come to Gospel Principles and call us out of class.  They introduce us to this lady named Anna.  Anna walked to church.  She walked into the church.  Nobody knew Anna.  Anna had a Book of Mormon in her hand and said "I know this book is true, and I need to learn more about it" (more or less).  What the crap!?  Trailside MIRACLES!  The miracle turned sour when she went to relief society though, because they just let her go right out the door right after relief society.  What.  The.  Freak.
So we're just going to pray and pray and pray and pray and pray some more that she comes back to church next week.  Still a miracle though.

In light of Thanksgiving:
Thank you all so much for being so supportive.  I absolutely love hearing from everyone, and I'm glad to know that you all (most of you :P ) love me.  I love you!

Peace, Love, the Gospel.


-Elder Cox

Friday, November 15, 2013

And some bad news.  Mostly good news!
Okay, so this week our zone has really been pushing member present lessons.  Meaning, we bring a member of the ward with us to teach.  So our mission president made us a promise that when we have a member present "everything else will fall into place."  That is huge.  EVERYTHING?  It's been legit.  So our zone made the goal to get 100 member present lessons on the week of Nov. 18th, 100 being over double what we got two weeks ago.  We had a zone conference where they got us super pumped to be getting members out with us.  We really took the challenge to heart and have barely had any lessons last week that didn't have members present.  Our goal for last week (to work up to our goal for next week) was 65 member presents, and guess what happened?  We got over 100.  We weren't even planning on getting that many as a zone until next week, but it happened.  Crazy.

That being said, I could write a novel about "Trailside Miracles".  We've seen so many this week in Trailside ward. (Some of these are where the not-as-good news comes in)

First Miracle:
So we have weekly planning once a week to plan for…the week (go figure).  And at weekly planning they encouraged us to have a "meaningful activity planned for every hour of the week".  Whether or not that makes sense, I don't know.  Essentially they want us to plan a person an hour for the whole week to go visit.  Make sense?  So We planned to see this guy named Jeff Itoh, who was a potential investigator that neither of us had ever met.  We scheduled to teach him on Wednesday at 6:00.  So, we figured before we assume that we can teach him on Wednesday, we should go meet him.  So we did.  We went over on Tuesday night (with a member present--hence the miracle) and we met with him.  He was super nice and open to everything and we were even able to teach him.  We asked him if there was a day this week that we could come back and talk more about it.  He said "how about tomorrow?" (Wednesday).  We said, "does 6:00 work?".  "Yes."  It was so satisfying to open my planner, look at Wednesday at 6:00, see that his name was already scheduled for that time, and put my planner away without writing anything.  Revelation at its finest.  Long story short, he came to church, and absolutely LOVED it!  Then he sent us a text that night and dropped us saying he can't be a member 'cause his wife doesn't support him.  

And that's the bad news. We'll still get him though.
Oh yeah, other bad news is that Julio didn't come to church so he can't be baptized on the date that we set for him.  So… that sucks.

Second Member-present miracle!:
We had dinner with this member family that neither of us knew, the Guerenas.  Long story short, brother Guerena ended up coming out with us after dinner.  Off topic, his mannerisms are SO much like Matt it's uncanny.  Guess what his name is?  Matthew Guerena.  He's like… the same person.  Except that he hunts bears…
Anyway, so we went out and visited these people Ronnie and Cassy, who have always been dodging us.  When we pull up the house was completely black.  I could tell that we were about to just leave, but Elder Francis looked at me and I said… "faith knock."
So we knocked, and lo and behold, they were home.  And they let us in.  Say what?  The lesson really just consisted of us resolving his concerns.  Then… I had a vision.
Literally.  I imagined Ronnie, this 6 foot 5 black guy dressed in baptismal clothing.  In my mind I just got the feeling like… "yeah… we need to invite him to be baptized". (talking later with Elder Francis, he had the same experience… spooooooky!) Of course I had some huge doubts about inviting him to be baptized when we haven't really taught him anything.  Good thing Elder Francis was on the same page, because he did it anyway.  He said yes.  They came to church.  Loved it.  Game time!
Oh yeah, and the member we had with us that just happened to be there was PERFECT with his testimony and past experiences.  Ronnie (investigator) literally was saying that everything he said to him answered a question he had.

Also, Angel and Taylor, some people I was teaching back in Maryvale (old area) got baptized on Saturday!  It was super sweet.  They are the people that we taught every Sunday at the Hinkle's house.  I don't remember if I told you about Sister Hinkle's mom but I'm pretty sure I did.  She was pretty much anti-mormon aaaand now she's getting baptized this weekend.  Boo ya.  

Next miracle… I went to KFC for lunch one day.  WEIRD!  Even more of a miracle?  It was delicious.

That's pretty much it!  I've had some crazy experiences with faith this week.  Faith is so powerful.  Way legit.

Welp, see ya!

-Elder Cox

Monday, November 4, 2013

Snow huh?  Well that's weird.  Still probably in the 70's here!  Feels really nice, especially at night!
Halloween sounded fun!  We were stuck inside updating our Area Book on our
iPads all night...wait...what?

Yes.  iPads.

In other news, we have a new investigator named Julio, and guess what?  He's getting baptized!  A lot can sure happen in a week.  We met him on the street outside his house.  He's probably about 5'4" or something and super skinny and Mexican, with tattoos all over.  So, we told him what we do as missionaries and we had him say a prayer with us!  You could tell as he described the way he felt that he felt the Spirit way strong.  Of course, we let him know what that feeling was and how he could have more of it in his life.  Way cool!  So a few days later the ward was having a neighborhood chili cook-off/trick or treat thing for the kids and we invited him to it!  He has like 6 kids (3 of them are baptismal age, boo-ya) and they all showed up with him and his (soon to be) wife! Way sweet.  He was introduced to a bunch of ward members and felt loved and at home.  Eventually he left the shindig without saying anything to us, but we see him come running back and he just said he was so thankful for inviting him to the thing and he was sorry that he didn't say good-bye before he left.  So sweet!  So like, the next day or something we taught him the Restoration, and we asked him if he would be baptized.  He said yes.  We told him we'd be holding a baptismal service on November 23rd, and asked if he would prepare himself for that date.  His response?  "What time?".  Awesome. Out of any response I've ever gotten out of investigator, that was the best one.  We're going to start teaching the whole family and baptize 'err buddy.

Exchanges!  I went on exchanges with the Zone Leaders again today, but this time I went to their area, which is Spanish speaking.  I wish I could say I had a gift of tongues moment where I started blurting out stuff in Espanol, but I didn't.  The cool thing was though, that even though I couldn't understand what anyone was saying, I could feel the Spirit.  The Spirit is universal, and you really can feel it testify that what is being said is good.  It was sweet. Se que La Iglesia de JesuCristo de Los Santos de Los Ultimos Dias es verdadero.

Okay fine, I'll tell you about the iPads.  They are saweeeeet!  We got iPad minis, and we each get one.  Not even one per companionship, but everyone.  They're awesome.  We can use Gospel Library which is SO helpful, and we use them for Facebooking now too.  They have an app on them that has our area book on it, which has all of our investigators, what they've been taught, potential investigators, ward members, etc.  It's sweet.  Eventually the goal is to have the app replace the missionary daily planner.  Too bad right now the planning part of the app sucks.  It isn't even on version 1.0 yet though, so they'll work out the kinks.  Pretty sweet though!  It's so so nice to have for teaching and for studying.  So much information!  Of course we aren't able to download anything else and everything on the internet is blocked pretty much, but I don't blame them!  It's definitely a new age a missionary work.  They're essentially breaking down all boundaries of a mission area, allowing us to teach anywhere in the world via Facebook.  Pretty legit!  Also, we have iPads.  Who doesn't want an iPad?  Way sweet.

Last thing, I tried to emulate Matt's super-famous made-out-of-hangers backscratcher.  It doesn't look quite as graceful as his, nor does it work as well.  However, it gets the job done.  Elder Francis tried to make one too, but needless to say the legacy of Matt's mission back-scratcher lives on.

Welp, that's all folks.  Love you all!

-Elder Cox

Monday, October 28, 2013

A few pictures

Elder Francis in new apartment 

From left to right Elder's
Cox, Forson, Wallentine, Erikson
Elder Forson and Elder Cox

On his birthday Oct 8th
His bike

October 28, 2013

Okay, so yeah, transfers!  To answer Mom's questions:  The new area and companion are great!  I am in Laveen, which is actually the same zone I was in before.  My companion is Elder Francis, and is the new district leader of our district.  He is way awesome.  He's from San Diego and has been out 5-6 months.  My old area, Maryvale (sometimes called scary-vale :P ) has been "whitewashed".  Yes, they sent two new missionaries in the area and they are actually sister missionaries!  Pretty interesting.  Especially because the senior companion is someone I was in the MTC with, and she has a brand-new sister, and is taking over an area she hasn't been in.  Definitely a lot on her plate!

As far as Trailside (my new area) goes, it's really small.  It's only about a square mile and a half.  It's a really nice area though, full of super nice houses.  Well, probably just seem "super nice" compared to Maryvale.  With it being so small, we don't really have many investigators.  It's more Less-Active work here apparently.  Which is just fine!  Our apartment is smaller than my room was at home.  I'll see if I can attach a picture of it, but we fit two beds, two desks, a fridge and a tiny table in it.  It's pretty comical.  We don't have an oven, but we do have a microwave so that's a bonus!  It's at a member's house, and is just a room that has a separate entrance.  It's fun though.  Elder Francis and I get along super well so I don't anticipate any frustration coming from the lack of space.  

Story time!  So in Maryvale we were teaching a part-member family.  The mom was a member, and all her kids and "husband" were non-members.  She has two kids that are baptismal age:  Phoenix, who has long blonde hair down to the small of his back and is 10 I think, and his younger brother Trinity.  We hadn't been able to set them on a baptismal date before we left, because we figured we'd want the father to be baptized with them, and he and his "wife" have to actually get married first.  Anyway, they're super super interested but we told them that we were being transferred.  The super sweet part came when the mother of the family (who is the member) when we told her we were leaving just thanked us so much for what we had done for her and her family.  She said that we "changed [their] lives".  That is a sweet "OH YEAH" moment for sure.  Changing lives one lesson at a time.  Game time.

Along with saying good-byes, it was surprisingly harder than I thought it would be!  I definitely grew to love the people of Maryvale.  It's amazing how fast you can love people so much.  It's definitely because of the service too.  One of our zone leaders, Elder Murphey, always says that if he doesn't love someone, he just serves them until he does.  For some people he says "I had to serve them a lot before I grew to love them."  Way sweet attitude to have.  I can see it working as I continue to serve as well.

Speaking of Elder Murphey, I bought his guitar!  He got it while he was serving down by the border, and a member family went to mexico and picked it up for him.  I bought it for 30 bucks and it's a sweet classical guitar.  I'm way excited!

Funny that you should mention stories about following promptings of the spirit, because I have a story for you too!:
It was 8:00 on Saturday night, and Trailside is full of super young couples with crazy amounts of kids.  There are probably 50 kids under...6 in the ward.  It's basically full of people the same age as my older brothers.  So, 8:00 is actually the equivalent of like 3 a.m. apparently, and Bishop doesn't want us just dropped in on people unannounced at 8:00 at night.  So, it was 8:00 and all our plans fell through and Elder Francis was wondering what we should do next.  I suggested we pray about it.  So we did.  We prayed, and gave the Lord options of who we could go see, and asked which would be the best.  We both got the same answer.  Super sweet.  So we go over to this lady's house and it turns out that she wasn't home.  Elder Francis just left a not and said "I guess that was the reason we came over here."  Tsk Tsk.  To leave a note?  Unacceptable.  I told him that there was definitely someone we need to find over in this area.  We ride to this other less-active member's house and it has a foreclosure lock on it... whatever.  We knock anyway.  No answer.  (That would be a cool story if they did)  Still cool though, because as we were riding away, I saw a guy standing in his driveway.  The only person we had seen outside all night.  I turned back to Elder Francis and said "Game Time!".  Yep, this kid (Juan) was who we were sent to see!  We taught him a lesson and he even prayed with us right there in the street.  We scheduled a follow-up appointment.  Just like that, we have a new investigator.  Super cool.

Another story!  There is a guy named Michael Reid who Elder Francis has been working with here for a while was disfellowshipped at some point earlier in his life.  Well, this guy made a covenant with the Lord that he would do whatever it takes to regain his full membership and priesthood.  So he did.  He's been meeting with the missionaries regularly and had a meeting with the Stake President yesterday.  He was able to bless the sacrament the same day.  Just goes to show the incredible power of the Atonement.  No matter where anyone is in life, whether they're the "vilest of sinners", there's always hope.  Way sweet.  

Other than that, I realized how much I miss Jazz music and jamming and stuff.  Luckily I got a guitar so I can satiate that appetite at least a little bit.  Also, the member family we live with has a sweet grand piano, and they said I'm welcome to use it any time.  To further satiate my hunger for jazz, I decided I'm going to make jazz arrangements of church hymns.  Already started, and it's going to be sweet.  Now I just need my hands on a bass... and two other guys to play with.  My hymns are coming along though.  I can actually read fairly well.  I can't play up to tempo mind you, but I don't have to pick out each note individually anymore.  I'll just have to keep playing the awesome piano that's in our house on p-days and stuff.  Sweet.

That's all!

-Elder Cox

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Yes Mom, you're right.  Transfers are this week.  And sure enough, I'm getting trasnferred already!  Crazy stuff.  I'll no longer be serving in Maryvale with Elder Forson.  I don't know where I'm going yet, but we will find out this Wednesday!  Pretty crazy.  I know that I won't be training though, so that's a relief.  Most likely I'll have a different trainer in some other area.  Either that or I guess I could get someone else that's been out for the same amount of time that I have, and we train each other.  It wouldn't be the first time in the mission!  Everyone knew that Elder Forson would leave because he's been here for 9 months.  So it would be obvious that he'd be on his way out soon.  He became a Zone Leader.  The funny thing too is that at Zone Conference a couple weeks ago, they said they were going to make very minimal changes for transfers.  Well, that didn't turn out too successful, because half of our zone is going bye-bye.  Everyone is being transferred, it's insane.
So, I hope that no one has sent any letters recently, because unless I get them before Wednesday I'll have to wait many weeks.  Of course, I will let you all know what my new address is next week!
First off.  My legs are huge.  I bike probably 30 miles a day or something ridiculous, and it's awesome.  It's probably still around 80 degrees and at night it's perfect.  It's that "cool summer night air" that Dad always talks about.  It's awesome.  I have those awesome leg muscles where the muscle overlaps the knee-cap.  I'm so ripped.  Granted, absolutely everything else on my body is just getting fatter and harrier -- besides my head. My legs though?  Ripped.
Baptism this week!  Woot woot!  We baptized this kid Damean who's actually 8, but his Mom is inactive and works on Sundays, and his father-figure-guy-his-mom-lives-with is really not interested in the Church.  So we asked Bishop and he said since we've been teaching him and everything, it counts as a convert baptism.  So there you go!  Remember how a couple of weeks ago I went on my first transfer and I set Elder Zorne's investigator on date?  She and her son got baptized too.  So so sweet to see people entering into eternal covenants!  I had the opportunity to speak at the baptism as well about...baptism... and it was all good.  I never imagined myself being able to just teach lessons of the cuff, but Elder Forson and I taught about missionary work in Elder's quorum yesterday too, and it went well.  Needless to say,  being a missionary is amazing.
Can I just say how awesome the Priesthood is?  Literally being able to speak in behalf of God to support His children here on Earth.  What the heck.  I almost can't even comprehend how awesome it is.  The reason I bring this up, is because we had a sick streak of Priesthood-usage.  I used the priesthood 3 times in 24 hours.  I plan to try and set new records every transfer.  So awesome.  We gave a blessing to an Elder in our zone, as well as two of our investigators.  So awesome.
So, time for a humorous moving story.  We always share stories about terrible terrible experiences of helping people move, and this one is it.  We helped move this lady Synthia, who is an inactive member.  It originally was going to just be the other set of Elders in our ward, but they begged us to help them, so we did.  So we get to her apartment, and she wasn't there.  My first instinct would be just to leave because if you snooze, you lose.  But we waited for like 40 minutes and she finally came.  We were literally 1 minute away from leaving.  60 more seconds and she wouldn't have received the help.  Anyway, so she gets there and we go inside and as she starts talking logistics, she just starts crying.  She ushers us out of the house and just says "one second, I have to take care of some stuff..."  Uhh, okay.  So we wait for like five minutes and then she comes back out happy and smiling again.  So of course, she didn't really have anything packed up.  If I were a member helping her, I would just say "call us when you've packed" and then leave.  But I'm a missionary, so I get to be nice.  Not only did she not have anything packed up, but apparently she's getting evicted.  She was supposed to have her Dad come with a truck, but apparently he bailed or something.  This is where it gets really interesting, because she just tells us to put all of her stuff in the parking lot.  So we did.  Long story short, there was just a bunch of furniture, clothes, a giant mattress, a hooka, and junk all just in the parking lot of the apartment complex.  So weird!  On top of that, when we were taking her dresser down, we wanted to take out the drawers.  She kept insisting that we wait and let her take out the drawers herself.  Okay, whatever.  So we're all just looking at her taking out her drawers and she is quite obviously hiding "something" that was stashed away in her dresser.  Being the ssuuuuper "funny" guy that Elder Forson is, he asks her "what do you have that you don't want us to see?".  It was so awkward, and she very apparently had some drugs, and was very apparently using drugs.  I wish I could say that this ended up being a positive experience, but we ended up missing one of our teaching appointments, and the other Elders didn't even get a teaching opportunity from it.  So then we were done, and she said "thanks" and we left this crazy lady in her apartment complex parking lot with all of her stuff.  Weird.
Last story!  Did I tell you guys about the Hinkles?  I can't remember.  They're a member family that we have dinner with every Sunday.  They are super sweet people, and I'll probably miss them and the Foulks the most.  Anyway, they have non-member friends that they've been bringing to Church with them every week for a couple weeks now, and whenever we go over there we have the opportunity to teach them. (I'm pretty sure I've told you this before)  Well yesterday, they finally agreed to be baptized on November 2nd!  Elder Forson and I won't be around to see it, but it's super awesome nonetheless.  Sister Hinkle was crying again this week because she's just so shocked that we're able to get her friends and her mom to progress.  When you teach by the spirit, people really do understand.  The gospel just makes sense.  I don't know how anyone would not understand that it's just logical. 
Anyway, the mission is still super neat-o, and I'm having a grand time.  I'm really excited to see what transfers are all about, and I'll let you know about everything next week!
-Elder Cox

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

I'm a little behind so let me catch you up.  Dylan was called to serve in the Arizona Tempe mission and entered the MTC on August 28, 2013.  Here are a few excerpts from his letters: 

So as you know, I had the opportunity to have Jeff Hunter as my host!  That was way sweet, and it reassured me that maybe the MTC wasn't going to be so bad.  Sure enough, not 5 minutes later I ran into my buddy Jayden Beardall!  The first day feels a lot like you're being herded like cattle.  You do one thing, then they send you to the next place, and the next place, and the next place.  You get the idea.  I met a couple of my teachers that day which are Brother White and Brother Belliston.  They are way good teachers and I have learned a lot from them since.  My companion's name is Elder Reaves, who is from Seattle Washington!  So that's cool.  He's a great guy and we're pretty dang good at being obedient with exactness. Other guys we're rooming with are Elder Sessions and Elder Hawes.  We all are already like brothers. 

I'm really loving my time at the MTC so far.  It's crazy to think that I only have like two days left.  We have to wake up at like 2:00 a.m. Tuesday morning to head to the airport and everything, so that'll be fun.  I'm way excited (and a little nervous) to be doing the real stuff but I know the Lord will be right there by my side.  Any fear I have about it is usually overridden by my excitement for my bike.  It's going to be so sweet.  Please keep praying for me, and I will work 110% to make sure that I make my family and the Lord proud.  Glad to hear everyone's doing well for the most part.  Hopefully I can send handwritten letters that don't take a week to get 40 minutes away.  What the heck.

Just before he left he was able to run into his good buddy Josh Nelson - 

He arrived in Arizona on September 10th and was assigned to serve in the Phoenix area, here's his first letter:
It's been crazy.  And hard.  And awesome.  And crazy awesome.

So much has happened i have to remember where to start.  I don't even remember the last thing you heard from me... I guess I'll start with leaving the MTC.  What day was that, last Wednesday?  Feels like I've been here for months...

So yeah, we woke up at 2:30. a.m... In the morning... Early.  So we got like 3 hours of sleep, but it was alright.  I got all my luggage figured out and everything was appropriate weights.  We hopped on the bus that took us to the Frontrunner that took us downtown, then we hopped on Trax to the airport when I talked to you.  The craziest thing that happened was that we did a companion "exchange" so that two of the Elders could talk on the phones while we got something to eat.  So my comp and I leave the Elders who still needed to talk on the phone.  Well, we didn't even have time to eat, because they were already boarding the plane!  Crap.  So we sent some other guys to find the Elders, but they never found them, and the plane left without them!  We were all freaking out so bad.  Good news is they got on a plane like an hour later and were able to make it here just fine.  It was so funny. 
    Then we just had breakfast and stuff and took pictures (that you saw) with president before interviews.  Actually, before interviews... (triumphant brass horns) I got my bike! It's so so sweet.  I immediately took it for a spin around the parking lot like I was 8 years old again.  It was awesome.  I always get compliments like "Wow, that's a sweeet bike man!  How much did it cost?"... which makes me way nervous because we're in kind-of a ghetto part of town, but I'll get to that.  After my bike, I had an interview with Pres. Toone.  He said "Elder Cox, you look like someone I can trust.  You look like someone who will be obedient.  I can tell that you have great leadership qualities, so don't be surprised if you get called to a leadership position"... or something like that.  WHAT?!  No pressure or anything!  Sheesh.  That's another thing, is we're getting like 20-40 missionaries every month, and they don't have enough trainers to train everyone.  So a lot of the people called to be trainers have only been here for 6 weeks!  It's insane.  They haven't even finished training and are already training.  Some of them are training, opening a new area, and called to like District Leaders... after 6 weeks.  Nuts.
   My companion's name is Elder Forson.  He's from Texas, and he's a nut.  He's really cool though, and we get along just fine.  Lucky for me he's been here 8 months instead of 6 weeks.  I guess they really changed up the area, because I'm actually serving in Phoenix right now!  In the Phoenix west mission, called Maryvale or something.  We live in the ghettos basically, and it's like 90% Hispanic.  It really just feels like I'm in Mexico.  I really don't understand how they have so many English speaking missionaries, because everyone who speaks English knows Spanish too.  I'll learn really quick, that's for sure.  It's good though.  We get fed almost every night.
   I'm surprised at how much Facebook we use, to answer your question Mom.  We use it for an hour every day.  Apparently it's pretty effective!  I haven't really gotten to use it yet, because I have to make sure it "reflects my sacred calling" first.  We'll see how it works out!  Pretty crazy! 

  As to how I'm coping with it, it's fine.  It's pretty crazy to get used to, and it's really hot here.  To everyone else they're like, "104?  It's so nice outside".  It's hot.  It's weird too because apparently Arizona doesn't really have clean water, so everyone just buys big things of bottled water all the time.  I've gotten used to having a layer of sweat on me all the time, and I've just learned to deal with it.  It's not too bad though.  My comp said  that when it gets 110+, it feels like a blow-dryer is on you all the time.  I haven't quite experienced that, but pretty close.  Once you start sweating though, that cools you down alright.
  I'm surprised how much easier it gets to actually say things to people and street contact and stuff.  I didn't think I would be this open to talking to random people, but interestingly enough I've gotten pretty comfortable with it.  No matter how scary they look, how low their pants are sagging, how many people I think they've killed, we pretty much talk to everyone..  More or less. Even teaching people isn't that hard, and you'd be surprised (maybe) at how receptive people are to the message.  When you testify of things they just say "oh that makes sense".  Most  of the time.  

Oh yeah!  I forgot another detail about Wednesday.  Before we even got assigned to an area or anything, they told us that we would be heading over to ASU to do some street contacting for our first day.  They call it OYM, for Open Your Mouth.  At first we were like, "what?" but then we were like "yeah".  The End.
Just kidding, Elder Fellows and I went together.  He was in my district in the MTC and I freaking love the guy.  He wasn't even my companion, but I hope he will be.  He reminds me so much of Jense it's uncanny.  Anyway, we just went around and starting talking to some college kids and it was way cool!  The Lord definitely inspired some of the contacts.  There was one girl that we contacted who was walking home to her apartment. We kept talking to her but she didn't really seem too interested, but we got her information anyway so that she could "give us a tour of campus".  As we were walking back, we saw this kid skateboarding so I said, hey, let's talk to him.  As we got to know him, not only does he like skateboarding but he's looking into majoring in computer science.  What?!  There's no way that I would coincidentally bump into someone that I can relate to like that.  Moral of the story:  The Lord told us to talk to that girl.  Just because she wasn't interested doesn't mean that the Lord didn't have something for us in mind.  He led us to her, because otherwise we wouldn't have found Jacob, who is Christian and asked if we had any churches in the area and someone to go to church with.  Anyway, that's the moral.  The Lord might lead you to a closed door because there's an open one right next to it.

One more story.  So we were riding our bikes at night a couple nights ago just meeting with investigators to set up appointments.  We were riding when Elder Forson just turns really suddenly to this unlit street.  I was wondering what the heck he was doing when I saw that there was a lady there.  My first thought was "there's no way he could have seen here (she was standing in the pitch black) the Lord must want us to see her".  As we talked to her and told her about what we are she said "you guys came at just the right time".  Sweet!  The Lord really did send us someone!  So I thought.  We kept talking to her and found out that she didn't really have a place to stay because she had been kicked out of her parents' house.  So of course we pray with her and start teaching her.  We would ask her what her plans were and she'd shrug.  We asked her if she had a religious background and she wasn't sure.  Wasn't sure?  After we had explained that we were missionaries several times, she looked at me and asked "Are you a doctor?".  Am I a... do I look like a doctor?!  Everything we taught her she just looked at us with a blank stare and said... "What?"  This lady was definitely on some crazy drugs.  Long story short, we got an address to a halfway house or shelter or something like that and gave it to her.  It turned what I thought would be a crazy awesome experience into just a funny story.  It's alright though.  

There is this one family that we taught though that Elder Forson is convinced is going to get baptized.  We just randomly found the father, David while we were biking.  Come to find out that he's a member, and that he's just been inactive for like.. 20 years.  His wife has never had any religious background in her life.  He was nice and they fed us a huge dinner on Saturday and we taught them.  I think it'll end up well.  We have a bunch more people but it would take forever to talk about every single one.  In any case, the Lord provides miracles when we're doing what we should be doing.  I can't stand the thought of wasting the Lord's time especially when I'm sacrificing so much to be here.  

Love you all, thanks for the support, the church is true.
Blah blah blah blah blah

Dylan with his mission President and Sister Toone

That gives you a brief overview on what has been going on and I will publish his letters each week from this point forward.  If there is anyone who would like all past letters let me know.  (
I guess I'll start with my birthday.  The other Elders I room with (Jurgensmeier, Murphey, Forson) make a cake for me that morning, which was way sweet.  Of course I got your package which was sosick.  And then we had dinner that night with the Foulk family.  They are a super old couple that are way awesome.  Brother Foulk always comes out to help us teach and stuff, and they're way awesome.  They made me cupcakes and we had this awesome dinner and they even gave me a card!  So sweet.  Other than that, it was a pretty standard day of missionary work!
So.  More exchanges this week.  THIS time though, I was leading the area out.  Meaning I was senior companion for the day basically.  Pretty neat!  I don't think I did too bad.  Thursday was with Elder Murphey, and Saturday was with Elder Erikson - a buddy I made in the MTC.  We had a pretty cool experience (Elder Murphy and I) with Brother Hamill.  Brother Hamill is the guy that won't let his nine-year-old son get baptized because he feels he's not worthy to baptize him or something like that, and they're going through some sort of rough divorce.  So usually when we go over there we harp on him about why the freak he won't just baptize his son already, and be pretty bold with him.  When Elder Murphey and I went there though we both had the thought (which means impression) that we shouldn't even mention it.  With all the troubles they're going through, we just talked about the power of the Atonement, and read Alma the Younger's experience.  We just lovingly said that the way that brother Hamill is going to start getting on the right path is to trust in the Atonement and start coming to church again.  It was a way good lesson.  Still didn't come to church though... but it was still good. 
Last night we ate dinner at the Hinkle's home (member family we eat with every week) and when we're there we always teach their friend Angel who is investigating the church.  We taught her more about the Restoration, which was one of the most powerful experiences I've had with teaching that lesson.  Afterwards we asked if she knew Joseph Smith was a prophet.  "Yes".  Do you believe the Book of Mormon is true?  "Yes."  Do you believe that this is Christ's true church restored to the earth?..."weeeell..."
I don't think she understood that those things are all intertwined.  She said she'd be baptized once she knows though, so that'll happen soon.  Then Sister Hinkle's mom was there too, and apparently she's never been interested in the church at all.  So Elder Forson said "Grandma, will you read the Book of Mormon, and pray to know that it's true?"  Sister Hinkle's eyes went SO wide, and she looked at Elder Forson like "what are you doing?!!"  To everyone's surprise she said "Yes."  Sister Hinkle was trying to hide it, but she was crying.  She never thought her mom would be open to it.  Just goes to show the power of teaching by the spirit!
In less cool news, Kathy (our super golden investigator) didn't come to church yesterday, so she's not getting baptized this weekend.  We'll get her though!  It was awesome because we were asking like "why the heck didn't she come" and all this, but then we felt like we should contact this referral that we've been trying to contact forever, and we were finally able to teach him a lesson!  We beat him up.  (Get it, teach him a lesson?...)  Just kidding, he's super solid.  He said he really admired that we kept trying to contact him and that he felt cared about.  So sweet!
That's pretty much all I have for this week!  I see miracles every day.  Definitely hardships, but the Lord always blesses us as well!  
Keep praying for me!  I need it.  Keep having family night and everything!
Oh, and I definitely didn't get hit by a car this week.
Love you!
-Elder Cox