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.
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!
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. (email@example.com)
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.