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