Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Choo choo!
That's the sound that a train makes.
Because I'm training.
Also got an assignment as District leader.
So... that sucks.

Just kidding, :) it should be really fun!  I'm definitely and completely under-qualified for both of these assignments, but I guess a lot of "assignments" that were given to people over the ages were given to those that weren't necessarily "qualified".  I guess I'm seeing the principle that the Lord calls the "weak and simple" to do his work, and that he qualifies those whom he calls.  I guess we'll see how that goes!  I'm probably not feeling any different than Moses did when God called him as a prophet and he's wondering how the heck he's going to do it.  Later on down the road Moses parted the Red Sea though, so I guess that's something I should keep in mind!

I forgot to mention last week that the Bishop told us that four wards would be meeting for Sacrament meeting next week (meaning yesterday) for a special announcement.  No one would tell us what the "special announcement" was, but absolutely everyone knew that it was going to be a boundary change.  They were right.  Remember me talking about the demographic of Capitol ward?  Probably not.  I'll remind you.  So there's really two areas in the ward, which are the southerly Laveen part, and the Northerly Phoenix part (they're about 15 minutes apart).  Not only are they far away from each other, but the demographic of both areas is completely different, where the people in Laveen (wheremost the active members are, and all the ward leadership) are more middle-class people, and the Phoenicians are all pretty poor.  Like really poor.  Not only that, but the area is cut in half by a band of industrial land that stretches like 6 miles down to Laveen.  People down in Laveen complain that they have to drive 15 minutes to church and they don't like missionary work because in the past the missionaries have only worked in Phoenix, because they didn't have a car, and the Laveeners don't want to have to give rides for people every single week.  I don't really blame them.

Confused yet?

So BOUNDARY changes!  Happened yesterday.  Capitol ward doesn't exist anymore.  They completely dissolved it.  The southerly Laveen part was absorbed into two different wards down in Laveen.

To answer your question, I will be staying in this area.  But the Phoenix part of Capitol ward was absorbed into... *drum roll*... MARYVALE WARD!  Maryvale ward is the first ward that I was in!  It's all come full circle.  SO, I will still be working in what was the "Phoenix part" of Capitol ward, but we now meet at the Maryvale building with the Maryvale ward!  Pretty neat right?  

None of that probably made any sense.

In any case, I'll find out on Wednesday who my trainee is and everything like that.  So stay tuned!  As of now though, my address is still the same.

Investigator Report!:

Jose Garcia:
So this whole time I've called them the "Frias" family, but that's really Andrea's last name, and so I guess when they get married this weekend (WOOO!) they'll be called the "Garcia" family.  So I guess from this point onward, I'll try to refer to them as the Garcia family.  Anyway, Jose is still legit.  He literally shares the gospel with everyone.  He's a better missionary than I am, and I have the name-tag on.  He has some less-active in-laws, and he totally calls them out on it.  He says that they're only "half-Mormons" because they never go to church.  Not only does he call his less-active family to repentance, but he invites his nonmember family members to church and everything too!  I'm pretty certain that his sister will be inviting the missionaries over really soon!  Not only his sister, but his Mom as well.  Like I say, he just invites everyone to be Mormon.  I can not wait to take him out with us to do missionary work.  We were talking about the temple too, and he is so eager to do his family history work and do baptisms for the dead.  I can't wait to see them go through the temple a year from now!

Last night we had dinner with Karen and her nonmember husband Mike.  First of all, the dinner itself:  Pork ribs, marinated in a barbecue sauce and pineapple juice (the pineapple juice not only makes it taste good, but apparently it tenderizes the meat) for 24 hours, then SMOKED for 5 hours.  Need I say more?  I will anyway:  Mac and cheese, potato salad, green beans, baked beans, corn, and if you want to mix up the way you eat the pork, they had a pulled pork sandwich option.  Ohhhh yeah.
I had a heart attack last night.
Not really though.
On the missionary side of things though, we found out that Karen has cervical cancer.  What theheck?!  So we gave her a blessing and I'm sure everything will be fine.  Karen is also really really good at being a missionary, and she also invites her less-active friends to come back to church, and she is even visiting one of her friends just for the sole purpose of sharing her testimony and telling "her story".  Karen is super legit.  Unfortunately, she's in the Laveen part of town, so I won't be seeing her anymore! :(

That's pretty much all the news there is this week!  Quite a bit of hefty news!  The Gilbert Temple dedication is this Sunday as well, so I'm super excited to see how that goes!  I'm sure it'll be way awesome.

Welp, the church is true.  Missionary work is super legit, and I love you all!

-Elder Cox

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Gilbert Temple

Jose and Andrea Frias, with us in front of the Temple

Gilbert Temple

The Vigils with me and my companion

         Karen and her husband Mike and their two kids

News for the week, Karen and Lindsey got baptized!  Lindsey asked me to do the confirmation on Sunday, which is usually not preferable because I'm not someone who's going to be in her life for a long time, whereas a member of the ward would be around for a while and she'd be able to say, "Hey, that's the guy that confirmed me."  She did have a member baptize her though, so that is still good.  Don't get me wrong, I was honored to do the confirmation, and it was a really cool experience!  

We kind-of had a "falling out" with one of our investigators.  His fiance, who is a member and that's what sparked his interest in the first place, broke up with him.  He was super sad about her breaking up with him, and he hasn't met with us since.  We've gone by a couple of times but he would just say "tonight is not a good night" and close the door.  It's super sad, especially because of the amazing progress he had made!  We helped him quit smoking, drinking coffee, and all sorts of things.  I'm sure we can still get him in the water, but I guess it's just on a different timetable than we thought originally.  Shucks!

Oh yeah!  Mom, you asked about the Gilbert Temple open house last week, and I forgot to mention anything about it.  We actually had the opportunity to go to the open house with the Frias family and it was super sweet!  Originally they didn't want us going to the open house at all, then they said we can go if we have a really good reason, then they said that we really need to do anything we can to go.  So we managed to scrounge up a caravan and went down there with the Frias'.  They basically committed themselves to be sealed a year from their baptism which was really cool!  You could tell that they felt the Spirit.  The building was way awesome too.  It was probably the coolest temple I've seen thus far!  

Speaking of the temple, one of our investigators went to the open house as well with a member of the ward.  She texted us about her experience and said: "I cried the whole time!  My chest was filled with warmth and I didn't know what that feeling was!"  We then told her that it was nothing at all, and that she should just shake off that feeling because it doesn't mean anything.  JUST KIDDING.  We taught her that it was the Spirit that she felt, and that through baptism and receiving the gift of the Holy Ghost she could have that feeling all the time.  She said "That would be amazing!"  There are some other complications that are keeping her from being baptized, but we'll figure those out!  She's progressing so much faster than I would've ever thought.

I dunno if I ever mentioned, but I was reading through the New Testament and I finally finished!  It was awesome to read it through on my own, because I don't think I had ever done that before.  Even more, President Toone challenged us to read the Book of Mormon by the end of next transfer, so that should be a really cool experience!  Maybe the family could take the challenge too and read the Book of Mormon in the next 7 weeks?  Could be cool!

I logged on to family search the other day.  For whatever reason, I have the most fiery burning desire to do family history lately!  I noticed that there are names that are ready to request temple ordinances... just sitting there!  So, get it done!  It's either now, or during the Millennium.  :)

In less-spiritual news, I got to play racquetball last P-day, which was way super fun!  We found a court and went and played.  I probably mentioned, but in the first apartment I was in there were 2 rackets just chilling in there, so I took them and have been carrying them around with me this whole time.  Finally got to use them!

We met a lady who is from Haiti, and she barely speaks English.  She speaks French and Creole, which I hadn't even heard of until I got here on the mission.  We had a lesson with her and her husband who speaka da English and it was really interesting!  We would teach and he would translate everything that we said.  We're just randomly asking members of the ward if they speak French or Creole, but we haven't had any luck yet :)

Welp, that's all there is to report on this week folks.   I love you all!

-Elder Cox

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Si!  Tres Bautismo's coming up this weekend!  SWEET!  Here's my investigator report for this week:

Our super golden solid investigator was interviewed last week and literally one of the first things that the Elder said about her interview was, "Dude... she's so solid."  I'm just like, "uh, yeah.  I know!"  That's what you get when members refer people to you.  People get baptized and you get lasting conversion!  Great stuff!  Last week during one of our lessons, she said to us, "So I think I rushed into things a little bit..."  Of course my first thought is "oh crap.  She's about to drop us.  Our super solid golden investigator is going to drop us."  Then, she tells us, "I've been so excited about my baptism that I kind of told all of my friends that it was going to happen on the 15th, and I know we talked about that date but I wasn't sure if that was officially it."  Hahaha it was such a relief.  We just told her that it's absolutely not a problem that she invites a bunch of her friends to her baptism.  

Our guy that has smoked for the past 41 years, doesn't smoke any more.  Miracle?  Yes.  Can anything be done through Jesus Christ?  Absolutely.  He is turning out to be more solid that I thought he was?  Yes.  I am so amazed, he's the most rough-around-the-edges guy I've met ever, including Dad (hehe).  It's like if you take Dad, but he grew up in New York, never met Mom or was Mormon ever, smoked since he was 11, and swore like a sailor...  Well... I guess he already does swear like a sailor :)  He is amazing though.  He really has the gentlest heart and such sincerity.  He's so grateful for us coming into his life.  So amazing.  Once again?  He was a member referral.  Go figure that all the member referrals are getting baptized!\

I've mentioned before the investigators where the couple that-- like a month ago -- prayed for us to come over and then we stopped by the next day.  We put her on date for February 15th over a month ago.  Then, I'm not sure if I mentioned or not, she ran off.  She left her husband and just took off.  We honestly had never expected to see her again.  But, lo and behold,Saturday night look who decides to show up!  And look who is still preparing for baptism on the 15th... aaannd look who just gave us all her cigarettes and coffee so that she can be baptized.  Yeah... Miracles abound!

So I went on exchanges with Elder Murphey, one of the zone leaders, this week.  Elder Murphey is one of those missionaries that I definitely want to hang around after the mission.  Super cool guy.  But, since he's a Spanish missionary, I decided I needed to make more headway in my Spanish.  So this time, we were at an investigator's house and Elder Murphey asked if I would like to pray in Spanish.  So I just went for it, and I sewed a grandiloquent tapestry of praises to God in Spanish that made all in the room weep with joy.  Okay, not really that, but pretty close.  I said, "Padre Celestial, muchos gracias por" and then said something in English.  Then I said "gracias por" and then something in English.  And then, when i was done, I said "en el nombre de JesuCristo, amen."  Super cool!  Prayed in Spanish, sorta.

So it's orange season 'roun' her' and we made our own orange juice.  It was by far the best orange juice I've ever had.  We have received boxes and boxes of oranges from people that give them to us.  Pretty awesome!

So I met this deaf lady.  She was on our list and we had tried to see her for a while.  We had no idea she was deaf until we met her.  The experience I had was really cool.  She got a pen and paper and the first thing she wrote was "I am elect.  Am interested in church."  Holy cow!  I wish everyone could just hold up a sign that says "I'm elect, baptize me!"  Alas, we can't teach her because... well... she's deaf.  Kind of hard.  Maybe I'll just put my hands on her ears and command that they be unstopped.  Jesus did it, why can't I?

Welp, that's pretty much all the news for this week, other than I'm eating healthy(ish) and running tons every day.  I'm going to get jacked out of my mind.  Also, I'm continuing to get jacked in my testimony.  The church is true, Jesus Christ really is our Savior, Heavenly Father loves us, and this work is the most important work there is!
Love you!

-Elder Cox

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Hey everyone!  Glad to hear all this great great news coming from home!  Our family has truly been blessed this week.  

I went on exchanges again in a Spanish area last week with one of the missionaries we live with.  Missionaries who speak a foreign language have 30 minutes to an hour of language study every day, and I guess that's true even on exchanges.  At first I thought I'd just do personal study for an extra hour or whatever, but then I decided that I'd do something way better.  So, I memorized the baptismal invitation in Spanish!  Then, later on that afternoon I asked a lady, en Espanol, if she would be baptized.  She shook her head....... and then told us that she didn't understand me.  Drats.  But later on through the day I got it a lot better.  Next time!

One of our investigators has been smoking for 41 years.  That's an issue.  He really is sincere about joining the church and being baptized, but he's just bound with flaxen cords over this one problem.  So, we got a pamphlet that is designed to help people quit.  We went to the store and got all the necessary items which consisted of grapefruit juice, cinnamon mouthwash, and vitamin C.  The grapefruit juice and mouthwash I guess is there to drastically change the taste in your mouth so that you don't want to smoke.  They likened smoking to the Pavlovian dog theory, and they say that there are certain things that trigger a "bell" that goes off in a smoker's mind, telling them they need to smoke.  Pretty interesting!  Well, the bad news is, after we gave Brian the stuff he got really stressed out the next day and smoked again.  Shoot.  Hopefully with enough prayer and faith he can break through.  

So remember the super solid family?  The dad came up to us in church yesterday and asked us how to donate fast offerings.  This guy, keep in mind, is pretty poor.  Before he got the job he just got, they were living off welfare (still kind-of are) and child support from her kids.  But anyway, long story short this guy, who isn't even a member yet, donated fast offerings.  So sweet!  I thought it was cool that he wanted to pay tithing, but nope.  He had to go the extra mile and pay fast offerings too.  Such a sweet family.  He should be our ward mission leader :)

I don't think I've ever told you about this girl that  when we first met her, she told us that she grew up pagan, has hydrophobia (ouch, not too good for someone we want to get immersed in water), and has social anxieties.  Once again, not super great for a church environment.  Well, every time that we've gone by, she has made leaps and bounds in her faith and desire.  We met her again on Saturday, which was only like our 3rd lesson, and she told us that she has a burning desire to go to church!  Then during gospel principles class, she asked, "how much do I have to learn before I can be baptized?"  What the heck?!  I thought you were afraid of water?!  Super cool experience.  She'll be baptized in no time.

Our super solid Golden Investigator is still super solid and golden.  We asked her to quit coffee and she had no problems.  I wish everyone were this way!  Just need her husband to be involved, but I guess he's just going at a different pace.

We were going by an investigator to give them the "drop talk", and let them know we were going to stop coming by because they aren't progressing.  They are the granddaughters of a less active lady that got offended by past missionaries and has avoided us ever since.  We had never seen the lady.  So, right as we tell them we're going to stop by, the less active lady, comes to the door and says that she's finally ready to have missionaries come by and help her come back to Christ.  Some people just need the "drop talk" to kick them into gear I guess.  Either way, super awesome blessing that instead of losing investigators, we helped them progress!

Welp, that's all I got.  I love all of you and hope and pray for the best for each of you.  The church is true!

-Elder Cox