Monday, September 29, 2014

Oh my goodness. Where to begin? I don't even know.

So President Toone has had a goal for a while to have a zone for every stake, and a set of missionaries in every ward in the mission. Pretty awesome goal! Before transfers, I think we pretty much had a companionship in every ward, but there were some zones that were covering multiple stakes. So this transfer, President Toone created 3 or 4 new zones to be able to cover all the stakes. Because of that, some of the zones are super small. Such as our zone, which has only one district. We have a total of 5 companionships in the zone, one of them being us, and the other being the assistants. The other companionship is the District Leader, and another the Sister Training Leaders. Literally there is only 1 companionship of sisters that are just regular missionaries. I only bring this up because of meetings. District Meetings are tailored by a monthly training plan that the zone leaders (us) and the sister training leaders come up with. The assistants will hardly ever be there, leaving only 1 companionship that actually gets any "new" information. Kind of funny huh? Then zone meetings will be the exact same as district meetings, only a half hour longer and given by us and the STL instead of the district leader.

Needless to say, our zone is the most legit zone in the mission. Not only because we're small, but get this: Our zone title is the Tempe-YSA zone. You know what that means?


After 3 months, I'm back in University Ward at ASU! I seriously love it here. YSA work is way legit! My companion is Elder Erikson, who I came into the mission with. We've worked super closely together for the majority of our mission! We were in the same ward in the very beginning of our missions in Maryvale, and we're super tight. I'm. So. Stoked.

We had a baptism on Saturday, which was a good start to the transfer. Obviously it's not someone that we taught...but we were there. In any case, she's literally the most solid convert ever. I don't even know how to explain it. There's also another girl that Elder Bressler and I found when I was in this ward before. She is the boyfriend of a member and apparently in the last couple months has gained an answer and has a baptismal date, so that's legit.

I can already tell it's going to be a crazy transfer. I really hope I stay here for the long haul this time.

Last night we were walking around an apartment complex and we saw two Asian guys playing basketball. There's TONS of Chinese people around here. We even have a missionary in our ward from Taiwan who speaks Mandarin. Anyway, so we see these guys playing and we decide to ask them if we can play. I ask them where they're from and they tell me they're from China. Naturally, I spit out a couple Chinese phrases like a boss. They couldn't understand me, but it was pretty cool anyway. We thought we were going to smash them, but they turned out to be pretty good. The one guy drained like 4 3's in a row right in Elder Erikson's face. We ended up winning though, and talked to them about the church. They're interested, and we quickly referred them to the sisters ( speaks Chinese).

Our first day in the area, we were at the Institute building and the sisters walk in. We ask them how it's going figuring everything out (they whitewashed as well). There was this guy walking through the halls who just looked like any normal institute student. He walks past us, and we say "hi" and keep talking. He walks back and asks us, "Do you work here?" Apparently he was just curious what this building was, so he walked inside. We told him and taught him. He's now our Elder's Quorum President. Just kidding, but he's a pretty cool guy. Turns out he lives outside our area, but still a miracle nonetheless!

I think that's enough for this week!

The church is true! Love y'all!

-Elder Cox

Here's my new (old) address:
2155 S 55th St. #1010
Tempe, AZ 85282

Here's me, Elder Erikson, and the sisters in our ward.

Monday, September 22, 2014

Getting transferred again -

Surprised? Me neither. The pattern must continue! I will be a zone leader again and transfer meeting is actually on Thursday this week, so that's when I'll find out where I'm going. We have the secret hope that I'll just stay in Maricopa with both the zone leaders here (one of them is leaving mid-transfer) but, we'll see. As for now, I have a couple days left in Maricopa, so I'll enjoy it while I'm here. Pretty excited to get a car though...

SO, Elder Christofferson. Where do I begin? So we're all sitting there in the chapel and Elder Christofferson comes in the room. We all stand. Because I was in the choir, I got to sit front row, right in front of him. Before the meeting begins, President Toone gets up and announces that Elder Christofferson would like to meet every one of us individually and shake our hands. So we all line up, shake his hand, tell him where we're from, etc. Elder Corbridge of the 70 was there as well as Bishop Davies of the presiding bishopric.

So then we sing our musical number, "My Shepherd Will Supply My Need". It went well, of course. Then we heard from Bishop Davies who spoke about DIMS. DIMS is a "condition" that we sometimes experience. The acronym stands for Discouragement, Idleness, Murmuring, Sin. It just explains the step-by-step process that happens when we get discouraged. He gave the example of Laman and Lemuel, as is usually given when referring to what not to do. He mentioned that a way to avoid "DIMS" is to count your blessings. I guess one of the main points is that when you're dim, you can't let your light shine. Make sense? Probably not.

Next we heard from Elder Corbridge, who spoke about the need that we all have of the Savior. He said that the beginning of conversion is to recognize the need for a Redeemer. He then talked about how the best human condition is enjoying the companionship of the Spirit and being endowed with joy and the power of God. He said that the worst possible human condition is one that is most common: sin. To be separated from God's presence.

Then Elder Christofferson gave us a few words. He quoted the words from our special musical number: "No more a stranger, nor a guest, but like a child at home". He asked us how our personal relationship with God is, whether we're a stranger or a child at home. One interesting thing he said is that for the Second Coming to happen, God isn't waiting for more wickedness. The world is already ripe with iniquity. He said we need more righteousness. He said that more missionary work needs to happen so that there are a "good number" of righteous people on earth in preparation for the Second Coming. Kind of interesting! He then just talked about the privilege of serving a mission and to not lose that privilege. He then opened the next 40 or so minutes up to a Q & A which was pretty cool!

So that's that. In other news, James came to church. We'll see how he progresses, but I guess I'm leaving so I probably won't be around to see it.

Have you heard of the movie Meet the Mormons? Apparently we get to have a sneak peak at it before it's released so that we can talk to people about it. Should be pretty good! I encourage you to watch it, and I guess take... nonmember friends? It should be good.

Everything's still going well. Loving life! I'll keep you posted on where I'm at, etc. etc. Love ya'll, have a great week.

-Elder Cox

Saturday, September 20, 2014

To answer your question Mom, the p-day change is because we went to the Temple this morning, not because of that conference. The conference is going to be with Elder Christofferson on Saturday morning! Should be pretty cool! We have the suspicion that he will either chastise us like crazy or tell us how awesome we are. Probably the 2nd one, because we're awesome. Our rehearsals for the musical number have been going well, so I'm excited for that. It gets me excited whenever I get to do anything with music, because my abilities are kind of stagnating. It's good to be reminded of the thrill of rehearsing, perfecting, and performing music. Looooooove it!

Oh yeah, and about that drummer guy I talked about? We went by and his wife told us to stop soliciting their house. Needless to say, he wasn't interested. Not even in just talking about drums. *sigh* All well.

Our awesome investigator James hasn't been to church for a couple weeks now. We've been trying to get in contact with him with little avail. Hopefully we'll reach him soon.

We got another investigator named James who's a little older. We were biking our...bikes... (words) down the street and he called out to us. He just got out of prison for who-knows-what (doesn't really matter) and is having some hard times. He doesn't feel worthy for God's love or for his family's love. In his mind it's better to leave his family alone than to be a part of their life. We're trying to convince him otherwise! He's got some other concerns that are getting in the way as well, but the cool part is that he called out to us. That's gotta show something, right? Hopefully we can get the point in his head about the infinite nature of the Atonement. It doesn't matter what he's done, he can be forgiven and he can still feel God's love.

Oh yeah, so last Monday right? As in, the 8th. One of our zone leaders' heart started racing and he was getting lightheaded and dizzy and all sorts of stuff. -- Just to get to the point of that, he had a couple anxiety attacks, he's fine. He's going home soon and they think that's why. Anyway, so he started having these problems and he tells us he needs to go to the hospital. Elder Reed and I were just grabbing our bikes ready to head out for the day after p-day. He comes in and asks us if we want to come with them. We said we were planning on working, obviously. He tells us that he really wants us to go with him. "Alright I guess, you're the boss." so at about 6:00 we have to make the long journey up to the Tempe/Phoenix area because that's where the nearest hospital is-- about 40 minutes away. We get to the ER and wait for a while before they finally call his name. All four of us stand up to go back there and the doctor-man stops us and says that only two can go back. So of course, Elder Reed and I sit back down in the waiting room. About 8 hours later, at 1:00 in the morning, they finally come back out. We were the only people left in the waiting room. We got to sit there for 8 hours and watch people come and go, come and go, come and go. Ssuuuuper fun... But we got to talk to this nice lady in a wheelchair. We taught her a lesson and gave her a card so she can refer the missionaries in her area, so that was good. I guess the real reason I tell this story is because it's so out of the "norm". I love when things are out of the norm. Such as having p-day today instead of Monday. Keep things interesting! I tend to get tired of routine.

Did I already talk about the Russ guy we met? He also served time in prison recently (they're cool Mom, I promise). We met him through a less-active member. The less-active is actually related to one of the missionaries in our zone, so both our companionships go over there to teach her. She's a pretty cool lady, but even cooler is the fact that she referred her roommate. He seems pretty interested. He also has a lot of things he would need to work on to be baptized, but he's got a really good heart. We haven't met with him too much, but I think we're going over there today.

Hope all ya'll are doing great. I am! The church is true!

Here are some pictures demonstrating the effectiveness of personal study in our apartment. Elder Reed looks like he's sleeping, but he's actually not. He was so focused that he didn't even notice me taking a selfie. Looks like the other two had a little bit more of a challenge staying awake :) Obviously I'm just as guilty seeing as... I'm taking selfies during personal study. I don't usually do that though. Usually.

Love you!
-Elder Cox
Things are still going great down here in Copa. It rained today, so that's always a huge blessing, it cools things off down to about 74 so I definitely can't complain there. It's kind of funny though because whenever it rains, everything gets flooded. They don't really have any way to take care of all the water. I imagine it's like when it snows in Washington, where everything just shuts down for the day because they have no way to take care of the weather. We heard of schools even being shut down today. We were going to play ultimate frisbee in the park, but it looked more like a lake than a park. Anyway, now that I've talked about the weather...

Interesting fact about Maricopa: We're in the middle of the desert.
Cool huh?
No but really, when we bike around there's always a TON of lizards on the sidewalk that scuttle and scurry away when you ride past. It's kind of fun. We'll be biking around and there's just constant rustling noises in the bushes from all the lizards running around. Even better than that, and way more magical, is bunnies. I don't know why, but there are SO many bunnies! It's the same thing as the lizards too. We'll just be biking around and there's bunnies on the sidewalk or next to it, and they'll run around the bushes or run away into their little holes. One time in particular, we're biking in a super uptight gated community that doesn't let us in unless we're having dinner with a member family and we see an army of bunnies infesting the grassy hills to the side of us. I only mention this so you can get the visual of the desert oasis that Magical Maricopa is. Lately we've had great sunsets too. Coupled with bunnies hopping around a grassy knoll, it's pretty magical.

So in a couple weeks we're having a member of the 12 visit our mission. I feel like they asked us not to give specific details so I won't, but we'll be getting an Apostle in our mission a couple weeks from now. I don't know if they keep sending us General Authorities because we're doing terribly and we need it or because we're awesome and we deserve it. Either way, I guess I won't complain. Sister Toone called me last night because apparently a "little bird" told her that I can sing. So for the Mission Conference that the Apostle will be at I'm going to be singing in a quartet, or double-quartet or whatever she said, I don't remember.

We were having dinner at a member family the other day and we asked about their neighbors and who they could share the gospel with. They mentioned their next-door neighbor to the west. Apparently he was a professional drummer for some well-known band, which unfortunately they couldn't recall. I haven't gotten the chance to meet with him yet, but we've tried by a couple times and probably will again tonight. Anyway, hopefully I can make quick friends with him and talk some music stuff and baptize him. And jam with him. Whatever comes first.

The Lord has blessed us with several new investigators this week. We haven't had a ton of teaching opportunities, but I think He's seeing our efforts and blessing us with people to teach. I wish more of our people were progressing, but I guess that's mostly our responsibility. We'll keep working hard, of course, and hopefully we can pick things up a little bit more.

Welp, once again, not a whole ton to report! Hope everyone has a fantastic week.

I forgot to send this picture last week after my "hump day". We took the picture at this angle so you could clearly see the still very long road ahead.

-Elder Cox

Monday, September 1, 2014

It's been a little bit hotter this week. By a little bit, I mean around 110. Still not nearly as bad as it has been, and I honestly barely even notice anymore.

We had another visit from a member of the 70 this week. We did what's called a "Mission Tour", which is basically a mission conference. We were visited by Elder Schweitzer who trained us on teaching to people's needs rather than teaching routine lessons. He talked about the importance of listening and asking questions, which is always good to hear more about. I don't really remember anything else that he talked about, which I guess explains how much it really "sunk in".

We had taco salad three days in a row last week, so that was pretty cool.

James came to church again! He's definitely getting fed a lot of anti material from his family, but for whatever reason it's not getting to him. He's still coming to church and wanting to meet with us, so that's definitely a blessing! We haven't had the chance to meet with him at all this week, but we'll nail him down for a couple days this week and see if we can put him on date for baptism. He's definitely our most likely candidate right now.

We had a bunch of opportunities to do service this week! It wasn't a great week as far as teaching goes, but we did tons of service! Service is still my favorite part of missionary work by far. I love helping people get their crap done. I just love getting all grubby and dirty and seeing their happy faces knowing that we've accomplished something. That's good stuff! If all I did every day was serve people, I think I'd still have a great time.

Looks like it's going to be another weak email. Sorry about that! Not a whole ton went on this week. In any case, hope y'all have a fantastic week.

-Elder Cox
Yep, just about a year out. Crazy stuff!

We have some pretty cool stuff going on in our area! We're currently working with the Mangan family which is a part-member family. We're having an FHE with them tonight at our Ward MIssion Leader's house to teach them how to do FHE. The adversary is definitely attempting to tear their family apart, so we're going to do what we can to teach them that through the gospel those threads can be resewn, so to speak.

Have I already mentioned our 15-year-old investigator named James? I don't think I have. He's a super solid kid. He wants to live a moral lifestyle, is looking for a good Christian church that teaches good morals, heard about Mormonism when he was living in Illinois, and when he got to Arizona he went onto and referred himself to the missionaries. What kind of 15-year-old does that? He's super awesome. Came to church yesterday, and loved it. Pretty neat!

There are a couple other part-member peeps we're teaching, mainly unbaptized youth that we're working with that are doing fairly well! Other than that we're really trying to get the ball rolling with member missionary work here in this area. It's just really weird because nowadays, people don't even know their neighbors. If you want to find out what's going on in their life you just get on Facebook and look through your news feed. The problem with that is that I really don't like using Facebook to proselyte. But anyway, hopefully we can get the family mission plans rolling out to generate some enthusiasm for missionary work. I think there's lots of potential fa' sho.

For whatever reason, I was invited to MLC again this week. I'm not a zone leader, but for who-knows-why President asked that I be there. It was a pretty cool training. We had Elder Lynn G. Robbins from the 70 train us about agency and responsibility. He wrote a list of things people do to try to shrug off responsibility, i.e. blaming, lying, hiding, procrastinating, etc. He said that in order to use our agency correctly and be in control we have to accept 100% responsibility. He even gave examples of accepting responsibility for others' actions when it's completely their fault. Kind of interesting. It's hard to explain the concept, especially because I don't understand it fully myself, but he essentially said that when you accept responsibility, you become in control. He said that people that master this principle are champions. "You will be a champion!" Sounds pretty sweet. I'm a champion. He also made references to a talk he gave in General Conference about "being" and "doing". In order to "be" something, we have to "do" things that that particular something does. Namely, if we want to be like Christ, we have to do Christ-like things, thus changing our nature. For half of the MLC he talked about how our missions prepare us for marriage, and that part of 100% responsibility includes accepting that your wife is always right. He said a phrase I like: "I'd rather be married than be right." All in all a pretty good training. I know you don't understand anything I just said because I can't put it in a way that makes sense, but it's cool nonetheless. Just take my word for it. It's definitely made a change already. It makes me much more humble and charitable. Pretty neat!

This member lady at Wal-Mart paid for our groceries today. Super awesome tender mercy. Guaranteed blessings will ensue.

Not a whole ton else. Seems like everyone's still doing decent as far as I'm aware. Hope it stays that way. Hope you all have a wonderful week!

-Elder Cox

P.S. Here's a picture