N's email 5/27/2015

area: Baytown Ward (Texas)
zone: Pasadena
companion: Elder Leftwich

This week has been great! I love being a missionary so much! I've waited 19 years of my life to be where I am right now. Isn't that crazy?

It's kinda like when you find out 7 days early what you're getting for your birthday and then having to wait 7 whole days to be able to open it and use it. Except with a mission, they tell you about this opportunity when you're born... but you don't really know what they said because you're a baby. So when you're about 4 you look around in church and see these 2 guys in suits and ask, "who are they?"

Then your mom tells you, "They're the missionaries. They get to serve Jesus Christ and be His personal representatives for 2 years straight."

And you still don't really understand what that means, but it sounds really cool so you say, "I want to be one! Mom can I be one?!"

And she says "Not right now, you still have a lot to learn, but when you're that big you can be a missionary."

"Alright Mom..."

And you wait... 15 MORE YEARS!!! For the best present ever! Have you ever waited 15 years for something? It's a really long time when you're 4! Like 3.75 multiplied by your lifetime! Ugh...

But now I'm here! And moms, you can tell your 4 year olds that it's definitely worth the wait.

Anyway, I need to tell you about my week. We met a lot of people. For those of you who've seen The Best Two Years, I have a joke. (Otherwise you may skip this next paragraph)

At one point in the movie the Elder who's the District Leader is calling in the numbers for the week, and he gets to the amount of people that Elder Rodgers and Elder Calhuon have invited to be baptized and he says, "well, I'm not sure if this really counts because Elder Calhuon invites everyone they meet to be baptized." and then he pauses and says, "No, there's nothing wrong with that, but... Well, ok. 74 people invited to be baptized."

Elder Leftwich and I have decided that we're sick and tired of being timid. Look at Peter, or Captain Moroni, or Ammon. Were they timid?

Nope. They were bold, as representatives of Jesus Christ should be. We have the most loving, powerful, perfect being who ever walked the Earth backing us up. There's no need to be timid.

So we've made a contacting technique to invite people to be baptized the first time we meet them. First we introduce ourselves and get to know them a little bit. Then we show them the picture in the Gospel of Jesus Christ Pamphlet of Jesus being baptized and ask, "what do you see in this picture?" Then we help them figure out what it is.

Then we ask, "Did you know that Jesus walked from Nazareth to the lower end of the Jordan River, 60 miles, to be baptized by John the Baptist?" They always say "no" and look surprised. Then we ask "Why do you think he did that?" They always say, "I don't know." So we explain priesthood authority. Then we ask them "If Jesus Christ was standing here and invited you to be baptized, what would you say?"

They always say "I'd say yes."

Then we say, "We have been given authority from Jesus Christ, through a modern prophet, and have been called to invite you to be baptized into Jesus Christ's church." That usually throws them off guard...  But it works! We got an awesome new investigator named Freddy on Sunday because we used this. As well as a bunch of other people. But yeah, the Prophets and Apostles know how to do missionary work, and when they wrote the 12 week manual and made it a standard to invite investigators during the 1st lesson to be baptized, they knew what they were doing, cuz they're inspired...

Now I'll tell you about the mission conference we had yesterday! Elder Nielson from the Seventy was presiding and he brought the head of all the MTC's, Brother Mills, with him. They taught us mostly about the safeguards put into place for iPad use. But they also talked a little bit about what we're going to be able to do with them. The cool thing about the safeguards is that they're mostly not technology based. Elder Nielson told us, "When the church first started testing iPads in the hands of missionaries, people asked the First Presidency 'Aren't you scared the missionaries will use them inappropriately and many will be sent home because of worthiness issues?' The First Presidency simply responded, 'We trust our missionaries.'"

That was so cool! He also gave another reason. When missionaries go home they will be completely exposed to whatever technology and things of the world they want. And at home they won't have a constant companion, or mission rules, or a very definite purpose. So why wait throw all temptation on them there? When we can teach them here how to put their moral agency into practice and use these tools righteously, and they still have all this protection. I'm so grateful for the chance to learn from general authorities.

I will have an iPad and I will be able to email on it. It will be like letters though, I can read emails throughout the week as I get them, but can only respond on Mondays (P-Days.) We could have access to facebook in the near future, but I have been asked to request all of you back home to not message of chat with media facebook. I will "friend" anyone I know back home but if you message or chat with me I will be forced to put my moral agency into practice and "unfriend" you. Just remember, being "friends" on facebook doesn't necessarily make you friends in real life, and me "unfriending" you on facebook doesn't mean "I hate you or that I have a personal vendetta to make sure you never feel happy, kindness, love, important, and self-worth ever again." Keep that in mind.

love all of you. But I love Jesus Christ more. And this is where He wants me to be. So this is where I want to be.

N's email 5/18/2015

area: Baytown Ward (Texas)
zone: Pasadena
companion: Elder Leftwich

This week was busy and interesting, but also good. Transfers being on Monday made the first week in a new area better because you don't miss basically 2 days of week 1, but it also makes p-day super confusing and busy. I guess that's how missions are though.

I'm super grateful that I'm able to serve with Elder Leftwich! He's a great missionary and knows so much about the scriptures and teaching from them. My companionship studies have definitely improved because I'm with him.

Baytown is super great. All the members I've met so far are very missionary minded and are excited to share what they know with their friends. We've found going over "the importance of members" section in chapter 9 of Preach My Gospel with the members really brings the Spirit and gives them guidance. We also have asked them to volunteer us (missionaries) to their neighbors and friends for service after going over the "go about doing good" section in the same chapter. Brother Files, the ward mission leader, is incredible at his calling. The best I've ever seen. He loves the missionaries, fulfills all his responsibilities, and definitely magnifies his calling. He also reminds me of my grandpa.

Quick Story:
We got a text from a guy on Tuesday asking if we could have dinner with him. We had already had dinner so we said "no thanks, but we'd love to meet up." So he texted back "sure, meet me at Buc-ees (Texas sized gas station (96 pumps (I think)) in 10 minutes." We ran, got in the car, and raced up there. On our way we got a text from the Port Arthur Elders saying some guy would text us, and that he was super nice, loves the missionaries, and would buy us anything. When we got to Buc-ees we met him outside and he introduced himself as Derek, we took a couple pictures and set up a lunch for the next day.

At lunch Derek tells his story that he met missionaries a while back, took all 5 lessons, and doesn't agree with our doctrine (he's a Pentecostal), but he loves the missionaries, and because he works for a security company that takes care of the security systems in a bunch of banks around the Houston area, whenever he's in an area he tries to meet the missionaries there. He's had a meal with about half the missionaries in T.H.E. mission. He'll also buy missionaries whatever they want because he makes pretty good money, doesn't have any loans he's paying off, he's 22, and he's Pentecostal (who have stricter rules than Mormons) so he doesn't use it on himself.
We also had lunch with him again today.

I love all of you. But I love Jesus Christ more. And this is where He wants me. So this is where I want to be.

N's pictures from Transfer #4 - Broadway / Hobbs - 3/31/2015 to 5/12/2015

area: Broadway 1st Ward, Texas Houston East Stake
zone: Broadway
companion: Elder Hobbs

entering THE Mission 03/30/2015

leaving THE Mission 04/01/2015

Broadway apartment

Elder Hobbs and Elder Combrink

Elder Hobb's birthday

Elder Monson and Elder Dean


lightning storm
"rained-in" (instead of "snowed-in)

Elder Brewer and Elder Mitchell
(the AP's - Assistants to the President),
Zone Leaders,
Elder Combrink, and Elder Hobbs

want to see something that will scare you more than anything?
look at the southern intersection of 45 and 610 on Google maps
and know that we drive through it at least 4 times a week.
I love you mom. Thanks for all that you do!
(Nathan knows I hate freaky on-ramps and having to merge in crazy conditions)

Elder Hobbs, Elder Monson, Elder Dean, and Elder Combrink



Elder Dean and Elder Monson

Bishop Cruz and Elder Combrink

entering THE Mission 5/11/2015

leaving THE Mission 5/13/2015