N's email 7/27/2015

area: Jennings Branch (Crowley to Welsh, Louisiana)
zone: Orange
companion: Elder Kohler

This week has been super spiritual! We went to Interview Training on Tuesday. Interview Training is a meeting where we get to have one on one interviews with President Drake while Sister Drake teaches the rest of the group and then the Assistants to the President teach for the rest of the time. I love the leaders in this mission so much! They're super inspired and are incredible at having charity ('the pure love of Christ' Moroni 7:45) for their fellow man.

Then on Wednesday and Thursday we moved from Crowley to Welsh. Welsh is a much smaller town and we live right in the middle of town. The address is:
113 S Adams Street #8
Welsh, LA 70591
But don't send anything yet because I have a weird feeling that I'm going to get transferred again…

But yeah, we moved and the new apartment is probably the nicest in the mission! It has ceilings like 15 feet high and 3 bedrooms and 2 bathrooms... I'm grateful that we get to live there but I almost feel bad at the same time because some of our investigators are homeless...

On Friday we had a super spiritual District Meeting about what it means to be a successful missionary (I asked each missionary who one of their scriptural heroes was and why each was a hero. We got Ammon for his service, Abinadi for being bold even if it's awkward/dangerous, Enoch for humility and faith, Daniel for standing up for what he believes in, Alma the younger for his desire to help people repent... on and on. Then I pointed out that none of them are heroes because they baptized a gagillion people, although many of them had the opportunity to do that because they had these other qualities) and how we can better help the members here in this branch.

Then on Sunday I found out that Sister Obu did get baptized! That made me so happy! Here's the story: we set a baptism date with her the last day I was in Baytown for July 26, but the sisters who took our place have had very little contact with her, then yesterday in Sunday School, Brother Files asked Sister Obu, "You're getting baptized today, right?" and she said "umm... Sure, I guess." So after church she got baptized! It kinda stinks that I wasn't able to be there since it was short notice but I'm so happy for her!

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 email 7/20/2015

area: Jennings Branch (Crowley, Louisiana)
zone: Orange
companion: Elder Kohler

This week has been really good and at times sad. We contacted 97 strangers this week, and only 1 of them became a new investigator. I know that planting seeds is just as important as harvesting the crop, but sometimes it's hard to move from field to field just planting seeds and never being able to stay long enough to see the harvest take place. I guess that's how early members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints felt being mobbed and persecuted and forced to move from Harmony, Pennsylvanian to Kirtland, Ohio to Nauvoo, Illinois to Independence, Missouri, and then all the way to Salt Lake. Always planting and watching the growth of Zion, but never really able to harvest it until they finally settled in the Salt Lake Valley. Also one of our most promising investigators told us that he decided he just wants to learn about religions and not act on any of it for the time being.

But, we also had among the best District Meetings I've ever attended. It was on humility. Most of the doctrine and ideas came from President Ezra Taft Benson's talk "Beware of Pride." I've decided from that District Meeting that these are the best Elders in the mission. I love them.

We also got to attend the last day of the Orange Stake Youth Conference on Saturday. It was held at the chapel in Lake Charles (beautiful city!). They fed us breakfast, then President Harris (2nd Councilor in the Stake Presidency) gave a talk about missionary work and it was among the best I've ever heard! Then the Priests and Laurels teamed up with missionaries and we went tracting around Lake Charles. Imagine, 30 missionaries teamed up with 50 youth all going around different parts of a small city. We got some sweet miracle stories from it, and some laughs. It was an incredible experience for the youth. While the Priests and Laurels (16-18 year olds) were out and about, the Teachers and Mia Maids (14-15 year olds) were being instructed by President Drake. Best youth conference ever!

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 email 7/13/2015

area: Jennings Branch (Crowley, Louisiana)
zone: Orange
companion: Elder Kohler

This week was awesome. We were able to teach a lot more people and find some to add to our teaching pool. The people here are great, except for a few of the drunk ones, but I'm sure they're great when they're sober, if that ever happens... Anyway, I'm really enjoying the country now. I really love the other Elders I get to serve here. They definitely helped make the District Meeting this week spiritual and edifying. I love the people in the ward and the people I get to teach. Soon we will be able to go to Baton Rouge for the temple there with a recent convert. I'm so excited to get to see that part of Louisiana!

Quick story: Yesterday was about 110 degrees with the heat index in a little town called Iota. But we are trying to save miles and bike as much as we can so we got on our bikes and headed to find someone on the ward list but they lived along a highway with no shoulder and we didn't really want to bike on that. So I looked at the GPS and we found a little side road that led to some railroad tracks, and the tracks would take us right to this family's house. But as we were biking down the side road we realized that we must've gone too far. So I look at the GPS and it says we already passed them but it's way too hard too miss railroad tracks, and then the thought came to me, "the GPS lied to me..." I'm a genius, I know. (that last sentence was a quote from my little sister, Jessica) Anyway, there was a bend in the road a little ways up that took us the way we wanted to go. But then we see these "ROAD CLOSED" and "BRIDGE OUT" signs. But we are missionaries with faith so we keep biking and hope angels have enough time to rebuild the bridge before we get there. We keep biking and biking and biking and finally we get out from between crawfish fields and under some trees. Then a little while after that we see a mound of dirt and weeds in the middle of the road with more "ROAD CLOSED" and "BRIDGE OUT" and "STOP" signs. But we just keep on going towards it. When we got there Elder Kohler climbed up on the mound and said "Yes!" meaning the bridge is still there. So we get our bikes over this mound and cross this creek on 4x6's with some gravel on top of them (the angels came through) and hopped over another mound on the other side. Then laid on the gravel road for a while because we ran out of water a ways back and weren't feeling too well from the heat. After a couple minutes of rest we continued on our way and found the house we were looking for.

I know it was the Sabbath, but we honestly weren't planning on having that adventure. Hopefully we won't be held accountable.

I love all you. But I love the Lord more. And this is where He wants me. So this is where I want to be.

N's email 7/5/2015

area: Jennings Branch (Crowley, Louisiana)
zone: Orange
companion: Elder Kohler

I got too used to the city... The work is easy there. All you have to do is walk outside and bam! there's 4 million people to talk to. There's always something to do. I hate living in the city, I felt too claustrophobic. But being a missionary there was far easier than being a missionary here.

But that's all besides the point, because this is where I've been called. This means that there are people here who have been prepared by other missionaries, by other church members, and by angels, to receive me and the restored Gospel. And as I work with faith, I know the Lord will lead me to them.

One of the greatest missionaries of all time was Ammon from the Book of Mormon. I will summarize his story for those of you who don't know it:

Ammon and his four brothers were sons of a King named Mosiah. Mosiah was king for all the Nephites (the "good guys" in the Book of Mormon). Mosiah was getting pretty old so he brought his four sons together and asked "who wants to be king after I die?" (not exactly quoted).

These four brothers all say that they don't want to be kings, they want to go on another mission. Mosiah is puzzled because they've already gone on missions to every Nephite city, so he asks them where they plan on going on this mission. They say "well, we're going to go teach the Lamanites" (the "bad guys" in the Book of Mormon at that time).

This is like someone today basically saying "Dad, we don't want your inheritance. We want to be missionaries! And we're going to go to Afghanistan on our mission. Because they really need Jesus."

Of course King Mosiah begins to be astonished and then prays and asks if he should let his sons go to a land to teach a people who hate him for being the King of the Nephites, hate the Nephite nation, hate their religion, hate everything about them, and usually kill Nephites on site, or to make them stay in Zarahemla (Capital for the Nephites).

The Lord tells him "Let them go, I’ve got their backs. Nobody will be able to hurt them with me on their right hand and with angels round about" (again, not exactly quoted). Mosiah 28:1-10

So Ammon, Aaron, Omner, and Himni go to the Lamanites and are able to baptize thousands there - after cutting off a few arms and threatening a couple kings. When Ammon recounts the story later he says that the Lamanites were extremely prepared. Alma chapters 17-27

That's the outlook I'm working on acquiring.

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