Thursday, March 24, 2011

Third Week in DC

Time related to missions is sure strange. In many ways it feels like it is flying by to us. Derek comments on it too.

"Man, it seems like it's been way longer than three weeks, and yet at the same time I can't believe 22 days have gone by since I entered the field. Well, this last week flew by, and I honestly can't think of many cool things that happened. All the days kind of blend together and it feels like it was just p-day."

"... we've had some mini miracles. Just the other day we were walking along and I really felt like I should talk to this lady we just passed. Turns out she's heard of the church before and thought we were cool because we were always out walking around with a smile on our faces. She committed to order a Book of Mormon and call us without us even asking her. So far she has yet to call, but gotta have faith right. Later that day we also had another lady say "Mormons" as we were walking past her, which is rare here since very few people know who we are. So we turned around to talk to her :) turns out she's from India and she knew a lot about the church over there, I guess there a quite a few members where she's from. She gave us her number without us even asking, it was sweet!"

"We had a meeting with the president yesterday..., a combined district meeting, and we were interviewed. It was interesting, I kind of felt reprimanded. I guess my personal study needs to improve, according to the President, though I'd felt I'd been doing well, but I'll have to step it up!"

"Some other random news. We had a zone activity in the mall today. A scavenger hunt type thing in the mall which was way fun! I realized more and more how lucky I am to be serving in the nation's capital! I'm excited to get a chance to see the museums in the next two years.

Also some super weird news. We just got news from the president today that we can watch the BYU game tomorrow night!! I have mixed feelings because I still want to work a ton, but I want to see the game as well..."

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Second Week in DC

From Elder Croft's letter of March 16.

"Well, this week was better, I decided to chill out some, which is hard for me because I don't want to risk wasting time.... I've decided to be a little more humble and realize I really don't know anything. However, I refuse to lose faith in tracting...."

"So far we have one or two promising people. One is ... probably in her mid 30's to 40's and has a family. We helped her with her bags and she set an appointment with us. We gave her a brief 15 minute lesson about the Book of Mormon and she seemed really open and really willing to accept it. We tried to go back for a return appointment yesterday, but we were late... So she didn't have any time. But she did actually read it!!! Whoot! Which is way good, so there's potential there.

Then we had another little miracle. I don't remember if I told you about... an inactive of 9 years with a little daughter 9 years old, baptism age! She was brought to a ward FHE with a member and she and her kids loved it. We've had a couple of lessons with her and taken her to the [Visitor Center]. We're going to give her daughter a baptismal date here pretty soon! Then this same [lady] brought two of her friends to the next FHE, yeah I know it's crazy, already doing missionary work! We had the opportunity to give one of them a lesson, ... and he seemed really interested, and really open. Unfortunately he can't read, which will makes things difficult... But, nevertheless, he's showing some potential too.

Then we had another kind of interesting, sad, weird, exciting thing happen as well. We were biking along to one of our appointments when a guy stopped us and said "hey, I need to talk to you". So we were thinking, wow, God's at work here. Turns out he wanted to know why and how Jesus died. He's had a super hard life, and when he saw us he said a voice told him we were servants of God. It's super cool how aware God is of his children. Unfortunately, at the time he was also a little high or drunk, so we couldn't really teach him much because we knew it wouldn't have that great of an effect on him. It turns out he's gone through a lot of other rough stuff as well, like really rough... I felt a ton of love for this man, and realized again how blessed I am to have grown up where I did, with you guys as my family. I'm beginning to understand more and more the power and importance of the atonement in the lives of everyone, especially people that have experienced such pain in their lives. He came with us to the church to go to FHE, but then he felt uncomfortable about going inside, and then he left us... We tried to go find him again at his house, but he wasn't there... I'm really worried we won't be able to find him again, and I know he needs our help, our rather the help of the Atonement. Now all I can do is trust that God will put him in our path again, and do my best to find him.

That experience with him made me want to tell people about the gospel so much more. His experience made me think of the scripture where it says the Devil and his angels laugh as they drag people to hell. I could almost feel their laughter at this man, this son of God who they had been so intent on destroying. At the same time I could feel the power of the atonement to fight off all the powers of the devil. The devil has no power, the atonement overwhelms all evil if we can only let it.

I'll say one more experience, we were knocking doors trying to find a less active member, turns out they moved, but the man that's living in that apartment is ... really cool, and he let us in for a five minute lesson. We talked about the Book of Mormon, and I told him the story of Joseph Smith, and he asked me the question that I'd kind of been fearing ever since I got my call. He asked me if I really believed what I was saying, if I believed it with all my heart... It's a question I've asked myself a lot in the last five or six months, like do I really believe it? Can I really teach people this? I think it's a question every missionary asks themselves at one point or another. So I told him the truth, I told him I've had doubts at times in my life. It's an incredible story, and the implications even more incredible. However, I discovered for myself that I was able to say that I do in reality know that Joseph Smith saw God the Father and His Son, I can say that and mean it from the heart. So even though the doubts will come, beneath them all, I know it, and I cannot deny it. And God blessed me to have that testimony reconfirmed to me as I told him, it confirmed to me that what I was saying to him was the truth. After that he said he'd read the Book of Mormon, so we're excited to see what happens with him!

Well I'm sure there were other little things, the truth is that in reality we see little miracles every day, and I think we all can if we're looking for them, but those are just the bigger ones that I remember.

Haha, oh there was one funny story. We were teaching a lady that's not married, but she wants to, knows the church is true, has visited with the missionaries forever, but her "husband" (boyfriend) doesn't want to get married though they've been together 10 years and have a kid... So we promised her that if she prayed daily, read the scriptures daily, went to church every week, she would start to see a difference in her husband. A promise we made in faith. Unfortunately, what I didn't know, that being the first time I met her, was that her husband happened to be sitting right behind me... haha I'm not sure if he heard me, but I was feeling like I should say it, so if he did, well we'll see what happens."

"...we've been able to eat at members homes fairly often... As for eating more than PB&J [when I cook for myself], yeah... I eat a lot of that..."

Thursday, March 10, 2011

First week in DC

Here are some quotes from Elder Croft's email on March 9th.

"As for DC, well, I've got to say, it's been a tough first week, probably only because I think I came here expecting something a little different than what it's been. Good news though, I speak Spanish a lot!"

"...we had some cool finding experiences, we found a guy from a member reference, taught him the lesson, he said he believed it all, gave him a baptismal date, he accepted, and then we haven't seen or heard from him for the last 5 days, and we've tried multiple times... So yeah, we're not sure what's going on with that. We also found this cool family.... The mom has met with the missionaries before and read some of the Book of Mormon and they seem willing to listen, but again our return appointment fell through. Actually, we have yet to have a single return appointment go through. The past two days we have actually had no appointments which went through. So we've been trying to do a lot of finding, and we've found a couple of people, so hopefully they'll turn out well.

It's interesting though, the Spanish culture is different, because when you knock a door instead of just saying they're not interested they'll talk to you, and when you try to set up an appointment or come in to talk to them they just tell you to come back and knock some other time and they'll talk to you again. So we'll follow up on them once until they deny us again. But yeah, so far little success in the sense of numbers or lessons. I've actually only taught maybe three times?

Let's see, haha it's funny being back where I have to cook for myself sometimes, especially since I didn't really have time to go shopping last week, so this week I had pb&j and quesadillas, except when the members fed us. The members are really nice though..."

"... a funny story. We were out trying to contact this one lady, whose husband showed interest when we passed by before, so we headed out, and it was pouring rain, hard hard rain, but we biked to her house probably like a 10-15 minute ride, and she denied us at the door... So we prayed to know what to do next, and decided to go visit some references back near our apartment, unfortunately, at that point Elder Shinost discovered his tire had gone flat... So we walked back home in the rain, it was like a half hour walk, but we had good attitudes, so it wasn't too bad, we were looking for the reason why we were walking, and we found it! We ran into a guy..., we were passing him on a hill we would've normally flown down if we were on bikes, and we talked to him for a bit, turns out he's an alcoholic, and he's looking for help. He really wants to stop, his life has been kind of messed up because of it, and I think he stopped and talked with us just because he was looking for anyone that could help pull him out. It was cool to see how God was aware of him and sent us around because he knew we could help him. However, he works everyday but Sunday, so we're going to pass by this Sunday and we'll see what happens. I'm praying! That's the other thing here, people work all the time, which is good, but it definitely makes it hard to meet with them..."

"Other news about our area, it actually reminds me a lot of Taiwan! There are so many apartment buildings, and so many people! It's crazy because you can't talk to everyone, there are just too many, so you kind of have to pick and choose, and then just make sure people see you, and see you happy, so maybe they'll remember those missionaries. It also kind of smells like Taiawan, probably the cigarette smoke, but it's been good. My eyes have been opened so much more to how much people need the gospel."

"Um, today we were in D.C. as well, which was cool, stopped by a few of the monuments and then played soccer. It was super cold though, I would've preferred some museums, but it was still fun!"

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Proof He's Really There

President Matsumori sent us a nice letter and a picture in front of the temple, so I guess Elder Croft must really be there! We also got a paper letter from Elder Croft written the day he arrived.

On the first flight, he helped a spanish speaking mother arrange to change seats to sit by her child. On the second flight he sat by a Catholic girl from El Salvador who didn't speak any English. He shared his testimony, gave her a pass along card, and invited her to check out

Now some of his own words.
"The President also had me do another cool thing, he had me go to the temple grounds & check in with the Lord to the mission. It was a really good experience. I have no doubt that this is the mission I have been called to serve. It's going to be awesome, and I have no doubt the Lord will go before my face as I am here. God is with me on this mission, I have no doubt of that!"

"I've got it easy these first two days. I even took a three hour nap today! Though at the same time, while necessary, it's kind of a bummer, I want to get to work! I feel like I could've done stuff today, especially at [lunch when the AP's took me to] IHOP, but I guess I'll learn, and tomorrow night begins the work! I'm excited, slightly nervous, but confident the Lord will guide me.

It's beautiful here!"

Thursday, March 3, 2011

In The Field!

Elder Croft's mission president, President Matsumori, called to let us know he got there safely and was well prepared. We also got our first email from him on Wednesday!

"I'm in the field! Thankfully they gave me some time to sleep yesterday, so yesterday was really easy, though I was really tired, haha. And then today [Wednesday] is their p-day, so it's going to be another easy day. Apparently we have an appointment tonight though which will be cool, and then we have a ward correlation meeting, so unfortunately no proselyting until tomorrow. But my trainer is pretty cool, his name is Elder Castillo.... It's his last transfer, and he seems pretty determined to make it a good one, so I'm excited to work with him. I'm also in a trio, which will be kind of interesting. My other companion is Elder Shinost, (Shy nist). He seems like a good missionary as well....It'll be interesting to work out how we're going to teach and everything.

My area is Langley Park, apparently it's super hilly, haha which will be fun with the single speed [bike], but no worries, it'll make sure that I still have "legs of steel" when I get back! :) The area is also full of Hispanics, apparently I won't see a single white person while I'm there, and if I do, it means they're lost. Everyone is hispanic or black, so just a little bit different from Utah. But, it's exciting!

So many people need to hear the gospel here! It's weird being in a place where no one knows who "those guys in the suits and the tags" are, and most have probably never even heard of the Mormons. It'll definitely be an eye opening experience, and an exciting one! Overall I'm feeling pretty ready, or at least ready to get started, ha, I'm sure I'm not actually ready, but I'm ready to jump in and flounder around!"

"I also got to go to the temple today. It's a beautiful temple, and it was a good experience. I walked out of there feeling ready to go out and teach the people! It'll be cool, and the visitors center is a huge tool!"