"Man, this week flew by really quickly, way too quickly. We only have 4 weeks left in the transfer, and there is a ton to do it seems. This week was honestly a little stressful. We feel like we're at a stand still with all of our investigators. [The] family can't get baptized until [the father] gets back from his trip, so it's still a waiting game. We did go to the Visitors Center with them again on Easter for a special choral performance which was pretty cool. They're still going strong, and have their goal aimed for a family sealing in the temple! However, no doubt he's going to face some trials on his trip, so prayers would most definitely be welcome! Especially since we probably won't have much contact with him!
Then we have [a couple] which are still at a standstill. We've determined we need to push them a little harder to keep the commandments, and maybe get [the man] baptized even before a marriage instead of just waiting, that will definitely be an interesting conversation haha.
Then it was super disappointing this Sunday because we set a goal of 4 people at sacrament meeting, with a personal unwritten goal of 7, and we had 8 investigators that should've gone, half of them confirmed with us Sunday night, as well as 5 or 6 less actives. No one showed up! Whoot, humbling! Yeah, God decided to humble us I guess... Slightly depressing, but we figured we must be doing something wrong, so we're trying to switch it up a little bit this week and switch our focus a little more, and be more bold with our investigators. Ha, I read in a talk as well that if you've set the goal and all your investigators drop out on you go knock some doors and talk to people on the street with a prayer of faith that you'll find people willing to go to church, so we did it, and got denied by some Catholic families, nevertheless, we were trying! Luckily we weren't too depressed, just frustrated, and we're still working just as hard, if not harder. This Sunday will most definitely be better, as long as God agrees of course! :)"
"So weird to think it's almost May, and that I graduated almost a year ago! It feels like so much longer and so much shorter at the same time!"
"Life is pretty good right now though, the routine continues, and hopefully we can figure out how to use our time a little more effectively this week. We just don't know what to do between like 12-3, nobody's home, so knocking is almost useless and a waste of time, as well as checking on references. If you have any ideas let us know, we really won't to change it up so we can learn how to use those hours of the day!"
"Man, time is passing way too quickly, before I know it I know I'll be at my 6 month mark, 1/4 of the way... It's super sad that it's all going by so quickly! Still, the work is great, and thankfully I still have a boat load of time left! :) Pray for us to have some miracles, we need them! We already see a bunch, but we could definitely use some more!"
"Buen suerte a todos!"
Thursday, April 28, 2011
Wednesday, April 20, 2011
"Wow, so this week went by really slow and fast at the same time. It feels like Elder Castillo left ages ago, probably because we had a lot of cool things happen. Elder Shinost and I work really well together, and we both teach. Sometimes it's not as coordinated or flowing as it could be, but we'll get there with some more practice together. Still, it's been really good!"
"... we worked really hard this week! We had a miracle Thursday where all these [people] that we've been trying to get a hold of all transfer, and Elder Shinost the transfer before that, talked to us!... Then we also had a super cool Saturday when we took [that special] Family to the visitors center. They loved it! While we couldn't get a ride and so had to bike and metro for an hour in the rain to keep our appointment, it was totally worth it. The spirit was super strong, and we tried to commit them to a baptismal date, the 24th. They're ready, but they said they wanted to pray about the date as a family, which is just fine, because that's what we wanted them to do.... it was really exciting, and God has definitely blessed us with this family. We have literally done nothing to deserve [the opportunity to teach] them, and they just keep growing in their testimony, and now we're going to have the opportunity to baptize a family, it truly is a blessing, and so exciting to think that in just a year they can enter the temple and be sealed as an eternal family, it's going to be amazing!
We also had a cool experience taking the Bishop to an appointment with us. ... The bishop was really cool, and I honestly learned a lot from him. He immediately became their friends even though he'd never met them, and they quickly confided in him.... Then he taught them, and it was a great lesson for me to learn how to teach with more love. It's not that I don't love the people, but I've always had a hard time showing love, something that is so necessary since it's through us that these people are supposed to feel the Savior's love. It really opened my eyes to the vitality of teaching so that they can feel the love we have for them, and that the Savior has for them.
I also started taking Elder Castillo's advice. I asked him what he thought I should most improve on, and he said it was caring about the members more. The thing is I worry about wasting time, and I've always hated small talk anyways, but as Elder Castillo said, the members have to see me as a real person, and they have to trust me. So I decided to be myself at the Bishop's house last night for dinner, and engage in a little small talk, and really care about their lives. The change was amazing... The Lord is slowly teaching me how to grow, and how to really do his work, and we're definitely seeing the blessings as both Elder Shinost and I have grown a lot in this last week. It's going to be a transfer full of miracles!"
"As for a weather update, it's beautiful here, though humid, and starting to get a little muggy. Haha at least the trails are beautiful, the city, not so much, but it's all good. It's also rained a ton!"
"Elder SHionst and I now have a goal to not eat out at all in May, he loves to eat out, hence I get to too. And to eat more vegetables, because we've noticed our energy levels are a little low, probably from lack of vitamins, so we're switching up the diet.
Anyways, that's it, I'll talk to you guys next week! We're off to a museum now! :)"
Thursday, April 14, 2011
From Derek's letter on April 13, 2011
"Well, this week was a pretty cool week, a little weird though because unfortunately we didn't get to work too much. Since Elder Castillo is leaving the members here threw a little party, and invited us to eat a ton of times! We had back to back dinners one night because we didn't know another member had scheduled us to eat with them, and we also had another appointment, that night I literally gained 5 pounds... Yeah, it was super disgusting and I felt gross for like a day and a half afterwards, haha but members literally do not take no for an answer, like you tell them no and they come out with another plate expecting you to eat it all."
"But some super cool things did still happen, first the baptism! Unfortunately I forgot my camera so I don't have any pictures of it, I'll have to wait until we can print them off from Elder Shinost's camera, but it was way cool. Elder Castillo baptized her, and the spirit was really strong. That day the ward had 6 baptisms! The coolest part for me was realizing just a little bit how much [this young girls] life will change now that she's a member of the church. Even though we didn't have the opportunity to see her change much while we were teaching her, since she's so young, it's really amazing to think of the difference her life can take now. Now she has a support group in the ward, and the Holy Ghost that will help her to avoid all the horrible stuff that happens here. There are so many pregnant fifteen year olds, the smell of pot is in just about every apartment building, and weird stuff happens on the street every day. It's super sad, a lot of these kids just have no chance, but thankfully, the gospel gives them that chance. It made me extremely grateful to have the gospel, and to see her have the same opportunities, the same possibility of having an eternal marriage and family, it truly is a miracle."
Then this week we also taught [the family] who I think we've mentioned before. [The Father is] ... a fairly well off man. Yet he's still humble, and extremely religious. This week we had an incredible lesson with him. We taught him about Lehi's dream and pointed out the vision or goal that we have for him and his family, or better said, that God has for him and his family. We talked about the importance of scripture and prayer, baptism and the holy ghost, all as prepatory to receiving eternal life. He and his wife caught the vision, and at the end they committed to be baptized.... The spirit was really strong, and [the father] even bore testimony to us of the truthfulness of the Book of Mormon and of the Church. It's incredible because we have really done nothing to deserve having such a prepared investigator. But prepared they are, and God has given us the blessing of helping to bring them into his Church. It was really cool to feel so clearly of God's love for these people and of his intense desire to have them have an eternal family. It was incredible, and needless to say made us all very happy! :)"
"[These] pictures probably look interesting, they're district pictures in a church tower. And please don't freak out mom! :) It wasn't dangerous or anything, as safe as window washing, probably safer actually.
We volunteered at a race [the Azalea Classic 5k run University Park, Maryland] and this is the picture. Haha I really wanted to run!
Wednesday, April 6, 2011
Derek is starting to lose track of time. Here's some quotes from his letter this week:
"Man, time flies, hard to believe it's almost transfers, not to mention that it's p-day again, I literally feel like it was two or three days ago."
"This last week for me has been kind of normal, nothing too incredible. We taught a family of four, I think I may have told you about them... they're still super cool, super interested, and have a ton of questions!"
"Conference was probably the highlight of the week! ... It was cool to hear so much about missionary work, but the things that actually really hit me were Elder Oak's talk on Desire and Elder Uchtdorf's talk on reaching our potential. I felt like they were exactly what I needed to hear.... One of my greatest fears is not reaching my potential because I was lazy or complacent, and those talks really spoke to me."
"We have a baptism ... this Sunday, a 9 year old girl..., she's the daughter of a ... member... Other than that it's been a slower week in terms of teaching, we're trying to find some new people to teach and have so far had little luck. Hopefully we'll get some new people this next week."
"Oh, and I got my bike today! [It was damaged in shipping and Derek has been riding a loaner mountain bike] Whoot! It's super nice and super light! I have a feeling it'll be a lot more fun than the mountain bike, though the hills may be interesting with a single speed, there are some pretty huge hills, so my thighs will just have to get a little larger ;)
Other than that nothing exciting, though we did go to the temple today which was good, 5 weeks seems like a long time with no temple attendance!... Here in the DC temple couples can sit together if you sit in the middle, cool huh!"
"Have a good week! Oh and guess what I can call again soon [on Mother's day], weird huh?"
Saturday, April 2, 2011
We got an email from Derek on March 30 and then received a paper letter on April 2 that he also wrote on March 30 -- he doesn't have time on the computer to tell us everything he wants to. Here are some comments from both letters.
"Wow, I can't believe it's already the end of March... Time moves by really quickly, strange to think I've been here a whole month, not to mention that I've gone through 3 of 24 months... It hardly seems real, and I have a feeling these next 21 are going to move by faster than I'd like to believe."
"...it was a really good week! The Lord has really been behind us and he's been blessing us with a lot of people to teach and some really cool experiences and opportunities to bless other people. It's been amazing to see the Lord work with us this last week!
"... we decided to go check on [some former investigators]. Turns out that morning he'd been watching the news, and seeing all the crazy stuff going on he prayed to God for some guidance. Not long after that we knocked on the door!! He recognized us as an answer to prayer and gathered his whole family to be taught!"
"... when we showed up at [one of our investigator's house] she said she'd decided to go to another church... Man it was super sad/frustrating because she says she has no doubt the Book of Mormon is the word of God."
"...After that downer we decided to go check on [another man we'd met three week ago]. Turns out 2 weeks ago... he woke up in the hospital due to alcohol intoxication.... he said it was a huge wake up call, especially since he has 2 little girls.... he said he genuinely wants to change his life. He's looking for God, religion, and he wants to have a real family and be a good Dad to his kids. It's incredible and we're really excited to teach him and show him the power of the atonement!"
"We randomly decided to go to a members house and it turns out her less active son is there just for that day. Also turns out he really wants to go back to church..."
"Yesterday we were walking around and we had this feeling that we should go talk to this random lady. So we did! Turns out her sister died recently and she's having a really hard time with it. We share a brief message about eternal families and you could see the change in her just from that one thing!... We're excited to help her, and help her come to the Savior and find peace."
"Ah, it's all so cool, and so exciting to she how involved God really is in everyone's lives, and to see how he's guiding us. We truly can be tools in his hands. It's a huge blessing and a humbling responsibility, one I only pray I can fulfill well. I feel horrible thinking about any potential prompting I may have ignored, and postponed the help someone needed.... But how grateful I am for the ones I have listened to!
Ah, the work is great, and even though we have yet to baptize, the Lord is blessing us a ton!"
"Have a good conference week! It'll be weird not going to priesthood [conference] with Dad or watching it with you all"