November 26, 2015

Temple and Elder Clark

This week was super good! Still trying to find some Iranians to teach, but all is well! 

We had a recent convert, Mehdi, go to the temple and do baptisms in the temple this week! Gahh!! Such a tender mercy! And what's even cooler, is he is getting things lined up to have his wife and daughter come to the States from Iran, which is unheard of! There are so many tender mercies that lead to this happening and it's awesome!! It will not be long before Mehdi runs to the baptismal font with his wife and daughter, and a year later, sealed!! BOOM! So exciting! 

Elder Ross, Elder Ekberg, Elder Ham (Korean Elder on exchanges), Elder Sugden

Waiting to teach a lesson at the Visitor's Center

This week we had the neat opportunity to go to the LA Temple! It was super cool, very different from the Gilbert Temple but so, so amazing. I am literally so blessed to have the temple a 5 minute walking distance from where I will be living for the next 19 months. It was also a blessing to be able to go with such an amazing group of Elders and perform work for our brothers on the other side of the veil. 

We also had our general authority visit from Elder Kim B Clark of the Seventy! Hence, our P-day was changed from Monday to Tuesday. So yesterday (Monday), we spent 6 hours learning from Elder Clark! I learned so much, took a TON of notes, and sadly forgot them all at the apartment, BUT! Esta bien. 
District with one of our Zone Leaders, Elder Ah You and his high school shirt--not sure why?

Sorry, this will probably be a short week, but I'm thankful for this opportunity to serve. Really, these 5 months have flown by, and I can't believe that I only have 19 months left, hopefully I can learn a little bit more Farsi in that time, haha. Looking back, it's amazing to see how far I've come in just a short time. We all go through hard times, on the mission and especially off the mission, and I know that the Lord is ALWAYS there for us. 

He is not waiting at the finish line, he is there walking beside us, guiding us, leading us if we listen and follow. When we look back, most times I think we will be amazed at where we have come from. The changes day to day, week to week almost seem non-existent, but they are there. I think it is very hard to see change in the moment, but looking back, it is often easier. I think that's why we are easy to forget the Lord. In reality, He is changing us in the moment but we can't see it, and it's hard to be grateful all the time, it's hard to remember, but I know that there is power in doing hard things, and in trusting the Lord. 

Thank you for everything! I love you all! I have two Thanksgiving dinners lined up so we will see how much weight I can gain! haha. Yes, I am still gaining weight, its all this Persian rice.. I love hearing how everyone is doing! You are all the best! :) 

November 16, 2015

Tender Mercies

Another great week in the Farsi program! I love the mission!

This week was sprinkled with little tender mercies from the Lord, and honestly, some of them I'm pretty sure are to remind me, or force me to focus more on Him and remember that ultimately, I have very little influence in the grand scheme of things and He is in charge. 

For example, yes, we are Farsi missionaries, but we contact (which means anywhere from a non-existent convo on the street to 20-30 minutes of Gospel teaching) in English, Spanish, Farsi, etc. I've learned a couple of things to say in Chinese and Korean..BUT! I'm keeping up my Spanish! We were walking, kind of in a rush to get to dinner, and a little Hispanic man passed by and I simply said 'Hola!' which caught him off-guard because when ever two tall white young guys speak Spanish (or especially Farsi, we get quite the reactions), we usually get people's attention. Anyway, we started talking to him and after a few questions, he got really quiet, and then really opened up and told us he wanted to change, he was an alcoholic, etc. Honestly, a tender mercy, no one opens up like that out there, and we were able to share with Him a little about the Atonement and help him out, get his info to send to the missionaries out where he lives and such. 

We also ran into a Chinese girl that Elder Sugden recognized. Turns out, She got baptized! It was cool to see "the fruit of our labors", really what a simple contact and referral can turn into. It was super cool and we found her at a time when we were tired and didn't have maybe the greatest attitude for walking up Westwood yet again. :)

Although the Farsi program right now is a little slow, we have noticed that the Lord is blessing us with the opportunity to find and speak with more Persians! Which is awesome! We are excited to see what is in store for the program. 

Ponderize: 3N14:13-14

I've been thinking about the analogy of trees, roots, growth, that sort of thing lately. Roots are what kinda keeps the tree alive. They get all the water and nutrients the tree needs to survive, the foundation. Roots need to spread out wide and deep to be able to do certain things. One, to keep the tree secure when heavy winds blow, opposition in the work. There needs to be an effort to hold on, to resist and overcome. Also, there needs to be periods of "dry-ness" to force the tree roots to dig deeper to find water and rely on the nutrients that are available. I think we are very similar in the sense that a lot of the time, we need to dig down deep and find those tender mercies that are there and rely upon the Lord in all we do. Put our trust and confidence in the only one who matters. He knows us best and is there for us. 

Thank you for everything! It's getting cold here in Santa Monica, too close to the coast! Sweater Weather for sure! Love you all! 

November 9, 2015

Just an Average Ol' Week in the Farsi

Dear Family and Friends, 

Howdy y'all. Here we are in sunny southern California, mid November and it's a nice 75 degrees outside, you're welcome. It's beautiful here. The leaves are actually changing colors, kinda, we still live 2 minutes from the temple and the Persians are still speaking Farsi. 

This week was kinda slow, not gonna lie, but in turn I learned a ton! We are looking for more people to teach and so the majority of the week was spent outside, street contacting trying to find those the Lord has prepared. Its tough, the Persian population is peppered around the Santa Monica area, and there really isn't a super great way to find and meet new people other than hitting up our good friend Westwood. Westwood is the street right by the temple/our apartment and there we find the most luck finding Persians to share the gospel with. We spend probably a good 4 to 5 hours every day on Westwood, on UCLA or Santa Monica College campus talking with people, sharing the BOM, inviting people to the temple, and asking if they have any Persian friends. :) 

This week it really hit me that the next two years are going to be way different than I thought or had planned. I never would have thought that I would end up here, or even doing this, but here I am. It's very humbling to know that the Lord really does know what is best for us, and our lives are in His hands ultimately. This opportunity to serve is very unique, challenging and very different but we are excited and have trust and confidence that as we continue to be diligent and rely on Him, we will be successful in finding those who are prepared and we will be there to lead them to baptism, ultimately to begin their journey to eternal life here on earth. 

Little more about the Farsi program: We have 3 hours of language study on top of our normal morning studies. We also teach English classes twice a week. This week we were able to teach a couple Persians and people from Japan, Hungary and Ukraine. It's a very cool and rewarding experience, we even throw a little Mormon Message video at the end to practice listening haha. 

The Farsi Elders:  McKraken, Ross, Ekberg, Sugden

The District

"Pride does not look up to God and care about what is right. It looks sideways to man and argues who is right."

How do I become a Disciple of Christ? How do we put off the natural man?Discipline/Patience (Uchtdorf - Marshmallow experiment) What is our marshmallow? What are the things we need to sacrifice short term in order to receive benefits long term. As we discipline ourselves and are true at all times (Stripling warriors - Alma 53:20) we will put off the natural man and become a disciple of Christ.
Having a Vision in the sense that we look to the example of Christ and row our little boat of life with all our efforts to the land on the horizon. Have Faith that Christ's island is there and start where you are, He will take you and begin to work with you. 

Alma 58:10-12 - In life we are faced with challenges, trials, tests, whatever it may be and we don't feel prepared, supported, or sufficient for what is ahead. I know that as we pray, and rely on the Lord, He will speak peace unto our souls. We will take strength in the small provisions that we DO have and come off conqueror. No matter how insufficient, unprepared, or unsupported we feel, if we trust in the Lord, HE will provide, He always does. Trust Him. He knows the way because He IS the way. 

من مى دانم كه كليساى عيسى مسيح مقدّسين آخرين زمان كليساى خدا هست و ما مژده مى داريم. من مى دانم كه خدا و عيسى مسيح مارا دوست دارند. من تو را دوست دارم. مرسى!

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November 2, 2015

Week 1...again!

Well, this week I was transferred and now I am in the Farsi program! Farsi B with Elder Sudgen as my trainer! He is a tall redhead from Alabama and he is the best!! I'm super excited to spend this next little bit with him and get rolling! The Farsi program here in LA has 4 elders, Farsi A and B. Our areas cover our mission, as well as pretty much all of California. The other Elders have said they've been to like 5 or 6 different missions here in LA. So that's fun!
Elder Sugden and Elder Ekberg

Here in the Farsi program we work with Persians, which mostly includes people from Iran, but some other surrounding countries. As far as missionaries who speak Farsi, there is us, a mission in Canada, and I believe there is a small program starting in San Diego but..not completely sure. So only a handful of those who speak Farsi. For these first two transfers, I get 3 hours of language study everyday! Yeah! haha. Its fun! It is a challenge but I'm excited to get going and keep learning. My first day in the program we learned the alphabet, there are 32 letters in the Persian alphabet.. haha. And writing is from right to left. Right now, I can read almost everything really slowly, got simple prayers down, short testimony and saying the Church's name. It doesn't seem like a lot, but it's coming! :) There is a Senior Sister missionary here, Sister Mead, who is a Persian lady and she teaches us Farsi Tuesday-Thursday for an hour. :) fun fun! 

Another thing, I live right by the temple! Literally live across the street from the Westwood building, and a 2 minute walk to the LA temple. :) We can see it out our window! It's so awesome and such a blessing. Ohh yeah! So we are a part of the Westwood 1st Ward here in LA, an English ward but us Persians come here too. We are not a ward or a branch so we are a "group". There have been 17 total people baptized into the program since it began almost 2 years ago and we see a lot of promise in the future! I'm excited to get to work, learn the language and help people come unto Christ. :) 

We do a lot of street contacting here in downtown LA and Santa Monica as this is where the Persians are! It's pretty cool, we get to talk with all sorts of people from ALL over the world. Such a different experience from down in Lawndale/Torrance area. The work is "slower" here in the Farsi program, which only means we don't teach as many lesson lessons, but I feel like we talk to and influence more people. We usually hold lessons at the Visitors Center because it is SUPER close and again, such a blessing. :) I'm super excited about what's coming up. :) 

Anyway! That was about my week, here are some things that really stuck out to me that I learned. 

Feeling the Spirit is not dependent on our outward circumstances. Even when we are in the midst of war, trial, tribulation, whatever it may be, we can have 'peace to our souls' by being a true disciple of Christ. Do not rationalize your situation because it is hard and you don't have sufficient 'provisions'. Pray and take courage with what little you have received and have a fixed determination that you will come off conqueror. (Alma 58: 10-12)

There is a difference between happiness and joy. The difference is happiness is a choice. We can choose to be happy, allowing ourselves to either feel or be happy. Joy is an experience. We feel joy when we face adversity with faith. As we move forward through trial and adversity with faith, we will experience joy, true and lasting happiness. 

I'm thankful for all your help and support. I know I'm where I'm supposed to be and doing the Lord's work. I'm so grateful for this opportunity to serve, learn, grow, share, and change the lives of others for the better. I love you all! Thanks again!
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