Colton's ready for his mission

Colton's ready for his mission

Thursday, July 25, 2013

First week with Elder Cramer (July 22, 2013)

Querida Familia,
So, I found out that my new companion, Elder Cramer, had been out in the field for about 9 days when he got transferred to me. He was a little more prepared for the field than I was when I first came out, in most ways, even though he's only been a missionary for about a month (I was a missionary for two months before I even came to Washington). He is from a small town in North Carolina, and his house is about an hour from Raleigh, the capital there. He used to be a wrestler back home, and tried to convince our superintendant here to let him wrestle on P-day in the school (he was joking. Mostly). He was in Kennewick, living in the Mission Home for about 8 days before he came up here to Oroville. I guess there was some kind of mix-up on his date to come to the MTC because of the mission changes, and so he came to the field about 2 weeks into the transfer. He is an english elder, but wants to learn how to bear his testimony in spanish, so he can participate more in those lessons. The majority of the work up here is english though, so it's not too big of a problem. I do miss speaking more spanish though. 
We met a few interesting people his first week. One guy told us that he fought in Vietnam and had over 600 "kills". That raised an eye-brow. Another man from another religion told us he was converted as he tried to assault someone. And then there was the dog that bit Elder Cramer on his 3rd or so day. Out for only a month, and he's already got a lot of good stories! :)

To tell you about the area: So, it's been a pretty crazy week. We found out that the reason Sofia, one of our main investigators didn't go to church last week, is because Walmart called her into work. I now have a personal issue with Walmart, but that's beside the point. She unfortunately couldn't make it yesterday either, for the same reason, but does want to come. But for now, we will have to wait until her schedule allows her to do so. We didn't have the chance to teach Kim this week, because he's on a fishing trip, but he told us he will be in town by Wednesday, for our Ward Party, and he's definitely planning on coming to that. We won't be able to introduce him to everyone there because we won't get home from Wenatchee for three hours after the party starts, but we arranged a really great member, Brother Quick to show him around. We also taught Sinforiano yesterday with Brother Quick, and were able to teach the Plan of Salvation to him. He seemed... interested. But not like his mind was blown like I kind of hoped. It was kind of difficult, since I was teaching alone in spanish, but I think he and his daughter, Abril, liked the lesson. We told them that they can't know for sure if they will have an eternal family one day or not, unless they read the Book of Mormon and pray about it. We're praying that his work in the vineyard won't wear him out too much that he won't have the time to.

I had been a little discouraged from tracting recently, partly because I felt bad that with Elder Heward, we hardly taught any lessons from tracting while we were together. So I had been somewhat avoiding that form of finding, but felt myself at a loss of how to find investigators yesterday, during an hour where our appointment cancelled, and our back-ups failed. So, I told Elder Cramer, that we were going to do some faith-tracting. He asked me what made it different, and I said that we are going to have an extra heaping of faith when we went out to find, that the Lord would bring us to someone that was prepared. He seemed down with that. So when we went out, of course the first few houses were unsuccessful (they usually are), and we actually went down a little alley way on the edge of town, where I hadn't been very often. And lo, and behold, on the other side of this alley-way is a family in their back-yard, of a mom and her 5 kids! We talked to her, and she speaks spanish and english (so it was good for me and Elder Cramer) and she said that she felt estranged with all of the religions, and that she just wanted to know which of all the churches is true!!! So we shared the Restoration, that this was the one true church, and gave them a Book of Mormon, and invited them to come to church! She said she didn't want all of her family to go at first, but  that she would come next Sunday and check it out. As we rode away, Elder Cramer told me "I've got a good feeling about them Elder". I smiled and said, "So do I!" I have faith in tracting again. But something to note is that I had to have faith first, before the evidence would come forth.
Something I wanted to say is that you can pretty much ignore everything I said last time about how to be a member missionary. INSTEAD you can read a book that's called something like "The Power of an Everyday Missionary" by Clayton Christensen. I guess the missionaries from the office gave a training on it to the Ward Mission Leaders, including ours, Brother Timm, and told them to have their missionaries read it when they could. I think it is the best missionary book I've read, that isn't written by Prophets! Please please PLEASE read that book, if you have any desire to be a member missionary. It is only about 150 pages, I've heard it is pretty cheap in paper back, and will teach you the 'how' of inviting people to hear the happiness that comes from the Gospel. That's my new invitation to you all. Just like my investigators, I'm inviting you to read a book, and act on it. :)
No pictures again, sorry. :( But I did get my new GPS from my family, and I plan on hunting down all of the "hill-people" hiding in the outskirts of Oroville! They can't hide from me now!
Hope none of you think I'm too weird, and I hope you all have a good week. Love you all!
Elder Grant

Mid-transfer transfers (July 15, 2013)

Dear mis amigos queridos y amada familia,

So, surprise! We are having a transfer in the middle of this 8 week transfer. And unfortunately I am losing my visa-waiting step-son, Elder Heward. :( He will be going to Pasco, which is one of the tri-cities. At least he will be close to the airport though, for when his visa to Brazil comes! His twin brother, who is also going to Brazil, just got his visa, so this Elder Heward should be following behind him soon. I will be receiving an Elder Cramer tomorrow up here in Oroville. I hope I spelled his name right, because they didn't give me much information about him. They told me his name over the phone, and I assume he's from the Kennewick mission, because I've never heard of him. Hopefully he speaks spanish. 

Here in Oroville, we were SO close to having an investigator at church. Twice. And a half. One person, Sofia, told us something like five times that she would be able to make it. We were a little persistent at reminding her. And she wasn't able to come. We're not sure of the reason yet, so we're going to pass by either today or tomorrow, depending on our schedule, and if it feels right. We also had a man named Kim, who has been praying, and reading the Book of Mormon a lot. He is almost finished with 1st Nephi I believe, and we took him on a Church Tour this last Saturday. He said before we could even ask, that he was willing to get baptized in the future, but he did want to take his time, and didn't want to make rash decisions, which we understood. He said that while he couldn't come to church yesterday (there's a new Catholic Priest in town, and he wanted to show respect) that he wants to attend in the future, and that he is also planning on going to our Ward Party on the 24th of July! He's doing great. There's also Steven. He's a ten year old boy, who we aren't continually teaching. We do visit him every once in a while though, and he wants to find an answer to whether the Book of Mormon is true or not, but he's been taught most of the lessons, and hasn't truly been progressing. He said he would go to church last Sunday, but he slept through his alarm, and this Sunday he had to also go to the Catholic Church. We hope that as he keeps the commandments, he will "know of the doctrine, whether it be of God" or not. But until he does that, we'll just continue to visit him infrequently.

I thought I should tell you all about some tips to invite others to hear the Gospel, that I told someone else. Also, you should ask your local missionaries for help and practice as well. Don't be afraid. Most of them don't bite.

If you are thinking of people you have already tried to invite, just kind of slip in stuff about the Gospel (aka about your life :) into your conversations once in a while. Let them ask more questions about your religion. If they don't ask questions, either they're probably not interested, or they are too shy to ask. It depends on the situation, and you have to use a bit of discernment on whether they are disinterested, or reserved. Either way, have faith, make it natural, love the person, and don't be afraid. :) That whole, slipping in stuff about your life works with people you haven't invited yet too. 

If it's someone you are acquaintances with, here's the hard part. Get to know them first. Talk about something other than religion first, unless they happen to be doing something related to religion. Just use things they're doing as a point to start the conversation. Or maybe something they're wearing, something on their desk (families are GREAT ways to start conversations. Usually.), or something on their bag. The hard part is just practicing being more social. That's what's hard for me anyway. Learning how to go up to a person you barely, or don't know, and making them into a friend within ten minutes or less. But it's a VERY valuable skill, and one we should all improve. If there's any more questions, don't be afraid to ask. :)

I was reading a scripture in 1 Nephi 14 about how while Nephi wants to be the best man he can, he still feels like a wretched man. It was a strange moment that passed through my mind. I felt comforted that even Nephi feels kind of like that! That even a great prophet is human still makes mistakes sometimes too. And then he went on to recommit himself to not focus on the negative, but have a faith in Christ, rely on the Lord in place of man, and just try and do better. I've come to the realization (again) that I'm not perfect! That God understands that, and still loves me anyway. That He is still with me, even though I'm weak, and not the greatest Saint that's ever lived. Like Nephi though, I'm going commit again to try and do better, rely on the arm of my Redeemer, and overcome the temptations that so easily beset me. And I'm going to make some goals to help me be able to do that. :) 

The first picture is of Elder Heward that I just took, and the other is a pretty picture of the Osoyoos lake I took, right after I got kicked out of a resort of summer homes for rich people. Good times. 

I love you all, and I'm so thankful for all of your support! I'll keep working hard for all of you, and the people here in the far north! Have a good week! Con amor,

Elder Grant

P.S. My new mission address for letters/packages is 
8202 W Quinault Ave Ste D
Kennewick, WA, 99336

My new mission (July 9, 2013)

So, I met President and Sister Ware on wednesday. He is very soft-spoken and kind. It's quite a difference from President Mullen, where he was a very excited man, but they've both been called of God, and you can see it on their faces. We can now have meals on any day in the Kennewick Mission, but that probably won't make too much of a difference up here in Oroville, since the people are so sparce. But we'll see what happens. Some members do seem relieved that they can invite us over any day now. I'm just afraid I'm going to gain weight. 

There will be other changes, so we've heard, but they're not implementing too many right now. In fact, hardly any at all. They're going to announce more things on saturday when we go to Ephrata again, but last I checked they were still trying to take the best parts of both missions in the new policies. Elder Bennet, my zone leader for 3 transfers in the Othello Zone (down in Mattawa) is one of the AP's in Kennewick, so we should be treated kindly up in the northern part of the state haha. I found out some of the new spanish areas I will be able to go to in the future (possibly) are Pasco, which is part of the Tri-Cities, Yakima, and parts of Oregon. I can't wait to get to know new areas and new people!!!!

In other news, because my white shirts are becoming thing from over-use, I now have a tan line from my hands up half-way up the upper part of my arm. It almost reaches my shoulder. The line is where my garments are. x) It is the only tan part of my body! Anything else important going on here...? I can't think of anything. I'll wait until next week if there is. :)

Okay, about the area. We struggled on Sunday when the Luna family and Kyndra and Mariya, and Roscoe didn't come to church. They are all less active members that we have been working with, and they all said they would be there. They ended up having pretty decent reasons for not going, but it's still frustrating haha! We also had six appointments set up yesterday, and two of them came through, while we also taught two other people that weren't even on our plans. That kind of thing seems to happen a lot in missionary work. We asked Sinforiano to be baptized, and while he understands why he needs to be, he still feels very unsure about it all, and just says "I don't know!" He does say that he feels good, and a certain peace though when we are here and when he reads the Book of Mormon. Now we just need to get him to church! 

Elder Heward is learning so much! I probably say that in every email, but it's true! He always asks me questions about doctrine, and I surprise myself by knowing the answers most of the time. You'd be surprised how much you can learn in six months of heavy scripture study. I love that he wants to know more, and while he still gets tired, or discouraged, or doesn't do everything perfectly, he is so open to learn from his mistakes and improve himself. It's actually pretty impressive, because he understands more spanish than I did at 3 1/2 months, and he doesn't even speak the language! He's going to be a great missionary and a great asset to the people in Brazil. :)

I think that's all I've got this week. No new pictures.... I'll work on that. I hope you all do missionary work this week! Lots of love,

Elder Grant

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

July 1: The Kennewick Mission!

Dear family and friends,

I'm so excited! I'm now part of the Kennewick Mission!!! I feel like so much is changing, and it's all a little too big for me, but it makes the missionary life fun. :) I have two district mates from the MTC in the Bakersfield Mission now, Ben is in the Queretaro Mission, and I am in the Kennewick Mission with every missionary I know from my MTC district. Our President is President Ware, and he's vice President of Deseret Book or something. We'll be meeting him on this wednesday. So, another 2.5 hour car ride. But that's what happens when you are in Oroville. On another note, while Kennewick is closer to most spanish areas in the mission than spokane was, for oroville it is now a five hour car ride down to the mission home instead of three hours to spokane. They're not as happy about the change up here but... Well, at least I am! :D

I'm going to note, that I'm copying and pasting parts of another letter to this one, so there will be information that the majority of you already know. Sorry about that! It's faster! 

So to explain a little bit about Oroville. I officially found out from a government agent the other day, that it has about 1500 people. He said it was a big growth from before when it had about 1200 people. :) We cover 6 other towns named Ellisforde, Tenasket, Moulson, Chesaw, and Loomis. We've got plans to visit Loomis for the first time on saturday, and I've only been in Oroville, Ellisforde, and Tenasket, other than that.  We don't have any on-dates right now, and while we didn't have investigators at church, we've got a few people that say they will once the cherry season ends, we're looking hard for new people to teach, and we did have a number of less active members at church. Kyndra, Kayla, and Mariya are a few less-active/recent converts that we've been making a lot of progress with, helping them overcome their major problems, and getting back to church. In the seven (or is it eight?) weeks I've been here, we finally got Kayla to come to church for the first time in months! The Elder who baptized her will be pleased to hear that (He's in Moses Lake). Also we have got the Luna family, another less active family, reading the BoM daily, and praying together as a family each day, and we have plans to challenge them to come to church this coming sunday, tomorrow, so pray that they'll be able to do that!

I am step-training Elder Heward, who has been in the field about 6 weeks now, and is waiting for his visa to go to Brazil. He's anxious to speak his mission language, but in the mean time he's been humbly learning so much here in Oroville. I'm so proud of how much he's been growing, in such a short time, and how he's borne his wait patiently! I recently taught him how to say a baptismal invitation in spanish, and in the middle of one of our lessons in spanish, he asked me if he could ask our investigator a question. I curiously told him to go ahead, and he invited this man to be baptized at a very random point in the lesson, but Guadalupe said yes! He is busy with the cherries, and wants to be sure that the book of Mormon is true, but because of Elder Heward acting on the spirit, we now know that Guadalupe truly does have a desire to follow God's will in his will, during a lesson that I had been wondering in the back of my mind if we would have to drop him soon. He's a great missionary. :)

I read a talk this morning, the subject being that we should have faith, not fear. It talked about how on a canoe trip, while you generally enjoy the calm portions with near still waters, your favorite parts of the journey is when the rapids come. Although it's more difficult, there is a sense of exhilaration, and you feel accomplished when you've conquered them. This is how it should be in life as well. While we do have rapids, and it may seem that we are in danger at times, we must remember that 1. God will make sure everything turns out best, according to His plan! and 2. That there will always be challenges in our lives, but if we can learn to enjoy them, instead of dread them, we will be able to achieve and grow more each day. I have a new personal goal because of that talk! And a new quote in my book. :)

There's Jig again. I met her in Moses Lake during my day there. She's the fattest, walking dog I've met in my life. And another couple pictures of our beautiful area. 

June 24: 1st week of Step-training

Queridos amigos y famila amada,

It's been a pretty crazy week, with transfers, going to Spokane for the last time (ever), having the mission conference, district meeting, the big world broadcast, etc... But we still had a pretty good week! Our Bishop managed to plan an interview for one of our investigators right after sacrament meeting, so she went and we weren't even planning on it! That was a nice surprise. We were hoping for quite a few more lessons on sunday, but we managed to plan out seemingly our entire next week, and so we should be pretty busy in the next few days. Well, until saturday. We haven't really planned that far ahead yet! But I'm excited. Elder Heward said he didn't mind having lots of appointments too. :)  

Elder Heward is a good missionary, I had been praying that if I ever trained, all I wanted was that he would be humble. He's open to learn, asked more questions than I did as a missionary-in-training, and he's excited to Brazil. He recognizes that while he was called to go portuguese speaking in another country, he can learn a lot here in the Spokane/Kennewick Mission, and he feels learning how to teach in the english language has really helped him. I'm still getting to know him, but while he's not perfect, he's doing his best to become a good missionary, which is all we all ask. I'm pretty proud of him. :)  

I never realized until this past week, how blessed I've been to learn how to teach in two languages. While many people learn how to speak another language, I remember how hard it was for me to teach in english for the first time. It's not quite as easy as you would think, to think of teaching in spanish, and then translating it to english. As a missionary speaking spanish in the United States, and still teaching the english speakers in our area, I'm going to become bilingual on my mission, and I'm going to be able to have the teaching skills in my own language when I go home. And I won't have quite as much trouble speaking english when I go home. Even if while I'm here, I do sometimes say a spanish word to english speakers here. (e.g. I said something to Elder Heward in spanish to see if he'd understand, and Ryan, and investigator, said "what?" I responded unconsciously saying "Oh, disculpa estaba hablando en espanol". He then said, "wait you said habla-what?" I was confused, and Elder Heward told me I was still speaking spanish. I felt pretty embarrassed. :) )  Well, another week passes by. One more week in the Spokane Mission. And an adventure starts in the new Kennwick Mission!
Thanks for the love everyone. It helps me have the strength to keep searching for all those children of God, ready to accept the Gospel. :) Hope you've seen that broadcast from yesterday, and you're all going to become better member missionaries! Con amor,

Elder Grant

For pictures I've got a picture of me and Elder Orellana in front of the car, and my last look at Spokane.