Tuesday, August 4, 2015

What the Tombstone Would Say

I don't know how I feel writing this....it's a weird sensation to know that there is just a couple days until the great and dreadful day arrives. I am very excited to see you all again though! I am really excited to see how much you have changed and grown.

Spiritual: this by far has one of the most amazing weeks of my life.
Words cannot describe how amazing it has been to be witnessing the hand of the Lord like this. We have seen so many miracles and felt the spirit so strongly this week. Everything from new baptismal dates to an actual baptism. We have seen new investigators fall from the sky and prayers said a long time ago answered. It's been amazing. As my first full time mission comes to a close, it's interesting for me to look back over the past two years and see what has happened. There are a few themes that stand out to me as I reflect. The first and most important thing that has stood out to me as I have thought about my mission is the understanding and knowledge that I have gained about my savior and his atonement. I know now from personal experience that the atonement is real! Jesus Christ can provide us strength to face our troubles, hope for the resurrection, and peace from our mistakes in life. I am so grateful for the knowledge that this is real. The spirit has confirmed this to my heart time and time again and I have seen the evidences manifest in my life by the strength that He has given me and the peace that comes into my life. Jesus Christ lives. He is the savior and redeemer of the world. He is my brother, my friend and my king. I am so grateful for the experiences I have had with my companions. I have had all sorts of favors, sizes and varieties of companions. All with their individual strengths and weaknesses and I love every single one of them. Each one has brought something new that I have learned and blessed my life with. I love them all. Through the good times and the bad. I am grateful for an amazing mission president. I have been so honored to serve with him and learn from his dedication to the savior and the gospel. It's been an incredible wonderful opportunity to associate with such a great man of God. The other thing that I have gotten out of my mission that was a little more unexpected was a true, deep and profound love for my family at home. Being away from home has made me realize a lot of things about my family and the blessings I have been enjoying my whole life. My dear faithful mother has written me a letter every single week for the whole two years. She doesn't realize it but those letters have carried me through some hard days and some hard times. I have felt so much love and support from her and from my whole family as I have been here. That support has helped me so much and I am so grateful for a family sent from heaven. I am grateful for an angel of a mother who takes the time to do things that will make me smile like cutting out a comic from the newspaper and mailing it to me. I am so so so grateful to a merciful Heavenly Father for such an amazing woman in my life. I am excited to spend the rest of eternity with those that I have come to love out here. My family and those that I have been blessed to be able to teach. This church is the Lord’s kingdom on the earth. He leads and directs it through a prophet of God who hears his voice and follows his commands. Joseph smith is a prophet of God and he translated the Book of Mormon. It's true. It's the way to a happy life. There is so much more to say but is sufficient to say that I know that this gospel is the way for us to be truly happy. It's God’s plan and it's real. Genuine and true. I bear this testimony in the name of my savior Jesus Christ amen.

Funny: We have been trying to learn how to make some super good curry for a whole now and finally last night that prayer was answered. We met a family from India who took us in and talked us through how to make curry! Delicious! It was super super spicy though.

Where I am at! Well, it's been fun! If you are not a member of the church you really should be. I highly recommend it. It's the best. I come home on Wednesday. Yikes. It breaks my heart to leave my new family here but it has to be. I love Elder Hearne and Elder Bringhurst and the fun times we have had together. Love them. I love this place.

California San Jose is amazing. I love you all!

Monday, July 27, 2015

ipads that go and lemons that stay

This week has been one where I have felt more motivated to serve by love over anything else. It's been amazing to be here and to be serving. It really is a blessing. I love my two new companions and I am happy to be serving with them. They are young missionaries in fact Elder Bringhurst is one of the missionaries I brought into the mission. It's been fun to serve with these two.

Spiritual: It's been said that the Lord works in unusual ways and that no one really quite understands how he works but we know that His ways are higher than our ways and that he asks us to have faith in him even though we might not understand all of the things that are happening.
This week we saw a manifestation of that. We had an appointment where we were given a bunch of lemons. (It's kinda been a theme this week).
We were biking back from it and going to stop by another investigators house when Elder Hearne stopped us and asked if I had grabbed his IPad from his bag when I had taken the lemons. I told him that I had not taken it and he started to freak out. He got this wild look in his eye. The look that comes when you think that you lost your new iPad and to be the first one in the mission to lose one. No Bueno. He said that it must have fallen out of his bag. We decided to retrace our steps and to find the lost iPad. We crossed the street and as we were sitting there waiting for the light to change, the prompting came today a prayer. Elder Hearne offered the prayer and when we looked up there was this guy sitting there on his bike looking at us. Elder Bringhurst sprung into action. He started immediately talking to him and asking him where he was from and carrying on a great conversation.
This "guy" was 18 years old and clicked super well with Elder Bringhurst. He played football with several young men in the ward as well. We asked him what he believed in and he said that he was looking for a way to worship God as his family was not very religious. He said that he saw us praying and didn't want to be rude in any way and disrupt us. He accepted a return appointment and was super happy to learn more. It was an inspired street contact for sure. We finished the contact and Elder Hearne said that he remembered the last time he had had the iPad and he knew roughly where it was. We biked back and within two minutes we found the iPad on the ground. No damage or anything like that. It was amazing. We joked that God had stolen the iPad because he wanted us to meet this young man. God lives. This is his work. He is very much aware of what is going on.

Funny: we also committed a woman to be baptized this week. She sometimes can be a little flakey so we had her sign a contract. Haha as we were leaving she also gave us three huge bags and had us go and pick a ton of lemons. We are having lemonade for days in Glenmoor!

Where I am At: I have no idea where I am at. It's the absolute most amazing thing in the world to be part of the missionary service. To work and wear out my life for my God whom I love dearly. We have a baptism next week and we are really excited about it. I am excited for miracles to happen as well. I love you all!

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

A Box Full of .......Communism????

Big things are happening this week. We got a baptismal date, my companion is getting transferred to be the next AP, and I gave my testimony at the outgoing fireside, got interviewed by president Mella, and had a teary emotionally draining wonderful week. 

Spiritual: This past week we helped a woman clean out part of her house. It’s a little crazy in there so we started slowly. She was worried because in the past, some others had started to help her clean and she was not there for part of it and she was very worried that a lot of her stuff had been thrown away. We asked if we could just start with one box to see how it would go because we believed that she needed to touch everything that was there to help her through some emotional issues. We walked into the house and looked for what box to grab. It was amazing. I felt like we needed to go to the back room where there were a lot of boxes stacked up and we picked one to give to her. The one that we picked out of 100+ boxes was exactly the one that she needed to see. We brought it back to her and she picked it up and tears came to her eyes. It had pictures of her children from right around the time she joined the church. She hadn’t seen these for 20 years and it was a special experience for her to go through and revisit those memories. That act alone brought her courage that she could make it through the emotionally taxing experience and that the Lord loved her and was very aware of her situation. I know that we were led and guided to pick that particular box. The Lord knows us and uses most times people to bless our lives. 

Funny: Out gospel principles class is a riot. Our ward is super small and there are not a lot of people that come to this class and so sometimes there is more opinion shared than actual gospel principles. For example this last week the ward mission leader started off by singing a song with his guitar. (Although it was a little unorthodox it really brought the spirit in) then we started to talk about the premortal life. Sometimes a tricky subject to bring up with this group. One dear sister started speaking about the plans of the devil. "And what Elder do you think the devils plan is to destroy us all?" I replied "the degeneration of the family and sliding moral values in society is..." "Communism." "Oh. Right. That was my next guess." 

Where I am at: I. Love. My. Mission. I feel so blessed to be here and be serving where I am. I love the work of the Lord. I am so grateful that he has given me a portion of His vineyard to take care of. It’s been a wonderful time to be serving here. It’s so much fun to interact with the people here in San Jose. I love this place. It’s going to be hard for me to leave. I am very happy here. It was a special experience at the fireside last night. I bore my testimony and as I was interacting with the missionaries and members that attended it was sweet to see how many people were there that I had interacted with and had blessed my life and how many people I had truly without feign come to love. It’s been such a blessing to be here. Everything from my interactions with the mission president to the missionaries to the members and non-members. It’s been amazing. I am so excited for the next two weeks. Two new companions (although it’s breaking my heart that Elder Cusworth has to leave) and lots of people still to find and invite. I am so excited. I love the Lord who has blessed me with this opportunity and I am happy to be here. I love you all!

Ammon uses a lot of words like "Its going to be REALLY REALLY hard to come home btw" but luckily that boy knows how to do hard things because like it or not he is coming home August 5th. (Some of us really like it...) He will be speaking at the Murray 28th Ward on Augst 9th at 11:00. The address is 932 W Green Oaks Drive, in Murray. 

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Seeking What is Good

Facebook is really cool. Neat place to work. Really relaxed environment and some really good food. It was super fun to go and tour it. I am, on the iPad today so next week I will send you a picture of me by the thumbs up sign.

Spiritual/Funny: we met this Indian man on the side of the street a few weeks ago and he had asked us if we could get him s copy of the Bible in Punjabi. We said that of course we could and that would be no problem. Turns out that the Book of Mormon is not in Punjabi yet so when we met him again he told us that he also spoke Hindi. Great! We have one of those so we went in and sat down with him. He told us to eat a couple of muffins while he went back and make us some coffee.
Awkward.  When he came back we asked him if we could have water instead. The conversation goes as follows, "Hey Tej, can we have some water? We don't drink coffee." “But I am making coffee." "Oh. Well, we don't really drink that as part of what we believe." "...okay. I will bring you some water." Yikes. That was close. Tej is an amazing man. He is a seek and so he wears a turban as part of his beliefs. He is extremely devout in his religion but he believes that you need to learn about all other religions in the world so you can respect them better. When he was ready for the Book of Mormon he first said that he needed to wash his hands. We thought this was because he had spilled some coffee on them or something but it was more than that. He washed his hands and pulled out this silk cloth that he carefully placed the Book of Mormon on. So when I so gracefully whipped out the slightly dust covered and slightly bent copy of the Book of Mormon out of my bag, he took it with great care and placing it on his cloth lifted it up and kissed the Book of Mormon. That is the most respect that I have ever seen for a slightly bent at the corners Book of Mormon. He promised he would read it. We explained to him what it was, where it had come from and how we knew it to be the word of God and even though he had a totally different concept of what God is we all felt the spirit touch our hearts. The gospel is true for people of all races, lands and origins. It will help with whatever problems anyone is going through, I know it's true.

Where I am at: the work here is going really well. We don't have any baptismal dates yet, but we are still working hard for them and praying with all we have. We got some amazing leadership training from Liz Wiseman this week. She wrote a book about how to be a good leader and it was amazing, things are good here in ye old San Jose. I love it here. I love these people! I love you all!

What Ammon wrote on Facebook's wall (literal wall)

This is Jessie The Pacer at the actual Facebook campus. He really enjoyed his tour. He said "It was incredible. The ice cream was super good. They had all sorts of incredible things. We even saw Mark Zuckerberg. Haha it was really neat. They had tons of free food and bikes and all sorts of neat things like arcades and really trendy looking benches and things. It was cool. No one wore a tie there. It was totally chill."

Monday, July 6, 2015

The First Prayer

This week was a good week. Lots of good things are happening around Fremont.

Spiritual: we had a very sacred experience the other day. We met a man who was taking out the trash. We spoke to him for a little about what he was doing. He was helping his neighbor while he was in China. We talked to him a lot about what we do as missionaries and we felt impressed to start speaking to him about how the gospel blesses families. When we spoke about that something struck a chord in him. He started to really listen and pay attention. We set up another time to come back and meet with him some more and he agreed. We told him that one thing he could do before we came again was to pray and we asked him if he had ever prayed before. We invited him to do it right there in the middle of his friend’s driveway. He told us he was from China and they don't teach that there. We encouraged him and gave him an example. He finally prayed. It was one of the most simple yet powerful prayers I have ever heard before. In broken English he asked God to bless his family. His first prayer ever before. Wow. After we asked him how he felt, he said that he was relaxed and felt really good. We testified of the Spirit and the comfort it gives us. I am so lucky to be here with these kinds of experiences taking place.

Funny: we met the funniest little 82 year old lady the other day. We were going over to our investigator’s house and we rang the bell. This little old Hispanic lady come s to the door. We say hi and ask her what her name is. She stares us down and bluntly says "the Virgin of Guadeloupe." Oh! That's nice! How are you doing today? “Good." That's great to hear. She then went on to tell us that she was old. She said she was really old. We were polite and told her that she didn't look that old and that she looked a lot younger. She said "yes. I get that a lot. I have a wrinkle free face, but I have all these tortillas hanging off of my arms." I have never heard arms described like that.
When our investigator came down we were dying with laughter. It was a funny contact. Needless to say she is very Catholic being the Virgin of Guadeloupe and does not want to change.

Where I am at: things are good here! We are working harder and harder and we are seeing the Lord’s hand more and more. We are excited for miracles to come. I love you all!

Donald the Divine

I hope you are all having a wonderful time camping away! I have prayed for a lack of bears, rain and mosquito. I hope you are all safe and doing well. Things on the Fremont side of things have been going great! It’s been a good week! We had zone conference and it was really cool to see where the mission is heading. There was a lot of training about opposition. How to combat testimony doubts and things like that. We are gearing up for push back from the Supreme Court decision and for the Book of Mormon Musical coming our way. It will be interesting to see what happens. We are ready for it though! 

Spiritual: We had the wonderful opportunity to attend the baptismal service for a very special man. Babaranti is an African American man from Nigeria who just happened to walk into the ASL branch Sacrament meeting. He was taught by the ASL elders and was baptized a couple of weeks later. When we were at the baptismal service the Spirit was so strong there. It was amazing to see such humble people who knew that God loved them and were there to follow His commandments supporting him as he made this decision. The most inspiring part of the whole service was after he came up out of the water he shouted for joy at having made that sacred covenant. It was a special experience. The Lord has prepared all sorts of people that need the blessings that this gospel bring. It doesn’t matter who they are or where they come from, it just matters that they are willing to follow their covenants and come closer to God. This week it’s a simple testimony that God loves all His children no matter where they are or what they have done in the past. 

Funny: We are in the habit here in Fremont to talk with everyone. Everyone. The other day we were biking around and we saw a man carrying a huge bag on his shoulder. We went over and started talking to him. He immediately lit up when he saw us. He said that his name was "Brother Kenny" and he would be happy to talk to us in his "Sanctuary." He said that he was a Christian music artist and that he was preachin the word as well. Super cool guy. We then met Donald. Donald David the Divine. He was very very drunk and as soon as we finished talking with Brother Kenny he came right up and started talking to us. He said that he couldn’t believe that Brigham Young was a true prophet because Michael was the Archangel. It was so funny. We talked to him for a little while but we realized that nothing was happening there. We said that we would talk to him later. To get the final word in he yelled at us as we were riding off "You guys are bananas!" Sir, yes. We are. Have a wonderful day! We love Donald. :)

Where I am at: Elder Cusworth and I are working harder than ever before. We are so ready to see some people here join with us in the Glemoor ward. We are really excited about some of the people we are teaching. There is a really great spirit in this companionship and we are excited to see what will happen this next week. I am amazed at how the Lord has heard and answered our prayers. Things are looking great. We found a few new investigators this week, one of whom has a lot of friends in the ward and is very open to be taught. I love you all!

Monday, June 22, 2015

That Flat

This week was an amazing week. Elder Cusworth and I have really got a good pace going. We love the bikes and we talk with everyone. We found a bunch of new investigators this week and are excited for their progression. We don’t have any baptismal dates just yet, but stay tuned, because there are some amazing things happening up here. I love Fremont. I love the cultures, the people, the interesting things that happen every day. It’s a great place to serve. 

Spiritual: The Lord has a tenancy to do His work in His way. Even when we think that we know a better way. :) We don’t. This week was proof in my life that God works in ways that we do not expect to fulfill his purposes. For example, this week we were biking around talking to people and we were on the sidewalk. Elder Cusworth was in front and talking to a Chinese woman. She was not really in the talking mood so he went around and found to his surprise a nice patch of goat head thorns. No Bueno. Both of his tires were flat. Really Flat. So, we turned around and walked on home to change bikes. As we were walking though, the Lord placed us in the path of those that we needed to talk to. We met Maria and her son Harold. We had met them about a week ago and talked to them. They said that they were kinda interested in attending a baptismal service and hoped to meet us again. The Lord answered our prayer with two really flat tires. Because we had to walk home, we were exactly where we needed to be to meet those two! We invited them to come to a baptismal service on Sunday night and read some scriptures with them and prayed. They felt the spirit. They came to the baptism last night with two of their friends. One of whom had a husband who was Mormon and had come to church for 10 years and never joined the church. It was an amazing miracle to see the Lord work His work in His way. I am just grateful to be part of it and learn to love the journey and marvel at the hand of God moving in His way. 

Funny: This week we were talking to some kids that were outside playing. There were probably about 12 kids playing and we gave them all cards, did a little card trick with them and told them that we were missionaries. We asked "Do you know what missionaries are?" One little girl in the front innocently said "Insurance?" We paused for a moment not quite sure how to reply and then said "Ya. Kinda..." It was a really funny moment. Yes to the whole Life Insurance, but not quite how you might think of it. 

Where I am at: Fremont is blowing up. I am so happy to be here at this time. There are so many great things happening in our area. We are doing a bunch of finding and teaching. We just can’t wait to start doing the baptizing part as well. :) I am very happy. I absolutely Love Elder Cusworth. He has a great drive and determination to work hard and to be obedient. It truly yields miracles. Things are going so well here. I am excited to see what else the Lord has in store for us here.