Monday, June 22, 2015

Letter #101

Well, I don't really know what to say. If I was in a room by myself, I'd probably be shedding some tears right now but I am sitting next to like 4 elders and in a public library so I'll hold them back the best I can.
I feel like I've said it all. I've loved my mission with all of my heart. I don't regret one thing. I know I've made my fair share of mistakes of course but those have been the biggest learning experiences. I am so grateful for the wonderful loving mission president, President Maluenda. I am so thankful for his service and his worthiness to guide this mission and helping me have a life changing experience out here. He is a great example of a servant of the Lord. I am so grateful to my family, especially a loving Mom and Dad who were willing to give me up for two years for the benefit of me and of the people of south Texas. I am thankful for all the extended family, Grandmas and Grandpas, aunts and uncles, cousins and friends who were so willing to write me and give me that support that I needed to get me through the hard times. I know I probably wasn't the best at writing you back, but I really did appreciate the love and support and couldn't have done it without you.
This will be the last full letter I write to you guys as a full time missionary and I hope it hits home ;)
I just want to end by bearing my testimony, I know my Savior Jesus Christ lives. His atonement is real. This is His church and I love being His servant. I love this Gospel with all my heart. I am so thankful for His sacrifice. A perfect human being, feeling the pain of every single one of ours sins all because of the love He has for us. I hope to be able to reflect the love He has for us to those people around me always. The mission life is the good life.
Love you guys and I will see you all next week!! ;)
Elder Brian

Monday, June 15, 2015

Letter #100

This week was great!
The young men's president asked us to give the class yesterday in Priesthood on missionary work and the blessings that come from serving. It was awesome. It gave me a good opportunity to look back on all my missionary experiences and the effects that it has had on my life. I almost started to tear up just thinking about the great time I have had out here serving and how I will never again have the same opportunity that I have had and still am having now. Looking back on my mission, I am so grateful for the good and bad times. Now that I've gotten to this point, its hard to see a lot of the bad, I can mostly just remember the good haha. I guess that's what journals are for right? The people of South Texas are the greatest! When I was first starting to prepare for my mission I thought I would miss out on so much back at home and be behind on life when I get back but it is totally opposite. God has given me so much out here and really the mission is like taking a little short cut to jump ahead in life. Plus, I would say its a lot better than normal life too ;) I know my Savior lives. He does nothing that isn't for the benefit of us as His children. I am so thankful for the relationship I have with Him. I know that the atonement is real. I use it everyday. I have changed so much out here and am grateful for that. The thing that scares me the most is going back home and falling back to the same old Finn Brian that i was before. I hope to be able to go home and continue to become more like our Savior Jesus Christ. I am grateful for my family and especially for the knowledge that we will be able to live together for the eternities. I love you guys!
Elder Brian

Monday, June 8, 2015

Letter #99

Whats up guys!

Holy cow, I think there is one thing that I wont really miss about South Texas and that is the heat! Its not even deep into the summer yet and it is already killer. Yesterday we talked to this lady outside, she let us in and we had a quick little lesson. There was no AC in the house and about half way through the lesson I see sweat just dripping off my elbow and down my arms. Pretty ridiculous. It was like we were teaching a lesson in a dry sauna or something gnarly like that.

This week, the teaching pool for our area isn't the best but the zone is doing great! This month we have a goal of 5 and we are looking and feeling pretty confident that we'll hit it. This week in the zone we will be baptizing 3 and the other 2 should come closer to the end of the month. Elder Solis and I have been traveling a lot to help out the other areas in the zone and we haven't had a ton of time to work in our area but still that isn't a good excuse to not have any solid investigators in our area so we're gonna have to step it up a lot this week. 

This upcoming week is going to be interesting. President Maluenda asks all the dying missionaries on the start of the last 3 weeks to study and make plans for 15 minutes a day to get married and go to school and to get back into life. Yikes.

Sorry, my camera is kinda busting but I'll try and get some pics next week. Love you guys! Have a killer week!

Elder Brian

Monday, June 1, 2015

Letter #98

Happy Birthday Montana!
This week was great! It was the last week of the month, so those weeks are always a little bit more stressful than normal. We did hit our zone goal of 7 and our mission goal was 68 and we hit 74! So the mission and our zone are pretty fired up right now going into the new month of June.
This week my companion actually got to go to the San Antonio temple! I was pretty jealous. His recent convert from about a year ago went to do her endowments and President Maluenda gave him permission to go with her. He said it was such a sweet experience. So I just stayed here in Robstown and worked with the Elders that we live with. I got to ride a bike again!
Our investigators aren't doing the best right now. We are on the verge of dropping them all and starting over. We won't have a lot of time to work in our area this week because of a McAllen trip for a couple days and a trip up to a little town called George West to visit some elders up there for a couple days, so it'll be an interesting week but were hoping we can get some new people to teach by the end of it.

The weather's been really nice lately, its starting to get pretty hot down here. Not as hot as the summers in Laredo but its getting there haha. Presidente Maluenda gave my companion and I permission to go to the gym for the last transfer, so we've been hitting up that every morning, I love it! Man, time is flying too fast.
You guys are the best. Love you!
Elder Brian

Monday, May 25, 2015

Letter #97

Hey y'all ;)

What a way to kick off the new transfer! Time is flying faster than ever.
My new comp's name is Elder Solis. He's great! Even shorter than my last comp haha. He's a little Latino from South Carolina. Elder Solis and I actually go home at the same time, so we are killing each other! I didn't see that coming at all. I'm kinda wondering if they'll throw in a 3rd companion up here with us so our zone doesn't get white washed but with President Maluenda anything could happen!
This week was great. A lot of running around, dropping off lost stuff to zone members from transfers and helping some missionaries white wash an area. It kept us busy which is good! I love being a busy missionary. Its a lot easier to stay focused when you have things to do.
Funny experience, so Wednesday night around 940ish we get a call from one of our District leaders and he tells us that some of the elders in his district won't answer for follow ups and he had tried to call them about 10 times already. So we told him we would try and to keep trying and let us know by 10:00 if they don't pick up. So 10:00 rolls around and the District leader calls and still, they haven't picked up, so we told them to call some members in the other elders ward to see if they can swing by the house and make sure they were alright and safe. So they did, but none of the members picked up and the Elders lived like 40 minutes away from them and so did we. So by now its like 10:25 and we were pretty worried about them and there wasn't anything else we could do so we had to go find them. I felt like Liam Neeson in Taken, going to find a kidnapped family member, it was pretty intense. So we get in our car and start heading out to Alice and 10 minutes later we get a call from the Alice elders and they were like, sorry elders our phone was on silent and we haven't checked it all night. Elder Solis and I were pretty frustrated, but things happen, what can you do?! Haha

There hasn't been too much finding in our area. We are teaching a less-active and her boyfriend. Their names are Linda and Albert. They stopped us in the street walking the other day. We had a great little lesson by their car and the less active bore a great testimony and wants to come back to church! It was a great little miracle.
Have a great week!
Elder Brian

Monday, May 18, 2015

Letter #96

Hey Fam!

What a week!

I don't really even know where to start, so many great things happened this past week, it was crazy!

So the teaching process with Meranda was awesome! She accepted everything that the gospel had to offer. The only big struggle we had with her was getting permission from her Mom to be baptized. So we had a great lesson on fasting and we set up a time and date to fast for it, us the Cavazos family and Meranda. So we fasted and after a couple days nothing really happened, but while we were in McAllen at 3 day training we get a text from her saying her Mom told her that she could do what she wanted with religion and it was her choice. It was a huge miracle!! So her mom signed the record. I gained a great testimony of fasting that week. So the baptism happened yesterday. It was awesome! Its been a while since I've had a baptism, it feels good to see it again. On top of that we had 5 other baptisms in the zone, which is huge for the Sinton zone! We are looking really good to hit our monthly goal of 7 in the zone. 

3 day training was awesome! We went down Monday night and I was paired up with Elder Shumway and Elder Johnson. We pretty much just traveled around the mission and worked wherever haha. We were driving the AP van so we had no mile limit! It was rad. One night we worked in a little town called La Joya, another night we worked in Donna, McAllen and another night we worked in Edinburg. I spent my nights at the AP's house with a bunch of other dead missionaries. Man, was that ariot! At the end of the 3 day training, I left having the nickname of Steezus. I don't really know why but I am now known as Steezus and not Elder Brian. 

Presidente Maluenda gave some great trainings on faith and finding and for like 2 hours he went off on how important it is to read books, scriptures especially but other books too. He said you should always be reading a book of some sort other than the scriptures. He said that's where he got almost all of his knowledge and why he is so successful. I definitely want to do that when I get back. 

So Elder Green is gone! His exit interview was last night, so he will be down there until he leaves so I am just left here to do transfers all alone! I can't really believe that I have only 6 more weeks left of my mission. It has gone by too fast. I love my mission so much and am so grateful for everything I've learned and still will learn. I'm slowly getting excited to apply everything here to life back at home. I love being a missionary and have really come to learn and know my Savior personally. Words can't express my gratitude for His sacrifice for me. I know He lives. I've learned how important it is to have a good positive attitude through trials and hard times. If you have to go through them, you might as well go through them happy right? I love this gospel and I know its true. I know Joseph Smith was called to be a prophet to restore the same church Jesus Christ himself established. I know the Book of Mormon is the word of God and we will get closer to our Savior if we read and follow its teachings. The mission is the good life.

Thanks for the support! I love you guys!

Elder Brian

Probably broke the Word of Wisdom on that one.... Ooops! Pretty good though.

The sweetest, most humble family ever.

Elder Steezus and Elder Casteez

Elder Christianson

Lunch at Godfather's Pizza.

*I'm only like 2 feet taller than them both. No biggie.

Monday, May 11, 2015

Letter #95

Hey guys!

Happy Mothers day again!! Not too much to go over since I gave you guys the run down of most of it yesterday.

We will be in McAllen most of this week. We head down today and we'll be there until Thursday night for a big leadership 3 day training. I'm stoked for that. They are always full of good advice and things that we can do better and improve on.

Meranda is progressing really well! She came to church again yesterday and she loves it all. She has great support from her uncle and aunt the only thing is she is struggling to get permission from her mom so if you guys could keep her in your prayers this week that would be awesome. She will be getting baptized this Sunday if all goes well! 

Love you all! Have a killer week!

Elder Brian

Monday, May 4, 2015

Letter #94

What up Fam?

What a week! 

So Elder Green and I have been fasting and praying that we would find someone to teach and baptize together and we almost lost hope, considering the fact that there are only 2 more Sundays in the transfer, but we got our miracle yesterday. So, we went by a members house Saturday night, and her niece happened to be there. We didn't think much of it, she wasn't too interested in talking to us so we just simply invited her to church. The next day, she was there! The fast and testimony meeting was really spiritual and after sacrament meeting we hopped on that and set up another appointment that same night, last night. So we go over and Sister Cavazos, the member, says that her niece could not stop talking about church! She loved it! So while she was out of the room, we gave the run down lesson to Sister Cavazos about what our plan was and told her that we wanted to set a BD for 2 weeks later and Sister Cavazos was down to help us out. So we taught the lesson and it was one of the most spiritual restoration lessons I've had in a while, it was sweet! We set the BD and she accepted it right off the bat. Her name is Meranda and she is 16 years old, Jr in high school. Im stoked to be working with some great investigators right now. Its the lessons like that that make the mission so awesome. God answers prayers, I see it everyday and I've gained a strong testimony of that out here. 

Just this morning we went out to Corpus Christi. It was fun! We didnt get to go to anything big, just a couple shops and came back. You cant do too much as a missionary up there but it was fun!

Elder Brian

Monday, April 27, 2015

Letter #93

Best week here in Banquete!
This week our planning paid off and we found some great new investigators who are progressing towards baptism. It was pretty cool how we found them. So i was on an exchange in my area, which I knew almost nothing about at the time haha and i was with Elder Hutchinson, one of the Dl's in the zone. We were going to visit some of the few people I knew and a former that i had never met before, anyways somehow, i end up getting super lost and we find this house that we decide to ask and see if this was the house of the former. Turns out it wasnt at all, she had no clue who that was but that she would love to listen. We set up a return appointment and go back a couple days later. As we were going back Elder Green asked how in the world i made it to this part of our area, he had never even heard or been over there, but we sat down with the lady and her daughter and they accepted everything very easily and are "fixin" to be baptized on the 24th of May! It was a huge miracle. The spirit definitely led us, cause I have no clue how i ended up there!
This week we also had interviews with President Maluenda. They went great! I love that man. He's been a great influence to me out here in the mission field. He gave me some really good insight and he tells me to read to book of Jarom a lot. That book is full of leadership skills. I guess i still have a lot to learn from it.
We also found and are teaching some other new investigators that we have, they were all sweet stories of how we found them and I wish i had the time to explain them all but unfortunately I dont. Their names are Corey, Steven and Valentin. So now we are back up to a good decent teaching pool!

The weather down here this past week was pretty gnarly. It rained really hard for a couple days. It was so crazy that i thought about paddle boarding to visit a member haha. Water in the streets was up to the truck door. The elders on the bikes, it went up to their knees. If you wanted to get to the gas station you had to literally take a swim to get to the front door. It was legit! I wish I had my camera cord to send some pics. Next week ;)
Love you guys! Talk soon
Elder Brian

Monday, April 20, 2015

Letter #92

What a week! You know it was a good week when you blow out ANOTHER pair of your pros shoes playing pros basketball. It was totally worth it though, now the elders up in George West have some great investigators to teach. I am now down to my last pair of shoes. Hopefully they can make it past the finish line.
This week was great! Our area needs a lot of work. We have a total of 4 active members and a bunch of less actives and currently no investigators. Elder Green and I decided to make things happen and set apart some time and set a lot of goals and plans to change our area around. We haven't finished the plans just yet, but they should be done by tomorrow and we should start seeing some miracles! Its weird to see how setting goals and plans can help you so much. At the beginning of my mission i used to just think, why not just go out and do it, who needs a plan, it will just all fall together if we work smart right? Wrong! I can't tell you how much Preach My Gospel and the scriptures talk about setting firm goals and plans. I had a really good study in Preach My Gospel this morning on chapter 8. I learned a lot about sticking to your plans, being responsible and following up. Its a big key to success in the mission field!
This week we had a little meeting with the Stake President in Portland. Its a cool area just outside of Corpus Christi. We had to cross a big bridge over the bay to get there. It was rad. Its a cool little bay city. We saw the huge Lexington ship. That thing is massive. I'm trying to convince the Elders to go over there on a P-day and check it all out. I think that would be sweet! Well, ya the meeting was great with the Stake Pres. He just talked about the vision that he has for the skate and what we can do to help. He wants us to focus a lot on Family History and the youth. He just recently also said that if we are teaching youth that don't have any family that are members, they have to come to church 8 times before they get baptized! I was pretty shocked, wondering how in the world we are going to be able to hit goals especially because we have a lot of youth that we are teaching in the zone, but it'll all work out someway or another.
Love you!
Elder Brian

Monday, April 13, 2015

Letter #91

Whats up everyone!

Its so weird being up in the north side of the mission, I've never seen so many white people! Its scary! I'm very intimidated and I feel like a greenie missionary all over again haha. It means I still have a lot to learn i guess.

My new area is a little town right outside of Corpus Christi called Robstown. Its gnarly. I'm here as a zone leader with Elder Green. He's about to go home, I'm killing him! I've never killed a missionary before, so we'll see how that goes. He's from Logan, Utah area. We cover the zone of Sinton. Its sweet. A lot of white people and a lot of farms. Now I really feel like I'm in Texas haha. We live in a house that a member has pretty much just given to the mission and we live with 2 other elders in our zone. Its pretty sweet. 

So far this week we've just been on a lot of exchanges with the new DL's so we haven't really been in the area too much. I love it though. Right now we are up working in a little town called Beeville and George West. Its the area that borders mission boundaries, closest to San Antonio. Its cool up here! The elders up here live in a trailer parked on the side of a members home haha! We had 4 missionaries in that little thing last night, it was so rad! It felt like we were at the dunes on a moto trip cause of the motor-home feel. They have a little pig in the backyard that runs around all night, its great. Pigs and motor-homes, you can't get any better than that.

I feel like so much went on this week but i cant remember it all haha. Time is flying! A lot of running around the zone, helping other Elders and Sisters. Its so weird working with Sister missionaries. I don't know how! I've never had any sisters in my district or anything like that except for 1 transfer when i was a greenie. So.... its a good thing my comp has been around Sisters like his whole mission, hopefully i can just dish that part off to him.

The mission is great! We are looking super good to hit our zone goal for the month of April! Love you guys! Have a killer week!

Elder Brian

Grandpa Brian would love this place ;)

Monday, April 6, 2015

Letter #90

Whats up guys!
To let you all in on the transfer news, which came quite early this transfer, I'm leaving Roma. I didn't wanna leave this place, but the Lord has good things in store. It'll be interesting to see where He sends me! I'll let you guys know next week.
How was conference for you guys?! I loved it. On Saturday we had some technical difficulties setting it all up, the signal wasn't good at all and it kept pausing and everything so our last resort was all of us piling into the little family history center and watching it on one of the computers in there. It was sweet! It was cool to see how dedicated and excited the members were for conference and to hear the words of the Prophets that they were even willing to pile into such a small room without A/C haha. That's true conversion to the Gospel.
 Thanks also for all the birthday wishes! Funny story, so on Friday we usually have a district dinner and then after that play basketball with the young men of the branch, its a super good finding opportunity to teach more youth and I love playing ball so, it works haha. Anyways, we were heading down to go to the dinner and we made plans to specifically not be late, so we went by to pick up the elders and a youth and while we were at the youths house waiting for him to come out, the elders get a call from him and he's like, guys just come in for a sec, i gotta show you something. I was like, we'll just see it later, we made plans to not be late, we gotta go. So the other elders we're like, come on lets just go see, and I was like whatever if you guys get out I'm leaving, I'm not gonna be late. So they jump out and i was planning on leaving and did, but then i turned around cause i couldn't leave the elders and I walked into the youths house and they all yelled surprise! Hahah, they got me pretty good. Its a good thing i wasn't just a little more stubborn on sticking to my plans or else i would've ruined the whole surprise. It was funny. Then we had delicious cake and the Mom smashed it in my face.
This week we brought a little family of 3 to conference! It was so cool. I was worried out of my mind because of the problems we were having with conference and I wanted this family to have the best experience at church ever and God made everything work! They loved it and even stayed for the branch activity after. They plan on coming next week too! I'm pretty sad that i won't be here to be able to see them progress but someone else will!
I love this Gospel, I love the mission. I can honestly say that I have changed so much even in these short transfers here in Roma. I'm sure gonna miss this little pueblo. I wish I could just be a missionary all my life and never come home. Sorry mom and the rest of the family. The mission life is the best and I love it so much. Love you guys!
Elder Brian

Monday, March 30, 2015

Letter #89

Hey guys!

Is everyone stoked for Conference?! There is nothing better than Spring General Conference. Its sad to say but this is my last conference in the mission field. I'd rather not think about it like that, cause I still have more than enough time to see miracles and make things happen out here in the field.

This week was interesting. I went on a couple exchanges. On Monday and Tuesday I was with Elder Peterson. He and I actually came out together. I specifically remember being scared out of my mind in the Salt Lake airport, just having said bye to the family and one of the first Elders I saw and talked with that was heading out also was Elder Peterson haha. Good times. We had a good time working together. We worked up here in Roma and we had some great member lessons. Because of that exchange we now have one more weekly member meal appointment! #miracles That makes 2 on the board for Roma. That's progress. On Friday and Saturday I was with Elder Madsen and we worked down in Rio Grande. Saturday morning we were heading out to do some service, so we left at around 1030 and not even half way to the lady's house, Elder Madsen's pedal busts off! So we found a sign and locked up and walked the rest of the way and the whole rest of the day. It was awesome! I've got some gnarly tan lines and sunburns but we were able to do a lot of service. I learned that it is pretty effective to pros in service clothes haha.

I cant believe another transfer has come and gone. We are on the last week of the transfer already! I'm hoping I stay. It will be interesting to see what happens. I'll let you guys in on the news next week.

A couple of days ago I was studying in John 15. Its now my favorite chapter in the New Testament. I love that chapter. Especially verse 13. I love that verse! I don't know, that verse just hit me super hard in personal study the other day and now I cant really get it out of my head. I've never really had a favorite scripture, but now I do! You guys should check it out.

Love you guys!

Elder Brian

- The wardrobe of a missionary. The good life.

Monday, March 23, 2015

Letter #88

Where do I begin? I cant even remember half of the things that happened this week.

Well, I've kinda been out of my area for the past week and a half. I went on a 4 day exchange with one of the Elders in my district, Elder Baldwin. He's doing great. he is training a little greenie. It was good to work with him and help him with his needs, and the needs of his area and comp. After that, I stayed one day up in Roma then I went back down to La Joya! Its a little city closer to McAllen. I stayed there and went on exchanges with Elders outside of my district. It was a little out of the ordinary but it was fun! Then I spent the weekend here with my comp Elder Herrin and we are splitting up again tonight and he will be going down to Alton, another little city outside of McAllen while Im here with Elder Peterson until Wednesday. Crazy couple weeks! I haven't really been with my actual comp for too long haha. But he's a trooper, he's been holding down the fort in Roma and keeping things in order, so im thankful for that.

Also this week the Relief Society had a little play and I played the role of Joseph Smith! It was fun. We just did a little skit on the organization of the Relief Society in 1842. Its cool to see the big changes that are coming about in the Rio Grande branch. One of the ladies that we reactivated got a calling to be the 2nd counselor in the Relief Society! It was awesome to see her come back and be involved in the branch again. I love less active work.

Sorry its short, its a crazy day. Love you guys!
Elder Brian

Monday, March 16, 2015

Letter #87

Very, very distracting emails guys. Thanks, really appreciated. Haha, nah just kidding. Congrats Tan and Kade on the engagement! Im stoked out of my mind for you guys! You two love birds just go so well together.  And thanks for holding out until August, I hope that was just for me ;)
This week was great! It went a little slower than usual, Im not sure why exactly but it was good. This week we went hard on finding new investigators and it really paid off! We found about 20 new people to teach! Talk about "ask and ye shall receive" right? So, that means this week is going to be packed with teaching second lessons and third and fourth hopefully. I think its been quite a while since I've taught a 3rd or 4th lesson to an investigator here in Roma, they always seem to fall off the charts before then but that doesn't mean we are giving up!
We are still working really hard with our friend Amanda. She just got back from spring break so we can get back on track with her and see what we can do to help her be baptized by the end of this month.
The mission is great, life is good! God lives and this is His work and I love it.
Elder Brian

Monday, March 9, 2015

Letter #86

Hey guys!

It was a great week here in Roma!

We had a good zone conference last week in McAllen. Brother Bott, I think that is his name, he came down from Salt Lake and he introduced something called the "Tiwi" Its a little device that is installed in each car and it pretty much monitors your driving and if you drive like a maniac it will call you out and yell at you and tell you to do better haha. Lets just say I've only had it yell at me once ;) It records how many mistakes you make and it reports them to the vehicle coordinator and at the end of the transfer you get a grade and based on your grade they then decide if you get to keep your driving privileges or not. Its basically installed and meant to keep us safe on the roads and to keep us from being stupid.

This week we painted the house of one of the members in Rio Grande! It was awesome. There were lots of holes in the walls and stuff so we patched everything and we painted it all. It looks great! Hopefully that will stop the cockroaches...

The branch is doing well. This last Sunday we reactivated another young man named Josh. He's sweet. He's from our area in Roma, I've been working with him since I've been here and it feels really good to have him back and active in the church again. There is a lot of less active work to do up here in Roma and I think that is what the Lord wants us to be doing. 

I love it here! The mission is great, life is good. There is nothing in the world i would rather do right now than serve. Have a killer week friends. Love you!

Elder Brian

Monday, March 2, 2015

Letter #85

What an awesome week to start the new transfer here in Roma!

So, to let you in on the news, you maybe already know, Im staying in Roma again but I got a new comp and his name is Elder Herrin. He's sick. He's from North Cal, probably like an hour or so above San Fransisco. Now I have 2 comps from that area haha. Elder Davis and Elder Herrin. Elder Herrin has been out for about 7 months, this is his 5th transfer in the mission and he is a good hard worker! The district switched up a bit also! We have a greenie in the district! He's sweet. Its funny to see him act the way I remember I acted when I was a greenie and was barely getting into the mission field just a couple months ago....

Church was crazy yesterday! As a district in total we had 13 people come to church and 7 new officially reactivated members to the branch. Its been really awesome to see this little branch grow. I love it and I'm really stoked that I have the chance to stay here and continue to see these miracles. It was really unexpected, but we got a new branch president! One of the senior elders just got called to be it so I'm stoked to see the new changes he has to bring to the branch.

Some elders in my district, their apartment got shot up this morning and so like 6 cops were surrounding their apartment and went through all the elders stuff looking for drugs. Just another day in the life of a Rio Grande missionary. Life is great!

Love you guys!

Elder Brian

My comp and I were committed to take selfies and wear matching ties everyday last week. Keeping commitments = blessings

Catching up with Elder Christiansen

Monday, February 23, 2015

Letter #84

Hey guys!
Sorry, but we still don't have any news on what is going to happen here in the Rio Grande District! All I really know for sure is that Elder Iman and I wont be companions anymore. For his last transfer President called him to be a district leader!
This week went by really fast. The 3 days worth of trainings was awesome! President Maluenda continues to blow my mind everytime we have a meeting with him. The 4 and a half hour training on pre-ordination was awesome. We talked a lot about the premortal life and really how blessed and how great we were in the pre existence. I've never really come to realize how important this life is and every little decision we make in this life. Every decision and step we take here can either benefit us in our progression to become more like Christ or it will knock us down. There is no middle ground. This life is so important! And sometimes we take that for granted, well at least i know i have. For everyone who is here on earth has made it and passed the first estate, great job! Now pass the second! God has so much in store for us and all he asks us to do is live this Gospel!
Because of the pretty crazy week its been, we havent had to much contact with any of our investigators. Amanda isnt doing to hot right now, she kinda lost a lot of desire to be baptized and Yenny and Teresa have just gone missing, we dont really know where they are. I'm stoked for the next transfer, I know the Lord has some big things in store for us!
Love you guys!
Elder Brian
*Ill send pics next week!

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Letter #83

Happy Valentines Day!

Its a little weird not emailing on a Monday, no I am not being an apostate missionary don't worry, its just we have "3 Day Training" for all the mission leaders at the beginning of next week and the library won't be open because of the holiday. So you get the email a little early. Boo ya!

When a lot of people think of missionary work, they think of missionaries hitting the streets and talking to people, which is a big part, but not all. This week, we took so much time organizing our area and the branch. I'll just put it this way, over half of the members on the branch list that we have been looking for don't exist anymore or have already passed away or have an address too crazy to even track down. And it doesn't help that the branch doesn't have a clerk to help us organize all this stuff. Our branch president has been thinking of making me the branch clerk.... that would be interesting. So we've been spending a lot of time trying to track down people to see who still exists and who doesn't, its kinda like a big game of hide 'n seek haha. On the good side, God is a God of order so i definitely know this is going to benefit us in some way or another in terms of investigators and less-active work. 

Our investigator friend Amanda is doing great! She still has some real strong desires to come to church, we are just trying to get her to have those desires to be baptized. She has been taught a lot in the past, her best friend was baptized, but we found out that on the day of Amanda's baptism is the past, she got scared and bailed out. So we have been inviting her to pray a lot about how she can really come to know and find out for herself if she should be baptized at the end of this month or in early March. 

Our other investigator part family Teressa the mom and Yenny the daughter, they are doing great! We had an awesome lesson the other night with them and the Relief Society President and first counselor Sister Escobar and Sister Alvarez. Teressa and Yenny have also learned a lot about the church in the past but some little doubts that they had stopped them from progressing but we found out that Yenny has been getting in to some post high school trouble i guess and Teressa wants her to stop and do better so they've both accepted to come to church this Sunday and hopefully we can help them out more! They are awesome. 

 I'm pretty stoked for the "3 Day Training" next week. So for 3 days I'll be down in McAllen hearing awesome trainings from President Maluenda! I heard he is preparing a 4 and a half hour training on Foreordination and Pre-Earth life. Its going to blow my mind! He gave us some scriptures that we needed to study up on before then and I am already learning a ton! Especially from my Patriarchal Blessing. You never know how great your patriarchal blessing is until you actually study it hard! Those things are chalk full of good blessings. 

Last week we went down to La Joya for Pday. The elders down there found a little soccer place out in the middle of nowhere that some guys built so we went down as a zone and played, it was sweet! It turned out so good that i think on Monday we are going to go back. This is for sure something that we need to build back up in Utah! Its sick!

So, i wont be emailing on Monday and this is the last week of the transfer, so the Monday after this one I'll let you guys know on transfer news! Anything could happen! So if you happen to send anything please just send it to the mission office.

Love you guys!

Elder Brian

Monday, February 9, 2015

Letter #82

Hey Family!

This week was sweet! You guys probably here that a lot, I guess every week out here in the mission is a good one.

This week we had a zone meeting and we are now switching up some key indicators for the mission. Its really focused on less-active work and establishing the kingdom here. It will be fun and cool to see how much it affects the work in the up-coming weeks.

Something that changed in parts of the mission, in the McAllen area, is that there are now only one set of elders per ward. And if your area covers an English ward than you are only allowed to teach in English and its the opposite with Spanish. Luckily it didn't affect the Rio Grande branch or other parts of the mission, only the McAllen stakes. Its encourages a lot of member work so that you don't go looking for people in the streets and happen to find someone in a language that you cant teach in, but obviously if it does happen, they just dish the investigator off to the elders that speak that language.

We had some great less actives at church yesterday. It was a huge miracle. Elder Iman and I were asking for a big miracle of having someone come to church and we were blessed with 2 less-actives who also brought 2 friends! It was sweet. We will start working with them a lot this week and see how progress goes. One of the investigators is Amanda and the other one is Brittany. They are both former investigators and are friends of a lot of members. Hopefully we can start seeing some really good progress with them this week.

Life is good. The mission is great.

Elder Brian

Monday, February 2, 2015

Letter #81

Well, we tried our hardest to not see the Superbowl last night but everyone in the streets just brought their Tvs outside and were all grilling carne and it would be a lie if I said we didn't see a couple plays here and there. Talk about that catch by the Seahawks wide receiver, the ball bouncing off his face mask. What a play!

Elder Iman and I are doing great! This week we had our first meal from a member that lives in our area this transfer!! It was good. Elder Iman has gaseritus. Basically he gets heart burn and acid reflex if he eats any type of spicy food. Its like the worst combination, being in south Texas and having gaseritus. I've grown to like spicy food a lot down here. I now understand why Hispanics put chile on anything and everything! Also, to add to the companionship unity, we've both had a cold for the past week. Hopefully that will pass quickly.

As for now, still no investigators that are too solid but we are seeing huge progress with our less actives! Our little branch had a total of 67 people in sacrament meeting! It was awesome! I've never seen so many people at church since I've been here. Usually we hit about 50 or so, so 67 was a big jump.

The mission is the best. There is not a place in the world I would rather be than serving as a representative of Jesus Christ at this time.

Elder Brian

Mexico on the left, the U.S. on the right. 

Monday, January 26, 2015

Letter #80

The conference with Elder Oaks was awesome! You would think apostles are very uptight strict people but man, Elder Oaks is hilarious! I've never seen a man have more fun doing what he has been called of God to do than Elder Oaks last Saturday. It definitely helped me learn a lot about enjoying everything that you do and getting the most out of it.  Not to forget Elder Robbins and Elder Wright also gave really good talks and spoke a lot about change and how change is required of everyone, especially us a Latter Day Saints. 
Elder Iman and I are doing great! This week we didn't have a lot of time to work in our area. The conference was Saturday morning and we went down and got to spend the night in McAllen because Sunday morning we also had Stake Conference. It was fun! Its been a pretty long time since I've been in an apartment with more than two elders haha. Im kinda exiled out in Roma. After that I worked down in McAllen for the rest of Sunday night and until later I'll be here working with Elder Knighton from Maine! He's great. 
Last night we had a couple really powerful lessons in the stake presidents home. President Chandler. We had dinner with him and his family and after that, his son brought his friend over and we taught him the restoration. It was awesome. The spirit was so strong, especially because we were in the home of a member with members who loved and cared for the young man we were teaching. After that, the stake presidents daughter brought a friend over and we taught her about the plan of salvation. That was also really cool. Its great to see what a great example the Stake President and his family are of missionary work. A great leader leads by example. Back to back lessons in the stake presidents home, I wish everyday was like that!
We don't have any investigators as of right now. We are just trying to get things up and running through our members and hopefully we can start finding some good people for the end of February and into March! Time is flying a lot faster than I would like it to haha.
Sorry for no pictures! I don't have my camera cord on me, but I'll take some good ones this week and I'll send some next p day!
Love you guys!

Monday, January 19, 2015

Letter #79

Transfer news! I'm staying here in Roma! I'm not too surprised at all but I'm stoked to be here again. My new companion is Elder Iman. He's pretty cool. He goes home in about 2 months. So... that'll be interesting. I've never had a comp that has been so close to going home. Hopefully he holds together well haha.
This past week we had interviews with President Maluenda. It was great! Its always good learning from that spiritual giant. Cool fun fact, President Maluenda has actually lost like 45 lbs in the last couple months! He took all of the general conference talks pretty seriously, especially the one by Elder Jorg Klebignat and the part about taking care of yourself physically. He really is a great example of a leader, of one who leads by example.
This week we are focusing on pure member work! I kinda figured out that we are struggling so much because we are finding all these investigators off the streets and they have no connection to members whatsoever! So when we show up to second lessons, they bail out and we never see them again. Now I'm not saying that you cant find prepared people off the streets, because trust me, I've found and baptized my fair share, but it is so much easier and more reliable when you find investigators through members, that way they have that support right from the start and they are actually willing to come and feel comfortable at church. Elder Iman and I made some super deep plans this morning on what we are going to do and how we are going to do it to get this plan up and running and I cant wait to start seeing these miracles!
This weekend we are having another huge mission tour and Elder Oaks will be coming to speak to us! Its going to be awesome. Then on Sunday, we have our stake conference and Elder Oaks and Elder Robinson of the 70 will be speaking. This weekend is going to be pretty gnarly.  I'm pretty stoked.

My view across the border into Mexico.

Downtown Roma

Elder Iman

Monday, January 12, 2015

Letter #78

Whats up!

So transfers are tomorrow! But..... we still haven't gotten any news as to where anyone is going and who is staying and what not, so I guess I will have to let you guys in on the news next week. Or mom, I'm sure you can hunt it down somehow. ;)

I loved this transfer, I've loved every transfer but this transfer has been pretty hard. I came into a pretty dang successful district and I felt like I kinda screwed it up. Because the months of December and January we have not had a lot of success. We haven't been finding at all, the people we do find, flake off super quick and this branch isn't all that there yet to give us the support that we hope for.  I was listening to a really great talk by Elder Holland, its called Missionary Work and The Atonement. This sums it up a lot better than I can:

"Anyone who does any kind of missionary work will have occasion to ask, Why is this so hard? Why doesn’t it go better? Why can’t our success be more rapid? Why aren’t there more people joining the Church? It is the truth. We believe in angels. We trust in miracles. Why don’t people just flock to the font? Why isn’t the only risk in missionary work that of pneumonia from being soaking wet all day and all night in the baptismal font?
You will have occasion to ask those questions. I have thought about this a great deal. I offer this as my personal feeling. I am convinced that missionary work is not easy because salvation is not a cheap experience. Salvation never was easy. We are The Church of Jesus Christ, this is the truth, and He is our Great Eternal Head. How could we believe it would be easy for us when it was never, ever easy for Him? It seems to me that missionaries and mission leaders have to spend at least a few moments in Gethsemane. Missionaries and mission leaders have to take at least a step or two toward the summit of Calvary."

Maybe right now, I'm just spending those few moments in Gethsemane. Its hard, its tough, but something good is gonna come out of it, I know it. I know the atonement is real. I can't count the amount of times I've knelt down and prayed at night and felt that love that Jesus Christ has for me. I love my mission. It has changed my life. The amount of good times exceeds that of the amount of tough times, but its through the tough that we learn the most.
Love you all!
Elder Brian 

Monday, January 5, 2015

Letter #77

Happy New Year!

Its been a good start to the new year. Frozen was good. Its good to finally see the movie that ever kid in the street talks about and sings down here. Then at 12:00 everyone shoots their guns up in the air for like 2 minutes straight. It sounded like a war was going on outside.

This is the last week of the transfer. This transfer has gone by so fast its unreal. I feel like I just got to Roma. Most likely I'm staying, which is good! But anything could happen, especially in the mission field. Time is just flying by and cant even keep track of everything. It gets pretty stressful at times.

This week we found a lot of new people to teach. There are 7 of them. Ill probably let you guys know how they progress a little further down the road, cause a lot of them we might not be teaching by next week haha. That's just how the teaching goes down here in the Texas McAllen mission.

Love you guys!

Elder Brian