Monday, April 16, 2018

A Wonky Week

Yes. That is the perfect term for this week. It was a wonky one! In one sense, it was hard. But in another sense, it was just beautiful! I'll try to give it justice here.

Everything went wrong. We had a rocky start as companions, we couldnt get a rhythm down for anything. We didn't find too many to teach, we were failing at talking to people, very few went to church. I was sneezing and sniffling all Saturday and Sunday. For multiple reasons I will not elaborate on, our entire Sunday was shot by a flat tire and many unsuccessful patch attempts. Every set appointment we had fell through. Every single one. 

I like what my friend Elder Antczak said this week. It was a hard week, and it seems like it was also a hard one for the rest of my missionary friends, so Satan must really be attacking the work of the Lord. I suppose the post-illumination affliction has extended into this week. 

BUT let me testify to you all: I have never learned so much, grown so much, and felt so much in one week without the aid of some sort of conference or abnormal spiritual experience. Or in others words, I have never seen a normal week change me so much. Why? I had to rely on the Lord. I had no other option that could keep me content and happy during a horrible week. And it worked! 
I have learned this week how different life is when you love first. It doesn't just make a difference. It makes ALL the difference. There is a quote from conference that is repeated three times in one talk: "Pure love is the true sign of every true disciple of Jesus Christ." That is so true. I have prayed so much this week for humility and love. Christ has helped me so much to obtain it. I am grateful for Him, more than I can express. 

I love you all! Go find someone to love :) 

And if you pray to find love for someone, you will find it. You will.

Good luck :) 

Elder Poulson 

Monday, April 9, 2018

Post-illumination Afflictions

Good Morning family and friends!

This week was just... horrible! Yes, horrible would be the word. Absolutely, completely horrible! ^-^ Haha I'm cheery now, but it was just not a fun week. A week of post-conference afflictions. Let me lay out the days for you:

Monday: Good P-Day

Tuesday: Long exchange during which we taught no one

Wednesday: We went to the temple with Gerry so he could be baptized for his deceased father! It was actually really amazing. Teresa came later with her kids and took the temple tour again! This was the highlight of the week.
That night, I started feeling a little queasy. By midnight, I had a repeat of the spamusubi incident: a sleepless night of puking! Yay... It was rough. 

Thursday: Running on no sleep, we stayed in all day so that I could rehydrate and recover strength. 

Friday: Still kind of weak, but we left that night to a set appointment. Well it turns out that the investigator had very kindly invited half of his congregation to come listen to us: WITH the pastor. At first it seemed pretty good, they let us teach them all. Then the pastor pulled out a pre-prepared discourse with as many false allegations and twisted words and verses he could find to attack everything we believe and the history of our church, especially Joseph Smith. He (likely intentionally) did it in a long rant so that we couldn't really explain how each one was wrong. Well we responded the best we could and bore our testimonies, but this man wouldn't let us have the last word! Every time we left our testimonies or tried to leave them with an invitation to ask God for an answer, he threw out a new allegation or something! It was very frustrating. Anyways, I felt at peace about it, but it wasn't an easy thing. 

Saturday: We did find one or two people this afternoon, but nothing that night, which is unusual.

Sunday: Church was hard, I only half fasted, but that was a mistake. I still lacked some nutrients, and I was pretty weak until dinner that night even though I ate lunch. My companion had a couple mishaps I won't detail that held us up at dinner until 7, and we didn't really teach that night either...

It was just... It was just hard. 

BUT! Do you know why it was hard?
Do you remember what Elder Holland said: "The author of Hebrews warned us of this when he wrote, “Call to remembrance the former days, in which, after ye were illuminated, ye endured a great fight of afflictions.” That post-illumination affliction can come in many ways, and it can come to all of us. Surely every missionary who has ever served soon realized that life in the field wasn’t going to be quite like the rarefied atmosphere of the missionary training center. So too for all of us upon leaving a sweet session in the temple or concluding a particularly spiritual sacrament meeting." (Elder Holland, April 2016) Conference was one of the most spiritual experiences of my life. It would follow that Satan would put on his best "general conference" of his ranks of devilish soldiers to attack the missionaries and followers of God.

But it matters not. "They who are with us are greater than they who are with them." Or as our dear prophet quoted the hymn in conference: "But an unseen power will aid me and you in the glorious cause of truth. Fear not, courage though the enemy deride, we will stand tall for the Lord is on our side! We will fear not what the wicked will say, but the Lord our God we will obey!" There is peace in Hymns. I've been listening to them in the mornings, it has helped me persevere. 

Well ni modo. Things should turn up soon! Transfers came, and I am getting an Elder I've known for awhile, Elder Myers. He has been in this zone but is hopping areas. He has a heart of gold, it should be a good time ^-^

Love you all. Go be warriors of God's great army. :) 

Elder Poulson

Monday, April 2, 2018

I Love General Conference!

Call me uncreative, but I couldn't think of a more fitting title for this week. I just LOVE general conference! It was SO good! I can't even begin to express how I feel about it! I wish it wasn't over yet, but I look forward to studying it, even repetitiously, over the next 6 months, as the prophet has counseled. 

Now look. The good feelings any of us have had these last few days, the guidance we have felt and received, the increase of love or humility that may have come upon us, none of that will matter or persist if we don't put in the time to study these talks. On the other hand, if we make the sacrifice to study and apply these teachings, we will have a continually flow of heavenly light that will illuminate our lives and bring us more of everything we want. Your choice.

On a less serious topic, kids + eggs + dye = chaos. I'm sure all of you parents could have told me that, but I had to find out the hard way: by having an Easter missionary activity with egg dying and egg races and then invite member and investigator parents with an army of little kids in tow ^-^ Haha it was quite the scene! Everyone loved the activity though, we got compliments left and right about it, so it all worked out! Let me tell ya though, Elder Brant and I boiled A LOT of eggs!!! I didn't even know they made pots that big! It was great! :D I have a lot of pictures a member took, so you can see what I mean :) 

We found out this week that our mission president, President Patterson, is in fact a prophet. In preparation for our last zone conference, he asked us to listen to "Let Us All Press On" and memorize the words: The EXACT same arrangement that the Tabernacle Choir sang right after President Nielson shared the lyrics of it! All of us missionaries were singing along! It was awesome! :D

None of our investigators were able to watch conference :/ BUT multiple came to the activity, including Monica with a friend that we are going to start teaching! So that was pretty exciting :) We are going to be using a lot of conference references to teach coming up here, it should really help people progress. 

I want to thank you all for existing haha :) You are all wonderful, because you all have your own wonderful. That is the beauty of this life. We are all a "kaleidoscope" of monarch butterflies: all beautiful, yet all different. Together we make quite the pattern :) I love the song "Heavens Eyes" from the Prince of Egypt. The lyrics inspire me to be more aware of who I am and what I can be. I'll put the lyrics at the end of the email for all who wish to read them, but the song is much better of you want to look it up :) If we all, as one, love each other, we will all grow together, and rejoice together! The talk on love by Reyna Aberto is one of my favorites from this conference. I can't wait to re read them all! 

A single thread in a tapestry-
Though its color brightly shine-
Can never see its purpose
In the pattern of the grand design.
And the stone that sits on the very top
Of the mountain's mighty face-
Does it think it's more important
Than the stones that form the base?
So how can you see what your life is worth
Or where your value lies?
You can never see through the eyes of man
You must look at your life,
Look at your life through heaven's eyes.
A lake of gold in the desert sand
Is less than a cool fresh spring-
And to one lost sheep, a shepherd boy
Is greater than the richest king.
If a man lose everything he owns,
Has he truly lost his worth?
Or is it the beginning
Of a new and brighter birth?
So how do you measure the worth of a man-
In wealth or strength or size?
In how much he gained or how much he gave?
The answer will come,
The answer will come to him who tries
To look at his life through heaven's eyes.
And that's why we share all we have with you,
Though there's little to be found.
When all you've got is nothing,
There's a lot to go around.
No life can escape being blown about
By the winds of change and chance,
And though you never know all the steps,
You must learn to join the dance-
You must learn to join the dance.
So how do you judge what a man is worth?
By what he builds or buys?
You can never see with your eyes on earth-
Look through heaven's eyes.
Look at your life,
Look at your life,
Look at your life through heaven's eyes!

Well I sure love you all, have a wonderful week being you :)

Elder Poulson

Monday, March 26, 2018

Rally the Hosts of God

Good Morning all! This has been good week! And by a good week, I mean it was actually a pretty rough week. But I kind of but a good week by force of habit. Either way, let me tell ya about it ;) 

We stopped teaching quite a few people over these last few weeks. They simply weren't making changes or progressing in the Gospel, and many of them were hard to find. Those we do have to teach are doing pretty good. Hilda has been kind of hard to work with, we haven't been able to get her to church. But she has been reading! We were also able to have a lesson we're the Osorio mom opened up to us about what has been holding her back from coming to church. We sure hope she comes with her kids this next week as we help her with that barrier. 

Everyone here seems to love bounce houses... AKA "Kid Distractors". The lifestyle here is definitely one of work and play. It can be frustrating sometimes though. People throw out the funniest excuses sometimes. When they say their husband's sister's husband's father's roommate's parrot dies and they have to go to the funeral on Sunday morning, you begin to the think that they don't want to go to church ;) Don't make fake excuses. 

Have you ever heard the hymn "Behold! A Royal Army"? I have come to love that hymn over these last couple transfers. We tend to make quite a few comparisons between soldiers in an army and missionaries in God's Army. In that hymn, the soldiers essentially rally around there General, who is Christ, and remain faithful until their day of rest. I suppose the greatest trait a soldier can have in any hymn or scripture is a faith in God. War is far more terrible than most of us realize. The faith that, for instance, the striping warriors have in the face of terrible danger is remarkable and inspiring! Their faith leads them to obey with exactness their leaders commands. "They did obey and observe to perform every word of command with exactness; yea, and even according to their faith it was done unto them." They are thus such a powerful force, they turn the whole Lamanite army around just to face them, and after finishing battle, not one of them is slain. 

One of my favorite phrases that our Mission President says: "We Are At War." We are all at war! At war with what? The darkness of this world. And we must be powerful, faithful soldiers of light in order to come off conquerers. We must obey our General, who is Christ, by obeying those captains under his charge, from Captain Moroni to Captain Nielson. Not just obey, but obey with exactness. Not just faith, but strong faith and firm minds. What kind of soldier will you be in the Lord's army? To you stand ready to observe and perform with exactness every command and direction that you receive this general conference weekend? Will you stand firm and undaunted despite the opposition? I ask myself these questions. I seek to be as the army of Helaman. 

Well. I am beyond excited for general conference! I can't wait to talk about next week. Until then, onward Christian soldiers! :) 

Elder Poulson

I begged Elder Bry to send me a photo (no matter what it was) 
and this is what I got.  :)

Monday, March 19, 2018

Bashes, Clashes, and Brash Engagement Matches

Well hello family and friends! I hope you are all doing good yesterday, great today, and fantastic tomorrow ^-^

We had quite the week. Some weird experiences for sure, but we did some good work ^-^ We were able to find quite a few new people to teach, so that is always good. 

SO! One day Elder Poulson decided he wanted to meet the nonmember husband of a faithful member in his area. So he told her so, and they ended up taking us out for dinner! Well we had a pretty normal conversation, but a day or two later, as we were flying down the street, some man on the street flagged us down. He said he had a question. Usually when people say "I just have a question," they are looking to tell us how we are wrong. But we stopped, and to our surprise it was this same members husband! He was in a hat and hard to recognize. So we chatted for a minute. Well, somehow we went from talking about seeking Jesus Christ in our lives to him telling us that our religion is incorrect and why. Always an adventure. But I left him with my sincere testimony, which he kind of just avoided talking about afterwards, so I feel good about it ^-^

We had a competition going with another set of Elders in our district to see who could find more new investigators this week! P-Day lunch was on the line, so it got pretty serious by last night ;) We were tied up by yesterday morning, and ended up both finding two more Sunday, so no one gets free lunch :( (yet) It was fun though! It really put us in the zone yesterday ^-^

A bit of a shocker came in on Tuesday... Or at least it was a shocker for my companion. His girlfriend from before the mission got engaged! She had written him off earlier, but it was still super quick to get engaged. So that was weird for him! Kind of funny for me though ;) 

Spiritual thought: I read a talk by Uchtdorf from back in 2015 that I vaguely remembered, and I loved it! 
It is called "a summer with great aunt Rosie." There was one line in particular that I appreciated:
“You see, everything else in the gospel—all the shoulds and the musts and the thou shalts —lead to love. When we love God, we want to serve Him. We want to be like Him. When we love our neighbors, we stop thinking so much about our own problems and help others to solve theirs.”
As you might notice from my emails, I have been thinking a lot about loving and serving others. I think that we might forget that sometimes: just as everything in the law Moses pointed to Christ, everything in the Gospel of Jesus Christ and the commandments of God point to LOVE. Everything else is peripheral to love, to the pure love of God and Christ. 

Well, I sure love you all! Have a great week :) Oh, and I would encourage you all to smoke err I mean focus on what matters most! ;) Bye! 

Elder Poulson

I found this on facebook today.  It's from a while back, but it was 
such a fun picture to find.  I had to post it :)

Monday, March 12, 2018

From Biking to Boating

Hello from a rain-washed California! We are having fun traversing the flooded streets of Cerritos! In case you were wondering, California is NOT built for rain. It has been quite the adventure! 

In case you were wondering, "Cerritos" means "little hills" in Spanish. Which was always confusing, since this is a very flat place. So one of the elders here asked a lady that has lived here forever, and she said they called it that because these used to be fields full of cows, and they dropped so much manure, they made... Well, little hills! XD I thought that was hilarious haha :) 

Life has been a bit more tiring on bike, but that is okay. We have been able to make some progress with the Familia Osorio and Hilda. The Familia Osorio has two kids, Fernando and Ramses, that will hopefully be getting baptized on the 1st of April, so that is great! We were able to find quite a few new investigators, which is always gratifying ^-^

Gerry, a recent convert in our area, is just so awesome! He is already more involved in church than the rest of the elders quórum and most other members. He was saying that we should all do some fundraisers to bring money in for the church haha ^-^ He is solid.

Recently I have been pondering the phrase "God can make a willing man able, but He can't make an able man willing." In my opinion, a willingness to do God's will ought to be one of our most sought out traits. Though we should be using our natural talents and abilities, we aren't limited to them, however many or few we may have. God intends to accept us as we are, but he doesn't plan to let us stay that way. So take the advice from Mosíah 3:19 - Become "as a child, submissive, meek, humble, patient, full of love, willing to submit to all things which the Lord seeth fit to inflict upon him, even as a child doth submit to his father." I love it. We must learn that. THAT will be more important than any other talent or skill we develop, because from that one skill of submissiveness to God will sprout a multitude of abilities we can use to help others and find success. Success is bringing yourself joy by bringing joy to others. 

Well. I love you all! I reckon I'll see you sooner or later. Have a great week! 

Elder Poulson

Monday, March 5, 2018

Graduation from Teenager-hood

Why hello family and friends! How nice of you to take a second and read my email! You deserve a special prize ^-^... Note the word deserve. Careful word choice there. You deserve it. Not "I will send it". The best prize I've got is the next couple paragraphs ^-^ Enjoy! 

Elder Brant and I are... Well, we are here. It has been quite an adjustment to bike, but we are getting there. Oh did I mention that? Our ward now has Spanish sisters! And they were so kind as to take our car ^-^ Our area is very long, and our apartment is at the bottom of the area, so we bike a fair amount just to get to where we work. So essentially, we improve our understanding of and ability to endure to the end on our bike ride home every night haha :) 

We have decided we are going to have to stop going by quite a few of our investigators. We just either never find them, or they have stopped progressing. We are still trying to help Monica and Benita, as well as the Familia Arredondo. It is a process, but we find that as we help them have spiritual experiences on their own, that is when they really progress.  

Yes, yes, my birthday was yesterday. It was good, but a bit surreal. I can't really believe I am 20. Our recent convert's (Gerry's) wife made us a delicious Hispanic dish called Pasole, which I love, and ended up buying me a cake! It was kind of off setting though, because when she went to get the cake, she called and asked for my first name... It's not a secret or anything, so I told her, but she showed up with a cake that said "Happy Birthday Bryan", and sang super loud "happy birthday dear Bryan" and I just felt weird. It was appreciated though :) 

"Life is like a box of chocolates. You never know what you're gonna get." The trick is to refuse to be repressed or discouraged, no matter what turn the great ride of life takes you on. That being said, following the spirit will help you make the right turns. I have been learning recently those two things: irrepressibility, and sensitivity to the spirit. I particularly have found that the spirit is brought about by the prayer of faith. We'll put were the words of Alma when he said:
"Counsel with the Lord in all thy doings, and he will direct thee for good; yea, when thou liest down at night lie down unto the Lord, that he may watch over you in your sleep; and when thou risest in the morning let thy heart be full of thanks unto God; and if ye do these things, ye shall be lifted up at the last day." Alma 37:37
Alma 37:33-37 is probably some of the best counsel ever given. If you are seeking some good council from the Lord, check that one out. I know that we have the right to receive communication from our loving Father in Heaven. He will guide us as we submit our wills to Him. I simply pray that we will all have the strength to do so. 

Well, don't worry about me, I'll just keep pluggin' my way along over here in the Long Beach Mission. Just go about your weeks with a smile on your face and song of still joy in your heart, and know there is at least one person praying for you, albeit all the way in California. Love you all! Take care. 

Elder Poulson

Happy 20th Birthday Elder Bry

Monday, February 26, 2018

Cerritos Round 2: Miracles Pending

Hello my wonderful family and friends :) I trust you are all doing well. Elder Brant and I are content here, we are staying together for another six weeks, which is what we wanted. We were afraid they would separate us! We are doing good, hard work here, and aren't quite ready for it to end yet haha :) 

We had a splendid week too! We were able to have a lot of members of our ward come out with us to visit people. It really makes a difference when they come, especially to overcome the cultural barrier and help the person come to church. We have two mostly blind members that have a lot of time, and they both have been working with us and giving us referrals ^-^ It is exciting!

Have you ever pondered on such questions as:

1. What is God's purpose in being a God? 

2. How was Christ able to willingly endure the Atonement for all sins, pains, and weaknesses? 

3. What is the single most important trait for us to possess? 

The answer? 


If you love, you will be happy. 
If you love, you will be loved.  
If you love your kids into obedience, they will be most likely to obey. 
If you love, you will love life. 
If you love, you will enjoy service.
If you love those you lead, and show that love, you will win their undying loyalty. 
If you love God, you will follow His commandments, and you will return to Him and receive eternal happiness.

Love you all :) Have a great week! 

Elder Poulson

Monday, February 19, 2018

Finding People to Love!

Did you know that that is what missionaries do? We find people to love! ... Not to love like to marry. Definitely NOT like that haha ;) As in we find people to whom we can give some needed love. And the greatest act of love we could perform is to connect them to Christ by helping them use His Gospel. The fulness of which has been restored to the Earth by God today through a living prophet. "There is no more compelling work than this, nor one that brings greater satisfaction." 

I hope this email finds you all good and well! If not... Well, I expect you'll learn something wonderful from your challenges :) That IS the point of opposition and hard things, after all. I am doing splendid down here with Elder Brant! We are having fun :) We are finding a lot of people to teach, which is wonderful! 

We have been working with some longer-term investigators, like Monica, Benita, and the Family Arredondo, that have one obstacle between them and baptism that they just haven't quite been able overcome yet. We are trying to help them gain the strength to do so. I've been realizing that really, nothing we say will do that. It is the Book of Mormon and other scripture, old and modern, that will push them over the barrier. After all, we are degree-less teenage ministers carrying the greatest religious message in all of history: we aren't chosen for our intellectual ability and wisdom won from experience. We need the spirit and the words of those much wiser in order to help just about anyone. 

Do you trust the wise words of prophets, old and modern? Do they truly hold value to you? Do you copy and paste their words into your own life, your own trials? If not, there isn't much of a point in reading them anyways. Sobering questions, but vital to ask. I ask them to myself, and find myself lacking. Time to repent, I guess (the progressive kind more than the asking forgiveness kind)

Well, lest this become a place I just dump random thoughts, let me tell you a story! Once upon a yesterday, we were talking to a member who was blind for 4 years, and now has VERY limited sight. He opened up to us, and ended up telling us some poetic things. One of my favorites: "The blind see with the heart, because they cannot see by the eyes. So they love everyone as a wonderful person, for they have no way to judge them otherwise."

Gotta go. Love you all! Bye :) 

Elder Poulson

Elder Poulson climbing trees again!! 

Monday, February 12, 2018

Let the Holy Spirit Guide... Seriously. Just Follow It

Dearest and most belovedest family and friends,

Well we had perhaps the best week of my mission! A LOT of being guided by the spirit. It has been wonderful! I am Learning how much it puts thoughts into your head that seem like your own thoughts, almost. Often times the feeling comes as the thought enters, so you can know the thought is from the spirit. I love it :) Experience is the way to learn to follow the spirit. 

We have a lot of cool people to work with in this area! We have a baptismal date set for a woman named Hilda, who has a Mormon granddaughter. It is set in March, we will see if we can help her meet it. We also found an older lady, Ramona, who has already been to church many times with her daughter in Idaho and fed many missionaries! She already had a book of Mormon and everything! Super cool :) The Lord sure is good. All the time. 

Elder Brant and I are now doing a ten minute ab attack every night! It is fun! He is super into that stuff, like about every companion I have had, so it is cool. I have even started paying attention to the nutrition and carbs and stuff in my food, which I have never thought to do before. So basically, I will be a bodybuilder by the time I get home. Just thought I would give y'all a heads up in advance ;) 

Spiritual thought of the week? Just... Everything they teach from primary up, the basics... They are so important. Just... Read the scripture! Go to Church! Pray! Take the sacrament! Follow the spirit! Keep the commandments! Attend the temple! They are helps in life, there to support us, to help us keep going! Aught we not to use them? As elder christofferson said, they are like the brass serpent held up among the Israelites, and they needed only to look to be healed. And yet many refused to even look! Just like we often refuse to do simple acts that will heal us. So be faithful, be vigilant, and do what God asks us to so that he is ABLE to bless us. 

Well I sure love you all. Have a great week! 

Elder Poulson