Monday, January 30, 2017

When Your Heart Changes, the World Changes

Goooood morning family and friends and such! I assume ya'll are well... Can't really ask you from this email/blog post. Well I am doing good, anyways ^-^

This week was quite the roller coaster. A lot of really uplifting and really difficult stuff happened. Which I am learning is pretty much always the case when we do God's will. After all, we can't know the good without the bad, right?

The beginning of this week was just slow. We didn't make too much progress. On Tuesday, we managed to pull off the biggest derp moment ever. My companion slid the phone across the top of the car and said "the phone is on the car." Any of you who have been around me a lot probably aren't surprised that I said "okay", but later didn't remember saying okay. So basically, we drove away with the phone on the roof. Not sure where it is... We got a new one, but we lost ALL of our contacts. So we spent a lot of time this week tracking down investigators to get their numbers again. It was a seriously annoying situation.

On Wednesday, I went on exchanges with Elder Reyes. He actually has a transfer less than me on the mission, but he is fluent, so he kinda has an advantage ;) He is training right now, in his third transfer. Pretty crazy. Anyways, our entire day we didn't really teach and it was super rough, until the last people of the night. We taught a family of four kids (without their parents). They were kinda rowdy, which is what made the next part so amazing. Elder Reyes went into preaching and testifying mode. I have NEVER seen someone testify like that. If you have ever seen the video with Elder Holland talking about how there are lines in every sport, and that we can't afford to mess up before a mission and not repent, Elder Reyes looked exactly like the missionary at the end of that video, when he is testifying to the investigator. These four kids were riveted on him. One of them started crying. He testified of repentance, and you could tell he understood what he was talking about. He knew from experience the power of the Atonement.

So the next day, after I felt uplifted, we went to the crowning event of this week, a zone conference, where we watched the global broadcast from the "Executive Missionary Council", including Elders Bednar, Christofferson, and Oaks (as the president). I am not quite sure what made the difference, but something about that broadcast put the missionary purpose into my heart. I literally have three pages in my planner stuffed full of random sentences of revelation/quotes that I loved. I have really learned recently that if we are focused on the doctrine of Christ, as in all of our thoughts and energies are dedicated to it, if our greatest and overwhelming desire really is to help people change their lives through repentance and the gospel of Christ, something suddenly changes. It happened to me for two days. I was happy, I was focused, and for the first time ever, I felt consecrated. Like "Becoming a Consecrated Missionary" says, "Eventually, we must do more than tell the stories of the Book of Mormon; we must LIVE them." I felt like I was on my way to doing that.

But you will learn, if you haven't yet, that there is always what Elder Holland termed a "Post-Illumination Affliction." Something hard that happens after something spiritually powerful. I went on exchanges again, this time with Elder Delgado, and while we were teaching one of Elder Delgado's investigators (she is a golden investigator), her brother came out and told us to leave in two minutes or "vamos a tener problemas" (we are going to have problems). Basically, leave or I will fight you. It shook me up a bit. I had lost my focus more than I should have two hours earlier, and I feel like if I hadn't, I could have done something more than just leave. I could have said something, or the Spirit could have done something. We were both pretty upset. It made my blood boil.

So I re-read my favorite talk, "Becoming a Consecrated Missionary". And I learned this: when Christ and His Atonement is our motivating and driving force, we will be unstoppable in the missionary work. I think that applies in all phases of life. If Christ is your motivating force to do something, or bringing a knowledge of him to others, you will be able to do it. Rely on Jesus Christ, our Savior and Redeemer. Without him, we are nothing. With him, we can do anything. I mean that.

Something else my mission president told me this week is to "risk more". Let's be honest, it is hard to follow the Spirit. But it is there. It is speaking to us. We just have to learn to recognize it. And the ONLY way to do that is to start acting on what you think is the Spirit. If it is a good thing, it is of the Spirit anyways. But if it is something like "maybe I should turn right here" or something weird like that, well risk it! If it ends up just being you, well then oh well. You are learning. But if it ends up being the Spirit, you will know, because it will lead you to do something wonderful, or it will protect you from danger, or something will happen. Risk more: it is the only way to learn how to follow the spirit.

Our main progressing investigator is Ernesto. He is super awesome! I think I mentioned him last week. Anyways, he came to church right as sacrament meeting ended, but he went to the Gospel Principles class, and seemed to like it. We have high hopes for him! ^-^ We are also teaching David, a man who loves the Gospel of Christ. He is cool. We started teaching Alfonzo again. He has to be taught super basically, because he is a little slower to understand, but we are going to keep working with him!

One last thought I had this week. They call all of us missionaries the "Missionary Force"! That is so cool! I mean sure, it sounds likes Star Wars, and that makes it awesome in and of itself ;) But we are a force, and the thing is, you are the same. The entire church could be termed the "Member Force" or the "Disciples of Christ Force" or something like that. Force means influence. You each are an influence, and together, can make a difference. Remember that.

Well that is about all for this week! I love you all, and hope you are doing great! Find strength in the doctrine of Christ. For all of you that are members, you have the GIFT of the Holy Ghost. He can always be with you, if you allow him to be. Make decisions that allow him to be. Hasta luego!

Elder Poulson 

Weekly Planning Snacks!!

A dope golden car I saw!


Giant Banana!!!

My companion managed to spill a bunch of soda in the car.....which was terribly ironic, since I told him not to get soda (it was his goal to not drink soda this week).  So ha!  Karma!!

Monday, January 23, 2017

Adversity Gets the Ball Rolling

This is Elder Poulson, reporting live from Huntington Beach, where massive rain showers are causing backed up sewers, flooding churches, and ridiculous amounts of joy in the hearts of... Well, pretty much just me. Everyone else here hates the rain :P

But hey, how is it going fam/friends!? This email will be talking about last and this week, cuz last week's didn't really say everything I wanted to say.

I actually recorded the entire zone conference with Elder Holland, so that was cool! It was mostly about missionary work stuff, but suffice it to say that Elder Holland is pretty much the best. I was surprised to realize that a lot of the stuff he said is in other talks I have by him, but his actual presence in the room really amplified his words. And you would be amazed at how sporadically that Apostle can raise his voice. He is like your best friend and terrifying at the same time... It is fantastic!

So last week was also, in a way, a week of opposition. We found in the same day a man who seemed to have good intent at first, but ended up spending half an hour slandering us with the most satanically racist jargon known to man, and a lady who kept telling us how sorry she was that we were trying to waste out our lives when Christ had already saved us (basically, twisted doctrine).
And the experiences like that just kept coming last week.

BUT this week was WAY better! The pace of the work pretty much doubled. We started working with members more (now that we have gotten to know them), we have found some really solid investigators, and last night we taught a guy that a member invited to a dinner with us. His name is Ernesto Flores and he has some perfect questions! So that is really exciting! We also changed the mind of the lady I mentioned above (that said we are wasting ourselves out) to the point where she said she wished her kids were Mormon so they could go on missions. So that was way cool!

As for Jessi and Beatriz... Well they managed to drop off the face of the planet. We are working hard to get ahold of them (I literally called Kevin ten times one day...) but they are very busy with work. But never you worry, we won't give up!

I have literally had a good 5 people tell me I look like Linguini from Ratatouille... So that is that. Laugh as you will ^-^

I have three questions for you this week, or rather, three questions you probably ought to ask yourself:

1. Do I know who I want to become, and are my actions and plans leading me towards becoming that person?
2. Do you sincerely believe that you can influence and change the lives of those around you?
3. Are you willing to give literally everything you have (including your thoughts and time) to accomplish God's will?

I feel like it is important that we are able to answer yes to these three questions. I have been kinda pondering them lately. I'm sure it is a process, and a continual renewal of commitment, to keep being able to say yes, especially to 1 and 3. 

As for 2, you best believe you can influence people, because you all have influenced ME for the better! I know it may not seem like it, but what you do affects others in a multitude of ways. As Ed Huber always said, "Somebody is always watching." And that is true.

Well, I'ma sign out, but ya'll are awesome! Keep the faith, God is always there, and he has a plan for YOU! Bye!

Elder Poulson

Elder Poulson and Elder Harward

Prove of the Rain Showers Bry is LOVING!

Somebody gave them a bunch of candles....not sure why, but thanks!! :)

Monday, January 16, 2017

When ELDER HOLLAND comes to town!!!!! :D :D :D

Hello family and friends! I hope you are all well! I am quite limited on time today, so I will cut to the chase.

ELDER HOLLAND CAME TO OUR MISSION!!! :D I am not quite sure how I forgot to mention that he was coming in last week's email (I most definitely told my mom and dad...). Accompanying him was also Elder Hallstrom of the Presidency of the Seventy. Anyways, I will mostly talk about that experience, because it was so powerful and impactful.

Waiting for him to come in was almost exactly like when the kid on the Polar Express is waiting for Santa to show up. You can feel the anticipation. You're thinking, I've only ever seen this guy on tv... Does he even exist? ;) No, I was strangely nervous though. My comp said I was way to excited.

In case you were wondering, Elder Holland is actually pretty short. I figured that out when I shook his hand. I thought that would be like the coolest experience ever, but it was actually strangely mundane. I just told him my name and he asked where I am from. But he told us later that he didn't really care about our names and where we are from. What he was really doing is "interviewing" us. Basically, looking into our eyes and searching our souls. He said we are pretty much all doing fantastic, which is wonderful!

To put it in one sentence, that man sang fire into my soul. He spoke of a lot of things, from how we are important to him and we have a responsibility for the rest of our lives as (eventually) returned missionaries, to how he is proud of us, and how we need to come to the level of our investigators. But what I really remember is how I felt. He IS an Apostle of God.

Well... Like I said, very low on time. But I love you all! Until next week :)

Elder Poulson

Monday, January 9, 2017

This Week was a Piece of Run-Over Cake

Good Morning Family and Friends! Or good evening... Whenever you happen to read this, I hope it is a good whatever it is! And with that choppy beginning, here is what happened this week:

My new companion is Elder Harward! He is from (where else?) Utah! Riverton, actually, about ten minutes from my house... So that is super weird. But he is so awesome!!! When he got here, we had to spend like a billion years cleaning because Elder Valenzuela couldn't fit about half of his stuff in his suitcases! (Hence the picture of a bunch of garbage) Luckily Elder Harward likes stuff clean, and saved me from the filth I didn't realize I was living in... It is a whole lot easier to study when your apartment is clean.

It was kinda sorta super rough starting out this week, because Elder Valenzuela pretty much had the map and area book in his head, which made planning and driving really easy... But now that he is gone, I had failed to take the time to memorize everything. So we got lost like 6 times, and it has been quite an adventure! But it is gonna pick up this week, we got a list of all the members in our area, and we are going to start working with them. :)

Because it was a rough week, I correspondingly have a whole lot of funny stories where my companion or I totally goofed up. Mainly this one:
-So we ended up at a person's house on Thursday night eating cake and arroz con leche (basically rice in hot milk). Anyways, I guess there is a former investigator and two less active members living in this house, which was great. We made a pretty good impression. After we left, we got to the next house we were going to (at like 8:45), and Elder Harward was super confused because his cake wasn't in the car. And then we panicked, because we realized that he left it on the roof and it probably fell off in the nieghborhood in front of the nice people's house... And chances were, they would see it and think we disgracefully discarded of their generous helpings of cake, and that we are jerks! Also, we threw out our arroz con leche on the grass by where we parked... So they would probably find that too. So we went back at like 9:25 (we need to be home by 9:30), and it is chilling RIGHT IN FRONT OF THEIR HOUSE all smashed. Weren't quite sure what to do with it, so I took it in the car. Because I am an airhead, I held it upside down, and it fell out of the ziploc bag and onto my pants! Meanwhile, Elder Harward's discarding almost empty cup of arroz con leche spilled it's dregs on my seat in pants as well!!! It was just a huge mess... We hope the investigator/less actives didn't see it before we got there.

We taught the Arabians again!!! They saw us as we were walking by and invited us in! We met the dad, who can speak broken English and who lost his arm in an accident here about 18 months ago. It is healed as much as possible now, but he was asking us if we could maybe find him a job. It is pretty sad, we want to help him as best we can. We hope to get a Book of Mormon in Arabic to give them. Also, I got some popcorn that same day from a member, and then some kid wanted it, so I tossed it up the balcony to him! It was super funny for some reason...

You would be AMAZED at the lengths old Hispanic Catholic people go to to get us to stop teaching their children without "seeming rude". We knocked on an investigator's door the other day, and her mom answered. She said that the investigator, Maxima, wasn't there. Well Maxima's son yells, "oh you want Maxima!? I'll go get her!" The lady insists she isn't there, but the kid comes running back saying "she is here!" to which the lady responds with a shout of "MENTIROSO!!!" (Liar!) Meanwhile my companion is in the backround cracking up laughing, and I am standing there trying to decide how to gently tell this lady that she is actually the liar... But we just left, it wasn't worth it. Another lady once told us two of our investigators didn't live there, when we had gone by like 3 times and taught them there. The next time we came, we taught them at the door while the lady sat on the couch in the backround... Super awkward!

So besides all of those stories, we pretty much just searched for formers and investigators all week. A whole lot more knock-knock-knocking than teaching, but we got a bunch of return appointments ^-^ So next week should be better. 

We didn't teach Jessi this week, she was way busy with work, but she did come to the second hour of church! Which is good, but sacrament meeting is more important... We will keep working with her! Beatriz keeps inviting random people over when we teach her so that we can come in, but then we end up talking with them instead. Which is kinda good (except one guy that was drunk), but we hope to teach just her soon, maybe at her door. We need one on two lessons to get her to progress.

Our district is super new now! There are two missionaries in training, Elders Myers and Endemano (who also lives in Riverton). Elder Myers and I have about the same piano skill level, so that is pretty fun! But it is low-key kinda nice to not be the worst guy at Spanish in the district ;) By the way, Elder Harward has only been out as long as me, but his Spanish is FANTASTICO! So that is a blessing ^-^

If you look at one of the pictures that I sent with this email, you will see that I do in fact drink ranch dressing for breakfast. Very nutritious ;) Naw, it is my shakes, I just thought it was funny how much it looks like ranch dressing ^-^
Also, there was a super cool guy that gave us each two ties this week! He was a member, and he spent like his whole life collecting ties, and he let each of us take any two. It was way cool :)

Thought of the day: "Remember it will always be better in the end. So if it's not better, it's not the end yet." Keep on keeping on! ^-^

Well this is like 10 pages long, so I am gonna go ahead and finish it now. I hope you all are doing good and find my emails entertaining, if nothing else! Hasta luego!

Elder Poulson

Elder Poulson & Elder Harward

Picture of all the "filth" left from Elder Valenzuela

"Run-Over Cake" 

Ranch dressing??  haha!  You drink shakes now Bry?

All the tie choices from the Super Cool Tie Guy

Has there ever been a more perfect pair of socks for Bry??? :)

Monday, January 2, 2017

Service and the New Year

HAPPY FLIPPING NEW YEAR!!! :D Sorry, I am like a couple days late... Can't exactly email whenever. Esta bien though! I hope ya'll are doing well!

I had some good experiences this week! But first of all, for all who it may concern, apparently there is an extension on lds.org called create.lds.org. I stumbled upon it this week and it totally blew my mind! I guess people can submit their own music, photos, etc. there and the church will use them as they may need. Also, I guess you can serve a photography mission in your home town, which is something super cool I didn't know! Anyways, ya'll should check that out.

We were driving to a dinner with Kevin and his bro on New Year's Eve, and Kevin saw a homeless lady sitting on a bag in front of a parked bus at a bus stop. He asked us to turn around, so we did. We went and talked to her, and I guess she was waiting for the bus (buses don't run here on new year's eve). She said she had gotten lost after leaving her homeless shelter in Santa Ana and getting caught in the rain. So Kevin, being the Christ-like man he is, got an uber for her. It was super cool! Kevin is so awesome!

We went to the Bautistas for dinner that same day, and surprise, their family was drinking again :( And the hermana drank a cup of wine too! >:( Some of their extended family always brings wine. But hey, we showed up, ate some food, and then asked if we could sing for them. So we went ahead and sang I am a Child of God to a bunch of slightly drunk people! Ha! Take that Satan! Haha it was fun :)

We taught Jessi again this week. We decided she isn't quite ready for baptism, but she was reading the Bible for the first time and got super excited about it! She is reading more of the Book of Mormon this week. She AND Beatriz want to get baptized on the 28th of January, so I am excited for that! Hopefully Elder Valenzuela can come back to see it.

Yeah... Not much else to report this week. Spiritual thought though! And since it is a new year, I'ma go ahead and talk about goals! Cuz I have learned a lot about goals on the mission. If you aren't setting goals you should! And you should tell someone else about them. Without setting goals and accountability, an apostle says something along the lines of "we can reach a ripe old age just to look back and discover that we only reached but a small portion of the potential we had to become." Start small, and be specific. I learned most of the from Preach My Gospel, so take it as you will :)

Alright, that is all for this week! Love ya'll! Don't freeze to death! ;)

Elder Poulson

Elder Poulson with Kevin and his Mom