Monday, March 27, 2017

Grand Macs are Evil

Well... Hello! How are you all doing? I'm told that my last email hasn't been posted yet, so I guess you're getting to of these in a row ^-^

This week was a bit crazy. The highlight was the Javi and Charlie got baptized! :D So that was fun! I got to confirm Charlie, which was a really good experience for me. Their parents are strong in the church again, so their family will continue to grow in the Gospel I'm sure :)

There really isn't much else to report. We had a really bomb district meeting this Wednesday, in part because our Mission President showed up on short notice. So that was spiritually enlightening!

Oh right! So my companion is getting transferred to another area! My new companion is Elder Ramirez. I don't really know much about him, but I have heard good things, so we'll see. Changes are always nice on the mission ^-^ That will put me at at least 6 months in this area, which is kind of crazy.

So there is this elderly Hispanic lady that lives with her daughter, who is a member of our ward here. I had always thought that my grandma was persistent when offering me food, but let me tell ya, this lady was just dying to make me fatter! After a couple times of me graciously denying another helping of food, she cooked a tortilla, walked up to me, and said "Oh, look at this tortilla, it is so nice and flaky, why don't I put some beans on it for you?" Haha it was really funny! Hispanic Grandmas always have the best sense of humor ^-^

Well we found out early on that my companion was leaving, so naturally we had to eat food or something together, ya know, like a last supper or something. There are like twenty billion advertisements for "grand macs" here, which is just McDonalds sized-up big mac. I usually despise McDonalds, but I thought I would give it a try... I could just feel my body asking me why in the world I would put such poison in my body! Seriously, it just felt like a big piece of not-supposed-to-be-there chilling in my stomach! I even went and ate a piece of spinach, to see if a little bit of something real would help (and it kinda did!). But haha yeah, that was quite the experience!

I've really learned recently the importance of the basics in the Gospel. As missionaries, we go around telling everybody that they have to pray, read the scriptures, and go to church to get an answer that this church is the church of God on the Earth. But I think as missionaries and members, we sometimes forget the continual importance of those things. Prayer is how we talk to God. Scriptures and the words of living Prophets are how we hear from Him, as well as by The Spirit. The Sacrament allows us to renew our baptismal covenants and find strength in The Atonement to change and prepare for the week. Think about that! That is amazing! That is how we receive help when we desperately need it.

Well that is about it for this week. 'Til later!

Elder Poulson

Javi and Charlie's Baptism

District Adventure to the Beach

Just to the edge of the sand.....must be hard not to touch it 

Monday, March 20, 2017

The Necessity of Progression

Hola familias y amigos y todos! Como estan? Bien? Perfecto!

Well, this week was kinda the most enlightening week ever. I really learned some things that I needed to hear, and that I think everyone needs to hear. So naturally, I'ma share it. But first, some other stuff!

I just wanted to officially announce that my bishop told me I should not eat with utensils, but that I should eat with my hands. I'm not sure what my mom would think about that, but *shrug*. Bishop said! Haha actually, he said I eat like a Gringo (a white guy who speaks spanish) because I was using my tortillas wrong to eat. I guess I am supposed to tear them into 4 pieces and use them to pick up my food. It was fun! So if you happen to go on a mission, and you go to a Hispanic country, you are pretty much going to be forced to prove your mom wrong when she said "you'll need manners on your mission" ;)

We kind of had a crazy but awesome day on Tuesday! Mainly because we taught 7 lessons, as opposed to our average 3 or so. We just basically taught all day! It was wonderful! But the funniest part was that we went to remind Alfonzo about the youth activity that night, and he said that he had just put his wash in the dryer and had to take it out in 30 minutes. The activity started in 15 minutes, so we just told him to go and that we would take care of the laundry! So we had a jolly old time getting all of his and his ENTIRE FAMILY'S laundry from the laundry place to the apartment! XD Turns out the activity was only 15 minutes long, and he was fifteen minutes late, so he missed the whole thing. But whatevs, I had fun! ;) Unfortunately though, Alfonzo didn't go to church this week. Actually, when we went to wake him up, he was already awake and just said he didn't want to go... Very weird. Anyways, we'll work that out.

Javi and Charlie are set to get baptized on Saturday, which is awesome! It sounds like I'm gonna do one of the confirmations, so that is exciting ^-^ Their dad is going to baptize them, of course. It'll be great!

We are working with everybody else. Juan never answers his door, which is sad. But we had a bomb lesson with Viola and gave her mom a blessing, so that was really cool! We just need to meet her husband.

One cool experience we had this week was with and investigator named Eduarda. She has been an investigator for over a year. The only thing keeping her from getting baptized is that she isn't married, and her husband doesn't want to get married :P So after teaching her awhile, we finally just decided to be very bold and straightforward in telling her she needs to take action NOW. And it worked! She is working towards baptism on the 15th of April. So her and us are fasting together and praying that she can either get married, or decide to separate, so that she can get baptized. So that is good :)

Jared is doing well too! (Have I mentioned him yet?) He is the 10 year old brother of a member, Lesley. His family situation is insane, so that makes it hard, but we found out that he got an answer to his prayer! He is super shy, but he told us very confidently that he got an answer. So we are helping him progress to baptism. He loves drawing, and his artist skills are off the charts! I'll send a picture later of what he drew me. Anyways, he is awesome!

I honestly think that the entire course of my mission changed this week. Mainly, on Friday. I went on exchanges with a Zone Leader, because Elder Harward has to since he is a district leader. I didn't expect to learn all that much, but I was in for a surprise. Real quick, I'ma touch on the three main things I learned.

1. He asked me this question: "WHY do you focus?" Or rather, why do you want to focus? Now he asked me that because I have serious problems focusing on the mission, but his main point was that I needed to figure out the why. Once you figure out the why, the what, where, when, how clicks in to place. I have heard that put many different ways before, but it really clicked this time... Why? "When your why is bigger than your why not, you find success." 

2. Focus on Christ. He is the focus of your mission and your life. When you focus on Jesus Christ, and then everything else, your life falls into place. Elder Bednar said that everything in The Doctrine of Christ is peripheral to Christ himself, and I think that is the same for life in general. Put Christ in the center of your focus. Which means remember him constantly, and follow his commandments and teachings. Which leads in to the third thing I learned.

3. PROGRESSION. That is what this is all about. This plan, our life here, The Atonement of Jesus Christ: it is all so we can progress. So that we can change. And if you aren't progressing and changing, you are wasting what God has given you. "Heaven will not be heaven for those who have not become heavenly." "This life is a time for man to prepare to meet God; yea, this life is a time for men to perform their labors." Everything we do must be to progress and become more like God, bit by bit. And the ONLY way to do that is through our Savior Jesus Christ. The only way to change. That is why repentance is so important, and that is why baptism is so important. They are ways to change, by Christ. So my challenge to you: change every day. Become a bit better. Focus on Christ, and then focus on changing through that which He has given you. He loves you, and wants you to have all they joy he has, but you can't do that unless you change and improve. It is not impossible. In fact, it is so possible (and vital), that we agreed to come to this crazy world to do it. Believe in yourself, believe in Christ, and change. Bit by bit. "God cares very little of our velocity, but very much about our direction."

That's my 3 cents. It really impacted me! Well, as always, I'm running late (but I'm gonna change that!) So gotta go! Bye ya'll, love ya! Remember: PROGRESS!

Elder Poulson

Elder Bry trying to wear his moccasins out again...haha! 
 He keeps forgetting he has them on and leaves to go out to do missionary work.   :)

Monday, March 13, 2017

Humility Opens the Mind

So..... I'm just gonna start typing, it is taking me too long to figure out how to start this :P Hello Family and friends and pets and such (there we go!), how are ya'll doing today!? I hope it is as sunny wherever you are as it is here ^-^ I mean rain is better, but sun is good too!
This was a rough week, not gonna lie. I somehow pulled through with a pretty good attitude, but it was kinda... well, rough! The work, I mean. We didn't teach much or anything. I have some funny stories though! And I learned a lot.

So I was trying to help clean the apartment today, and I managed to both break a couple eggs (see picture) and a jar (see picture). It was probably because I was basically building the tower of babel out of clean dishes because I didn't want to dry them, but hey, it almost worked out well! (see picture) In case you can't tell, I took a lot of pictures this week XD But yeah, anyways, I'm a clutz. It is a good thing my companion is a cleaning natzi, we cleaned for two hours today :P But hey, it is way easier to study when the apartment is clean, so I'm good with it :)

We went to Grocery Outlet today to shop, which is where we usually go because the owner is Mormon, and they give us discounts and free (slightly damaged) stuff and such! Anyways, we got there later than the other missionaries and thought they had taken everything, but the guy in charge kinda just made eye contact with us and then said in an ominous voice, "Come with me if you want to get fed." Haha I thought it was hilarious! He gave some more meat, so barbecue round 3 is probably happening. (Woot!)

We actually had one really cool experience on Tuesday. We were teaching Maria Valdez, one of our investigators, and we remembered that we should ask her if she knows anyone we can teach! (We are horrible at remembering to do that) So we asked her, and she said her whole complex was Chino (Asian) except for on person. So we went by that one person, and were really dissappointed to find that she was white. Not because we're racist, but because white people rarely speak Spanish. But it turns out she is 1) a less-active member, 2) speaks spanish, 3) has a husband that only speaks Spanish, and 4) was looking for a church to go to in the area! SUPER cool! So we are going to go back like tomorrow and hopefully teach Viola and her family :)

We also had a cool experience with discernment. Juanito, one of our kind-of investigators, was talking to us on Friday (he is like 15). I felt like I should tell him that by reading the Book of Mormon, he could find answers to his problems. He suddenly started paying attention. He asked if we have confessionals, and we said no, but that by repentance, through Christ, we could be free of any guilt we have about any sin. So he asked us if he could pray tonight and all would be forgiven, to which of course we responded that is one purpose of baptism: a new start. He really seemed to like that, and said he would be baptized if he found out that what we were telling him is true!

Javi and Charlie are going to be baptized, pretty much for sure, on the 25th of March. We are very excited for that! Really, it isn't us as much as their parents that has prepared them, but I am grateful to be part of the process ^-^

You're probably wondering about the subject of this email. That is something I learned this week. As I have said before, if we just did everything our that God tells, through the scriptures, prophets, revelation, etc., we wouldn't have to learn from our mistakes that they are right. The best way to get to the point where you are doing everything "right", or following that counsel as much as possible, is by being humble. The only reason we don't follow the counsel of God is because we think we know better. We might be hesitant to admit to ourselves that that is the case, but it is. And the sooner and more fully we humble ourselves, the faster we will be able to hearken to the counsel of God, through his prophets.

I was watching the district this week, and one of the missionaries said something very inspiring. She said that "there comes a time in everyone's life when they turn to God, because there is nothing else." I sincerely believe that THAT is when people are prepared to hear the wonderful message of the Restoration of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Why? Because they are SO humble, their minds are open to anything that will get them closer to God. And they find that they more they listen to the missionaries and read the book of Mormon and go to church, they closer they really do become to our Heavenly Father. Humility. There is no substitute. I learned that from Father in Heaven, and my father on Earth. (Read Ether 12:27)

Wow. In case you were wondering, sharing what you learn of the Gospel helps you learn more. I learn far more from sharing my testimony than I do from studying. God will teach you with your own words, if you will trust him enough to open your mouth. That is more so for missionaries, but we are all called to share this message while we are here. That is our job, our responsibility as members of the true church of Jesus Christ, who know the path to true joy and happiness. Share that with other people. You'll be surprised at how hungry they are for the truth.

Well this is about as long as the book of Alma (wow, that is a cheesy missionary joke, my bad), so I'ma go ahead and sign off. But I love you all! I hope you are doing well! Dare to stand for what you believe in, because you will never have to stand alone. God will always be by you. "They who are with us are greater than they who are with them." - The words of a prophet uttered to a boy, facing an army of soldiers, seemingly on their own. Have faith! You all are an inspiration to me! Love ya'll, bye! ^-^

Elder Poulson

The Beach....so close, yet so far away.  

Birthday celebrations....
I guess the mission home didn't get Bry's birthday package to him until the night of his birthday, so they used all the party stuff we sent for his companion's 
birthday the following week. 

Monday, March 6, 2017

Birthdays and Barbecues are Different on a Mission

Hello family and friends! I was just sitting here wondering how in the world I have so much extra time left this week, and then realized I forgot to send out a weekly! So hopefully this isn't too short.

We had a barbecue last Monday... In the pouring rain... Which would have been fine, except half of our district decided to dip and go get Popeyes instead! >:( We were pretty ticked! But hey, charcoal-black chicken is AMAZING once you get the outside bits off of it ^-^

Recently, we have been doing what we call "party exchanges", where we have two companionships working in the same area at the same time (before we would just swap companions). So that is kinda fun since we sleep in one apartment and everything, but it is also super difficult to find stuff to do during the day, which I am told is the point. So that is crazy! Anyways, I was on exchanges on my birthday, and we went to the only wealthy member's house in pretty much the whole ward. The elder I was with commented on a rug they had, saying he really liked that pattern, and they ended up giving him a blanket from Peru! I just thought it was funny that he got a present on my birthday XD Not mad at all though. Mostly. Haha no really though, it was funny :)

So some not so exciting news with Alfonzo. Turns out, his parents don't want him to get baptized. He told us they were fine with it, but I guess we was lying. They are super Catholic and want to keep the tradition, which is kind of upsetting since Alfonzo didn't even know he was Catholic until they told him two days ago! Anyways, it will probably be awhile until he gets baptized. We are praying that his parents will soften their hearts, but if not, he can get baptized when he graduates and moves out. Until then, we'll just keep strengthening his testimony :) I'm sure it'll happen sometime this year. Javi and Charlie are still doing great though! They will baptized either on the 18th or the 1st, depending on what they want.

We got Kevin to come out with us again! It was actually super funny, because he ended up herding in a group of like 12 kids to listen to us teach them. He doesn't really understand how to do missionary work, but that is okay. He also gave out a bunch of stickers for his company, so that was kinda weird to do. But anyways, we were leaving, and as we went to drop him off, I told him it is sometimes weird to teach kids, because I don't want the parents to think we are just going after their kids or something. And you shot back this response: "If the missionaries that had taught me had cared about what my mom thought, I wouldn't be baptized and I wouldn't be who I am today." I just kinda sat there in shock. He was right of course. The thing about Kevin, is he is just so unbelievably sincere. He herded in those kids because he saw himself in them, and knew that they need what we have. And then gave them stuff as an afterthought. I strive to find the same desire to share the Gospel that he haves, where I truly want to talk to everyone!

Another thing about Alfonzo. We asked him why he needs to read the Book of Mormon, and he told us that "it will help me to really figure out who I am and who I want to be." That is SO STORMING TRUE! The Book of Mormon helps us to figure out who we are and who we want to be. I have seen that so much in my mission. If you ever feel lost, go back and just read the Book of Mormon. You'll find the path you want to take.

Also, while I'm at it, never forget the importance of church attendance. Anyone who can't find peace in life will find it from going to church each week and remembering Christ, and renewing their covenants with Him through the sacrament. Nothing will bring you more peace. The Sacrament is almost literally a weekly baptism, as my mission president would say.

That is all I've got for this week! I'll leave you with this quote that our Bishop said this last Sunday: "When you decide to change, people don't want you to. When you are changing, people will get mad at you. When you have changed, people will want to be like you." Never forget the power of Jesus Christ, by His Atonement, to change anything and everything in your life and in your self. I love you all! Take care!

Elder Poulson

Birthday Spinner

Birthday Oragami