Sunday, July 21, 2013

July 8th

The last two weeks were great!

We set the baptism dates for two of our investigators, Cesar and Tiffany. Usually when a missionary invites someone to be baptized, they pray about a specific date and then commit them to that date. When Elder Pritchett and I prayed for a date, we didn't get anything, so we decided to pray about it with Cesar and Tiffany individually. Cesar got August 22nd and Tiffany got September 9th, so Cesar will be a member of the Church long enough to receive the priesthood, which means he could baptize Tiffany. We still have a lot to talk with them about, so I'm glad we have a while before their dates.
Little Miracle: For our Preparation Day (laundry and haircut day) we went to the apartment of Elder Childers and Elder Wiesenberg, and they had three copies of the Book of Mormon in Haitian Creole. They don't know why they have them. Later that day, Elder Pritchett and I ran into a woman who only speaks a little English and a lot of Haitian Creole, and we knew exactly where to get her copy of the Book of Mormon!
The Book of Mormon is so important in conversion. The missionary guide, Preach My Gospel, actually says that the Book of Mormon, coupled with the Holy Spirit, is your most powerful tool in conversion. That includes maintaining or starting your own conversion. It is a truly powerful book. It testifies of Jesus Christ and contains the fulness of His gospel, as does the Bible. I'm out here because of that book.
A few other things: Elder Childers is now my third companion! A missionary got sent home for medical reasons, so Elder Wiesenberg replaced him in New Hampshire and Elder Childers got sent to us! He's one of the funniest people I've met, and he quotes everything from the Mr. Freeze and the Terminator to Spiderman on the Playstation (I'm pretty sure I have that game back home in Texas). He gave me a haircut this morning and he cooks too. I'll have to learn a few things from him. Having a trio means that we get to use both apartments, cars, and phones until the end of this transfer, about three more weeks, so I'll be spending some time in Newburyport, Mass.

     There's these things called exchanges where two missionaries swap towns for a day in order to learn from different companions. I did that in Exeter, New Hampshire with Elder Guthrie as my companion. There is a train that runs right next to their apartment at three in the morning. Other than that, the exchange was great. For service, we helped a man fix up a really old house. We got to knock down a wall with our bare hands (and a few hammers).

We keep seeing this blonde lady named Dallas driving around Haverhill. She yells at us a lot and wants to meet us and convert us to quantum physics. I'm not sure what that entails.

A drunk man kissed Elder Pritchett and I. We might actually get to teach him, so I guess I don't mind that much.
Hope you're all having as much fun as I am! I love being out here a ton and I think I'm growing a lot. Love y'all!

Elder Jon Harrison Richins (After the Fourth of July Parade)

June 24th everybody!

Once again, no pictures. This time it's my fault. And I only have five more minutes of computer time.

     I've been assigned to a city called Haverhill (pronounced hay-vril), MA. It's right on the Merimack River. I'm being trained by an Elder Pritchett, who is an ultimate frisbee-er, a mathematician, and a good listener. He's really good at listening to the Spirit.

      Miracle: This week, our phone ran out of batteries (this is really bad because we need to always be available, so we went to the apartment to charge it and rethink our plans (an appointment had fallen through). We prayed to know how to spend the rest of the Lord's time that day. Elder Pritchett felt that we should visit the Green family and that someone on the way would need our help. The Greens were not home, but from their porch we saw a young woman and her father in a driveway. We asked if they were interested in hearing about Jesus. The father replied that his family is Jewish. We asked if he knew anyone that needed service or an uplifting message. He did. His father had passed away two hours previous. We shared a short message of God's love and plan for us.

     It's really cool to be out here. I know that the Lord is providing for me.
All right, I'm out of time. I love y'all (yes, I'm still a Texan) and wish you the best!

This is actually June 13

In advance, I would like to apologize for the lack of pictures. I took them, but my Kodak camera requires that I have Kodak software installed in order to get pictures from the internal memory.
When I arrived at the Missionary Training Center (MTC) on Wednesday, I dropped my luggage off at my room, met my roommates for 2 minutes, picked up my study materials, met my companion (we preach the gospel 2x2), and started class. (Insert class picture here). Things go so fast here, it's crazy. Every day, we study upwards of 2.5 hours and go to class about 6 hours. There is so much to absorb, and it's all simple. It all focuses on our purpose as missionaries. "Invite others to come unto Christ by helping them receive the restored gospel through faith in Jesus Christ and His Atonement, repentance, baptism, receiving the gift of the Holy Ghost, and enduring to the end." So we've learned that it doesn't matter if a person is baptised if they don't come unto Christ. We've learned to care more about the people we will teach.
I really started to get it after my first visit to the Teaching Resource Center (TRC), where we do simulated visits with volunteers. Our volunteer (in real life we call them investigators because they are trying to find out about us) is Daniel Limon. He swore at us in the first visit. It went terribly. So the next day, we went back and apologized. It's all about how the investigator feels, not about who swore at who. He was more open to us that time, and we actually got to pray with him at the end of our visit. Yesterday, we got to leave him with a copy of the Book of Mormon and our testimony about how it can help him and his family. Even though we know he's an actor, we pray for him. One of the other companionships was less blessed. They were assigned to Erik, who just Bible-bashes the entire time. This means that he uses scriptural verses to fight, instead of listening to the Holy Spirit. It's really easy to get caught up in a fight like that because there's always a verse that will disprove what the other person is saying. We're not supposed to "prove" that the gospel is true. We bear our testimony of its truth so that the Holy Ghost can have a place in their hearts. We found out that the actor who plays Erik isn't a member of the church. He got this job so that he could bash new missionaries and discourage them. What really ends up happening is that the missionaries learn to keep trying to bring people to Christ. They learn a lot of patience. They learn to love someone who doesn't want to be loved.
Our teachers, Sister Grenfell and Brother Green, are the best I could ask for. They don't teach us directly; it's all on us to drive the lessons.
My companion is named Faelofani Talive Afemata. Elder Afemata is a big Samoan from Compton, California. 

 He talks with every Polynesian he sees, and somehow knows all of their cousins. He's just a really funny guy, singing Rihanna all the time. I've tried to match him in every meal he eats, but it's tough. Elder Afemata has taught me so much already. He taught me to Keep It Simple, Stupid when we talk about the gospel. We do rock-paper-scissors every meal; winner gets to bless the food and thereby gets the lion's share of blessings until the next meal.
I only have a few more days here at the MTC. I leave Monday at 3:30 AM for Manchester, New Hampshire.
Well, my hour of computer time is up. Love you all, and I wish you the best of luck!

Elder Jon Harrison Richins