Sunday, January 31, 2010

The Real Power of Missionary Work

First of all, there's SO much that I have to say that just won't fit into the one-hour e-mail window so I'm just gonna talk about my week and send more news into snail mail for mom and dad to upload on the blog later on.

I neglected to include one extremely important detail in my last letter. Remember Nancy? well, she got cold feet and asked to postpone her baptism. We haven't given up on her yet. we are still teaching Nancy and we hope that she wil be baptized by February 14. please pray for us! She's a really sweet woman who could really use the gospel in her life.

Also, there appears to be some confusion on the rule for sending letters and packages only to the mission office. I will try to clarify. Lately, there have been reports of mail theft in the past (who goes around stealing mail anyway?) so Blackburn feels that for the security of all elders and sisters, the new rule is that everything can only be sent to the mission office, who will forward it on to the Zone Leaders, who will hand it to us at District and Zone meetings every wednesday or friday. Not the ideal solution but it's the best they can do at the time. If you want to ensure that I can get your letters or stuff this week, mail it before the end of monday so I can likely receive it.

Anyway-

We have been working very hard this week and noticably reaping ther fruits of our labors. Last week, we've focused on a man named Eddie Parker, who was baptized about a year ago, but the thing is that somehow, about a few months ago, he stopped going to church. after a while. other missionaries decided to visit him, but his father said that Eddie had gone and become an alcoholic. Well, as I first laid eyes on his name in the Area Book. I felt something strongly inside that we should help him ASAP. So we started visiting him last tuesday. when we were at Eddie's door, he told his faither to tell us that he doesn't want to talk to us. We came back the next day, with the same results. and so on until friday. Lingam protested and suggested that we should drop Eddie, but I got him to get us to visit Eddie one more time, this time writing a short letter inviting him to a branch lunch social on Saturday.

Guess what?

Eddie did indeed come to the social. The whole branch and we greeted him warmly and showed Eddie that he is still loved, no matter what. one thing after another, he promised to come to church on sunday and held true to that promise. He expressed a desire to come to church again next week, and we are going to work with him this week to help teach and change his life for the better. I.E. throwing away the bottle.

All week, we have been working with two men, George and David Turner, who are already recently baptized and are preparing to receive the priesthood and learn about temple ordinances. George will receive the Aaronic Priesthood next sunday, if all goes well. We are hoping it will be the same with David Turner. In fact, last monday, we found that he was sick with a persistent cold for weeks, so we took the opportunity to give him a Melchizedek Priesthood blessing and afterwards taught him about the powers and blessings that comes with being a worthy priesthood holder. Later into the week, David healed very quickly, and so he expressed a strong desire to learn more about temple ordinances and asked about how he could help perform ordinances for his parents, who are already deceased. We will continue to work more with David later on.

Ine more thing. I would like to express my opinion about an specific area in Los Angeles. Last Friday, we have been teaching a less-active member who lives in Manhattan Beach. I'll tell you, I almost instantly fell in love with Manhattan Beach. they have all those beautiful homes that are not so big and fancy like up in Beverly Hills (I'll leave that place to the snobby and the overrated celebrities) and it is on a hill overlooking the coast. Really beautiful. I now have a renewed plan which I will share with you.

1. work ultra hard and have the branch grow very big and become a bona-fide ward (more about that in my upcoming letter) 2. Finish mission and return with honor 3. Finish College 4. Find a pretty bonny lass to marry for all time and eternity 5. write a bestselling book and earn lots of money 6. live in Manhattan Beach for the rest of my life.

Yep. That's my plan and I'm sticking to it.


-Z

Lots of Less-actives with a chance of progressing investigators. (Plus torrential rains all week)



Hi. Everyone.

Well, I'm now in warm, sunny Los Angeles (well, not so much on the "sunny", due to said pouring rain). There's SO much to do in L.A. Somehow many of the previous ASL missionaries didn't do such a good job because 70% of the whole Torrance 4th Deaf Branch is Less-Active, so our main priority is drag- er.. uh... bringing them back to church. So far, It's going well. My new companion and I have been able to bring three less-active people back last week, and we have been working on BRTing (Build Relationships of Trust) with many other less-actives so maybe things will be a lot better this week. I've heard a lot of Elders complain that getting Less-actives back to church is like trying to herd cats, and, like cats, if you badger them too much, they literally hiss at you.

But at this moment, I'm too happy right now because I'm FINALLY out of the MTC. I mean, I couldn't be any more ectastic. That morning, I actually dragged all the other hald-asleep elders out of bed and hurried all of us along to the front of the MTC where a bus was waiting to take us all to the airport. As the MTC shrunk into the distance, I loudly said GOOD-BYE for the whole bus to hear. Some of them even cheered along. LOL. At the airport, we all went in to check in out baggage. All of mine are totally packed to the seams, and apparently, they said that one of my luggage was overweight, and they had to charge extra. Guess how much? $90 for a over-weight bag! Flying highway robbery. but unfortunately I couldn't do anything about it, so I had to fork over a lot of money for baggage and service fees. >:(

Anyway, after we went through security, Elder Hadlock and I zeroed in towards a Burger King and ordered a crossiant breakfast. Tasted like HEAVEN. That's right. You know it's really sad when after 2 months on MTC food, all we could think of was fast food as if it were sent from on high. Whatever. At least I had real food again. I also caught the headlines of today's newspaper. Apparently there was a violent earthquake that levelled Haiti just the day before. What exactly happened? Are the Church sending humanitarian aid to Haiti ASAP?

Anyway, Fast forwars 4 hours later. Here we are, in the Mission President's office in LA. All five of us ASL elders went through a little orientation, had lunch, and net our new companions in LA. What really stinks is that the ASL program is really small so three of the elders (Van Dam, Franco, and Western) had to be put into the hearing program, which left only Hadlock (who is deaf) and I. Our new companions are Elder Cordy and Elder Lingam, who I was put with. Thus began my adventure in one of the biggest cities in the world. What you have to understand is that after all of this, they basically drop you off like a sack of potatoes and you get right to work.

That late afternoon, Lingam and I visited my first real teaching appointment with a woman named Nancy. She had been taught all the lessons and have really committed to baptism, so we went ahead and gave her the litany of baptism questions. She passed! and baptism was set for last sunday. after this meeting, her friend, Leo, seemed interested in learning more about the gospel so we went ahead and taught him aboutthe Restoration. It went fairly well. After that, Lingam and I got settled into our apartment and made plans for the next day.

Thurdsay: we had a meeting with one member in out branch named Eric Townsend, I think out ward mission coordinator or somthing like that. We planned out all of the next week. Mostly Hadlock and I just listened in, trying to learn a little from Column A and a little from Column B.

That night, we had a dinner appointment (all 4 of us ASL missionaries) with Branch Prsident and sister Sutton. Dinner was DELICIOUS. we chatted a lot and shared some spiritual thoughts. Later that night, all of us went to the churchhouse where thay had a Video Phone and I got to call my family and say hello and I'm safely in LA, etc. It was really nice to see home once again, at least for a moment. After that, the branch had a bi-weekly Sports night where we played volleyball, basketball, etc. Funny thing though, only a FEW people showed up, so it's wasn't very fun compared to gym time in the MTC with 100 other elders and sisters.

Friday was my first real missionary day and we had a District meeting. Guess who I found there? MY BROTHER! He leaped on me (his way of saying hi) and we caught up at lunch in the mall. After that, Lingam and I went out teaching all day. it was fun and we got one less-active family to come back to church (which they did!) Saturday wasn't so much, though, because almost everyone wasn't home at one point, Lingam got a little discouraged, but, somehow maybe by miracle, a ice cream truck drove by. I bought us some vanilla ice cream, and Lingam felt a lot better afterwards. Ice cream makes for awesome emotion medicine, especially when it comes unexpected. We had Ice Cream every sunday and wednesday in the MTC, but somehow it wasn't nearly as exciting, because we knew that it would be there, whick made it kind of boring. Just a little piece of wisdom for you guys there.

good thing though is that out last house for the night, someone WAS home, a recent convert-gone-less active man named George. We committed him to church the next day (and he did!).

Sunday was a special day because we had a regional conference by the General authorities (President Uchtdorf, Elder Holland, Elder Edgley, and Sister Namikami (I think that's how her name was spelled but I'm not sure.)) Oh, Jared was there also. We found said less-active people there and said gratefuls that they were able to come to church that day.

Monday (P-day): basically, we just tided up our apartment. the Library was closed in observation of MLK day, so now you know why there was no e-mail yesterday. we had a fun p-day activity: Bowling (ZL-approved, mind you) with all the local missionaries so I got to meet a lot of Jared's companions. it was fun, and I was able to not sink a lot of gutter balls.

anyway, that's my adventure so far. Stay tuned next week!

Elder Zack

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Video Greeting from the MTC

video
Greetings from the MTC.

MTC Photos


Group Photo: Clockwise from Left: Wester, Lemmon, Jones, Me, Nightingale, Hadlock, Gervacio, Van Dam, Franco, Hansen, Christensen, Stoddard, Badger, Moulton, Cox, and Gauthier.





He ain't heavy. He's my brother.

Last MTC Letter

Okay. This is my official last e-mail from the MTC before I leave for LA. I'm so excited. Only five days left. Of course, knowing the time flow here, It'll feel like a lot less. Missions are like the summer vacations back in high school that you don't ever want end, but the forces of time and space makes time go faster just to spite you.

Our branch is getting noticeably smaller. Two ASL sisters, Moulton and Christensen, left for their mission field yesterday morning. We all wished them lots and lots of luck of their mission.

Elder Ringwood of the First Quorum of the Seventy spoke to us at Devotional last Tuesday. It was about the analogy of the seed, which I will explain to you.

See, faith in Jesus Christ asnd the gospel is like a plant. When we (missionaries) teach other people the gospel, we are giving them a little seed (a bit of faith), and we teach them to "Experiment unto the seed" as outlined in Alma 32. As we nuture and care for the seed (pray, read the scriptures, etc), the seed becomes a sapling, or in ther words, our faith and testimony grows. Eventually, through continuing faith and the strengthing of our testimony, the young plant eventually matures into a strong tree, symbolizing our powerful faith and testimony. On the other hand, If we neglect and stop caring for the tree, watering it or pruning it or whatever, the tree easily withers away and we have no choice but to cast it out. Thus, if we dontinue to care and nuture our faith and testimony through praying and studying and sharing the testimony, then what's the point?

Overall, It was a very interesting talk.


IN ther news, If any of you haven't gotten a reply letter from me yet, I APOLOGIZE. For some reason, my address book got up and walked away, plus a few letters came back to me on account of wrong address, but I'm trying my best to get all of them to you guys. Thanks for your patience. I DO have good news though. I will be sending a couple of letters plus a lot of pictures and videos so except multiple blog posts over the week with said pictures and video.

Thisd week, the temple opened at last! We got to go into the temple one last time before we left and It was very spiritually refreshing.

well, sadly, time for me to go, but my next e-mail will be coming from sunny Los Angeles. See you all there.

Have a good day.

-Elder Tritsch

Am I Still Awake?

Okay. Once and for all, I would like to sincerely state that my whole district is insane. Since the temple is closed today, I've reserved this day pratically a week in advance for sleeping-in (and informed about everyone beforehand), but oh no, my district decided to spring the last minute idea of doing laundry in the wee hours of the morning. ON CHRISTMAS EVE, even. Naturally, this idea was met with resistance, mostly from me. I mean, hello. We ALREADY have a time set for laundry later in the afternoon so why don't we all do laundry at that time and just enjoy our morning? But long story short, here I am, at bloody 4:00 AM in the morning, typing this letter.

Last Tuesday, Elder Neal Andersen of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles and his whole family visited the MTC. it was really sweet. His grandchildren held a little choir rectial. then of course Andersen spoke to us. It was about the importance of Jesus Christ in our lives, especially around Christmas.

Last friday at TRC, I ran in someone special: Jared's old companion, Austin Balaich. Really cool. We spent some time talking about Jared, what L.A. is like, how his mission were, etc. etc. Austin has already applied to teach here in the MTC in the ASL program and if all goes well, he will start teaching around the first week of January. Can't wait.

Something important happened this week also, One elder in my district, Daniel Cox, stepped down from District Leader and that calling was given to my companion, Elder Van Dam. Which makes me District Companion, which in some way makes me second-in-charge. heh heh heh. I feel the power now! Better not... abuse it in some way. I'm kidding. I'm kidding. still, it's cool though.

Anyway, that's it for today. Sorry for the relatively short letter but I'm always slower than usual in the mornings and it's hard to think clearly. I seriously need my sleep. WAH. bye.


Elder Tritsch