Week 7; December 30, 2013: Christmas Week and Some Companion Challenges

So this past week has been a bit of a hassle. As I said before, there was lots of adjusting to do with this last transfer and it’s been difficult. There are so many things that Elder Parsons set up for both of the wards we covered in the transfers he’s been in this area that he took care of by myself. So now, with me being the only one who knows the area, it’s been really difficult trying to figure everything out. And even now, that has still been a struggle to go through and I’ve been very overwhelmed with all of the stuff I suddenly have to worry about when last transfer, I just worried about learning how to teach and just all the basics of missionary work.

Thus far, I think the biggest thing that I am learning is just how different each missionary is. Even though I have stayed in the same area this transfer, the transfer feels completely different than last transfer because of my companion. This companion is very, very different from Elder Parsons in many ways. Both in personality and in how they do missionary work. For example. When OYMing (“Open Your Mouth”), Elder Parsons and I usually took it as a simple “hello” to someone, offering them help if it looks like they need it, or inviting them to the Temple lights if we feel it appropriate. This companion, however, is more of the typical “salesman” approach and is extremely awkward and usually just annoys people. The biggest example of that is when we were riding our bikes down to one of the houses we were going to visit. There’s this lady who is walking down the street on the opposite direction of us. So my companion takes the completely opposite turn from where we were going and starts biking extremely slowly while trying to talk to her and basically saying, “We’re missionaries of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, would you like to hear about how Christ restored His church?” The lady was clearly annoyed through the responses she gave and Elder Whitecar just kept going and going until eventually she just told us to go away. And I knew that was a horrible idea to begin with because when there are two grown men on bikes who are suddenly biking slowly to this one lady and following her everywhere she walked trying to convince her to take missionary discussions, it just looks creepy, both to her and to anyone around us. I don’t really understand where he got half of his ideas from because he has been out 15 months now and I swear that half of the time, I feel that I’m the one who should be training him.

So that has been really stressful. I’ve been having a super hard time getting alone with him just because his ideas of missionary work are ideas I just do not agree with whatsoever. Even the first day at transfers when I explained to him a little bit about how what we’ve been trying to do is build member trust and we’ve been doing a lot of service, he didn’t agree with it. He trashed the idea of doing service for members because he felt that it was a waste of time unless it was for less-actives or nonmembers. In fact, on Christmas Eve when we had dinner over at the Meek’s and at the end when we were about to leave, we set up an appointment to show them the temple presentation. And Brother Meeks mentioned the sign-up sheet that was passed around during church that Elder Parsons had set up where members could sign up to have the missionaries go and do whatever the members wanted (service, spiritual thought, temple presentation, etc.) and Elder Whitecar had no idea what he was talking about even though I explained it to him before. So I tried briefly explaining it to Elder Whitecar, and he pretty much passed it off as being dumb (not in that exact wording, but how he pretty much shot down the idea) and said “Well, the temple presentation is what we want to do so when can we do that?” And it confused the member a little bit, but we set up an appointment to do the Temple presentation. So my companion doesn’t really agree with the major things that Elder Parsons set up and tried to leave to me continue on. And I wish I could… but the problem is that I have a new companion who hasn’t been in the area before, has been out 15 months, is my trainer, and has a very “my way or no way” attitude.

We’ve had a couple arguments and I have had to talk to the zone leaders and even the mission president about it. I was so ready to go home because of how stressed I was, both with the situation, my companion, and with myself. Since then, not a lot has changed. My companion and I are trying to get along better, but it has still been difficult. At this point, I’m pretty much at the attitude where I’ll  just let him do his thing. It’s irritating. But there’s really nothing I can do about it.

Christmas Day was really good though. It was pretty much a full day P-Day so we spent the morning reading letters and opening presents and such and that was good. And I want to thank you all so much for the gifts and for the letters you sent! They really do mean a lot to me and I’ve gotten a ton of stuff. I don’t know where to put half the stuff that I have, haha! We got to Skype home and have dinner at the Westenskow’s and to our surprise, the Westenskow’s had presents they had wrapped for us, so that was really nice of them to do that and we were really grateful. We then got to have a zone party at about 6:30 and got to watch Narnia: The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe. It was kind of funny since everyone spent most of the time pointing out all the christian symbolism in the film. But it went really well and we all had fun. Of course, my companion had to ruin it the night when we got home when he said, “I don’t like the idea of elders and sisters sitting in the same room watching a movie.” And I’m just thinking, “Why…?” and he responds, “Satan’s temptations.” REALLY, dude? Really?Anyway, so nothing really too productive went on this week. It’s mostly just been visiting a bunch of formers who were not interested in taking missionary discussions again and then really awkward and forceful “salesman-like” OYM’s along the way. And some member visits that went okay.

So if there is any lesson to be learned here right now, it is that every missionary is different. And there are going to be things about your companion that are going to really, really bug you. I just didn’t expect that to happen when the companion happens to be your second trainer. I don’t know how I’m going to make it through this transfer… It would be better if it wasn’t for the fact that we aren’t doing a whole lot this last week.

This is going to be a difficult adjustment but I’ll survive. At this point, the only thing I could think of to do is just follow my companion and just let him do his thing.

Anyway, hopefully the next week will be a lot better and not as negative as this. Christmas has been really good though and I can’t stress that enough that Christmas has been really good and thank you for the love and support you have given me. It’s hard to believe it’s going to be 2014 soon… that’s really weird. Anyway, hope everyone has a great week and a Happy New Year!

Love,

Elder Foxx

Week 5; December 16, 2013: My twin and a spoiled secret service

Hello!

So this week was pretty interesting. Starting two weeks ago, we passed around a sheet each Sunday for members to sign up for us to come over for whatever they want (spiritual message, temple video, service, etc.) So on Tuesday, the Gallman’s had signed up for us to do service for them at about 2:00 PM. But when we arrived, neither of the parents were home so we decided to go over to the Stapley’s and visit them. Nobody was home for their house either. Elder Parsons noticed how so many leaves were on the yard so we chose to borrow some rakes from another member and just started cleaning their yard for a little bit. After about an hour, we went over back to the Gallman’s and the mother was finally home so we started to work over there. They had asked us to put up Christmas lights for them.

Now, I don’t think I have mentioned the Gallman’s yet, but so far there has been one name that I have heard over and over again and that’s “Caleb Gallman.” Caleb is one of their sons who is out on a mission in Texas. And ever since I started this mission, almost all the members would ALWAYS say “You look just like Caleb Gallman! I had to look three times just to tell you weren’t him!” When we talked with his parents, even they said that I looked like him. Well, I finally saw pictures of him… and I just don’t see it. Literally everyone else sees it except for me. I tried to see the similarities, and we look kind of similar, but it’s nowhere near as close as everyone is making it out to be. But anyway, so we ended up putting up Christmas lights for the Gallman’s, so that went well.

So then the very next day, we went back to the Stapley’s to finish up with their yard. Later in the day, we found out a couple things. One thing was that that day was actually Brother Stapley’s (who is dead) birthday that day, so that was kind of cool how the timing worked out. We then found out another thing. We tried to keep this service anonymous, but unfortunately there are too many mormons in that neighborhood who like spoiling surprises. It turns out that someone took a picture of me and Elder Parsons working (I don’t know who, when, or how they did it without us noticing), posted it to Facebook, and sent it to Sister Stapley. We found all this out when we went to our dinner appointment and they said “So you guys did some service for the Stapley’s today, huh?” So unfortunately, the surprise was spoiled. But on the bright side, it does build member trust. And as we found out recently, it also built some trust from nonmembers as well because apparently one of her nonmember neighbors actually called Sister Stapley and said, “You have the most professional yard-service I ever seen, what’s the company? They were wearing white shirts and ties and they actually looked legal and everything!” So that was kind of funny that people thought we worked for a company or something. But it was good because then she was able to explain that it was missionaries for her church who just did service just to do it, so we’re hoping that opens up some opportunities and eventually some potential investigators.

Speaking of being mistaken for workers, we can not go a single P-Day going into Walmart shopping and not have someone approach us and assume we are employees (even though we’re carrying carts) and ask us about where certain items are located.

A couple nights ago, we were FINALLY able to share a temple presentation with some nonmembers, which we haven’t been able to do since Thanksgiving. There were two nonmember families over at the member’s home and we showed them “Blessings of the Temple.” I don’t remember if I told you the formula for how we present this video but basically it’s supposed to go “Missionaries come in and almost immediatley play the video, missionaries bear testimony about temples, invite the members to bear testimony about temples, ask nonmembers if they had any questions, and ask if they would like to learn more about the Gospel, and then leave.” All within 15 minutes. No more. Well, the presentation at this time went good at first. But one of the members’ testimony on the temple kind of dragged too long and took up a bunch of time. So we had to leave before we even got a chance to see if they wanted to learn more about the Gospel, so that really sucked. Elder Parsons was TICKED off about it, but I wasn’t that much. Because the way that I see it is that the spirit was present, you could tell the nonmembers felt it, they were excited to attend the temple open-house, and that’s that. So just as long as they feel prompted by the spirit during the temple open-house to see that the Gospel has a lot to offer them later on, that’s all that’s important. Anyway, I was just glad that we finally got to share the video with some nonmembers again because we rarely get to do that.

Yesterday night was transfer calls and we found out that Elder Parsons will be leaving and I will be staying. So Wednesday, I’m going to be getting a new companion but I should still be in the same house and everything so my address shouldn’t change.

So anyway, this was a good week. This upcoming week is going to be super busy though with Transfers and whatnot. And then next week will be Christmas… that’s scary. Anyway, hope everyone has a great week!

Love,
Elder Foxx

(Side note from Jennifer: So I was very curious as to what his “twin” looked like and found his profile picture on FB. Wish he wasn’t wearing sunglasses, but what do you think?)

Screen Shot 2013-12-16 at 11.28.51 AM

Week 4: December 9, 2013; Slow Week

Hello!

I won’t lie, this week has been really hard for me. It doesn’t feel like a lot really got done this week. That’s partly because we had zone conference on Wednesday which pretty much took up the entire day.

One good thing that did happen this week though was on Friday, we went on exchanges with Elder Goulding (one of the assistants who is actually going home at the end of this transfer) and visited the Zimmerman’s to do service for them. And what was that service? Putting up the tree and decorating it with lights and ornaments with Christmas music playing in the background. So that was kind of cool to have still been able to do it. Sister Zimmerman then asked if we could leave with a Christmas message and so each of us pulled out our scriptures and from Elder Goulding, to Elder Parsons, to me, each shared an individual scripture and message to tie into it. Again, I felt super unprepared, so I just turned through the pages of my scriptures until I turned to Luke 2. Kind of a cheat, but I basically just read the first half of that chapter since it is really THE Christmas story and then bore testimony on the Savior. I don’t even really remember what I said, but it seemed to have gone well. I uploaded a picture to my flickr account which has Elder Goulding, Elder Parsons, and I in front of the tree.

Anyway, the work has just been going pretty slow. The problem with here in Gilbert is that since it’s such a small mission, everyone has had missionaries talk to them. So either people love the missionaries but aren’t interested in the message, or people aren’t interested in the message and they hate the missionaries’ guts. So our only hope for having any investigators is through the members doing their own missionary work and us helping them and motivating them to do missionary work. It’s good because people (for the most part) ARE inviting their friends to church events such as the Christmas activities, the Mesa Temple lights, and the Gilbert Temple open-house, but those friends are usually out of our mission or out of our zone. So the only people we have taught have been less-actives. Which isn’t bad, it’s good that we’re doing it. But it doesn’t seem like the wards are even really struggling.

Top that off with me still feeling like a first-week missionary pretty much creates a pretty miserable week. It really sucks because I’m not struggling in the ways that I thought I would. I’m not feeling homesick, I don’t feel the need to be in front of a computer all day, or anything like that. I just feel that I’m not needed here.

Sorry, I don’t mean to be such a downer. I’m not going to ask to go home or anything because that’s dumb. But I just haven’t felt really useful. Hopefully this week will turn out better, so we’ll see.

Thank you for the emails. I’ve read every one of them and I’m trying to respond to each one, but sometimes that’s just not possible with the time I’ve given here and the time when I have to leave the library. But do know that I read and appreciate every email I get. So thank you for that.

Hope everyone has a great week!

Love, Elder Foxx

Ghoulding, Parsons and Foxx in front of tree

 

Week 3: Monday, December 2, 2013; Thanksgiving Week

Thanks again for all the emails and letters you sent! I appreciate each one.Wednesday of this last week, we all woke up at 5:00 AM because at 6:00 AM, we went to go to the Mesa Temple. Elder Wind, went with me to go to baptisms. Thursday was of course Thanksgiving. And it has easily been the busiest day for Elder Parsons and I. What we did was that we made this plan where we filled up every single hour with appointments to visit family members and share the Temple presentation with them. This went really well since there were a few less actives in almost all of the families we visited and two of the visits had quite a few nonmembers there too. What was really cool was that one of the nonmembers was impressed by the video that talked about some of the stuff we did in the Temple such as baptisms for the dead (you can watch the video on mormon.org, it’s called “Why Mormons build Temples”) and really liked the concept of baptisms for the dead. All of the nonmembers we talked to are excited to go to the Gilbert Temple open-house, so that’s really good.

 

We got pretty stuffed during Thanksgiving actually. We had dinner at 1:00 over at the Clouse’s and then almost every member we visited afterwards ended up feeding us pie. So much so that my companion actually threw up in the second to last family we visited. I felt bad for him at the time, but apparently he considered it an achievement when we got back home.Then on Saturday morning, we had exchanges so Elder Wind joined Elder Parsons and I from the morning until the afternoon. We went over to the Peralta’s (semi recent convert) to do some service for them. Brother Peralta had surgery on his right arm and is still recovering so he wasn’t able to do a whole lot. So we managed to get a few of the guys from the ward over to help. So there were about seven of us total that were there, so the work got done within an hour when I thought it would have taken three to four hours.Yesterday was my first Fast Sunday out in the mission field. This has probably been my hardest fast sunday just because I would get more hungry and thirsty than back at home because I was actively doing stuff and biking and whatnot. But we had a really good dinner over at the Huggins and one of their sons has just recently returned from his mission from Alaska. He still has that missionary fire burning within him so he still wants to do missionary work. When we shared our message to the family, we asked them what they could do to share the gospel right now at that very second. We then had every single person in the room (there were eight in there) pull at their phones and either text their nonmember/less-active friends inviting them to an activity, the Gilbert Temple, etc. or posting a link on their Facebook account. That was kind of cool actually and some of them got a super quick response of “Yes, I’d like to go.”Anyway, that’s about it. Glad everyone had a great Thanksgiving! It’s hard to believe it’s already December. I’m already losing track of how long it’s been since I left home. Sometimes I’m thinking it’s two weeks and other times I’m thinking it’s been three.

Have a great week everyone!Love,
Elder Foxx

Elder Foxx Thanksgiving
With companion, Elder Parsons