Week 29; May 26, 2014: Jealous of a Dog

So this week has been a bit of a weird week. Not a whole lot was able to get done.

We were notified at the last minute that Tuesday, for the majority of the day from the morning to the afternoon we would be having another zone conference (and the last one was only two weeks ago) so that was a little off. We went on splits that night with some members of the Chaparral ward just going around visiting some part-member and less-active families of the ward, which went well.

Then on Wednesday, I was on exchanges with Elder Carrol (zone leader) and was in his area throughout the day. We went tracting throughout the first half of the day and then visited a few members in the afternoon and finally had a lesson with an investigator at that night. And that lesson went pretty good and apparently this is only the second lesson we had with her and she pretty much said she already knows the church is true. So she’s golden.

On Saturday morning, we helped this less-active sister set up these brand new chairs and glass tables at her backyard. And I mean literally set-up, meaning we had to take all the parts for the table and screw everything together. And there were dogs beyond the gate right where the pool was at and the dogs were swimming in it and everything. I just looked at my companion going, “Did you ever think you would ever get jealous of a dog?”

And Sunday, not a whole lot got done because Elder Peery was feeling sick. So that really sucks. See, sick days are not fun for missionaries because normally if I had to be with someone who was sick, I would just be on the computer, watch some movies, play a few games, edit videos, etc. As a missionary, you really can’t do much of anything under the situation except watching the Testaments of One Fold and One Shepherd in sign-language just out of boredom lol

Beyond that, we have had one of our youth investigators tell us that his mom doesn’t want us speaking with him at all (which really sucks because this kid was totally golden, was coming to church and mutual, wanted to get baptized, etc.). So it first went from she doesn’t want him baptized to she doesn’t want him coming to mutual and church, to she doesn’t want him visiting with missionaries… and from what I heard on two of the phone calls Elder Peery has had in the past with the mom when trying to get a hold of the kid, she is a MEAN lady. But there’s nothing we can do about it… and then another investigator dropped us and just said he’s not really interested anymore. So again, that kind of sucks.

So yeah, that’s about it for this week. Not a whole lot really to report on. This week has just been a really weird week. Hopefully this week won’t be as weird and we’ll get a lot more done. I’m honestly trying to figure out how this last week turned out how it did, I can’t think of what it was. Anyway, that’s all that’s going on.

Thanks for sending the graduation pictures! Looks like Elizabeth had a great time! Tell her congrats for me and that I’m sorry I missed it!

Hope you guys have a great week!

Love,
Elder Foxx

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Week 28; May 19, 2014: 6-Month Anniversary Tradition

So starting off, Monday was my 6-month mark and it was a pretty good day. It happened to have also landed on one of the zone leader’s (Elder Hall) birthday so we spend the day celebrating that. And then after P-Day was over, we had a lesson with some investigators, who have been taught one lesson before I met them (which was about half of the Restoration) Since it has been a while, we pretty much skimmed through the first half of the lesson and then taught the last half. And these two are such golden investigators, I swear. Honestly, it’s probably the best lesson we ever taught. They were super receptive and didn’t really disagree with anything we were saying. In fact, when we were asking them questions throughout the lesson and discussing certain things, they themselves brought up how she grew up Catholic and he grew up Lutheran and they all felt all these religions were arguing with each other and had the opinion that none of them were entirely true and they totally agreed that there would need to have been a restoration of the church that Christ set up. They have been super prepared by the Lord, it’s amazing! The spirit was so strong and she ended up crying twice and she is very receptive to spiritual moments that happen within her life. Since that lesson, we visited with them again with the Bishop from the ward and with the Stake President and she mentioned how she prayed and when she was finished, she could swear that she saw hands holding something to her, but she wasn’t sure what it was. He is having a more difficult time with praying and recognizing answers, but we’ll keep working with him. And he’s super receptive to the message. As long as they keep their commitments and read and pray about the Book of Mormon and attend church, then they should be golden.

So not a bad day for a 6-month mark. And then it is tradition in the Arizona Gilbert Mission to burn a tie at your 6-month mark, so naturally I had to follow tradition. That was pretty fun. (Video coming soon!)

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On Wednesday morning, we took Mark, a recent convert, to the Gilbert Temple to do baptisms. We thought the temple would be really good for him to feel the spirit there. Elder Peery had me do the baptizing and I have never baptized anyone before obviously, so I had to kind of review it a little bit beforehand of what I had to do. I was a little nervous because I had never done this before. And it was when I got into the font that I realized I should have brought my glasses with me to the temple because the screen that had the names was so far away and the font varied from being a large sized font to being extremely tiny. Needless to say, I butchered a lot of the names and was pretty embarrassed by it. Still, it was a pretty cool experience to have been able to do that. And now I can’t say that “I never baptized anyone in my mission,” haha!

Saturday ended up becoming a pretty busy day, but not the kind of busy I was hoping for. Saturday morning, we filled up progressing records until it was time to head for lunch. The stake center right next to the Gilbert Temple was having an open-house today, which they didn’t tell us about until the day before. So they asked all the missionaries in the zone to help clean the building and set up some stuff at 2PM (the open-house was 3PM to 6PM). So we figured we’d be there for about an hour to set up and then leave. Nope! Turns out that we were supposed to have actually segments where we were going to talk about certain rooms such as talking about the chapel and the different classrooms and then set up a temple presentation for anyone who had questions about the temple. So we didn’t find this out until about 2:20 PM. Yeeeeeah, that would’ve been great to know earlier. So we try to scramble together and get everything set up and we feel pretty ready by the time 3PM starts and we’re ready to get this open-house started.

How many people showed up for the stake center open-house? About two. Yup. So most of the time we were just sitting there bored not getting anything done because we were apparently in charge of a big portion of this open-house. So by the time 6PM came around, we had to tear everything down. And then we finally left at about 7PM and went out for dinner. By the time we were done with dinner, it was about 8PM, so we just headed back to our apartment because it would have been pointless to head out into our areas for about 30 minutes and then ride all the way back. And we had a lot scheduled for Saturday too. We had two lessons we had to cancel at the last minute and we were planning on personally inviting each of our investigators to church, none of that got done. So that was pretty frustrating. Ah well.

Sunday was pretty cool though because the less-active brother of a part-member family we’ve been teaching got a calling that day as a Scout Committee chairman. And the past three weeks he’s gone to church is the first time he’s gone to church since High school. That’s pretty cool! So I was really excited that he got a calling because now him and his family are really going to get involved in the church even more so (he has a 15-year old son and an 11 year old who’s turning 12). We’re going to be teaching them again Tuesday, but that was really exciting to see that.

Anyway, so there’s been some struggles going on in the area, but as I said before, I’m not complaining. I’m happy to be teaching and this has been a good week. I hope all is going well with you guys!

Love,
Elder Foxx

Week 27; May 12, 2014: I’m Teaching!

Did I mention before how much of a culture shock it was for me that we were actually teaching? Haha, well I think I’ve finally gotten past that, haha. Anyway, so we’ve been teaching a lot this week. This week we now have 10 progressing investigators, which is amazing. Yesterday, we had two investigators attend church for the first time ever (and Elder Peery had been teaching them since the start of his mission – being 6 months ago)

We have a lot of youth investigators which has kind of been difficult because they are totally ready for baptism, understand all the lessons, and want to make a change in their life, but their parents won’t allow it. So that’s been kind of frustrating because we essentially either have to just wait it out until they turn eighteen or just pray and hope that the hearts of the parents are softened. But still, they’ve been coming to a lot of the youth activities every wednesday, they attended church everytime their parents allowed it, etc.

It’s been kind of cool teaching some of the youth though because we have to be a little more creative in how we teach. For example, Mark’s (recent convert) grandson is about 10 years old and has a bit of an attention-span problem so what we do is we play a game that revolves around a lesson. For example, the first lesson me and Elder Peery taught  was about the apostasy and restoration. So we had a bunch of cards and threw them up in the air and we had the three kids (one being the grandson, the other two being members) try and grab as many cards as they can. And we would relate to how when the priesthood authority was lost, everyone tried to grab as much truth as they could, but until the Restoration of the Gospel through Joseph Smith, no church had all of the truth. So little things like that has been kind of fun since we’ve had to think out of the box to get them to learn.

We also started teaching this brand new moved in family.  The husband hasn’t been active in the church since he was 17 and the wife and the two sons are not members. They moved in the neighborhood and started attending church by themself just because 1) they thought it would be a good way to quickly get introduced to the community and 2) they just felt like church could help out their family. And so far, they have come to church three times (their first time coming was the Sunday before I came in the area) and we’ve been able to teach them two lessons. And they seem really interested, so I’m pretty excited with what’ll happen with that family. It’ll be really cool if we could get the dad active again and be able to be worthy to baptize his wife and kids later down the road.

For two days in a row, we actually had Mark go on splits with us as we taught some of the investigators that were having difficulty keeping commitments and it has been really good having him with us. Mark is such a golden convert and just loves the church and because he has been baptized fairly recently, he knows how to relate a lot to these people. One of the investigators brought up the concern about coming to church because she heard about us having multiple wives and all the other rumors about the church and Mark pretty much led the lesson. I think me and Elder Peery said three sentences each that entire time we were there and Mark was just really encouraging and exciting about saying, “Just come to church and see for yourself, it has been the best decision for me.”

There was even one lesson with a guy who we haven’t been with in a while and we tried commiting him to pray every day and invited him to pray at the end of the meeting, but he refused. We asked why and he was just saying he just didn’t feel comfortable and didn’t feel ready and all that. And so we tried encouraging and Elder Peery said, “Okay, how about this? I’ll start by saying a prayer, and then Mark will say a prayer, and then if you feel comfortable, you can say a prayer.” The moment he said that, I was thinking, “Ah, dang it.” Because as missionaries, we’re constantly told to be bold in our commitments and when he said, “if you feel comfortable” I knew those weren’t the right words to use. And so he doesn’t end up praying and we sort of end up leaving the house. Although I don’t blame it on Elder Peery at all because I should have spoken up and said something during the lesson, but I just hate saying things that would either contradict or discredit anything he said (hence when during the prank with Mark last week, I hardly said anything)

Now here’s what was kind of interesting was that I wasn’t the only one who noticed we weren’t being bold enough. Mark got off on us about it and told us we needed to be more assertive and just tell them how it is and started talking about how “no” is one of the hardest words for people to say. So if you say something like, “if you feel comfortable,” you’re giving them the immediate option to back away. I thought it was pretty cool that Mark, someone who was baptized 3-4 months ago, was teaching us how to do missionary work lol. Well, pretty cool in that he knew how we could do better, but also pretty bad since it means we really need to do better if HE noticed that lol.

Anyway, so then yesterday was Mother’s Day and that was fun. Getting to Skype home was pretty fun, although it’s weird to think that my first two Skype calls are already out of the way and now I only have two left. That’s a little weird.

Oh, and today is officially my 6-month mark. On November 12th, 2013 I was dropped off at the mission office and put in with the new missionaries that just got off the airplane from the MTC and was thinking, “What did I get myself into?” So yaaaaay!

Hope you all have had a great week and a great Mother’s day and hope that you have a great upcoming week!

Love,
Elder Foxx

Pictures-

Living In the room Elder Foxx Skyped with us in was a Dr. Who fan. Elder thought it was very cool he had a tardis and sonic screwdriver.

Elder Who

Elder Foxx skyping to us on Mother’s Day!

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Week 26; May 5, 2014: Room with a View

One of the last things we got to do at the MTC was we got to go through the Provo Temple. That was a pretty cool experience, and the interior of the temple is very cool. The temple itself was awesome and the Celestial room was really, really cool.

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Also the last Sunday at the MTC, it actually snowed. Yeah, that’s really weird. It just started snowing outside out of nowhere. I took a picture of it outside the window, but it’s a little hard to see.

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So April 29th, we all woke up at 3:30 AM so we could grab all our bags and catch the bus by 4:30 AM. The bus drove us to the airport where we would fly to Arizona. It was kind of weird when I was thinking about it, because that airplane ride back to Arizona is really the only “airplane experience” I’ll ever get in the mission.

So we get to Arizona and of course President and Sister Nattress and the assistants are there to greet us. And everyone was saying “Welcome back, Elder Foxx.” The rest of the MTC group was a little confused because I didn’t tell them I served a mini-mission before coming to the MTC. All I told them was that I waited since June for my mission call and that I come from Goodyear, Arizona. So the truth came out that I had been out for 5 and a half months and it all made sense to the rest of the MTC group why I talked about certain things and subjects about missionary work that would make it sound like I have served a mission before lol. So the next day was Transfer Day where all the missionaries come in and left-and-right, I’m hearing, “Welcome back, Elder Foxx” and the rest of the MTC group is going, “Jeesh, everyone knows you.” That was kind of funny.

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So on Transfer day, I get put with my new companion Elder Peery. He’s from Orem, Utah and he and I actually came out together in the Gilbert Mission on November 12th (although he’s two weeks older than me because he has gone to the MTC before that and I only just barely came back from the MTC).

With Elder Peery

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I am now in the Temple View zone and for the first time in my mission, I am staying at an apartment. But this is the coolest apartment ever because it is literally right across from the Gilbert Temple. Seriously, we look outside our bedroom window and we have a perfect view of the temple. And we have a padio outside and again, the Temple is right there. So that’s pretty cool. Another first-time is that we actually live in the same apartment room as the zone leaders Elder Carrol and Elder Hall.

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On May 1, Elder Peery told me that we were stopping by a potential investigator named John. So we stop by and come in and John starts showing us a drawing of a cross with the word “Gethsemane” floating above the cross. And he’s saying that he’s going to branch off and make his own version of the Mormon church that would have crosses with the word Gethsemane floating. So it could cover Gethsamne, the crucifixion, and the “rising” of Christ is like the rising Gethsemane. He was talking about how they were trying to build their own temples with crosses on them and then change tithing from 10% to 30% so that the church could grow faster. Also, he was to get rid of the Word of Wisdom so that more people would be willing to join. And he’d change the title from “The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints” to the “Church of Jesus Christ of All Saints,” so that it doesn’t “exclude” anyone. I had no idea what to say throughout this entire thing and it looked like neither did Elder Peery. Except Elder Peery would have long periods of silence as John was talking and would agree a lot with what John was saying. And at one point even said, “Yeah, that actually sounds like it would be a better church than ours.” In my mind, I couldn’t tell if he was either so stuck on what to say that all he could do was agree just to make sure John didn’t get ticked and kick us out or if Elder Peery was going apostate.

We eventually leave the house because we said we didn’t have much time.

Now the rest of the story…

Elder Peery had been talking about this recent-convert named Mark who has been a very strong active member of the church and loves the church a lot, but has some interesting questions and concerns. And he’s trying to get his grandson, Jake, to take the lessons.

Well, at about 5:00 PM, we had a lesson set up with Jake with Mark there… and I find out that Mark and John are the exact same person and that I was played for fools. Elder Peery and Mark set up this entire prank! I was pretty impressed that they pulled it off as well as they did. They got me good, I was pretty darn scared of what was happening that morning!

And throughout the rest of that day and throughout the rest of this week, I found out how different this area is compared to the last two areas I have been in. Namely this: We taught the Restoration of the Gospel with a 15-year old investigator at 4PM, at 5PM we taught Mark and Jake about the Apostasy and Restoration, and at 6PM ended up going over the baptismal interview questions with an investigator that has been difficult to get a hold of and he wants to be baptized. All in that one day.

For the first time ever in my mission, I am now in an area where I actually have people to teach. Honestly, it was weird, it was like culture shock. There was only one point in my mission where I ever had an investigator and that was during my last two weeks of the second transfer. And now I’m in this area and we have about 12 investigators and we have been teaching every single day. It is AWESOME! There are so many blessings coming this transfer, I can’t believe it. It is so alien to me that this much work is happening. The statistics we have been getting in this past week alone (as far as teaching investigators go) is infinitely better than any that I have gotten in my entire mission. I don’t know what it is, but somehow this area is just thriving. It’s incredible! And all of the people we teach have good fellowships and all the lessons thus far have gone really well. I don’t know what it is, but it is fantastic!

So thus far, I am absolutely loving it here. Things are going really great and I am really grateful to be blessed with this work after going through four transfers of very little going on, teaching-wise.

Hope you all have a great week! Love you all!

Love,
Elder Foxx

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