Week 51; October 27, 2014: Happy Halloween!

So this week was pretty slow. Half of the lessons that we had set up had to cancel at the last minute for one reason or another, so that was rough. Last Friday, our zone started a competition for who can find the best Halloween decorated house and take a picture of it. So throughout this week, we made it a point to take pictures of a lot of the houses we came across. We saw some really cool ones (including a few of the “lights that sync up to different songs” houses) and Elder McGonigal and I won second place with one of the houses. But the winner (being Elder Petty and Elder Christainsen) was a tough one to beat. The house was full of every single kind of Halloween decoration you could find and the house was extremely long.

So since Elder Petty and Elder Christainsen (used to be Elder MacFarlene) moved in, they have been trying to find an alternative house within or near their area boundaries that they could refer to the vehicle coordinators and move into that one. There was this one small apartment that one of the members of their ward referred to the vehicle coordinators. Elder Petty and Christainsen were hoping to at least see the inside of the home before moving in… but on Tuesday morning, the assistants suddenly call them and tell them that to pack up their things and that they were moving to this new apartment before they even got a chance to look around in it. Not even the vehicle coordinators looked into it. They kind of just randomly decided to move them in there. So we had to take a good chunk of the day moving them out and moving them into their new home. And as difficult as it was having them live in our home with the tiny bedroom and one bathroom, I don’t envy them for the new apartment they moved to. Their apartment has a toilet that is the size of the nursery toilets at the church buildings, the air conditioning is either freezing at 50 or not on at all, there is no microwave, and the only washer and dryer there in the apartment is outside and it is a community washer and dryer where you have to pay $1.00 to use them. Soooo they downgraded. They were not happy at all.

So now it is just me and Elder McGonigal living alone in the house again. It’s weird… it’s a lot more quiet… I don’t know, it kind of sucks not having room-mates because then you literally only have your companion to talk to and that’s it. And I don’t care how much you like someone, you’re eventually going to get tired of just talking to them especially after spending literally the entire day being with that one person.

On Wednesday during lunch hour, the zone had a pumpkin carving contest, which was pretty fun. Our Pumpkin started out as just the Superman logo, but then when we saw how quickly it got done compared to others who were still working on their’s, we ended up putting in the Batman logo on there too. And since we realized that they Batman logo was off-center, we decided to put in the Flash logo on there too. So it became a DC-themed pumpkin.

On Saturday morning, we went to the Sister’s area and helped did service with them for one of their members. What did we do? Tried our best to clean out the house. Basically, we were trying to clean out a hoarder’s house. This woman had a TON of just… junk, really. And she would not let us throw half this stuff away. At first, she said, “Okay, if you find any paper you can just throw it away.” And we found DVD cases that were made to hold 100 DVD’s that were FILLED with coupons for different things, most of which were “Save 50 cents on such and such item” and I’m sure half of them were expired. And we found an entire backpack full of newspapers and coupons and most of them were expired and we were about to throw them away and she walked in and got super ticked and told us to put those things out of the trash bag back into the backpack. We tried as best as we could to clean the house out, but with her not willing to get rid of the stuff she’s never going to use, not a lot of progress was made. It was frustrating!
Apart from that, not a whole lot happened. We had an appointment with the Chadwick’s this upcoming Friday, but then it occurred to us all that that was Halloween. So we have to reschedule that. We also stopped by our investigator who is on date for November 11th and just talked more about the Baptismal program. And the lesson we were supposed to have with the Reader’s last Monday cancelled, so hopefully we’ll get in with them tonight. We tried calling to confirm the appointment, but no response yet. It’s been kind of a slow week.

Hope you all have a great week!

Love,
Elder Foxx

Here are pictures of our pumpkins!
PumpkinCarving1 PumpkinCarving2 PumpkinCarving3 PumpkinCarving4 PumpkinCarving5 PumpkinCarving6 PumpkinCarving7 PumpkinCarving8 PumpkinCarving9 PumpkinCarving10 PumpkinCarving11 PumpkinCarving12

Week 50; October 20, 2014: The Atonement is Real!

Forgot to mention this, but last Monday, we all woke up at about 5:00 AM to go hike up the San Tan Mountain and get to the top by sunrise. At the view from the top, you can actually see the Gilbert Temple from the far distance. Anyway, so there’s a few pictures from that.

That night, we then had a lesson with a Part-member family (the husband is a member, the wife is not). They attended church about a month ago and Bishop came and approached them and flat-out asked her if she would like to take the lessons with the missionaries. She said yes and we met with them about a month ago to introduce ourselves, but they were going to be out of town for a while. And so finally we set up an appointment to meet with them last Monday and were able to teach the Restoration of the Gospel and committed her to read and pray about the Book of Mormon. The lesson went pretty well and we have another appointment with them again tonight at 7:00 PM, so hopefully that goes well.

Wednesday was then Transfer meeting. It was also Elder McGonigal’s birthday. So one of Elder McGonigal’s recent converts made a Birthday breakfast (French toast with strawberries, blackberries, and whipped cream). And then we went over to Transfer meeting, which took up a good chunk of the day, and then we went to Joe’s Farm Grill on the way back from transfer meeting (Since Joe’s Farm Grill does free birthday meals if the meal is $10). Which, by the way, Joe’s Farm Grill has the weirdest freaking bathrooms I have ever seen in my entire life. They’re not disgusting or anything, they’re just…… weird. It’s an experience like no other, I guarantee it. And then our ward mission leader from Seville Park ward took us out to dinner at Firehouse subs (again, they do free birthday meals). And the night before on Tuesday, I told one of the members who loves baking goods and treats that tomorrow was Elder McGonigal’s birthday, so we had a chocolate pie to end the day off. So that was a fun day!

Oh, and on top of that, we got told on Transfer meeting that we got a car back! It’s not the same car, but it is a car! YAAAY! I was actually really surprised we got it back this soon, let alone got it back at all. They also gave us an extra 50 miles to use (thank goodness, because we only had 400), so as long as we just use the car for meetings, P-Day, and emergencies, then we should be set! So that was great!

Thursday morning, I spent the entire time trying to learn the area better and trying to read maps better. Elder McGonigal would give me an address to go to and I’d have to find it using the map. I’m getting a LITTLE better (emphasis on “little”), but it’s still really frustrating to me. I don’t know why directions and maps are so difficult for me.

We then went over to the Hutching’s for dinner at Saturday and they had two other families over there, including the Chadwick’s, and had Venezia’s Pizza (which has extremely huge slices) and so we were there for a little bit and then before we left, we showed the 20-minute Restoration movie. Then Saturday, we stopped by the Chadwick’s again to see how they were doing and to set up a regular time in which we could meet with them. We’re going to start going over the lessons again (Restoration, Plan of Salvation, Gospel of Jesus Christ, etc.), but this time going over the lessons using all scriptures to describe each point. That’ll probably happen every Friday. So it should be good!

Apart from that, not a whole lot happened. ‘K’ forgot she was going to be out of town all week, so she didn’t tell us that until Monday night, so we didn’t have a chance to go over there at all.

One last thing I would like to add to this update though is something that I have been thinking about during Wednesday at Transfer meeting. And that was that my second companion, Elder W. finished his mission on Tuesday and is now home. And I have thought about the beginning of my mission and particular that time period and then where I’m at now. Now, it’s no secret that Elder W. and I didn’t get along while we were companions. There was lots of disagreements and contention within that companionship. But looking back on that transfer, I learned a lot from that transfer and I learned a lot about myself and the changes that have happened both with me and with him since that transfer. Two transfers ago, when I was with Elder Furse, I lived with Elder W. again for four weeks. And if there was anything that I learned with living with him again is that the Atonement of Jesus Christ is real and that Repentance and Forgiveness is real. There was no contention between us in those four weeks. We got along just fine, and we found out how much we had in common. We were able to see each other in a different light, a big part being that both of us have changed a lot since that 7-week transfer. When I got transferred away from Elder Furse, Elder W. and I continued emailing each other a little bit each week. And three days ago, I just got another email again from him now that he is at home and has been released from the calling as a full-time missionary.

In many a ways, I’m glad to have had that experience to see how much we have changed for the better. And thinking back on Transfer meeting and thinking that now he is home and I would not see him again in transfer meetings or anything like that… someone that I used to say to myself that I absolutely hated was now someone that I would refer to as friend. That is the power of the Atonement of Jesus Christ. And it’s a miracle that the Gospel is there for us so that we can improve and become more Christlike!

I love you all and hope that everyone has a great week this week!

Love, Elder Foxx

Here are pictures from our hike…
Hike1 Hike2 Hike3 Hike4 Hike5 Hike6 Hike7 Hike8 Hike9 Hike10 Hike11 Hike12 Hike13 Hike14

Week 49; October 13, 2014: Baptism

So this was one crazy week!

So on Monday night, we get a text from the zone leaders to come to one of the church buildings on Tuesday at 1:00 PM. Why? Because President Nattress was showing the whole zone the movie, “Meet the Mormons” before the movie even releases in theaters. He told us how it was an assignment by the First Presidency to show all the missionaries the movie so that they know exactly what is in it and what to tell people about it. The movie was really good, so I definitely recommend it if you haven’t seen it yet. I know it’s only on specific movie theaters, and you can find out exactly where/how to watch it in this website below:

http://meetthemormons.com/

Then on Wednesday, Elder McGonigal and I were getting finished with studies and were about to head out…… when all of a sudden, we see a big truck full of suitcases, bins, and furniture pull into our backyard. *Surprise!* We got two new room-mates and nobody gave us any notice!

So what happened was that there were four missionaries living in this house known as “The Happy House” (because it was located on Happy Rd) and it has been a home for missionaries for over nine years. And they just recently shut it down and they had a small guest house for two of the Elders to live in, but they had nowhere else to put the other two in. So they moved those Elders (Elder MacFarlene and Elder Petty) into our house. And our house has since then been extremely messy because they have nowhere to put their stuff except in the living room. Our house has one small bedroom and one bathroom (one toilet and one shower). Which works fine for two missionaries, but for four, it’s a bit of a struggle. So we had to spend all morning until about 1:00 PM just moving stuff in and re-arranging stuff in the house. They put in two new beds into our small bedroom and combined my and Elder McGonigal’s beds into a bunk-bed so there would be room. So that was a little frustrating.

Then on Thursday morning, our whole zone was going to go to the Happy House to help the Housing coordinators clean out the house. And let me tell you, there is a big reason they shut down this home. It is SUPER old and dusty. There were spider webs everywhere, dust and cracks on the walls, broken and ruined couches and chairs, scorpions, spiders, and ants everywhere, etc. it was BAD!

Then after we are done cleaning the Happy House, we get a call from the Assistants saying that they were coming in 20 minutes to take away our car. What happened was that there were some sisters in another zone who got their car backed into and that car got ruined. So they ended up taking our car. Apparently, there were about 10-15 wrecks the last month and a half. It’s insane! They’re supposed to be ordering more cars in, so the idea is that we’ll get the car back in about a week or two, but I’m kind of skeptical.

So it’s been a pretty insane week… but then Saturday at 2:00 PM was the Baptism for the Alex, Pam, and Alex (10-year old son) Chadwick. Brother Mabee (the ward mission leader for Seville) performed the baptisms and me and Elder McGonigal did the witnessing. It was really exciting! I’ll be honest, at the beginning of the transfer, I wasn’t too sure what would happen with them because the first three weeks I was in the area, things kept coming up that prevented them from coming to church and from meeting with us. But since then, things have been going great. Elder Thibodeaux (Elder McGonigal’s previous companion) gave a talk on Baptism and Sister Mabee gave a talk on the Holy Ghost. The baptism had a lot of attendance.

And then Sunday was their confirmation. And it was a really great experience. Since it was fast and testimony meeting, the time soon came for the congregation to come up and bear their testimonies. Brother Chadwick came up and talked about their story for how they came here. He talked about how he grew up Catholic and when starting a family would sample several different churches. And he had a co-worker named Grant Kelly (LDS member) who would talk religion with him. Finally, Grant Kelly invited the Chadwick’s to the Gilbert Temple open-house and then to the Mesa Temple Visitor’s Center. Elder Thibodeaux and Elder McGonigal got the referral the next day and knocked on the door and have been teaching them ever since. About two months ago, Grant Kelly sadly passed away. But it was because of his example and because he was willing to invite and share that which was precious to him, it changed a family and brought them much happiness. Brother Chadwick got a little emotional towards the end of his talk and was almost at the verge of tears when he closed. He told us afterwards, “That wasn’t supposed to happen.”

That was probably the best Fast and Testimony meeting I had ever been to. It was really great seeing the Chadwick’s progress so far in just the short six weeks I’ve been in this area. The spirit was so strong! I won’t lie, there have been several times in my mission where I have been discouraged… big time. I have questioned to myself why I was out here and why I am away from the things I used to enjoy at home just to be surrounded by feelings of inadequacy and having nothing but my weaknesses exposed. I have struggled a lot in that for the past 5 months… but seeing the process in which the Chadwick’s have progressed to make it this far and that they are excited to continue learning has done more to inspire me and encourage me in being out here in the mission more than anything else. I have had the privilege of playing a small part in someone else’s life and the choices they have made. The feelings of an accomplishment like that cannot be described. I feel that after all the heartaches, the struggles, and all of the hours and hours of praying (I am not kidding, a lot of prayers before I have gone to bed have lasted nearly an hour), that things are finally brighter. I still feel overwhelmed by my weaknesses… but it feels that I am reassured that those don’t matter. And that I just need to carry on and keep doing my best… I will keep the memory of the Chadwick’s baptism and confirmation in my heart… because I know that is something that will help carry me through the rest of the hard times that will happen in my mission. And this all happened yesterday on October 12th. It was eleven months ago from that date that I first started my mission.

Transfer calls came last night at 10:15 PM (which is relatively early compared to the transfer calls the past few transfers)… and this zone is getting destroyed. Literally every single companionship except for the sisters and except for Elder McGonigal and I have a missionary leaving. Yup. Me and Elder McGonigal are staying together for another six weeks! Which probably means I’ll be in this area for a little while. This will be Elder McGonigal’s last six weeks as a missionary… it’s weird. By the time he finishes, I’ll have been out on my mission for a year. It’ll be weird… but still, things are great!

Love, Elder Foxx

Chadwick's Baptism

Elder Thibodeaux, Elder Foxx, Elder McGonigal, Alex Chadwick II, Pam Chadwick, Alex Chadwick, Brother Mabee, Sister Mabee

Week 48; October 6, 2014: Great week!

So this week, we’re still working with the ‘C’ family  and with ‘K’. Things are going well with both of them. We continue to meet with ‘K’ twice a week to read from the Book of Mormon and just continue to build and increase her testimony. She was over at people’s homes and was able to watch all the sessions of conference, which is really good. And the ‘C’ family are doing well. They just watched conference at their home and they watched it Saturday, but apparently they didn’t watch it on Sunday (not sure why yet), and we’re going to be meeting with them again tonight to talk about the specifics of the baptism (who they want to baptize them, who they want to speak/etc.) We do have a time reserved for the building at 2:00 PM, so everything is good with that. Anyway, so that is really exciting!

We went to the Temple last Wednesday at the 7:00 AM session, which was nice. I noticed that they replaced the painting they had at the chapel with a different one, so that took me for a surprise. And then we went to Kneader’s afterwards and found it to be extremely crowded.

We had an Expanded zone conference on Thursday night (which is like a normal zone conference, but all of the leadership and missionary-minded members of three different stakes were invited). Unfortunately, only one person in both of our wards combined actually showed up to it. We were inviting all of the ward mission leaders/ward missionaries/auxiliaries/priests/etc. but for one reason or another, they could not come. There was this random football game that was going on between Basha and Perry High Schools (which are the dominate high schools that people in our wards go to) and so that slashed a good chunk of the people that would have come otherwise. So that kind of sucked. Still, the conference itself was pretty good and really got everyone to think more about what we can specifically do to invite people. One thing in particular that stood out is how we tend to think that when we give invitations that it is a “one perfect invitation in one perfect time – all or nothing, and if they don’t accept the invitation then that’s the end of everything.” In reality, it usually takes about seven to eight invitations before someone accepts one of those invitations. So we just need to keep inviting with love and not give up, even if it takes years and years of working with people.

General Conference was of course really good. A couple nights before Conference, the zone leaders told us we weren’t allowed to watch conference at a member or investigator’s home, so that was no longer an option. Not sure why, but whatever. So we ended up just staying in the stake center for a good majority of the day both days. But still, it was good. I think one of my favorite talks are on President Uchtdorf’s talk in the Priesthood Session about looking inward and letting go of our pride. He talks about the Savior at the Last Supper and how he tells them “one of you will betray me.” Rather than pointing fingers or thinking, “Oh, I wonder if it is that guy over there who is going to betray him,” they all look inward and say, “Lord, is it I?”

I also really liked the talk Elder Bednar gave Saturday Afternoon talking specifically to those who are not members of the Church and explains why it is that we do missionary work. We are not selling a product, nor are we simply trying to increase membership in the church. We are sharing that which brings us happiness, knowing that it will bring them happiness. I liked the story he shared about his two sons, one of which gets a scrape on his arm. And the older brother gets dish soap and scrubs it all over his younger brother, and his younger brother screams and howls, but eventually calms down when the older brother spreads this bottle of ointment all over him and then places bandages all across the arm. The younger brother, then excited about how much better he feels, takes the ointment and bandages and looks to place it on others so they can also receive the same comfort. It is the same with the Gospel. Surely if we suddenly discovered a cure to some great disease, we would share it with everyone. Nobody would think that is odd. Why then would it be odd to share the Gospel of Jesus Christ, the ultimate cure to any spiritual disease?

We finally got in contact with the ‘R’ family again (they were out of town for the past couple of weeks) last night. They said they’ll be out of town again next week in Alabama and then a couple weeks later will be out of town again. So it’s sounding like they’ll be difficult to keep a hold of, which is a little frustrating. But we talked for a little bit to get to know them a little bit more and we set up an appointment to meet with them this upcoming Thursday night, so hopefully all goes well there. There is also another potential investigator in Seville ward. The Ward Mission Leader has this friend who is interested in taking the discussions and she was actually over at the their place for General Conference and seemed to really like it. So if we can get in contact with her, then that’ll be another investigator we’d get to teach.

Things are rocking here in this area! I really hope I get to stay here this time because things are going so well!

Hope you all have a great week!

Love, Elder Foxx