Thursday, February 25, 2016

Another week!

This week has been super busy! We had our intern mission president, President Ferrin, interview our Zone on Wednesday. It was great to meet him again and get to know him. However, miraculously, President Taylor will be back into full swing next Sunday after meeting with the doctors and a member of the Seventy. This has been an answer to our prayers and fasting, and it sounds like he is doing great! I get to meet him soon and I am excited! Elder Clarke always talks about him and how great of a man he is.

This week at the soup kitchen (Homeless Shelter that we volunteer at), we made sloppy joes. I ground like twenty pounds of ground beef and mixed the sauce. Thanks mom for teaching me how to make sloppy joes! The practice definitely comes in handy when you have to feed like 150 people.

Dinners with members have been so great! Last night, we ate at this members house who made Philippine food and it was delicious. It reminded me of home! [mom edit: home meaning Hawaii...not sure I've ever cooked Philippine food!]

I went on two different exchanges this week. One with Elder Jewkes who is a Zone Leader, and Elder Barton, who is a District Leader. On Tuesday, Elder Jewkes came over to my area with me. This was my first time being responsible for the area. It was kind of stressful to think about before, but everything worked out great! On Saturday, I went over to Cherry Park with Elder Barton this time. We did a lot of walking again (it's a walking area). The thing I like about walking is that we have many opportunities to open our mouths and talk to people about the church. The down side of not having a car is that it is very unproductive, especially if someone cancels an appointment and you are like two miles away from home. But you definitely run into some fun homeless people while walking the streets of Portland.

One thing that has helped me a lot this week is reading the scriptures. I have focused a lot of time and energy pouring over the scriptures and studying as much as I can. Along with the hour of personal study every morning, I have tried to spend some time studying at lunch and before I go to bed. I have definitely felt the strength that comes from reading the scriptures and I promise you all will too! You don't have to spend hours doing so, but make sure you set apart some time to study what the prophets of old have been inspired to tell you. It has really helped build my confidence.

I didn't have enough time to listen to Conference Talks this week, because I've been spending so much time on the scriptures. But, I would highly suggest reading Alma 40-42. There are some great things about the Plan of Salvation in those chapters and I love it!

Alright I am going to play some ball! 

- Elder Sims

The Elders and Sisters were playing ball on p-day and shattered the backboard....oops.

February 15

Stake Conference was so great! One of our investigators came and after that we toured the Portland Oregon temple, with permission from President Ferrin. :) The temple is just like a few miles outside of our mission boundaries so we have to get permission. My area in which I serve (Colonial Heights/Mt Tabor Wards) is right on the border of my mission. It sucks sometimes because members sometime want to eat at a restaurant and it's not in our mission LOL. THANKS OPM (Oregon Portland Mission). BACK TO STAKE CONFERENCE. Both Elder Grow and Sister Oscarson mentioned that they had family in the Portland, Oregon Stake, which is our stake!! I LOVED Elder Hamula's talk! He talked a lot about fearing not in the things to come in the world, and keeping your eyes fixed on the Savior. How true is that! I also loved Elder Renlund's talk. It is SO important to remember how our church is unique and one of the reasons it is Christ's church. It is based on Priesthood Keys and Revelation. Christ's church came back on to earth not just by reading the Bible and guessing what His church was like, it came by solemnly pondering over the scriptures, asking the Lord with faith, and receiving an answer through divine revelation. That is what happened in the First Vision with a young boy named Joseph Smith. -- A cool pattern -> This is the same way that we find out for ourselves if the church is true, by studying and pondering over the scriptures, asking God with a sincere heart through prayer, and receiving and ACTING upon the answer you receive. Test this pattern in the scriptures (Like the Book of Enos!), God only answers us when we ask. Test it for yourself!

It has been cold and rainy all week long. Each morning is either freezing or a sauna because our heaters have no middle ground. Each morning, I have forced myself to wake up, pray and jump into my exercise clothes and exercise. The missionary schedule is becoming a lot easier to follow now. I am getting used to the stuff and I am focusing on improving my missionary work. Elder Clarke is a great trainer, he's been an Assistant to the President for six months and he has less weeks than I have months. He's got a lot of knowledge and e's a great missionary. Since the Cherry Park Elders don't have a car, we spend a lot of time with them. Since I am the greenie, I do become the target of being picked on every once and a while. :S

As far as packages DO NOT SEND ME CANDY. I mean that in the nicest way. Can I get the address to Heather McVey's address so I can send a thank you note? I also got a package from Jamie and Grandma! Jamie sent me some of those bars that I like (YEah, I'm good on bars too LOL) and grandma sent me some of those cookies. The chocolate covered Oreo things. I threw them away, and when the other Elders figured out where they were from, they pinned me to the ground and literally forced me to eat them all. HAHA. Elder Barton took video so I have evidence.

Talk recommendations:

"Becoming a Missionary" by Elder Bednar in October 2005. Great for
those preparing to serve a mission and everyone else.

"Miracles of the Restoration" by Jeffery R. Holland in October 1994. Just great.

- Elder Sims

Friday, February 12, 2016

....and the months feel like seconds.

Another really fast week! Holy smokes!

Being a missionary is the best! I love being so immersed in living the Gospel and teaching others about the joy of living it. The people I've met here are really becoming great friends. The members here are super nice and super devoted to the church, it's really nice. Having dinner every night is the best. I've had some really good meals. From meatballs and pasta, to ham, to pizza, to going out and having Italian. Most members feed us desserts also. It's just the best. Last night, we had a Tongan family feed us dinner. We had roasted pig, tapioca, shrimp, lamb, chicken and potato salad. They also had this REALLY AWESOME drink called Otai. It's really good and you've probably heard of it. It has coconuts, pineapple and a bunch of other stuff...SO GOOD....<3 OTAI <3

We also have a few really awesome and progressing investigators. There is a man that has met with the missionaries for years before and stopped seeing them last year. Just out of the blue, he called us up and wanted to take the discussions again! He is committed to being baptized soon too! A member who is really great friends with him and sits with us in the lessons say that this is the first time he has seen his friend this way. He says that his friend is different with us and we were definitely meant to be here at this time. This is such a great answer to my prayers about serving a mission at this time. There are many miracles that have confirmed the reason I am here. It is so great to see the progression in people's lives and see them change though the Atonement of Jesus Christ.

Every Tuesday, the Elders in our district volunteer at a place and we help cook dinner for the homeless. We made this really good pasta with peas and cake. I cut a TON of pods of peas and helped make the pasta and sauce. The end result was really delicious and the people let us take some bread home from their storage.

On Wednesday night we went on exchanges. Elder Clarke stayed and got Elder Barton, and I went to Cherry Park area with Elder Troutman. Elder Troutman is hilarious! We had a really great time! We started the exchange that night and it went 24 hours. In the morning, Elder Troutman made me French Toast! Cherry Park is a walking area so we did a LOOOOOOOOOOOT of walking. We walked a mile to this one persons house and they didn't answer their door and that was pretty lame, so yeah, I'm grateful for cars. We met with this Samoan guy who was really cool. He's less active, but loves hanging out with the missionaries. We had Pizza at his house and he gave us huge slices of lemon cake. He also wants to get me a laval ava (sp? KENSIE, is it lava lava or that?) 

A little bit more information on Portland. They are very environmentally friendly here in Portland. Everyone drives a Prius, lots of people walk or ride bikes (LOTS OF PEOPLE RIDE BIKES), we use paper grocery bags, and recycling is huge. Literally, it is like a serious crime to throw away a plastic bottle into a garbage can. Well, I guess a homeless guy will come around and pick it out of your garbage anyways. Yes, there are a lot of homeless people here and the city is very dirty. Portland is weird. There are a lot of people who...are a little fried in the brains because of partaking of some stuff that wasn't prescribed to them. At least most of them are friendly. And like I said before, the wards are small, but the members are super duper strong and helpful. Hehehe, so yeah, it rains a lot up here and the sun is kind of unknown. However, on this beautiful Sunday, it was nice and sunny and a perfect 60 degrees. Everybody in Portland today though has been like "OW. WHAT IS THIS BRIGHT SHINY OBJECT IN THE SKY. IT'S WARM AND IT HURTS TO LOOK AT. HONEY, CALL THE POLICE DEPARTMENT." :D OOH. It was so clear today that I saw Mt. Saint Helens and Mt. Hood.

I've been studying a lot from the Book of Mormon since I have been on the field. I haven't been just reading the words, but I have been dissecting the stories and been paying attention to the history of the people and so forth. The Book of Mormon is the greatest book in the world. It has helped me become the man I am today. The Book of Mormon testifies of Jesus Christ and His Gospel. It is so powerful to read prophets testify of our Savior. The Book of Mormon is also evidence that Christ's church is on the earth once more. If the Book of Mormon is true, then that means that Joseph Smith is a prophet of God, and that he was given the instructions from God to restore His true church on the earth once again. I know that the Book of Mormon is true- by reading it and knowing the blessings that come from doing so. If you have never heard about this book or you've read it hundreds of times, I urge you to read it and ponder about it and pray about it, to truly know for yourself if it is true. It will help strengthen your relationship with Christ and give you more joy than you can imagine. I testify of that.

Elder Clarke is a great trainer. He's not afraid to tell me what I need to correct or fix. Funny story, at a baptism on Thursday, me and another missionary shared the message of the Restoration after the baptism. While I was talking, I looked over at Elder Clarke in the audience, who seemed clearly unimpressed, and he pulled out a pen and paper and started taking notes of things I needed to correct! Haha, they were really great tips and helped me out a lot. Elder Clarke is a great missionary.

So I heard that the Super Bowl happened. That meant that we had a pretty unproductive Sunday as missionaries. We had a few lessons but other than that we were in our apartment studying scriptures. If we went tracting, all we would have gotten very angry people and we can't watch the Super Bowl and I know most of the members probably watched it. But I had a great time quietly reading. We were not allowed to be out past 7PM for safety reasons so we've had a TON of time to ourselves today. BUT that doesn't mean that we weren't productive, I got to read a lot from the Book of Mormon and dissect it a little bit.

The best thing about having an iPad is being able to listen to the words of our beloved prophets and apostles speak whenever we want. During our lunch break, I usually spend a few minutes to make and eat a sandwich, then I can use the rest of the hour to listen to General Conference addresses. It gives me so much peace and time to relax but also be inspired. SO, I have a few recommendations for talks this week:

"Finding Safety in Counsel" by Henry B Eyring in April 1997 - This talk is so good. It talks about the importance of following prophets, but it also explains that when we use our agency to disobey God, we are walking under the dangerous grounds of another master, rather than God punishing us or us being "independent".

"You Matter to Him" by Dieter F. Uchdorf in October 2011- This is a great talk if you feel small and inadequate in the world. :)

There are miracles that happen everyday on the mission field. There are things that make you have joy and make you feel loved. I wish so badly that I could remember them all. There is no time or energy sufficient enough for me to write them all down every night. However, I hope and pray that I will remember how I feel, because the Gospel of Jesus Christ has brought so much JOY into my life. If you are able to go on a mission, MAKE IT YOUR #1 GOAL. It will change your life.

Most of my emails probably won't be this long, so enjoy this one. I've had a little extra time this week to compile some notes so yeah.

PLEASE email me if you have any questions or you want to say hi. I'm anxious to hear how you are doing, no matter who you are. Even if you just send a picture with a little caption or you have a question that you have about the mission or the church, I will do my best to respond.

I love you all. I love my Savior. I love meeting people everyday that have been touched by the Lord. I know that the Lord's church, which contains the way to feel TRUE JOY, is on the earth once more. Read the Book of Mormon. Pray every day, every day, every day. The Lord answers ALL PRAYERS. I love our inspired Prophet, Thomas S. Monson. He is the only person who holds all the keys necessary to preside over the church. Miracles do happen. God loves you.

- Elder Sims

The days feel like weeks and the weeks feel like days...

Wow, is it already another week? IS IT REALLY FEBRUARY? That saying in the subject is so true though. Our days consist mostly of going all over the place, visiting less actives and referrals, and people often don't want to talk. As far as blindly knocking on doors, I literally have only done that to about five homes. Elder Clarke knows how to take full advantage of the time we have. He knows that there is more success in doing other things rather than knocking on random doors.

As our beloved Mission President, President Taylor, rests from a heart surgery, we have a new intern Mission President, President Ferrin for the time while President Taylor recovers. President Taylor did not get released, but his priesthood keys have been rendered dormant and have been given to President Ferrin. I met President Ferrin in a meeting on Tuesday of last week and he is a great guy! I am so thankful for his willingness to carry on the wonderful momentum of the Washington Vancouver Mission for a few weeks.

Brothers and Sisters, the Washington Vancouver Mission is THE BEST MISSION in the world. One of the great cultures of this mission is that it is not cool to be a disobedient missionary. Everybody work hard and does their part. Also, the presidency and office couples are SO NICE. President Anderson, first counselor in the WVM Presidency
likes to say "every day, every day, every day". If you listen to a general conference talk in April of 2015 titled "Stay by the Tree" by Kevin W. Pearson. I found out mid-talk that President Anderson was a counselor to him in the Washington, Tacoma mission. If you listen, he says "every day, every day, every day." :D

Another talk! If you can find a BYU devotional talk titled "His Grace is Sufficient" by Brad Wilcox, LISTEN TO IT. It has changed my view, and increased my appreciation, for the Atonement and Christ's grace, I LOVE IT.

On Wednesday, we had an appointment with a person who has investigated the church before, and wanted to take the discussions again. After we discussed with him, I invited him to be baptized and he said YES. He came to church yesterday too so he's progressing well! We have also been teaching this less active family almost every day this week. The husband is super hyper and he reminds me of Homer Simpson. After every discussion, he is calm and over the course of the week, the faith in this family has grown so much! It is so great to see the faith of these people grow so much!

As far as quirky things this week, in sacrament meeting for the special musical number, a guy played the clarinet accompanied with a singing piano player to "Amazing Grace" that lasted eight minutes long....YUP.

Fun things: Every missionary knows how to use AirDrop and we use it all the time. For photos, notes, and other things, IT IS SO USEFUL. Also a random thought, here is a business idea and present it to any company in the world: You take eighteen-twenty year olds, pair them with a person they don't know in a place unfamiliar to them, give them a car, a debit card, a phone, an iPad....WHAT COULD POSSIBLY GO WRONG? But, it works! Because it is the LORD'S work. Also, something President Anderson also said is "All you can do is all you can do, and all you can do is enough." I went to an L&L today and got a Loco Moco and a Spam Musubi. They were pretty decent!

Monday, January 25, 2016

"Pope for go"

Hello all!

A little background on my area: I am in the Colonial Heights/ Mt Tabor area in the Portland Zone. It is in he southernmost tip of the mission. This area is known to have some...interesting things to write in your journal everyday. There is a motto in this city - "Keep Portland weird" -and that is definitely the case. For example, we met this man and started talking to him about prophets. Then he was like "Oh yeah! I'm one! I'm actually the pope! Yannow, the one in Italy is just the Pope for Show, but I am...I am the Pope for Go!" Haha! Also in sacrament meeting, someone played a harmonica solo for a special musical number. In Colonial Heights, there is a huge number of less actives, around 500 people. Both wards have about 50-100 people at sacrament meeting and I got to help bless and pass the sacrament in both meetings. Also, the Colonial Heights building was built in the 1920s and it is SO COOL.

Oh and the "we" in that story is me and my new companion, Elder Clarke! He's been out for eighteen months and according to every single person I've talked to, he's the best guy on the mission- And that is true! He's really obedient and knows his way around. Everybody loves him and he talks with power too.

We live in a small cottage apartment in the center of Portland.  Please don't send mail to me here, send it to the mission office and they forward it to all of us.

Elder Eric P. Sims

Washington, Vancouver Mission
2223 NW 99th Street
Vancouver WA 98665

I've gained some weight.  I’ve had to loosen my belt. I've done sort of an "eat whatever is in front of you because everything else is new and food is comfort" type of thing, on top of no exercise. So I am changing that this week. I bought some turkey, bread, string cheese, lettuce, carrots and cottage cheese and almond milk so I should be doing better. I've eaten at two members homes and he first night we had soup in a bread bowl and the next night was homemade cheeseburgers. The members are REALLY nice and take very good care of us. 

Elder Clarke and I are doubled into this area, which means that we were both transferred into it. So we have just spent the last couple of days going through the area book and trying to visit everyone. I've got some practice knocking on some doors and teaching some discussions but for the most part, we've just been in the car driving to different homes.

I got a haircut today and it looks pretty nice. GreatClips asked for my number and then they asked if my address is still 95-1144... And I was like ouch. :) I haven't been homesick this week, but it definitely has been hard. I am still getting used to the schedule and I am really tired all the time. But the AP's said If you are tired, it means you are doing something right. If you are weary, then you need help.

The trip from the MTC was fast. We woke up at three in the morning and went on the train to the airport. Then we flew to Portland where we met the presidency and AP's. I love President Anderson (1st counselor to President Taylor). I got to meet Sister Taylor at dinner time. [Mom edit:  President Taylor was in the hospital after having surgery after his heart attack. He is recovering well at the mission home and plans to continue his mission!]

These iPads are SO GREAT. There is an area book app where it has all of the information and planners for us. It is really nice compared to trying to read someone's handwriting on a traditional area book. Also, I am able to listen to any general conference talk I want to in the Gospel Library app. After every lunch break we have, I turn on a talk.

We also email on our iPads. I can't read your emails during the week, but I have all P-day (10 AM to 6PM) to write you guys. But I can't "chit chat" either, like send short emails back and forth.

I am doing great. I know that there is no better thing I could be doing right now. The first week on the field has felt like an eternity and it's been hard to transition from easily cruising at the MTC. It's funny, I thought the MTC was hard haha. Every night when I crawl to my bed, I thank my Heavenly Father so much for giving me the strength to get through another day. I feel your prayers and I know I am being strengthened through Christ and his atonement. I know the gospel of Jesus Christ is on the earth again and the only way to find out if it is true is following Moroni 10:3-5. Read the Book of Mormon, and ask with real intent, willing to act upon the answer you get. Love you all. 

- Elder Sims

Eric and his companion

Eric in his ward building

Eric's apartment is part of this home

This is the general area Eric is serving in currently

Thursday, January 14, 2016

WEEK ONE (plus one day!)

Like I said before, our Preparation day was on a Thursday and they didn't give it to us last week because we were brand new. So I AM SO HAPPY TO WRITE HOME NOW. <3

The first few days of the MTC felt like years. But they were so much fun! I have learned so much and I am super excited to be in the field in FIVE DAYS. I am grateful for the experiences I have had here because they have all caused me to humble myself before the Lord and grow. 

Helpful tip to future missionaries: Please obey the rules and schedule as much as possible, they are inspired and put there for a reason and I promise you that you will be blessed. 

The food here is great! I have tried to stay reasonably healthy and it is paying off! I haven't gained any weight yet. (Desperately knocks on wood) 

THANK YOU SO MUCH for the dearElders and packages. All of them have given me MUCH comfort and support. I have so much food in my dorm, including a 2lb bag of sweedish fish and Ritz crackers. Those wil always remind me of the MTC now haha! MOM THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR THE MINTS. I needed some badly because gum is not allowed. Grandma, I got your package yesterday and have already eaten like half of the loaf. hehe 

Gym time is so much fun. I have played a lot of basketball and I have been doing REALLY GOOD at it. Thanks dad for all of those times when we shot hoops on teaching me how to play. (BTW I am trying to type really fast on a crappy keyboard so forgive grammar and spelling.) 

My district is great! We have all really bonded and I feel like all of the sisters are like big sisters to me. The Elders and I have all REALLY bonded and we all are like big bros. My companion, Elder Wilde is great at giving me support at the low times and he always has the funniest things to say. 

Devotionals are SO COOL. And on Tuesday, ELDER ANDERSON FROM THE QUORUM OF THE TWELVE CAME. He was so cool and he simply talked about the Gospel. Sometimes the simple things are the most important! On Sunday we had a Preisthood Devotional with Elder Neilson, a seventy over missionaries for something and he gave a REALLY good talk on revelation. LOTS OF GOOD NOTES. Speaking of notes: Try taking notes on sketchbook paper! It is so cool so see where your mind takes you if you draw or write whatever and wherever the spirit wants you to!

One of the most important things you'll learn at the MTC is how much you don't know. You learn to rely heavily on the Spirit and to prepare lessons. My teachers have been great at allowing ourselves to learn by the spirit.

Our TRC (investigator) visits did not go well. He argued a lot with us and Elder Wilde and I got super lost. We didn't get to teach much. I started to get a lot of feelings of inadequacy and was putting myself down, then I realized that sometimes this will happen. So far, I have only "role played" or seen only perfect examples, and sometimes, people are not ready. Also, Elder Wilde and I could've done a little better job at preparing but it was our first investigator ever and we are brand new. And I have learned a lot.

I KNOW my Savior lives. I know that he provided us with a way to get back to our Heavenly Father through His sacrifice. I know that hard work pays off. I know there is little comfort in the growth zone, but little growth in the comfort zone. I love you all so much and I would love to get letters from you all. I am leaving the MTC on Tuesday morning at 3:30 AM to go to Vancouver so the next time I write you will probably not be until next next Monday. Love ya'll!

Elder Sims

Friday, January 8, 2016

Quick Update


The first five minutes were a huge rush and all crazy but everyone was very nice and pointed me in the right direction. My companion is Elder W. and he is great! He also loves computer science and he has a couple of apps on the app store. There are two other Elders in my district Elder P. and Elder J. I have been assigned to be the District Leader which is awesome and I get to pick what our opening song is every class :)  Another one of the assignments of the district leader is to pick up the mail and deliver it. Since I got assigned yesterday, I have only picked up the mail today, but I am not allowed to open my mail or pass it out to anyone until tonight. So I feel really bad because everyone in my district knows I have it and they are really desperate to hear from home. :)

These first few days have felt like a few weeks. I am not homesick at all!! I love the experience of living on my own and taking care of myself. The food is great and I have been able to resist the temptation of eating donuts and cookies with every meal. I always try to incorporate as many vegetables as possible. Oh by the way, DO NOT DRINK THE ORANGE JUICE.

I have met a lot of people from Hawaii here so that's nice!

On our first full day, our teacher didn't show up, so we kind of had to teach ourselves. It was SO AMAZING. We knew we had to study the Book of Mormon as a district so we dissected a chapter for a whole hour. The spirit was SO STRONG and our district really grew together. 

I love how much the Spirit has testified to me of Jesus Christ. I love the strength and love of my district. I have realized the power of prayer and know Heavenly Father listens and answers us.  I have to go now, this is only a little update. My Preparation Day is on Thursday of next week and they didn't give it to us this week because we are new.