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