Tuesday, April 26, 2011

I've been transferred... kind of

Dear family,

Once again I greet you from Garlicky Gilroy. All is well. This last week was especially fun. We sent Elder Cornaby home with a baptism.

On Easter we held the baptism of Jose Luis Resendiz. After just four short weeks of lessons, he was ready for baptism. He is was one of the most prepared investigators I have taught since teaching Dina Sanchez Pena in Redwood City. It was really fun. Elder Cornaby had never taught anyone like that before. At one point in the process, he asked me how you help investigators like this progress towards baptism. My response was, "we try not to screw it up." Luckily we didn't. It required some fasting and lots of prayer this last week, but everything went well. He had arranged his schedule so that he could be baptized Friday night. When he received his schedule on Tuesday, everything was different than he had arranged with his boss. We had to scramble to find away to solve it all. At first, it didn't look like there was a solution. Fortunately, we taught him about fasting and immediately began fasting to find a solution. His fellowshipper even joined us in the process. By the time we met with him the next day he had cleared his work schedule for Sunday. With the permission of President DeSalmones we held the baptism Easter Sunday immediately after church. It was amazing to feel the Spirit as he came up out of the water. I had never anticipated celebrating easier this way, but was happy with the outcome. Jose Luis even shared his testimony at the baptism. He told the branch how he had felt like he had known everything and everybody before. Everything was familiar. I guess that is the way the gospel is. Nothing is ever new, but only forgotten. Eventually we will all have the chance to have our memory jogged. Even Jose Luis's wife was very happy for his decision to be baptized and told us so through a phone call of gratitude.

So, this morning I received my new companion, Elder Smoot. Elder Smoot has been serving in the Morgan Hill half of the Gavilan Branch. Because of a small shortage of missionaries our areas will be combined and we will cover from San Jose to Gilroy, a distance of thirty miles. We will still be living in Gilroy, the center of the zone, but will be spreading our work throughout the entire branch boundary. Both of our areas are hopping. We are looking at a potential of six baptisms in the month of May. We are very excited for this.

We just set another baptismal date last night with the husband of a member. We had been working with the Quintero family for quite some time and were very happy that Miguel made the decision to be baptized. We will help him along the way, but he made the decision that this is the church that he wants to raise his family in. We had been working with his family since the first week I arrived in Gilroy. It was a long process of trust, dinners, spiritual thoughts, lessons, brownies, and lasagna rolls. All of these things led him to eventually trust us missionaries and accept the church. We even spent a P-day teaching the Quintero's how to make lasagna rolls. (They are kind of my specialty. When people ask what I can cook I always tell them Lasagna rolls. I have since taught quite a few members to make lasagna rolls. Yum)

I am excited for the work that awaits us. We are very pleased with the exceptional missionaries that the Lord has sent to the Morgan Hill zone. We expect to see more and more miracles. We just began a process of covenant planning that will really help us to progress our ability to baptize and see our brothers and sisters make covenants with God.

I am grateful for all of the mail that I just received at transfers. I even received a really surprising letter. I will tell you about it in December. I'm sorry, but you have to wait.


Elder Badger

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Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Many General Authorities

Dear family,

Another week gone. It's sad to realize that the short time on a mission flies by so fast. Elder Cornaby is going home next week. I feel like I just got transferred to the Morgan Hill zone. It goes by so fast that I am just going to claim from now on that I am at 15 months. It will keep me from dealing with the point in my mission when people begin to say "you go home soon." Also, fifteen months is perfect to let them know that I actually know a little bit of Spanish and have a halfway decent chance of being able to communciate a little more than "pass the tortillas, please." Please make it published if you desire, but I will no longer grow old as missionary. 15 months it is.

We are excited to baptize Jose Luis Resendiz this friday. He is very excited. He even introduced us to his wife via telephone. She is very excited that he is getting baptized and wishes she could be here to see it. They are planning on getting sealed once he has enough money to move his entire family from Mexico. It was amazing how the Lord led us to someone as prepared as Jose Luis. We feel like we did nothing. We just invited someone on the street to church and he accepted. His life will be forever different because he accepted a simple invitation.

We had an awesome lesson with Eugenia Rojas. She continues to progress and is excited to see a baptism this weekend. She has accepted all of the major commandments and already feels as if she has been a part of the church her entire life. She was raised in a convent in Mexico and knows that everything we teach is true. She is surprised she never found out more about the church before coming the the United States. We are shooting for a May baptism for her as well.

We have begun to roll out something new I have been using in other areas. Covenant planning is something we are teaching our missionaries so that they can truly find out what the Lord wants them to do to baptize. Simply, it requires missionaries to find out, through prayer, how many people they are supposed to baptize in the upcoming month. They then find out what they must do to receive that blessing. By the time they are finished, they have formed a binding promise with the Lord to know how to baptize in the upcoming month. It is amazing how many times this last week we have received a confirmation that this is exactly what our zone needs. It is something that I have done from time to time in my mission thus far, but have had troubles maintaining. It is hard spiritually, emotionally, and physically but worth it. It will help our missionaries develop a one on one working relationship with the Lord because a covenant has been made.

We are really excited to see all the miracles that are to come in the next few weeks.

The Gavilan Branch continues to grow and improve. We are hovering at just below 100 members in sacrament meeting. With a few more priesthood holders we can become a ward. We were excited to welcome back President DeSalmones, our branch president, from El Salvador where he finalized the adoption of his three year old son David. We had a good time being involved in the surprise party that was help upon their return. The Branch is glad to have three year old David as a part of the primary. The Desalmones are anxious to enter the temple and get sealed to David as well. It really is a blessing to have such strong leaders guiding the work here in the Morgan Hill Stake. There are some changes in the air that make us very excited.

In preparation for these changes we will be having many visits from General Authorities. The weekend of May 20th Elder Clayton and an apostle will tour the mission. The following weekend we will receive special stake training from Elder Hinkley and Elder Allen of the missionary department. I can't say much now, but we are super excited. Elder Cornaby would give his best tie to be able to extend a month.

The work progresses wonderfully. Peace be the journey.


Elder Badger

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

A two week testimony

Dear family,

It is sunny and beautiful here in Gilroy. We have been busy. We are working on increasing our finding again. It is somethings that we always have to work on. If we can keep our finding going the way it needs to, we are able to invite more people to experience the blessings of the gospel.

I sent a letter today which explains a lot more about what is going on. My hope is that you transcribe it and post it here as well.

Our investigator with a baptismal date is progressing very well, however he has had a bit of trouble attending church because of his work schedule. He is working on it. He has been very excited about his baptism on the 23rd. He told us some exciting news. His wife is a member. He didn't even know it. He is saving up to bring his family here to the United States. He hopes to get sealed to them once they arrive.

He found all of this out via telephone. He was telling his wife about the cool things he was learning with the Mormon missionaries, when she explained, "I was baptized into that church as a teenager. I stopped going when we moved, but I am a member." He was really excited. We are working to send the missionaries in Mexico to reactivate her and teach his teenage children. It is amazing how there is almost always a connection to a member of the church. Sometimes we just need to open our mouths.

We had an awesome lesson this week with Eugenia. She told us a little more about her story. She was a journalist in Mexico, but suffered as a result of the economic crisis. She felt the need to come to the States and start over. For the last two months, she has been living with her family working and learning English. Her hope is to carve out a life here and start afresh. I included much more from her story in the letter I wrote last week.

I am sorry that this email is so short. The letter is much longer. I think you will find it more exciting.


Elder Badger

Monday, April 11, 2011

Christopher's Letter Home

Dear Mom, Dad, and Lizzy,

What a crazy birthday week. Yes, I did get a cake. I had an awesome birthday party. From what I hear, it was quite the party. We were only at it for an hour, but the rest of the guests were there until 9:30 pm. We had a tres leches cake. After blowing out the candles everyone was saying “mordida, mordida.” (a bite, a bite). As is tradition, I bit the corner of the cake. I was surprised when our recent convert, Alicia Hernandez, pushed my face into the cake. It took a good 10 minutes to get the blue frosting out of my nose. The cake was very good, and the company was even better.

I haven’t told you much about our coolest new investigator. Eugenia Rojas is the type of investigator missionaries dream of teaching. I am lucky; Dina was the first golden investigator. Luckily, we have two more currently in out teaching pool. Eugenia is one and Jose Luis is the other. During the last two weeks we have learned a lot about Eugenia. She liked conference a lot and commented on Elder Holland’s talk. She even made reference to it the next week at church. After yesterday’s meetings, we had a lesson with her. As we talked, we learned why she is so methodical in her study of the church. She was a reporter in Mexico for twelve years. She covered everything from sports to politics to business. ASt her height, she was one of the best in Guanojuato, but the economy and political shifts in Mexico eventually caught her. As radio and newspaper reporting was replaced by internet news outlets, her coworkers lost their jobs. The first to go was her driver, and then her photographer. As she watched them leave, she was forced to learn photography to make up for the reduction. As this happened, she kept feeling as if God wanted her to come to the United States. She did so. Within six months, we knocked on her door.

During yesterdays lesson, she explained how we had answered questions she thought couldn’t be answered. We showed her a church established by Jesus Christ. She told us that she had never felt the spirit in such a way. She understood that because God told her the Book of Mormon was true, everything else established through the restoration really did happen. When we invited her to be baptized again, her answer wasn’t no, but rather “Give me a chance to ask God how to tell my family. This is something I must do; God will need to help me.” We were blown away by this answer. In 14 days, Eugenia Rojas gained a testimony of the restored church of Jesus Christ. She heard the testimonies of two 21 year old young men, apostles, a prophet of God, and the Holy Ghost. She now knows that Thomas S. Monson is a prophet, that Joseph Smith restored the Christ’s Church, that the Book of Mormon is true, and that he Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is the only true church on this planet. I, too, know this to be true.


Elder Badger

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Many Miracles

Dear family,

Life is beautiful. Thinks here in Gilroy have been wonderful. We keep finding prepared people. Between conference, the temple, and the investigators we have we are certain that the Lord is really watching over us.

I never know where to start when I write these emails. For some reason, the work is so much fun that I can't remember what we did the last week unless I check my planner or read my journal entries. Once I finally remember, my email time is usually all used up.

So, I will start with last week. Our week started well. We had a typically busy p-day sin nap. Although we prefer not to schedule appointments on preparation day, it is worth it if it means a strong start to the week. It was on Monday that we had an appointment fall through and decided to tract instead. As a result, we found Eugenia Rojas, a young grandmother of about 50 years old. She invited us in and let us share the message of the restoration with her. We were able meet with her later in the week and invite her to general conference. SHE CAME!!!!! We were super excited. She was able to listen to the closing session of General Conference. She really liked it and told us she had some questions for our next lesson. We gave her a tour of the Morgan Hill building and showed her the baptismal font. She told us that she was seriously thinking about baptism. I think conference and seeing the baptismal font really helped. It is amazing to get a new investigator and get them to church in the same week. It is always a wonderful sign.

Tuesday morning, we started off the day with a 7am conference call with the zone leader council, the assistants, and President Jackson. We were prepared with a zone goal, but decided to scrap it and focus on the special mission goal of 100 invites to general conference. It was really fun inviting people to hear the voice of a prophet. It really pushed us to talk to EVERYBODY. We worked on motivating the zone by issuing them formal challenge letters. We personally challenged each companionship to invite 100 people before we did. The stakes were a candy bar. We even made formal charges complete with a wax seal. We had a lot of fun. Our efforts paid off because the entire zone achieved the goal. We were very pleased. We beat some companionships, but ended up buying everybody their favorite candy bar for their efforts.

Later on in the week, we had a special training in San Jose to teach the new MTC curriculum that will be rolled out in the MTC in may. It is something we have been using since July, but still in implementation. It was really informative and helped us teach better later on in the week.

Friday we had our zone leader council meeting. President Jackson is making sure that this mission is perfectly ready for the day President Watkins steps foot into the mission. I think he wants to make sure that we don't lose anything in the transition. We will be sad to see him go. At the end of April we will enter his last transfer as mission president of the San Jose Mission.

I appreciate the birthday package, the cards, and the cookies. All are greatly appreciated. We have realized how much time we spend in the car. We get a little tired of being in the car. It feels like a mobile command center. We are always ready tor resupply our missionaries with copies of the Book of Mormon and extra pass along cards.

I hope everyone is well.


Elder Badger