Tuesday, May 31, 2011

"God be with you 'till we meet again"

Dear Family,

This week has been... crazy. We hit 2000 miles on our car for the month. We are glad it gets 30 mpg which keeps us from filling up every other day. We were excited to attend two baptisms in the zone. We always get anxious when weeks go by without a zone baptism.

We are gearing up for a very special baptism this next weekend. Jesus Calderon is going to be baptized this next weekend. He is very excited. He is one of the last members of his family to get baptized. He especially loves the Plan of Salvation because he now knows that he can be with his wife again (she passed away a few months ago). His family is very supportive and excited for his decision. They told us that they never thought Jesus would get baptized. We are very glad for his family.

We have also been working very hard to help another very special investigator, Maria Franco. She accepted baptism this last week, but had some major doubts that arose. We were able to teach her about opposition in all things with her granddaughter, who leaves for her mission in a week. Her attitude has changed completely. In her prayers, she now prays that God helps her avoid those people who try to talk her out of baptism. It is a rare thing to teach an investigator about opposition, but it is sometimes necessary. When we realize that opposition exists, we can have our testimony built by the knowledge that God doesn't allow us to be tried beyond our ability.

The highlight of the week was the outgoing fireside. At this fireside we were blessed to hear the outgoing testimonies of the Jackson's. They don't return home for another month, but it was their time to bless us with their testimonies. The spiritual highlight of the night was the hymn "God be with you 'till we meet again." It began with an instrumental arrangement of guitar, flute, violin, and piano. On a cue, all of the missionaries stood up and sang the last verse of the hymn. At this moment, the emotions were too much for all of the 900 people present. I doubt there was a dry eye in the room.

President Jackson even sang his testimony, "Oh, if I were an angel." It was a very powerful fireside. We were very glad that our investigators were present. I hope to get the recording from the fireside.


Elder Badger

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

"Le ordeno que se ponga de pie y camine..."

Dear Family,

This week has been quite the experience. We are very pleased with our teaching pool right now. We are working very well with the Gavilan Branch and are very happy for the support we are receiving. The title of this email is a quote from the movie "Treasure in Heaven: The John Tanner Story." Look it up online when you get the chance or check out the Doctrine and Covenants visual resource dvd's. When you watch a movie enough time during the week, it gets to the point that you can quote the whole movie without help. (Ask me to quote all of the Restoration DVD when I get home.) Anyway, the movie was exactly what we needed as we taught Maria Franco, the mother in law of our branch president. She accepted baptism for June 25, 2011. We are very grateful for all of the support we have been receiving. We are very busy and working very hard to help all of our investigators make it to the waters of baptism.

Recently, we have encountered several obstacles that are impeding our work. Luckily they are all short term things such as hospitalization and deaths in the families of our investigators. We keep working hard and pray that the obstacles will be removed.

The mission conference with Elder Ballard, Elder Hinckley, and Elder Clayton went very well. We learned a lot about how we can better work with the ward council. We are excited to put the training into practice. It was kind of a whirlwind trip with many different meetings across the mission. We were blessed to have Elder Hinckley address us in the Morgan Hill stake. Before the main meeting, he held a special meeting for recent converts and returning members. We were glad to see several of our recent converts there. Also, several of the less-active families that we have reactivated were present and shared their testimony in this meeting. It felt really good to see that we are baptizing and rescuing, as we should.

This next week looks to be another busy one as we prepare for Zone leader council, host zone meetings, and make plans for the transition of mission presidents. It is weird to think that we will all have to adjust to a new mission president. As Elder Ballard said, it is the nature of the church for people to be released from callings. We hope that all of our missionaries deal with the transition with dignity and respect.

I was very glad to receive your letters this last week. I have recently mailed some newer pictures of Elder Smoot and myself. I hope you enjoy.

I was pleasantly surprised to receive a wedding announcement for Taber's wedding. He is younger than me. It makes me feel weird.


Elder Badger

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Another Baptism !!!

Dear family,

Once again, I can't believe I only talked to you ten days ago. Time flies by rapidly. I try to avoid saying how long I have been serving as a missionary.

This last weekend we had the baptism of Carlos Escutia. It went very well. We were pleased with the Spirit that was present at the baptism. President DeSalmones performed the baptism. We were unable to find someone to play piano so I was left with the task. Immediately after the baptism, David Desalmones (President DeSalmones just adopted him from El Salvador) approaches me at the piano bench, sits down, and proceeds to say, "Muchacho, que cancion me va a ensenar?" (Young man, what song are you going to teach me?) I taught this very precocious three year old to play the first line of Nearer My God to Thee. It felt very good to see all of the branch members supporting Carlos as he made this important decision.

After the baptism we gave a church tour to Maria Franco, the mother in law of President DeSalmones. We focused on the blessings of the sacrament. We then invited her to be baptized. It was one of the most interesting invitations I have ever extended. She said she couldn't be baptized because she couldn't read. We then explained how we were baptizing someone from the same pueblito in El Salvador in two weeks. She asked us how old he was. We replied that he was 75. Her response was classic, but doesn't quite translate as well as I would like. She said, "Setenta y cinco anos y no sabe leer. Pobrecito!!!" (75 years and he doesn't know how to read. Poor guy!!!) This came from a woman of about 70 years. The irony. The invitation was even more interesting as Sister DeSalmones, her daughter, said yes, she would like to be baptized on June 25, 2011. Maria then told us "No, I said no." Daisy- "Yes, mama, you say yes." It went like this for about five minutes. I still don't know whether we should fill the baptismal font on the 25th or not. We will see. Surprisingly, this was progress. She actually was considering baptism this time. We are very grateful for her fellowshippers, the DeSalmones.

What else is new. We were finally able to get some long term investigators with baptismal dates. They even came to church. The Orduna family has a history that goes back about three years. For some reason, they never really progressed. After teaching them about baptism using some honey, pepper, soap, and water, they finally made the decision to be baptized. We will be baptizing the sons in two weeks. In the means while, Anaberta is working on getting married.

In case you ask, it is raining. I like it much better than the heat. All the dust and pollen was killing us and our investigators. It is nice to have the relief from the heat that will be coming our way as we approach summer. Gilroy is very hot in the Summer (+100).

Mucho Amor,

Elder Badger

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

What a nice call....

Dear family,

It was so nice to hear from you. I especially liked that Snickers came to join us in the Skype session. Everyone looks happy and healthy. As you already know, it has been a very good week. We have seen much success in our own area and across the zone. We are looking forward to several baptisms in the next few weeks.

I hope you know that I love you all very much. This week we will be having our outdoor zone conference at Uvas Canyon park. It will be nice to get out and enjoy the great outdoors a little and feel the Spirit as we receive direction from the Jackson's.

Yesterday was Joe Hank's funeral. I hope it was beautiful. He will be greatly missed. I am sure his grandsons on their missions feel the same way.

What else is going on that I didn't tell you about?

Our meetings with the general authorities have been combined into one big super meeting that will happen on Saturday the twenty first. We aren't sure if the changes that are happening will be applied to just two stakes or the whole mission. We will see.


Elder Badger

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Andamos Muy Ocupados

Dear family,

What a week? To give you an idea of what our week looks like you would have to imagine taking a to do list the length of a football field and squeezing it into twenty four hours. It is busy, but we are enjoying every minute of it. We have taken to setting appointments during p-day; it's the one place with a little bit of free time.

Yesterday's lesson during p-day payed off. Eugenia Rojas accepted baptism for the fourteenth of May. We are planning two other baptisms that day and are anticipating attending many other baptisms across the zone. We always love baptisms so I have no complaints. It is amazing how ready Eugenia is. She has kept every commitment and told us that her life has been different since the time we knocked on her door. She even told us that she had looked for the right church years ago in Mexico and had given up hope that there was something for her. She is so glad that she has found it. We are too.

Last night we had family home evening with some recent converts. They invited their friends over to take the missionary discussions. Last night there were a total of six nonmembers in the lesson. There are five more in the family that will be meeting with us this Friday. We are very exciting. There are two adults and nine kids between the ages of 9 and 13. It is the grandma who wants us to teach them. This may surprise you, but I was very glad I learned how to teach swim lessons. Elder Smoot asked me if I had ever taught that many kids before because it looked like something I was used to. I think it was the swim lessons that paid off. It was a pretty funny lesson. After talking about the first vision we quizzed the kids on what we had talked about. I learned that moses was in the Sacred Grove as well. I never knew.

I am excited to get to skype you this Sunday. I don't have an exact time other than sometime after four. Our church gets out at four so expect me to call sometime in the evening. I will let you know more details via a short call on Sunday.

I am very sorry to hear of the passing of Joe Hanks. He will be waking us all up awfully early on the morning of the resurrection. I was thinking about all of the people that have passed away since I have been gone: Joe Hanks, Cliff Aalona, and Uncle Glenn. It is always tough to hear this news.

This last weekend was Mormon Helping Hands Day across California. We spent the day painting a sound wall at Christmas Hill Park where they hold the garlic festival. It was fun to spend the day working side by side with the members of the branch. We were also excited that Jose Luis was in attendance as well. Unfortunately some missionaries ran into poison oak. Fortunately, I was not one of them. I had never seen poison oak this bad. It looked like blisters from a burn it was that bad. Common sense should be called uncommon sense because little had been done until last night to treat the rashes. Sister Jackson will change that.

I hope all is well. Express my love to the Hanks family.


Elder Badger