Sunday, November 23, 2014

"Man, we were off the grid!"

Last Monday, Blackburn and I started our healthy life by lifting at a member's home in the morning. We benched for about an hour and worked up a good sweat . I was sore for the next 4 days and didn't do anything related to working out. So much for that! For p-day, we went with some other missionaries to a bounce house (trampolines everywhere and you just act like a 5 year old!). We worked up a good sweat and did some crazy stuff. There was a basketball hoop under one of the trampolines so we would have someone come in and you would try to block him at the rim. Good stuff. Later that day, we went to TJ Max and I got a new pair of pants. They are IZOD golf pants and are lightweight but look great. I'm wearing them even now. We took Danny (prepping for his mission) out with us on Monday to all of our member appointments. We had him take us to Walmart before we went home because we have no way of carrying groceries home! 

The next day was very cold and the first day it snowed. We shoveled the Church and had to walk in the cold for 45 minutes. We sat at a gas station for half an hour just to regain feeling in our extremities. We helped a member's friend's family move and they are now potential investigators. Hopefully more will come of it, but if not, I am still satisfied with helping out one of my fellow men. That night, we wanted to mess with one of my friends, E.Torres, so we gave him Blackburn's number with him thinking it was someone else. I'm not going to write details but let's just say that Blackburn and I were laughing until our abs were sore. 

We had a great taco dinner with a family who just got back from living in Hawaii for 5 years. He served his mission in Mexico so they were legit. That was a fun dinner and they even drove us home! Good thing they did because it was -8 outside. Bur, bur!

We had a mission tour with Elder David S. Baxter of the Seventy and it was AWESOME! Everyone who spoke was definitely inspired. One of the highlights for me was when Elder Baxter bore his testimony to an Elder as if he was the missionary who converted him at 13. That was really deep and ended in a Scottish peck on the cheek. 

I texted our Mission President one night about getting permission to do service outside of our area. After I explained the who/what/where/why/how I got a response, "Who is this?" Man, we were off the grid! The M.P. didn't even have our phone number! :O So what did I respond? "This is Elder Blackburn and Elder Sell, representatives of Jesus Christ :)" #true I like being funny with him because I'm sure he always gets formal responses, requests, and letters from everyone else he talks with. You got to throw humor into this work. If you don't, you will most likely get depressed. Some missionaries try to be 100% business and that's not how it works. We got a text from Pres. Brown at 4:11 AM the next morning (after he basically said no to us doing the service) asking what our zone leaders thought about it. They said they thought it was a good thing so he let us do it. It definitely was a great experience to help this small medical clinic move their HEAVY equipment out of the rooms so they could install carpet. They fed us Pizza Hut the first night and sent us home with 3 extra pies. The next day, we ate Subway and they sent us home with 4 extra subs. It took 4 missionaries about 6 hours to do it. They were so grateful. Although we aren't going to teach them the lessons any time soon, I do feel accomplished by helping out one of God's children. Early that same day, we shoveled for 4 of our neighbors where we live. I love doing things for others because the Spirit will let you know God is happy with what you are doing. 

We had a cool experience last week with teaching a less active the law of tithing. He then went on to call us later in the day to ask to whom to make the check out to. We heard this week that two days after he paid his tithing, he was offered a job at Cafe Rio. IMMEDIATE BLESSINGS! So cool to see that. 

We visited a family that the previous missionaries had taught and they let us in right away. Turns out they are the most legit people and she isn't baptized yet but wants to be taught. It was a nice end to a long (but fulfilling) week. I love being a missionary and my companion is awesome. The area has potential and all I need now is a car. But if not, we will still do work. 

Elder Sell

Saturday, November 15, 2014

" I felt loved this week."

I had my 21st birthday this week. Mission birthdays aren't all too fun. I mean, what would you normally do? Hang out with friends? Watch a movie? Eat cake with your family? *incorrect answer buzzer sound* That's what the mission is about though; sacrifice! I felt loved this week. By my family, friends, and most importantly my Father in Heaven.

I can't really think of too many things that happened this week. We mostly were either A) visiting active member families in order to strengthen them and get referrals or B) finding those lost sheep on the ward list. Lost sheep are fun to find. They either want to remain lost and are more bitter than even normal people OR they feel guilty about not going to church and let that guilt drive them back or away. Alma said it best, "And now behold, I say unto you, my brethren, if ye have experienced a change of heart, and if ye have felt to sing the song of redeeming love, I would ask, can ye feel so now?" (Alma 5:26) We run into all sorts of members who talk about their missions with tons of enthusiasm about how they baptized hundreds and loved it, but the thing is, what are you doing today? Yesterday is great and all, but what did you do today to be better? If you aren't improving, you are diminishing!

The other night, we knocked on an active member's door and their daughter answered and said we could come in. We were about to step in when the father practically ran over and said it wasn't a good time because they had company. Although we didn't see any extra cars outside or any activity in the living room, we were chill with it because we dropped in. I mentioned how we were scheduled to have dinner with them on Monday, so that would be a better time to visit, and he immediately says, "We have to cancel that. It's not a good time. We love you and support you guys but now is a bad time." We left the doorstep with a terrible taste in our mouths  We talked about it and felt something was wrong. We let Bishop know on Sunday and he had the same impression that something was wrong. The reason I tell this story is that I am grateful for the Spirit. It guides us and lets us know when stuff is up. It comforts us when things are right and warns us of danger. I felt that and can testify of the role the Holy Ghost plays. Moroni says it best, "And by the power of the Holy Ghost ye may know the truth of all things." That's how I know Christ lives. That's how I know the Book of Mormon is true. That's how I continue to put in work each day because I know by the confirmation of the Spirit that what I am doing is right. 

I hope whoever reads this can rely on God enough to pray and ask Him for Truth. He is the only source we can truly rely on. I love being a missionary.

-Elder Sell
Birthday present from sister Lindsey!  Nice scarf!

Monday, November 3, 2014

"A really rewarding week"

It was  a really rewarding week...especially because it's my birthday tomorrow! I've received a few care packages and letters and am grateful to those who thought of me! Blackburn and I are putting in work here and seeing some fruit already. It might not be new investigators at this point but it is ward trust. That can make it or break it. This ward hasn't been the most supportive of missionaries in the past because of dumb things missionaries have done. We're here to change the culture. 

We had some fun encounters this week and biked a whole lot. On Thursday, we biked 30 miles. We were picked up by the ZLs and taken to interviews with President  That went well. I wish they were more personal and I actually got to know my mission president, but hey you can't always get what you want. I left my suit coat at the church because we had to bike 8 miles home. We helped our members out with some yard work before contacting people all over town. At one point during the day we got real hungry so we biked 2 miles to BK and ate some chicken nuggets. Miles add up and we were at 26. We ended our night by just biking around to reach 30. I put on jeans the other day and they felt snug. My legs are getting #swole.

The next day was the ONLY day Blackburn and I accidentally (the alarm goes off, you think 5 more minutes and then it is 8:00) slept in this week. Go figure, the APs give us a call and say they will be at our house in 20 minutes. Blackburn and I were showered, changed, and fresh in 15 minutes. They had meetings all day so we got to have Elder Blue (one of my great friends) in a threesome all day with the APs car! Earlier in the week, the other set of elders leaving our ward gave us their phone so now we both have phones. It was so nice to have a car, if only for 6 hours. We made great use of it and put 60 miles on it like that! We used our free Cafe Rio cards to get a meal there and then went on over to Cold Stone to grab some ice cream. It was a fun Halloween day. 

Those in vehicles have to report their monthly miles at the end of the month as well as send in their gas receipts. I sent this text to the vehicle coordinator hoping to get reimbursed for the extra consumption of food. 

It was just a great week. The members are trusting us more and we met some legit families. Be a legit family because it's those types of families that are a safe haven for missionaries. Can't really say too much else other than that it is snowing for the first time today. 

Tomorrow is my 21st birthday. 
-Elder Sell

Sunday, November 2, 2014

"Step it up to another level"

Last p-day we had nothing to do after we finished emailing. We ended up just biking all over Fort Collins and took a nap under some trees at a park. In all, we did 16 miles on our bikes that day and 66 total from Mon-Fri. We took Saturday and Sunday off and just called members for all our rides. 

We met with some really cool families this week and started building relationships with them. I'm pretty sure E. Blackburn and I ate more than ever this week because biking takes a lot out of you. 

We had an eventful district meeting this week. The other elders in our ward, Klabacka and Day, showed up late and literally rolled in to the meeting (seriously, on their bikes!) For the safety training, Klabacka had Day lay down on the ground while he put his helmet on. He then got on his bike and tried to wheelie over Day but ended up falling and landing on him. He stood up and said, "amen". It was hilarious, but I'm not sure what the purpose was. 

While I was on exchanges, we helped this 25ish year old guy dig a hole for his sewage system. It was 4 ft deep, 3 ft wide, and 30 ft long. What would have cost him $100 took over 15 man hours in that day alone and we only finished 15 or so feet.

Saturday was a great day. We got a ride from our EQ President to go play football with some active, less actives, and non members from our ward and the surrounding wards. That was a great stress reliever. I scored twice and had two picks. After we were done with that, we went back to his house and helped bag his leaves. That took another two hours and we were rewarded with a big, fat, sweet pork burrito. I'll do service for anyone, but it's always nice to have some food to eat at the end. Our ward chili cook-off/trunk or treat was pretty awesome that evening. E. Blackburn and I spent a solid 3 hours inviting people to come on the streets and by knocking on their doors. We were afraid this one crazy cat lady was going to come with a poisoned bowl of chili and poison all the Mormons! It didn't happen though. We did have a non-member family come that we had previously met. They're from Louisiana and are great. Hopefully we can teach them soon. 

Sunday, yesterday, was even better. Our pre-Church meetings were the most effective meetings I've been to on the mission. Our Bishop is training to be a superintendent of a school district so boy oh boy can he run a meeting. It was laser focused and we figured some things out. Our new ward mission leader is 70 something years old. Don't let the age fool you, this dude is a fireball. I made the mistake of saying, "I'll try" to do something and he immediately corrected me, "You will get that done." He is great. We also met the ward's newest convert as of this April and he is fantastic. Sacrament was great and Bishop gave us a shout out and E. Blackburn and I were like game on. We need to step it up to another level. We had dinner with a family and after we were done teaching them he said, "I really feel directed to refer you guys to my friend and his family. I've wanted to in the past but the missionaries didn't seem ready. Now is the time." We were blown away. So many good things are happening and we just want to be obedient and hard working so that we can teach powerfully. This morning we hopped right out of bed because we were so excited to get the job done. It was a good week. 

Elder Sell