Monday, February 23, 2015

"ALWAYS do what is right"

Life is great! Elder Empey and I are doing some serious work here in Greeley. Despite all the transfers and two no drive days because of snow, we still did a tremendous amount of work. We have fun too! We've cooked Mexican Lasagna, tacos, cookies, french toast, and a few other things together. We save so much money by not going out to eat but pooling our money together and making real food. He is the MAN! 

We have been tracting quite a lot this week to find new investigators and it has paid off big time. I even saved this taco bell dog from getting killed in the road! Among some of the people we were able to teach were Chris and Jeremy on two separate occasions. Both guys opened after an hour or so of no doors opening. We kept pressing forward and then boom yeah you can come in and then we teach the Restoration and they are legit! Jeremy's prayer at the end was so sincere and we are looking forward to helping them progress soon. 

One of these nights that we went tracting didn't go overly well. The night was winding down and we had a decent doorstep discussion with a young lady. It was 8:45 so we decided to knock a few more. We weren't received very well and we both didn't want to end the night like that. At 8:59, we were walking back to our truck and I looked at Elder Empey and said, "You feeling that red door over there?" and he was feeling that red door so we knocked it. The man who opened was Shawn. He had been going to church for 8 months last year before he found out he couldn't get baptized because of his parole. We testified that God loves him and that we are there for him. It was SO sweet knowing that we were given some serious direction. I told Shawn that too, that we felt inspired to come to his door to tell him God's love for him. So cool. That same night, one of the elders in our zone needed a blessing. We were driving on the County Roads north of Greeley looking for a "black mailbox" as the elder described where they lived. We saw one so I slowed the truck down to see. It wasn't the right address so I began to go again when I saw a Hispanic man approaching our truck. It was weird because we are in the middle of no where so why is this dude out anyways at 9:15? He yells something then he whistles. Weird, right? We drive a mile down the road and can't find the place so we turn around and head back. I'm going slow at this point so we don't miss the turn. We come up to where we saw that same Hispanic dude and I see 3 or 4 others standing along side the road with a running car at the end of the driveway. One of the guys tries to walk out in front of the road to stop us (he was holding his hands out as if to signal for us to stop) and he looked ANGRY. I immediately get a very bad feeling and the Spirit says "GO" so I slam the gas down and the truck takes off. The car pulls out behind us but I'm going 80 by then and I got the heck out of there. I don't know what that was, but all I know is that God told me to get out of there as fast as I could. The thought crosses my mind, "what if I wasn't obedient that day? would I have still received that inspiration?" That's a testimony to me to ALWAYS do what is right. 

We taught this Ethiopean guy named Hitop or something like that. Empey and I just say Hip Hop or Hoptop when we talk about him because we can't really understand him. He was under the impression that Christopher Columbus was the first person to ever set foot in the Americas and that no one had ever existed here before, so when we taught about the origins of the Book of Mormon he was caught off guard. We had to teach each principle 3 or 4 times before he understood it. He said he would come to church but he never showed. Lame!!!!

A guy named Marcus opened the door while we were tracting holding a PS4 controller. So far, about 5 people have answered holding their gaming controller. The way to get in is just to act really excited about their game and ask if you can watch them. Works every time. It was weak once we got in because he was too busy killing aliens on Destiny to listen to our message. We finally got him to pay attention along with his wife and we taught them a portion of the Restoration. There are some lessons where the people are just being polite and listening because they aren't rude enough to kick you out. It's almost frustrating though because they'll tell you you can come back but then you do and then they tell you they aren't interested. Lately I've told people,"Look, if you aren't interested, that's fine. We just want you to be honest with us as we're honest with you." Then people let us know their true feelings. Just something on my mind.

On Saturday afternoon, it snowed a bunch so it was deemed a "no drive day". We went home at 6 after a great day of proselyting to do our weekly planning. We wanted to spice it up a bit, so we decided to make cookies. The only thing was, we were lacking a cup of flour, baking soda, brown sugar, and the most important ingredient of all, CHOCOLATE CHIPS! What could we do? We couldn't use our car and we needed cookies. To make the cookies without the right ingredients would be wrong, so we put our shoulder to the wheel and pushed how we know best: tracting. We weren't in our missionary clothes, but rather a sweater shirt and sweatpants. We went door to door around our apartment complex asking for one specific ingredient. The flour was easy to get and the same lady threw in the tsp of baking soda we needed. The brown sugar took 7 or 8 doors before we got it and then came the oh so special chocolate chips. Door after door, no no no. One guy said he didn't have them but that if he did he would give them to us. Finally we met this one dude in apt 17 who gave us a whole bag of Nestle Toll House chocolate morsels. We joked that on that act alone he will receive Celestial glory. We made cookies and enjoyed our evening.

To sum up my week, I'd say it was the best in my mission. Maybe not the most "successful" but I feel like I gave more effort this week than ever before. I have a companion who is willing to push me and willing to be pushed by me. We have one goal and one vision and it is working. We both have less than 10 months left and want to serve with all we got. It's the only way to serve. We found 6 new people to teach this week and are way excited to see them progress. I've never found missionary work to be quite so fun. An amazing companion + experience + desire = a dang good transfer to come. 


Elder Sell

Friday, February 20, 2015

Gotta' love it!!

I'm back in Greeley! I live in the same apartment, I'm emailing at the same library, but now I'm working with different people than I did 4 months ago. I was transferred after only 6 weeks in Saratoga to come down to Greeley and be in the YSA (young single adult) ward as a Zone Leader. I'm with Elder Empey, a stud missionary with whom I came out with. I feel like I only got a taste of Saratoga before I left. Just when you are starting to build some good relationships, you move! I loved it there but I know I'll love it here as well. I believe I can love it anywhere as long as I'm serving with all my heart, might, mind and strength. 

We experienced a bunch of miracles in Saratoga this past week. We found 9 new people to teach for a total of 27 this transfer. About 12 of those are Spanish speaking so it'll be nice that both missionaries there now are Spanish speakers. 

On Thursday night, we had a dinner with the Howell family. As we sat and talked, Bro. Howell said, "My friend, Bill, keeps popping into my head and has been for quite some time." We helped him plan a way to ask his friends to listen to our message. He did, and the next day we had an appointment to go share a lesson with Bill. He is from Florida and has strong southern accent. He fed us some brauts and we talked about different aspects of our faith. He didn't have a clue what Mormons were so we asked him if he wanted to watch The Restoration video. Afterwards, he made like 20 different connections and it was awesome to see. I said something to him about us having the "fullness of the Gospel" and he really liked that. He was intrigued by everything we taught so we invited him to take the rest of the discussions, read the Book of Mormon, and come to Church the next morning. Yes, yes, and yes. He actually came the next morning to the whole 3 hour block. I'm gone now, but I'm excited for the missionaries who get to keep teaching him.

Although I am now gone from Saratoga, I feel like I fulfilled my purpose there. I worked harder than I ever have and we saw many miracles. I was able to help other missionaries through hard times and it blessed my life as well. 

Another example of why I may have been in Saratoga is the Seager family in Hanna. When I was there last winter, we would visit the Seagers once or twice a week. They needed the support as they were going through some trials in their lives and felt offended by the Church. I loved visiting with them and trying to provide some stability in their life. When I talked to Elder Sharp, my home boy, he said they hadn't visited them at all in the six weeks he had been there already. By the looks of the records, no one had visited them since I did. I went on exchanges with Elder Davis and we saw them and boy were they surprised to see me and missionaries again. Elders Davis and Sharp started visiting them 2-3 times a week. Now, the Seagers are active. Their 8 year old daughter is getting baptized and things are looking up for their family. Maybe that could be why I came back, who knows?

Things are great and looking up. I can't wait to see what else is in store for me, but more importantly those who I will meet! Gotta' love it!!

-E. Sell
Beautiful Wyoming

The Knotwell family. The right most 3 kids are all getting baptized on March 22nd

Eating some KFC with the District

Me, Elder Marble (went home Tuesday), and Elder Blackburn, my dear friend

Blackburn, Klain, Me, and Bob Torres, my other dear friend

My 3rd grandma, Betty.

Monday, February 2, 2015

"Miracles and Craziness"

This week was a mixture of miracles and craziness. We had some drama early last week and it has settled down quite a bit since then. This should be a really good email with a bunch of experiences so bear with me and I promise there is some good stuff in here.

Monday night we went to the Knotwells. She is a recent convert and now she wants all her kids to take the lessons in preparation for baptism. Those four kids, ages 8-12, are LEGIT! My favorite so far is the 11 year old, Olivia. Before we started the lesson, I asked, "Do you guys have any questions?" And she asked, "Are you from Pittsburgh?" I said, "No, why do you ask?" And she pulls out her PITTSBURGH STEELERS backpack. For some odd reason she isn't a Broncos fan but a fan of a real football team, the Steelers!!! She then shows her Steelers jacket and I told her we were going to be best friends. The Restoration went well with them and we will work with them on a baptismal date soon. Great family :)

I went on exchanges with Elder Klain, who is being trained by Elder Blackburn, who was essentially trained by me because I taught the kid everything he knows. In a roundabout way. I might as well have trained Elder Klain too! Just kidding :) We did service at this artistry place where we paint soup bowls for a charity auction. I painted a boot that had flames, lightning, feathers, and a rising sun. It was nice looking, no lie. We saw these girls who looked like they were a basketball team so we stopped at the restaurant they were at to see who they were. They were the Utah State women's team and they were tall! Klain saw this tall blonde girl lose her shoe in the mud so he runs out like a boss and grabs her shoe, Book of Mormon in hand. He goes on to introduce the Book of Mormon to her and she tells him she is atheist :( She and her other ballin' friend were from France so we talked for a minute before saying bye to the girls a foot taller than us! We had tacos for dinner that night and after eating two I was full. Klain bet me I couldn't eat two more so we had an eating competition that resulted in four tacos and four cookies each. The next morning, we got up at 5:30 to go ball. We played 3 games of 1 V 1 and he beat me the first two but I won the final game to 21, 28-26 :) Look how athletic this dude is! Legit! Unlike Elder Blackburn!

We taught a less active (well now she is basically active because she has come to church 3 weeks in a row!!!) named LaRae. She loves coming to church now and reading her scriptures. It's been fun seeing the change in her. 

I went on exchanges with Elder Sharp (exchanges was a BIG theme this week...) and we played bingo with the nursing home ladies. Afterwards, we shared a message with them and usually Elder Clavel plays the piano. Since he wasn't there, I got to step up and use the talent I've grown on my mission, that is playing piano! I played some Battle Hymn of the Republic and Be Still My Soul. They liked that. By the way, it's weird to have delusional 80 year old women flirt with you, but I have been out a year... JK!!! We went into this less active's house and he literally had 1,000 empty beer cans in his living room. We chatted for 10 minutes before his brother came in. As soon as he did, the Spirit was like "leave now" and I listened. We got out of there like a minute after the brother walked in. When we got to the car, we were like wow that was crazy because we both felt that same strong impression. 

I went on exchanges for two days with our former AP of 7.5 months and going home on the 17th, Elder Marble. The guy is a beast. He asked this one girl in the YSA ward if she could come to a lesson with one of their investigators and she misunderstood and thought he asked her to bring an investigator to the lesson. She brings her roommate who at first was closed off, but by the end of the lesson she said, "ya know, I couldn't see myself as becoming a Mormon when I first came here but now I'm really thinking about it." Apparently Jessica and Addison talked for 4 hours when they got home about the church. She read the Restoration pamphlet four times and watched Joseph Smith: Prophet of the Restoration twice. They set her with a baptismal date yesterday. All that in three days! We invited a former investigator to the institute activity so that we could stay. Meg showed up and we won the food relay. You had to crab walk down then eat what was in the bag and run back. I got a sandwich roll with peanut butter in the middle, a Capri Sun, and a banana. Our team won and we rejoiced. We then taught a lesson to Meg and a girl Elder Marble baptized on Monday and it went super well. She went to church yesterday! We had the fun experience of changing our flat tire before calling it a day. The next day, we went through a list of referrals and came across this guy, Omar. We called him up and he said, "Yes, do come over! We will have tea and sweets. Oh wait, you can't drink tea. We will just have sweets." We were like okay and just went over. Basically as soon as we get in he starts questioning our beliefs. He is from Saudi Arabia and Muslim (of course). We didn't get Bible bashed, we got Qur'an bashed!!! Omar and Abdul gave us a copy of the Qur'an and we gave them a copy of the Book of Mormon. Fun stuff :) We ate Froyo with the Bishop before making the 100 mile drive back to Saratoga. I learned a ton from Elder Marble. 

We went out with our Elders Quorum President Ricks Saturday to try and contact some of the people Clavel and Greer tracted out. We had no luck, so we tried the Nicaraguans that Pres. Ricks knows. They let us right in and the two of them taught Wilson and Cornielio the Restoration. I understood most of it and I just thought it was awesome the Spirit was there for me even though I didn't fully understand. Wilson's eyes were lit up and focused on every word spoken. We will see them again next week. 

So one of the coolest things happened yesterday at Church. I see this kid my age who I don't know so I go up to him and introduce myself. He tells me his name is Eli and that he is waiting to meet with the Bishop. I ask him if he is a member of our church and he says no, but that he is in an Anthropology class and that his assignment is to immerse himself in a culture or religion for a few months then write a report on it. PERFECT! We sat with him in sacrament meeting and I forewarned him it was testimony meeting as well. He enjoyed it and we spent the second hour with the Bishop answering his interview-like questions. He has a really good understanding of the Bible. He was raised really well. His last question was, "Why are you a Mormon? and, Why should I become one?" I thought you'd never ask ;) He went to Priesthood meeting with us and then bounced halfway through because he had to go work. "See you later this week" he said on the way out. Our ward mission leader set up an appointment to teach him the gospel cuz I mean he wants to learn all about it, right? I texted him this morning and told him that watching The Restoration and Joseph Smith: Prophet of the Restoration would really help him learn more. How cool is that?

This email is super long, sorry. We went back to Dave's house, someone we contacted a few weeks ago. He let us in and we asked him about his religious background. We asked him how much he knew the Book of Mormon and he said that he would read it before we even said anything else. We then popped in the Restoration DVD and his eyes were watery at the end. He promised to read the Book of Mormon and just like that, we found another legit investigator. That makes 16 for the week of new people we found to teach.

It was a roller coaster of a week, but at this point I would expect nothing less. The Church is true and the Gospel will make people happy. I'm at the point where all I want to do is work hard and help others. That's all I want to do. Things are looking up and I'm sure excited. Thanks for reading my super long email. I'd read yours too :)

Elder Sell