Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Monday, March 11, 2013

Hola Mi Familia! Welp, I've completed 13 months in the mish! Time just seems to slip through our hands like water! I seriously feel like it was just yesterday that I completed 1 year! How crazy! I am already starting to understand and feel what they say that when you hit 1 year it is all down hill running from there. I received my 3 packages this week! And boy was I a happy fella! The sister in our ward called me on Thursday night and said that she had my 2 from Arizona and then the next day we had a zone meeting and the zone leaders brought my other package from the offices from when they went to their monthly meeting. My comp was quite jealous and was in happy land seeing all the goodies that were being sent. Of course I was nice and shared with him a little...but just a little....Thanks so much for the CD mom! I really really love and each and every song touches my heart and each brings a memory from the mission to mind! I also feel so eager and encouraged every time I listen to that CD. I don't know, the things that it talks about and memories that come to mind just pump me up to go out and work! Thanks! I also really appreciate the CD you sent, dad! I don't remember if I told you that the ward is really struggling here to get a ward mission plan together and we aren't really sure how to help them because we aren't so sure what it consists and so the CD really helped us and gave us so me good ideas. We may type it out and translate it to give to the members of our ward council. So if, I didn't tell you that or not, it was pure inspiration that you sent it! Thanks! This week has been....pretty down! Yes, we have a few really neat investigators that seem to be progressing well and we have put a goal of having at least 4 baptisms, if not 5 at the end of this transfer. That will be awesome! However, apart from like 4 or 5 families, we have nothing to do! It really is the pits! Usually Tuesday and Fridays are our busiest days, but apart from that...not too much. We have visited basically all of the less actives in our ward and also old investigators, but nothing really new has come out. Thankfully this week we were able to encourage our ward mission leader to start charging his batteries and helping us more. He is young and just returned from his mission a few months ago, but is really busy with work. But he is starting to get excited helping us, so that is good. Our first lady is the coolest ever! She is progressing so well. She has really experienced a conversion and basically asked us when she could be baptized. We have set a date for 2 weeks, the 23rd of this month. She surprised us yesterday when she arrived at church by herself. Usually she goes to church with her sister, who was baptized 2 months ago, but when the sister didn't get up to go, she just came on her own and brought her 9 year old son too! We hope to be able to baptize him as well! She always loves our lessons and every time, she is always waiting on us for arrive. She has loved the change she has made in her life that she has introduced us to her 23 year old brother from Obregon and we have started to teach him. Who knows if anything will come of it since he wants to go back to Obregon, but hopefully we can get in there more and touch his heart before he makes a decision to go. The other lady and her son have yet to come to church. They are doing so well with everything, and we have seen a change in them, but the only thing they lack is to go to church. We will work on this. This week the son was sick and so we didn't get to have but only one good lesson in this week. They still seem to be holding on to their Catholic Saints, but we are working on that. We taught them lesson 3, The Gospel, this week and extended the baptism invitation. They said they would really like to, but they feel like it is kind of soon and that they need to know more and need more time. The lady also expressed that if she and her son were going to do it, she would like her husband and other 2 sons to do it as well, but they are a little harder. Her husband isn't exactly too happy that we are teaching them. We go with a sister in our ward who is friends with her and she helps us a lot in teaching and helping them understand. We have also been teaching another family who is a part-member family. The dad is inactive, but the mom and daughter say they are interested. They are a little harder to teach because they know very little about religion and God and the bible, but we are going. We have set a date with them for the 13th of April. Let's hope we can keep going. We have really been trying to focus our efforts more on getting members to help us. Us as missionaries have really only been called to teach the Gospel, but it is the members who should be the ones finding people for us to teach. We have seen that members really are a force for good in missionary work and add a significant help and support for the investigators. The past 4 baptisms that we have had in this ward have all been member referrals. It is so true that it is more like for investigators to be baptized when they are member referrals. Like always, I want to encourage you all to talk to everyone you know! Talk to everyone about the Gospel! Although you may not be set apart missionaries, you are full time, for life, missionaries. Give names to the missionaries of people they can visit! But don't just give the names, but go with them and visit those people and help bring more people to the truth and to true happiness! Well, I hope this week is just the greatest for you all! I love and miss you all tons! ¡Yo sé que vive mi Señor! Con Mucho Amor, Elder Joyner

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Catholic Cathedral in Hermosillo Recent Baptism

Monday, March 4, 2013 - "The Spirit of God like a FIRE is BURNING!"

Hola Mi Familia! Yup, you saw right....the heat is beginning here in Hermosillo. 95 degrees doesn't surprise me, but that is a little cool for here. We will just wait for the coming months when it gets 120+. And they are saying that this summer will be quite heavy with the heat. I am so not looking forward to it, but hey, it will be my last summer in this horrible heat, so I better just enjoy it the most I can, because I can assure that I will NEVER live in a place where it gets soo hot!!!! Well, transfers came....and went. We didn't have transfers....again. Looks like the comp and I will be beginning a 3rd transfer together. This week has been, I would say, one of the most incredible weeks (spiritually) of the mission. We have heard so many experiences from our investigators about how the spirit has testified to them and how they have received answers to their prayers. Each time I heard an experience, my testimony grew of the power of prayer and that God answers EVERY pray. And each experience has given me more encouragement to keep going. I will share a few. Beginning the week off with the husband and wife couple. We had our last lesson with them Tuesday since they will be moving to Nogales. It was sad to realize that we would not be visiting them any more. They are really special and I really enjoyed helping them the best I could. Our last lesson we had was with them both. Previously, we had just been teaching one at a time because the both were never at home together when we went, but this time they both were there. We talked about the Atonement and forgiveness and the family. It was a spirit inspired lesson and I could really feel the spirit directing us and giving us the words that they specifically needed to hear. That first lesson of the week just really started me off good. The next lady we are teaching. Ah, our lesson Tuesday was the greatest! When we arrived with her, she was just beaming and something was different about her. She began to tell us that that morning she had had an experience. She said while she was walking back to her house after dropping her kid off at school she was just walking and pondering and decided to say a prayer while she was walking. She said in this prayer she really talked with God and that it lasted for quite a while. She said she specifically asked the questions we had told her, if Joseph Smith was a prophet and if all that we were teaching was true. She said all of a sudden she felt goose bumps or cold chills and just felt good inside and at peace and had comfort. She said she really felt close to God and just wanted to feel that all the time. We told her that was she was feeling was the Spirit testifying. She the basically asked us when she was getting baptized! She is just so excited and has loved the change and spirit she has experienced since meeting with us. This was just the beginning of all and just made us feel really special. We could really feel the spirit there with us as she was telling us of her experience and it was just really special. Later that day, we went with another couple. The lady is a reference that we got from a sister in our ward and the sister has gone with us to visit her. The first lesson we had with her we were teaching her and her 21 year old son, who walks in from work and he sits down to listen. It was amazing. He was so interested and it seemed like things were clicking as we were talking. When we returned this past week, they had both read and seemed to be different. They seemed happier and said that they had prayed and felt good about all that we had talked about. They said they felt peace and calm and took that as answers to their prayers. Well, the other lady finally got baptized this past week. After 4 months of being taught it finally happened. We went with the zone leaders for the interview Friday and she told us how things were coming up and she had family commitments and wanted to postpone her baptism for another weekend. We told her that this was just Satan trying to make her not go through when she had chosen to do something good. We knelt with her in prayer and as she prayed for Heavenly Father's help, I could feel the spirit there with us. She went through the interview and all and it seemed like she had a really spiritual experience with the interview. Well, Saturday came and we had everything ready and prepared. We had spent the whole week inviting members personally to the baptism. When the hour arrived, only 2 members showed....TWO MEMBERS!!! Of all the people that we invited only 2 came! That was so depressing. Not even the bishopric came. The first councilor we committed to come direct the services called us right before and said he was out of town and couldn’t. Not even the bishop came. We had to send him a message PLEADING him to come to be another witness. Well, we started and all and when the talks were given a really sweet spirit was felt. Just before the ordinance the bishop shows up and was able to be another witness. I was able to confirm her yesterday and she seems to be really happy with this decision she has made. I am so thankful this week for the Holy Ghost and how it has really helped us. I have felt it so strongly multiple times--in lessons as well as my personal study. I know without a doubt that God hears and answers EVERY SINGLE prayer. And he does it in his own time and his own way! Well, I wish you all the best of weeks! I love and miss you dearly and hope that everything is well! ¡Yo sé que vive mi Señor! Con Mucho Amor, Elder Joyner
Elder Joyner and Elder Christiansen (A Friend from BYU)

Monday, February 25, 2013 - "New Changes!"

Hola Mi Familia! As always, it is so wonderful to read you inspiring emails each week! I really do enjoy them! Quite a busy little week you all had, eh? I was excited to learn this week that a friend from BYU, had received her mission call and she has been call to the Georgia Atlanta North Mission! Isn't that just crazy! That makes me really psyched! You will have to watch for her in May. Well, this week began with some exciting news! As you all have heard with the announcement of the church opening 58 new missions, and you have guessed correctly. Tuesday night, we received the call saying that the Mexico Hermosillo Mission will be split into two missions as of July 1 of this year! We will still have the Mexico Hermosillo Mission, but the southern part of the mission has been created into a new mission and it will be call the Mexico Ciudad Obregon mission. We are all quite excited about this! The Hermosillo Mission will go from the Zone Guaymas on the coast (which is basically the middle of the state) and all of the North. The Obregon mission will be from Obregon all the way down to Culiacan which is into the next southern state below Sonora, Sinaloa. So that is pretty exciting news! I have been hoping and praying that I will be staying in the Hermosillo Mission and not have to go to the new one. I will have almost 18 months when they open the new mission and that would really suck to have to have my last 6 months in another mission. And I much prefer the north of Sonora anyway than the south....although I've never been to the south, but it doesn't sound too appealing to me....a lot of heat and humidity...yuck! This week has been a little rough, but full of miracles as well! We have been having a rough time finding new investigators, but have had a few lessons with potential investigators that we really hope will progress. One lady has kind of been put on hold. We went with her and husband at the beginning of the week and it was a miracle to find them both there at the same time and to be able to talk to them. We talked more about repentance and how we can better our relationships in our families and all that good stuff! They told us that they were thinking of moving to Nogales and were in the progress of selling their things. This was a little sad because they are really special people who we love helping and well, now they will be moving and we won't get the opportunity to see them through the whole process. We told them that if they ever see other guys dressed like us, to track them down and to have them teach them. So hopefully later on they will be baptized and it was just us who had to help plant the seed and begin to prepare them to have other missionaries later on baptize them. I hope they do get baptized! They are really special people! The other lady with a son is getting better....She came to church this past week! She had missed the last 2 sundays, but was able to make an effort to come this week. We think she really likes the church. We had been confused with her and what her intentions are with baptism and what she really wants from us, but as we have talked more and more with her and taught her we have been able to feel more and more comfortable with her. But something still just feels weird sometimes and we can't seem to figure it out. The last lady gave us the scare of our lives this week. We had our weekly lesson with her and decided to teach her a few lessons that we lacked to teach before baptism. We began teaching and all and we got to the commandment of Following Later Day Prophets. We talked about this and how we have a prophet today that leads and guides us, and she was surprised to hear this a little. She didn't know that we had a prophet today. I guess somewhere in the past with teaching, that didn't get explained well. We continued and I don't remember what we were talking about, but my comp asks her if she knows that The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is the true church of God on the earth. She said, something like "I guess it could be. I mean any church could be true for anybody that feels good or comfortable in that church." That kind of took us by surprise. We realized that after 4 months of teaching, this lady doesn't have a testimony of the restoration and know that the church is true. We were a little worried that we weren't going to have a baptism this upcoming week. We left and talked a bit and decided that we needed to teach the Restoration again and we decided to show the Joseph Smith movie. Well, yesterday, Sunday, we did this and it was pretty great! We gave a short overview of the Restoration and then watched the movie. Well, it happened. Remember, when I told you once that one of our choir directors in the MTC told us that every time we testify of Joseph Smith the spirit is ALWAYS present. Well, that came true again. the spirit really testified about Joseph Smith and the Restoration. We could feel the spirit so strong throughout the movie and when we bore testimony afterward. The lady could feel it too and she also told us that she had prayed and asked to know if it was true and she said that she felt peace and tranquility and took that as her answer from God. So after all we are going to have a baptism this week! Another little miracle this week was one day my comp had to really use the bathroom and it was an emergency and so we just randomly asked a house if he could use the bathroom. It turns out that this house was a part-member/less active family. They said that the day before they had been thinking about us and searching for us and then that day we showed up. God does work in fantastic ways! So we are going to begin teaching them and will hopefully have baptisms there! Well, that is all I got for this week! I love and miss you all tons and hope all is well! ¡Yo sé que vive mi Señor! Con Mucho Amor, Elder Joyner

Monday, February 18, 2013 - "Almost March?!?! Good Heavens....2013 is moving right along!"

Hola Mi Familia! My, my, my, what a busy people you all are! There is always something going with school or other stuff that just keeps you all going all the time! It looks like your Valentine's Day dinner was quite nice! I dressed up for the Single's Awareness Day with my favorite Pink Tie. I did miss receiving Valentines from my mom....oh well some day. As, a zone, we did decided to do gift exchanges and so today we will get together and celebrate a little! Haha! This week, not too much to report on. It has been quite a frustrating and stressful week for many reasons. There were some really good days when we had up to 7 or 8 lessons a day and some really sad days with only 1 or 2. There were a few times of pure overwhelming happiness and other times of why doesn't this person understand the importance of what we are teaching. As for investigators.... The mom and boy have basically fallen. They missed church again this past week and it is really difficult to have a non-distracted lesson. The mom has to take care of her 2 kids and then also babysit 3 other kids of her sisters' while they work. So it can be quite a battle getting an effective focused lesson in. We aren't quite sure what her desires are. She doesn't seem too committed. We think she just wanted to talk to us and get baptized because she saw a big change in her sister, and she thinks she can do it too. What she doesn't realize is that she needs to put forth effort and do the things we ask her to do to be able to receive a conversion and change her life. We have put 2 baptismal dates, but both have fallen because she isn't going to church. Hopefully we can get to the bottom of this and find out what she really wants. Another lady is progressing quite nicely. We have really great lessons with her and she is learning a lot. It seems like she enjoys reading The Book Of Mormon even though sometimes she doesn't understand it too well. We had a baptismal date for her for the 2nd of March, but she didn't go to church yesterday either and so that has also fallen. As I said before, her husband, is an alcoholic and when we have tried talking to him before, he hasn't really wanted to, but yesterday something really neat happened. We went to go visit the lady because she hadn't gone to church, but when we got there, we didn't find her, but her husband was there. He invited us in and actually allowed us to talk to him. He said how much he has wanted to change and move forward with his life, but he gives in to temptations that come along and later feels hopeless. We had this really great lesson about the Atonement and how Christ helps us overcome these challenges. We taught him about the Gospel that is if we have Faith, Repent, and Get baptized, our lives can change completely for good! He seemed to really like what we were telling him and really wants to follow our advice. He says he isn't too much for religions, but knows that what we are teaching him can help. So hopefully we can help turn him around and baptize the both of them. I kept feeling like there was something missing with the lady. We had taught her everything, but she was still not ready to be baptized. Hopefully this was it: Her Husband. She needed him to accept this to so that they both can move forward and work together to make things work. Remember the other lady? Well, we had left her and decided not to visit for a few weeks to see if that would help make a difference. We just felt like she wasn't progressing. She had progressed so much that she had some to a stand still. Well, this past week, we decided to start visiting her again. We planned a really neat lesson of The Gospel and baptism and hope to invite her, once again, to baptism. She always said she wanted to be baptized, but always put up pretexts about why she didn't want to accept a date. First it was this and then that and then she wanted to read the whole Book of Mormon first. Well, this week went visited her and she was quite happy to see us. We had a member who was her neighbor in the lesson with us who helped us out a ton. We talked about baptism and everything and how it could help her out in her situation with her family and then the sister who came with us gave a really neat and powerful testimony on how the blessings she had received since being baptized. She also talked about how long it took for her to be baptized and how she was the only one and how her family, not even her husband, wanted her to get baptized, but she did. This just hit the spot! This is exactly what the lady needed to hear. After that, we asked her what her thoughts were about baptism and if she thought she was ready and she said possibly. We talked a little more and gave a few more promises of blessings and then asked the big question. Well....she accepted! She finally accepted! She finally decided to get baptized. So we have now put her for the 2nd of March and this will be almost a sure baptism. She is really worried now about what her family will think and what her husband will say, but she is excited and we were overjoyed! The Spirit was really strong in that lesson and definitely our guide! I have been pondering this week about the importance of scripture study! Scripture study is so important in our lives! It is a commandment that God has given us that we study the scriptures every single day; even for just 15 minutes, but every day. I have truly seen how daily scripture study has changed my life, both before the mish and currently right now. I have received some answers to difficult life questions and have felt the spirit so strongly through the scriptures. They have truly changed my life and I am seeing how they too change the life of others. I would like to extend an invitation: that we study our scriptures personally each and every day. Even if you only have 15 minutes or time for 1 page, it will totally be worth it and will change your life. I promise. It is great to read as a family, but it is even more fantastic if we also ready personally on our own. Just the spiritual thought for the week.... Well, that's about what I got for now! I hope your week is filled with wonderful missionary experiences and that you all can be "examples of the believers" in all that you do, say, and how you act! I love and miss you all tons! ¡Yo sé que vive mi Señor! Con Mucho Amor, Elder Joyner