May 2011 to May 2013

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

I Love the Temple

This week has been a good week. Elder Zanudo and I are getting along really well and we are doing good work here in Modesto.

For the beginning of the week, I was in a trio because there are 4 Spanish missionaries in Modesto and one of them had to go to a meeting in Fresno. We were covering the whole city for 2 days in a trio; it was pretty fun, except for street contacts, because it felt like a gang up on someone. But it was cool being with 2 Mexicans because I got to be the brunt of all the Mexican jokes and Mexican talk; it was super funny.

Saturday, we had our big Christmas ward celebration. It took us all day to set up and get it all ready. With the time we had left, we went and invited people. The party was so fun and there was so much food; Mexicans know how to cook for sure. The other elders and I sang a couple Christmas songs.  Our singing was cool; I don’t know why, but when the missionaries do something, it is way cooler than if normal people do it. It was a real good party and we had a couple investigators there too.  We were glad about that.

Today was a really cool day, because I got to go to the temple again. It was great to be able to go during Christmas time. I love the temple.

Well that is about it. Modesto is doing good.

I love you all and have a great Christmas!!

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Photo of a Baptism in Patterson

Myself, Patrick, Daniel, and Elder Roestenburg


Baptisms are Exciting!

This week has been a pretty good week. It is killing me that I am not riding a bike at all; I feel like such a fatty and lazy all the time, but other than that, it has been a good week.

We have been preparing Jorge for his baptism this last weekend. It was super cool. Jorge was so excited. During one of the lessons, all he could just tell us was how excited he was and how he wants his family to be together for eternities.

I learned that I am so glad I am speaking Spanish, because I went on an exchange into an English area and the work is so much harder. Americans are so prideful and set in their ways; they also believe a computer more than a person standing in front of their face.

Well, it is so cool to see how the Lord guides and helps his servants to find the people that are ready to hear the gospel. We found this lady who is great. We teach her stuff and she says that it makes sense and she guesses that she has always kinda known that. It is so cool.

Modesto is so different. It is nice to be in the city and not on the farms, but Modesto is still a farm city. The Spanish branch here is almost ready to be a ward, so that is cool to see. It is a lot bigger than the branch in Patterson. There were about 100 people at Sacrament Meeting the other day.

Jorge and his son, Elder Zanudo and myself

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

The Lord Guides His Servants

So my last few days in Patterson were pretty good. We went around and said bye to a few people and continued the work. It was weird leaving my first area, but kinda nice at the same time. I was going to have the opportunity to speak 100% Spanish. It has already helped my Spanish a lot. I can understand so much more. I still can’t understand everything or say everything I want, but I will get there someday.

One of the houses we stopped at in Patterson was Brother West. He likes to figure out where the Book of Mormon took place and all that stuff. He has some Jade artifacts that should be in museums and all sorts of cool stuff. It was way cool to be able to see all of his artifacts. He had a map of approximately where every city was in the Book of Mormon. It was super cool.

It was great to see Patterson start to grow. It is so ready to explode and so far away from exploding at the same time.

Wednesday was my first day here in Modesto. I am in an all Spanish area of Modesto. I cover the East side of Modesto, so we are all over the place. It is so nice to be able to be in a big city again and actually see people. I did not know how much of a city boy I was. We are on roads that have more than 4 cars on them at a time. Elder Zanudo has a hurt knee, so we are 100% in a car, which means I am going to start gaining more weight. It is also cool to know that Tompa (my grandpa) served his mission in the same city I am in. Because I am always in the older parts of Modesto, we will probably walk the same streets.

Within my first hour in Modesto, we found this lady who has so much faith and she is so ready for baptism. We taught her about the gospel and families, then about prayer. She started to say the closing prayer and could not finish because she felt like her heart was going to explode with joy. It was super cool to see how the Lord guides the paths of his servants.

We are having a baptism on the 10th, so this Saturday. He is super prepared. He comes to church no excuses. He got home at 2 in the morning, before church at 11am, and still came to church. He is solid.  Hopefully his family is baptized shortly after him.

My new companion’s name is Elder Zanudo. He is from Mexico. He is super cool and we get along really well. He is a great missionary and it is perfect to be with him because he is teaching me a lot of Spanish as well. Hopefully by the end of these 6 weeks, I will be speaking pretty good Spanish.  The Branch here in Modesto is great as well. There are a lot more members than there were in Patterson.

That is pretty much it for this week I am still getting used to Modesto.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Moving to Modesto on Wednesday

This week has been a really good week. God is really helping this area. There are three good families who are getting close to baptism, and then some other investigators as well. It is great to see how the Lord works and guides His work. It is great to be a part of it.

Wednesday, I had one of the most spiritual lessons I have ever been a part of. The Spirit was pounding in the room. It was at a member’s house with a college kid, his member girlfriend, and her father. The testimony of the father was so powerful, and then the girlfriend bore her testimony as well. It was great to see how members help so much.

The beginning of the week was missionary work as normal, with no big excitement, but at the end of the week the fun came. For Thanksgiving, we had two dinners set up and then another family bringing us dinner when we got back to the apartment! The first family we visited was a cook; the food there was really good. They are also a way cool family to hang out with so we had a great time. We were kinda full after going there. Then, we went to an investigator family, a Tongan family, so we ate a lot more.  We ate some Tongan food, along with the traditional American Thanksgiving food. We came back to apartment rolling home. And we stayed full because the next night we ate dinner with another Tongan family in the ward. They fed us a lot again.

Friday was a really fun day because I got to go play in the turkey bowl with a lot of the Tongan boys. The Tongan boys and I have become good friends. I hope because of the example I have set that they will all choose to go on missions, because they see that it is fun and you get to learn a lot. The boys really look up to the good missionaries.  So back to the turkey bowl, we were playing with Polynesian's and they play Rugby, not football. So, we played Rugby in the mud out at the Church farm. They dumped tons of water on some nice clean dirt to make it really muddy. We all played Rugby. It was so much fun!! I tackled a Tongan, so I was proud of myself. They said I could pass for a Tongan because of all the mud on my face. Ha-ha.

Sunday, we got the opportunity to teach the Priests about missionary work, so I think I am leaving Patterson helping others to GO on their missions.

I am being transferred to Modesto on Wednesday. I am super excited!! I will be serving in the same city where my grandpa served his mission.  It will be an all Spanish area so that will be way fun!! My companion and I will be covering the whole city, with one more set of Elders, in Spanish. So I will just be speaking Spanish, which should help my Spanish a lot. It is a bit sad to leave Patterson and the people I have met here, but that is the way of the missionary. My new companion is from Mexico. So that will be good for my language training too! I am real excited.

Monday, November 21, 2011

The Work in Patterson is Booming!

Well, our lesson with the Chinese lady fell through this week and so Bishop had cooked too much food. Yet again, we had to eat a lot! I can tell you one thing, in the past 3 weeks I have not been going hungry at all. I think I have gained like 10 pounds.

Last Monday, I played basketball for the first time in a couple months. It was awful. I need to play more or I am going to be terrible when I get back home and my little brother is going to make me work for everything I’ve got. I then played basketball again later in the week. Elder Coleman and I were riding and we were a little ahead of schedule. We saw a few guys playing ball, so in our shirts and ties we took them on. It was a little better. They were impressed with our skills in a shirt and tie. Ha-ha.

I went on an exchange to Ceres again (it is my 3rd time there). It is super cool to go to the zone leader area because they have it working like clockwork. There was never a down time. It was lesson after lesson after lesson. It was super cool. I also got to teach a guy that I found my first time there; he has now been baptized.

So there might be a baptism in Patterson this weekend. We will see. There is a guy who is super ready and he just needs to decide to get baptized this weekend. He is super cool and he is pretty much a member. We get more help from him then most of the members that are around.

The work here in Patterson is booming. It is great to see. When I came in, it was slow. And now it is just about to blow up, if the members get involved and there continues to be good missionaries here. We are doing so well here that even the next door neighbor ward wants us coming over there to teach people. We have our fun ward mission leader in the Spanish Branch going with us all the time. It is cool to see him grow while being with us. It also leads to lots of funny stories because he is old and Hispanic, which just equals funny.

On Saturday, we went to a Hispanic Thanksgiving dinner with the whole stake of Spanish speakers. It was super cool. There are so many faithful Spanish members here in the Turlock area. It was so cool to see. The sad part was the missionaries had to leave before the dancing started.

Saturday night we stopped in at Burger king after going to Newman to do some missionary work there. They have a drink machine with over 100 flavors of soda. It is the coolest thing I have ever seen.  There are drinks I have never heard of.

Sunday we were super busy just teaching people left and right, even during church we were having a lesson. It was crazy.

Monday, November 14, 2011

In Fresno, We Teach the Gospel in Many Languages!

We met the coolest family. Mele, one of the investigators we have, has a date to be baptized.  She lives with her brother, who is super Catholic.  We helped him take in some groceries and we ended up talking to him for a bit. He thought we were cool guys and ended up inviting us to dinner later that night. We really got to know that family. They are super cool. We invited them to go on a church tour, where we talk about the Sacrament and about a few pictures in the church and then we finish by talking about Joseph Smith and baptism. It is super cool. They really liked it. They are still our good friends and invited us to dinner again, right during the Stanford/Oregon game, so it was really distracting. But we ate dinner with the wife in the other room. She is interested in what we have to share so that is really cool.

This week we have also ran into the Tongan boys all over the place. It is cool to be able to get to know them so well. I can tell that I am an example to them and that is accomplishing one of my goals of being on a mission.

On Monday, I also taught in Chinese. I taught with a translator. It was super weird, but kinda fun. One of our members married a Chinese lady, the funny thing is, he does not speak Chinese and she speaks very basic English. So that is weird. We are going to set a baptism date with her tonight.

Well sorry I do not have much time today. Today I am at a zone activity. I get to play basketball again!!! This week has been one of the best ones so far. We have been involved in lots of teaching.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Love Being Busy

Halloween was a very exciting day. We got locked up in the apartment for the night because we could not go do missionary work; it was really weird not doing anything for a night.

This week we also had a street contacting challenge. We met some really weird people, but it was good because it got all of us missionaries to talk to everyone. We met some really good people too.

On Tuesday night, we went on a team up with a new member. It was super cool. The team up was not going as planned, so the new member, while driving, started saying a prayer. It was definitely a testimony builder on prayer for me. The very next person we visited let us into their house. And we got into almost every single house after that. It was super cool.

Wednesday was the busiest day I have ever had on my mission thus far. We were booked from 10 am to 8 pm with appointments. It was great! I love being busy like that. It is so much more fun than trying to find something more to do because nobody is home, and you did not plan enough people to go and visit, and nobody is in the street to talk to.

Thursday was a day planned with almost no appointments and it became a day full of teaching opportunities, which was great! Those are the best days, where nothing turns into everything.

We had a surprise investigator come to church yesterday. It was great. We were not expecting this family to come to church, but one of the members brought them along!! Sometimes the members can do so much more then the missionaries.

My companion and I are getting along great. We definitely have our laughs and inside jokes. He is a great companion. Spanish is coming slowly, it has seemed like it is coming really slowly this week. I am waiting for it to just click. One day it will. Sometimes I understand so much and other times, I understand nothing. It is the same way with speaking it. I guess I just need to practice.

Monday, October 31, 2011

We won the TP Mummy Race!

This week we had Zone Conference. It was super good. Elder Koliker, of the Seventy, came to speak to us, which was really good. He talked about prayer and how important prayer is to help people learn the truth of the Gospel and to be truly converted to Christ, both for investigators and for missionaries/members. It was super good!

That night, we had a team up with a member of the Spanish Branch. He is super funny and a good guy who knows a lot about the church. But he thinks he knows too much to go to church all the time. We went to go visit a few people. We got 1 good lesson in to an investigator and a couple in to less active members. On the street, there are huge divots and he hit one of them way too fast and hit the front and back of his car on the road. We (Elder Coleman and I) were super scared and laughing super hard. He is a crazy driver; I thought we might die!

I also went on an exchange to Ceres with Elder Burnett. We had a good time. We sporadically helped someone move and talked to lots of people. Saturday night was way fun. We went to a ward activity where there were a few non-members. Elder Coleman and I got roped into a pie eating contest. It was real pie. I ate 2 pieces of pumpkin pie; I was supposed to eat 3 big pieces as fast as I could. I could not compete with President Barrios, the Branch President; he won. Then Elder Coleman and I beat all the Youth at a TP mummy race!!

Sunday night, we went on a team up with Troy (a new member, he is 25). It was super cool to see him love missionary work and love being with us. He asked if he could go out with us again the very next day. We taught 3 non-member lessons with him in 3 hours, so that was way fun!!

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Great to Brighten Someone's Day

Last Saturday, we made a trip to Grayson and Westly, the two small towns in my area. Westly I have been to before. It is a small Mexican town of about 700 people; Grayson is a little bigger, but only has one store, period. Grayson is a bit nicer; it is kinda like a neighborhood in the middle of nowhere. It is a fun city. We found a couple of good people in Grayson and a few families who are inactive in the Spanish branch, who will become active as soon as harvest season is done.

On Saturday, we went to a Taco Bus. We ate in a bus that was decked out with like a bar on a bus. It was pretty cool.

Sunday night we were going to one of our investigators. We knew they were trying to move, but didn’t realize it was tonight until we drove to their house and saw the moving trucks pulling away.  Since we did not know where they were moving, we decided to follow them. That was a funny night. They thought we were creepers until we got out of the car dressed as missionaries.  We helped them move some big things, then we went home because it was 9 o’clock. It was a very out of the blue thing that changed up the day. But it was good we followed them so we knew where they lived.

Monday, I got my new companion, Elder Coleman, from Memphis, Tennessee. He is super cool. We have a lot in common and will get along great.  Our first day out in Patterson was a long day of riding around and not teaching anyone, but we got a lesson in at the very last part of the day. We finally found a couple of our investigators that were home. It was great. We had a good lesson with them and went home happy.

Well, Tuesday was about the same thing. People were not home, but we did get a couple of bright lights. We found an investigator that is never home. She was so glad to see us. It is great when you can brighten someone’s day by just seeing them. We then ran into a member and she told us some super cool miracles that she has seen in her life. So that was really cool.

Wednesday was cool because there was a bio about my mission president on BYU TV and I got to watch it with an investigator. It was great for the investigator because he could see that the leaders of our church are just normal people that have normal lives. Other than that is was kinda a slow day.  

Thursday, yet again, was a day where all of the appointments fell through. We had good lessons in the morning but at night there was nothing, even though we had appointments straight through the day.

Elder Coleman and I are really getting along well. He is a great guy. Missionary work is so much fun. Even when you are down, you are up; that is what is great about it.

Saturday, we had an appointment with our Tongan investigator and went to Grayson for an appointment and a dinner, then came back to Patterson for our second dinner. It was my first day on the mission with 2 dinners! It was good, but I was so full after both meals. I could not move. We drove the car for the rest of the day.

Sunday was a good Sunday. We had a couple lessons and it made up for a slow week. We had unexpected lesson, which was great!!

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Third Time's a Charm

This week has been a really good week. So we found a new investigator. She is a single Tongan lady, Mele. I don’t know if I mentioned her in my last letter. She is really cool. She wants to be Mormon, but her family is all super Catholic, so she is scared of being disowned by her family right now because she does not have a job. She also has a sister that converted to the LDS church and she got disowned for 2 years. So ya, it is kinda hard. We taught her on Monday, so that was good. She is super nice and smart.

On the way back from District Meeting in Turlock, we carpooled with another set of Elders and the one driving tried to take a short cut. We were out in the farmlands for a good 45 min. It was definitely a long cut.

So Tuesday I had my first meal where I was like “do I really have to eat this.” It was nasty. It is a soup called Pasuli (I think is how you spell it). It has some kind of beans and then you stick a whole pig in it, bones, fat, and meat. So ya, I was eating a lot of pig fat and spitting out a lot of picked bone. It was not very good. The liquid part of the soup was not bad, but the pig part was nasty!!! You also put cabbage and onion on the top, which redeemed it a little, but it was still nasty!

Also on Tuesday, we had Daniel’s interview for baptism. He did fine. I was a little scared because he sometimes just makes up weird answers if he does not know the answer. It is kinda funny.

On Wednesday we were finalizing baptism stuff and we started teaching a family of five. The dad’s name is Raphael. They are a good family. Hopefully I get to tell you more about them later.

Thursday was a great day. Daniel was baptized and a new convert got to baptize him. He got scared and forgot what we told him to do when he got in the water, then baptized him three times. The first time Daniel did not go all the way under, then the next time, he did not say the prayer correctly again. The next time was good, but he took Daniel in face first, not backwards like normal. It worked, but it was just the first time I have ever seen that.

On Thursday, we also had a great lesson with an old Mexican man who loves the word in English "shut up." It is kinda of funny. He can speak English too, but he just likes that word. He is excited to learn more about the Church and asks lots of questions. He is trying to find the true church he says.

Friday we taught Mele again and taught a less active family and talked with Yolanda. Yolanda loves having us come over, the Pan (bread) dealer came by and she bought us some sweat bread, which was way nice!  Yolanda is one of our really good investigators.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Teaching Sunday School in Spanish

Well, last Monday we had a deep clean of the apartment because it was dirty and my companion likes things clean. So I thought he and I could clean the apartment real well. Come to find out, he likes things clean, but does not really know how to really clean. So I cleaned most of the apartment, but o well. It was fun and it made me feel good after doing it. It was nice to be in a clean apartment.

On Monday, we also ran into Antonio's brother, Eric. He is just as cool as Antonio. They both want to be taught; the hard part is finding them at home. They are always working or out doing something.

Daniel is well along his way to baptism. We have taught him everything he needs and his baptism is on Thursday, right before transfers on Monday.

Tuesday night in rained, so our Wednesday morning run felt just like Portland, a humid chilly day with puddles and clouds and all. It was kinda weird that whole day. It was raining on and off, just like Portland. It was like I was back home with the same exact weather. During one of the good dump downs, we found a new investigator because he let us into his house, because he felt bad leaving us in the rain. It is funny how God works in bringing people to the truth. His name is Pedro. We have only taught him once. He was not there for our appointment, so we are going to check his house later this week.  

Elder Roestenburg and I have been able to start reactivating the Spanish Branch. We are working on 3 families and they were all at church this last Sunday; so that was really good. On Saturday, we got a referral to Mele, a Tongan girl who wants to come to church, but she just moved. She knows the missionaries in the bay area, but then have not really started teaching her ,so we are going to start teaching her. She is living at her brother’s house. He is really Catholic.

Yesterday, I had the great opportunity of teaching Sunday school in Spanish and giving a talk in Spanish; both went very well. During the lesson, I know mostly what was going on, but I can tell you that it is very hard to teach a lesson in a language you barely know. And my talk was about what I learned at General Conference, which was very good. I focused on the talks about prayer and personal revelation.

I had my first new food on my mission, but it really was not that interesting, just artichoke. I had it Sunday dinner. I was surprised when I started to eat it and realized I did not know how to eat it because I had never had it. Funny. You think that somewhere in my life I would have had artichoke. But no. It was good. It just took a lot of work to get to the good part.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Experiences of Testimony

It has been a good week in California once again. I got a letter from Ryan and he is in the ghetto part of LA, while I am in the farm land of Modesto, two completely different worlds and yet we are in the same state, and doing the same thing. It is kinda funny.

Well, a week ago I was sending a voice message to the zone leaders and I am so glad that they spoke Spanish because I could not for the life of me remember the word for card in English. All I could remember was tarjeta, the Spanish word for card. The same thing happened for the word pamphlet.

This week I had an exchange with Elder Carasco from Mexico. It was really cool to be with a native speaker and he knew how to bring the Spirit with his testimony so well. It was a great example to me.

Wednesday night was a very interesting night. At about 6pm, we went to go set up for a surprise birthday party for the Branch President. We had to leave before the food was served, so we did not get dinner that night. But that was alright, we were off to a Bible study with one of our investigators. It was so interesting to go. But I got super bored about half way through when they were discussing if the Holy Spirit is in everyone and how people can be perfect because they don’t have the Holy Spirit and how can they never sin. We were reading in 1 John, the end of Chapter 2 and beginning 3. It was interesting to see how much a modern-day prophet helps out and makes thing clear! I am so glad we have a modern prophet today and we had the opportunity to listen to him this last weekend.

Well, we had our first ATM (awake the members/missionaries) lesson. These are lessons to members about having them become friends to more people and eventually leading them to baptism.  It went pretty well. It is an interesting program our mission president instituted. 

This week I figured out that the Book of Mormon is pretty much the only way anyone gains a testimony of the Church. I have now seen both ways. One person does not have a testimony of anything and is confused. She does not read the Book of Mormon. We are getting her to read and gain a testimony for herself. Another lady who does not read very well and can’t understand what she reads had a powerful experience this week. She read 4 pages in the Book of Mormon and did not understand a thing. So she read some in the Bible and still did not understand a thing. So she prayed to Heavenly Father and asked Him if He could help her understand the scriptures. God answered her prayer. A few minutes after her prayer, she picked up the Bible and understood every word! And she said it was great; the words of God were wonderful. It strengthened my testimony in the Book of Mormon. 

Saturday and Sunday I spent mostly watching conference. It was great. It was also interesting to see how when your life changes, all the talks still apply to you, just in a changed way. It was cool to see. I also went up to this rich little community called Diablo Grande. It was really cool. We had dinner with a member up there in the Goldern, aka brown hills.

Ya, so it has been a good week. Have fun. Don’t miss a moment because you will never get it back.

Monday, September 26, 2011

A Small Miracle

So this week has been a really good week, full of lots of stuff. So last Monday we met Antonio for the second time; it was a small miracle. We told him to read a couple pages of a Restoration pamphlet, but when he answered the door he said he read the whole thing! And he wants to know more. And come to church! We were kinda shocked because it had been a hard week the week before, and everyone was saying no. We gave him a Book of Mormon, made another appointment with him, and told him the time and place of church.  We also gave him a quick lesson of Joseph Smith. The spirit was so strong. It was great! He said he wanted to read the Book of Mormon right then!

Tuesday was a good day. I went to Ceres for an exchange with the zone leaders. I could eat nuts and peanut butter for a day!! (My companion is deathly allergic to nuts.) Ceres that day was fun. It is in an area where there are a lot of baptisms, so we were way busy! It was the best; I love being way busy. Wednesday morning while still in Ceres with the zone leaders, I lifted weight for the first time in a while. They have a few weights and a bench in their apartment, so it was super nice to lift a bit again. I was sore the next couple days, but it felt so nice! Wednesday night we went to Westly, a little Mexican town. Everything in their supermarket is in Spanish; it was so funny. It was fun to be there as two white guys speaking Spanish. We caught a few people off guard. We took the I-5 back to Patterson. It was weird because I-5 goes right through Portland. It was weird knowing that I could drive straight down one road and be home. We had training on Thursday, which was good. President Gelwix is such a good speaker.

Friday night and Saturday, I was on my own Spanish wise because I was in my area on an exchange with an English-speaking elder. Ya, that was fun. My Spanish was good enough to get me through the day and it was a good confidence booster. I had a whole unplanned Q and A lesson with an investigator in Spanish, so that was really good. My Spanish is coming along!!

Sunday was a fun day because I got to go to youth classes with one of our investigators. That brought back so many memories; it was a lot of fun!

Monday, September 19, 2011

Mexican Independence Day Party

Last Monday was a great day. We had good lessons with both Daniel and Mitch. Daniel is so cool. He will not go anywhere without his Book of Mormon, and when he tells people he is going to be Mormon, they say, “Why would you do that?” He replies, “Because it is true.” So he is great.

Mitch's family is great; they just need to come to church. Mitch’s dad is a Harley guy without the tats. Tuesday, the day it all fell apart for this week teaching wise, even though it has been one of the best weeks on my mission. We had a lot of good appointments set up and they all fell through. We tracted a lot that day, too. We found 1 good person who could be ready and 1 person who had nothing nice to say, ha-ha.  

Wednesday, I was in the city of Waterford and Hughson with Elder Covey. He was in my MTC district, so it was a lot of fun to see how he was doing. Neither of us knew very much Spanish, so it was hard to communicate sometimes, but that was ok. It was a great learning experience and a good time.  

Thursday, I was in Patterson with Elder Covey. We taught a good amount of English that day, but some Spanish, so we had the same problem. We said what we knew, but sometimes that was not enough. But that is alright, we had fun trying to speak Spanish. Elder Roestenburg and I got back that night to meet with the Vilchis family. They have been prepared for the Gospel.

Friday was a good day, even though it was a planning day, which are my favorite (not) but we need them. We drove with Hermano Verjen to Turlock, speaking Spanish all the time, so that was fun. I figured I now need to speak Spanish more, so I am only speaking Spanish if I know the words and if I am not talking to a white person. I also got a free pair of white loafers. Yes mom, I did I got another pair of shoes. Ha-ha. I will send them home soon. Josh can wear them every once in a while if he wants. I knew that would give you a good laugh along with everyone else.

Well Saturday was the best day on my mission!! There was a huge Mexican Independence Day party in downtown, so we threw out all of our plans and went to tract at the party before everyone got drunk. It was so much fun. We talked to so many people and it was a good switch from the normal. The Mexicans know how to make a big party that is for sure. That night we also went to Modesto for a Church multi-cultural party, which was way fun as well! More food and watching dancing and having a great time. Then on Sunday, all of our appointments bailed again, so hopefully this next week will be a good productive week! But this week has been a good fun week!!! So that is good.

Love, Elder TJ Melanson

Praying for all of you every day. O and have you tried Ague de Sandia yet?

Monday, September 12, 2011

A Good Saturday Night

This week has been a slow week. We have not taught a ton of lessons or found new people. We visited with Juanita. We have been teaching her for the past few weeks and she is not really moving closer to Christ. She is just un-committed. We are visiting her more this week to see if we can get her more committed. She is a great lady and believes what we say. She just needs to take her step of faith. We also had a lesson with Mitch, the 9 year old boy. He believes everything we are telling him, we are just wondering if he will stay active with his less active parents.

Wednesday was transfers, which put a full loop on things because 2 English elders got doubled into a Spanish/English area. So, we might now be switched to all Spanish or just get a more Spanish area. I am waiting to see, but I am still with the same companion and in the same city.

Well, I finally got Tongan food again for dinner at one of the Tongan houses!! It is so good! I love Tongan food and the Tongan people they are so nice and loving! So, that was fun. I also learned a couple Tongan words, but I forgot them. Ha-ha.

We also had a good lesson with a young family. One of them is a new convert and the other is a recommitted member, so they do not know about a lot of church things. We explained more about the temple and patriarchal blessings, which was really good for them. They are a great family who can be really strong in the church.

I have met so many cool people here in Patterson both members and non-members, so I am having a good time here in California, especially with all the fresh fruit they have here!!! It is super good!!

O, cool story, so Saturday we taught Daniel for the second time. He says if anyone stole his Book of Mormon that they could not take anything bigger. He will protect it with his life. We have not seen him for a month and he is done reading 1 and 2 Nephi. Way cool! And we got a less active member to finally come back to church, right after that lesson with Daniel, so it was a good Saturday night.

Love, Elder TJ Melanson

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Week of Miracles

This week has been a really good week. We have had a lot of miracles of just tracking into people who are ready to accept the gospel. The best story was last night. We were going to go visit a former investigator and we got the house number mixed up.  We went to the wrong house. The house was a house of a member, so we said hi and they gave us ice cream.  They told us that the house across the street, but on a different street has the same number. So we went and knocked on that house. We were about to leave and a lady answered the door. She had talked to missionaries in the street before, and she is looking for the gospel because her son has really bad asthma. She has humbled herself and is looking for God to help. We gave a short message and met the son. He is 7 and full of energy. They are an African American family and he plays basketball. We said a prayer and she said she might come to church; we are going by again next week, because she is super busy this week.

Another miracle, a family that Elder Roestenburg taught, who is now never around, we found finally and they are interested. We taught them. That same night we found another guy, Danny Gomez, the guy with the deep questions who is never around when our appointments come around. We found him too!! 

Another day we found 3 Hispanics chatting in their garage. We talked to them. They had us sit down and we gave them a lesson. We are going back today! They seem very interested and they have a friend who is Mormon. So it has been a good week!

My Spanish is getting better and better. If I really concentrate, I can understand what people are talking about; I just can’t understand their exact opinion about what they are taking about. So it is hard to have a good conversation, but it is coming.

My first transfer is about over. I am staying in Patterson with my same companion! I am glad because I need to be here through the football season with all the Tongan boys!! Ha-ha. They are so funny. I hope I can go see a game. We have one investigator who is on the team, so we might get to go watch. I will see; it depends if we have appointments Friday night.

Ya that has pretty much been my week, a week loaded with fun!

Monday, August 29, 2011

Agua de Sandia

More on the story from my quick message last week: So two weeks ago I went out with one of the priests after district meeting and we went tracking. We found one guy who said, “Where is your church I want to come.” We set a date with one of Edmil's (the Priest) friends to be baptized. Both ended up falling through. The baptism was cancelled because his mom said we could not teach him, and the guy never came to church. 

We started tracking in the poor part of town with all the Hispanics. They are all welcoming us in to teach them. So that is great!! We have not had any baptisms yet, but it is great because we have found a lot of good people.

I went down to Fresno for a meeting on Aug. 19th. That was way fun. It was a meeting with all the greenies; so it was fun to see everyone again.

I have cooked a ton this past week and a half or so. Some things have ended up good, others not. French toast was not so good and Agua de Sandia was good. Other dinners were good. It has been fun too cook when I have time. The key is when I have time.

Jake finally came to church; so that was cool. He really liked it. He is getting close to be ready for baptism, if his mom gives him the go ahead. He does not want to break family bonds. We are teaching this older man, his son just got baptized and he is seeing that our church is more and more right by himself. He is a Bible scholar and open to new ideas. So that is really cool. I love visiting with him.

I have been teaching about 50% Spanish, 50% English. We rode past a Mexican wedding and the band called us out and everyone waved at us. It was kinda funny. Ya that is pretty much my week and some funny experiences. O I also got to play basketball on Saturday night with one of our investigators. That was way fun. We played with all the priests in the ward. They are all Tongan. The Tongans are way fun to play sports with; they are always cracking jokes, and goofing off, and they love the missionaries.

Hey, I have a little more time, so here is some more about what is going to happen in the week to come. We are planning on teaching our investigators, focusing more on finding in the lower class area we have been in. One guy (the brother in law of the 1st counselor of the Spanish Branch) just let us in. When we knocked, we were invited in to eat watermelon. It was way cool. His name is Alonzo. There are a lot of others in that area, the Ramirez family, Ignacio, Jounir, Verdriana, and a couple others.

The Mexican food here is soooo good. O and I have a recipe for you for Agua de Sandia (or any other fruit). So fill the container about 1/4 full of water then put sugar in the water until it is sweet. Then cut up watermelon and put it in the blender until it is water. I like it with a little bit of chucks, but it is good with no chucks too! Then make sure it is cold; it is not good warm. Hope you like it. It is super easy to make!

Hope everyone is having a great time and ready to start school.
Love, Elder TJ Melanson

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Fresno Temple Visit

Hey I don't have much time. We went to the temple yesterday, so I did not get time to email and p day was moved to Wednesday, so I got 15 minutes today. This week has been a really good week. We got 2 baptism commitments, but one fell through. I will tell you about it next letter. The temple was great!! The Fresno Temple is really small but it is nice! The Celestial room is really really bright because of how they have the windows and lights and all, so that was really cool!!

Monday, August 15, 2011

First Zone Conference

On Tuesday, we had a zone conference. It was fun. Pres. Gelwix is such a good speaker!! I love listening to his motivational talks. Every time he talks to you, you just want to go work your hardest. He definitely still has a little bit of the rugby coach in him! Ha-ha.  It was also cool to see all the Elders in my zone and the zone next to me. I also found out that my mission is one of highest baptizing missions, but also the mission with the extensions to all the rules, like I have to have a part in my hair and no pink ties, and for now no paisley. But, I bet that will be changed with the new mission president.  I loved zone conference. Also, that next day I went on an exchange with one of the zone leaders named Elder Bassett. That was a lot of fun. I learned a lot about different ways to do things and he talks to everyone he sees, so it was good to go do that too. That is really what I like doing, going and being friends with everyone. We also taught Jake, our investigator, that night about the plan of salvation. It was a really good lesson! That next morning we taught Daniel, the investigator who came and found us last week. He loves the Book of Mormon. He was just reading a little bit in it and it answered his question. That experience strengthened my testimony in the Book of Mormon. The black lady I was talking about a few weeks ago got even more interesting, she reads the Book of Mormon, come to find out, but her beliefs are all funny, it makes me laugh.
Well I am getting so much fruit to eat that I don’t know what to do with all of it!! I love it. I love fruit!
On Friday, we went to a fireside that Pres. Gelwix was speaking at and brought Jake, our investigator. He loved it and thinks our mission president is a great cool guy. That was really cool to go!! One more story: So we met this guy named Danny Gomez. He is way cool, loves to fix up bikes, and is interested in what we have to teach. He had a couple really deep questions on our first visit yesterday.  He asked: What did God do before he made us? Why do we look the way we look? And why do people have to go through the death of loved ones, especially children? That was interesting to be asked those questions. He is a cool guy.  I am excited to talk to him on Thursday, our next appointment.
Love you and I am praying for all of you!

Monday, August 8, 2011

I Love This Place and the People

So this week has been a good week. It was a good first full week here in California. It has not been too hot, but just right. On Tuesday we got to meet a new investigator, Jake. He is super interested and it is great to teach him. We had a really good lesson with him and so that is good. (I don’t know days anymore and I forgot my journal that I usually write from, so it is just going to be good stories throughout the week.) So we taught Jake twice this week and we are teaching him again tomorrow. He is really cool. He is about 20, so our age, and has a Mormon girlfriend. Miguel is another investigator. He speaks Spanish. I am getting to the point that I can understand most Spanish, just it is hard to speak it. I am really slow, but I am alright. So Miguel, he is having a hard time with his family. We are teaching him about faith and trying to get him to church. I have spoken a bit of Spanish to him and he understands me, so that is good. On Wednesday, we had a meeting with the Spanish Branch and we were planning an activity for Saturday. All they could talk about is who is making the beans, what kinda of beans and how much beans; it was so funny!! Martha Solis got confirmed yesterday. She is doing great. So on Saturday, I was at the Spanish Branch party from 12-4:30, then I went on splits and went to a Tongan party (one of their family members is getting baptized). That was fun, but I had so much food. I have never eaten that much food in one day. Latino's and Tongan's know how to feed you. Ha-ha. I love this place and the people. I have not ate any weird food yet, just a lot of hot Mexican food that I love. It is good to eat spicy food again. Ya, so that has been my week, a lot of bike riding and talking to people everywhere. We have done a lot of service this week too. I put concrete between the window and the wall of the outside of a lady’s house and mowed a lawn. We got free peaches and apple pie, which was cool.

Monday, August 1, 2011

So That's My First Week!

Hey well, I finally got to California. I am up in a small town called Patterson. It is about 2 hours north of Fresno. Lots of people here commute to the bay area so I guess I am close to San Francisco. But I really don’t know. The city is small for my liking. But it is great here. There is a whole English ward that I am in, along with a Spanish branch. They are both great!! I am really excited to be here. O and Grandpa knows the bishop here, Bishop Hass. He used to live in Eureka. Kinda funny the connections here. My companion’s name is Elder Roestenburg. He is cool. He is also a district leader, so it is interesting to see what a district leader does first hand. He is from Salt Lake City. I have got to know a lot of the Spanish Branch already. The Branch President is way cool; he speaks both English and Spanish, so that is nice. O and guess what? I have already had my first baptism. How funny is that!! I was excited even though I barely know the sister. I still don’t know very many names. 

Here is what has happened the past week. I left the MTC on Wednesday. I was way excited! They then we flew to Fresno on a little puddle jumper plane. Kinda fun. We all got to Fresno and we met President and Sister Gelwix.  They drove us to the Mission office where we then got companioned with elders there. There were 20 of us coming in; so that was cool. We went out with our temporary companion and went tracting. I talked to a few people. One was a drunk Mexican. I did not understand his Spanish at all. But he was mumbling because he was drunk. I then went to go meet with President Gelwix and fill out paper work stuff. We then went out tracting some more. That night we ate at the Gelwix house. It was an etiquette dinner. I am so glad Mom has taught me good manners. We then, all 19 of us Elders, slept at the assistant’s apartment. That was a bit crowded but good.
The next morning we had a meeting, then we got our new companions. We finally drove out to our area about 2 and got to Patterson about 4. I went on splits with the bishop that night. It was fun. We went to visit an elderly member, then we picked peaches with one of his friends who is not a member. It was fun to get to know Bishop Hass better. The next day we went to his house in the morning to have breakfast and a meeting. It was good. We also went to interview the lady getting baptized. Then we went to visit a few investigators. I can understand Spanish, at least what is happening in the conversation, just I don’t know what to say back in Spanish. It is kinda frustrating but o'well. Saturday was a great day. We were out visiting investigators and I was like, “we should know these houses”. So we did. Once we locked up our bikes, the guy with tattoos everywhere said we needed to come talk to his friend. So we did. We have an appointment tonight to come back and talk to him. We also ended up knocking all the doors. All 4 houses want us to come back. One lady, Maria Rivera, said the missionaries had taught her 4 years ago and she said, “how do I get baptized”. That was a miracle. Sunday was good. I understood most of the things in Spanish. I had to give a talk my first Sunday there, in Spanish; that was scary. But it worked out. I was last and because of the baptism there was not much time so I just introduced myself and said my testimony. During the baptism, the Elders, there were 5 of us, had a lesson about families. I had to talk quite a bit in Spanish. It was good. My Spanish is coming along. Today a guy in the store came up to me and said he had been looking for us. So we are going to see him sometime. His work is crazy, so we don’t know exactly when. Ya, so that is my first week.

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Arrives at the Mission Home in Fresno--July 27

Hey I am here in Fresno safe and sound. I have already gone tracting a little bit. I have also met my Mission President a little bit. Hey tell Nana and Tompa that Bro. and Sis. Mauro are the couple in my mission. They are from Harrisburg, Penn. We flew here on a little puddle jumper. And I sat next to a person who had never flown. It was real funny. Well I don’t have much time so Love you!!

Love Elder TJ Melanson

Leaving the MTC--July 27

Well, I am excited for the trip. It is really weird finally leaving the MTC. It both feels like I just got here and I have been here for my whole life. It will be interesting to see how much I understand and can say out on the field in Spanish. I am hoping I have a good trainer!

Well, this is what I have been doing this week. My comp left on early Sunday morning. He is going to Argentina. They had 27 hours of plane travel, then 18 hours of bus travel. I am glad I am only going to Cali. It took all day yesterday to pack everything up; I have so much stuff.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Travel Plans

Well, not much has happened in the last week. Every week is the same here in the MTC. But one more week and this next week is a little bit different. Ok, one of the few things that happened this week is a pipe burst in the bathroom at about 10:25 at night. It was way funny and everyone was all giddy, especially my comp. Ha-ha. He is funny. Nothing out of the normal happens here, so it was a special occasion. 
We got our travel plans, I am leaving the MTC on Wednesday.  Any letters have to get here on Tuesday, Dear elders by Monday. Everything else, send it to Fresno at the mission home. I don’t know where I will be living yet. We had a travel plan "party." It was a no sound party. Ha-ha. Elder West got sick on Friday, so we stayed in the resident hall on Friday morning. That was good to get extra study time. O we convinced Elder Petersen, the tall one at 6’8”, that a snipe was real on Monday. Ha-ha, way funny. We might be going snipe hunting soon. Ha-ha.

I was in choir again on Tuesday. We got recorded on some African missionary film thing, so I might be in some movie. The Devotional was about the Book of Mormon. It was way good like always. The spirit is way strong here in the MTC.  Well, that is my week. Sorry it is not long.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

MTC Records

This week has been a very non interesting week. I have gone to class, studied, ate and that is about it. I am continuing to teach my progressive investigator, Jonathan, we are making good progress on him. He is going to church, loving it and really interested in everything we say. It is really great. 

Another teacher left because he had a lot of things going on with his family. This was early last week, forgot to put that into the letter. So we have had lots of subs. But I like subs; they bring in a new way of looking at things. It is great. We have had 13 teachers, subs and real teachers, at my time here. I think that is an MTC record. Ha-ha. People usually just have 2 teachers, with subs maybe 4.  Our teacher on Saturday just forgot about us and never showed. That was funny, but we just studied more.

I am ready to get out into the field, but I need these 2 weeks more of studying and learning Spanish.  
As a side note, the gym has been closed for refinishing, which also means no basketball for a couple weeks. I have been playing soccer. O boy, I should have taken lessons from my brothers before I came. I will be glad when the gym opens up on Monday again.

The fireside was on repentance was really good!! The devotional on Tuesday was about Christ and what he did for us. It was soooo good. Everything here is so spiritual.

Elder Melanson and his new Mission President

On there's a news article about the new mission presidents training at the MTC.  TJ's new mission president was there.  There are two glimpses of Elder Melanson on the video while the Fresno missionaries are meeting with President and Sister Gelwix.  A fun treat to see him and get to know a little more about his mission president!  Here's the link to the news article and the video.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Joining the Choir

Well this week has been a really good week, but I am so ready to get out of the MTC and start really doing missionary work. Well last week was my last week that I could go to the temple because they have it closed for cleaning. But it was a really good last session. I love the temple; it really makes my week so much better. For the TRC this week we did comp. switches. It was good, but way different; it caught me by surprise. I hope we do it again and I will be more prepared and be able to say more and be able to know what is going on the whole time. But it was a good learning experience and really fun!
Well I had my first Spanish mistake. Elder West and I were teaching our progressive investigator about baptism and he asked if he had to see God while he was in the water. We did not understand and so we said yes. Ha-ha. Ya, we had a good laugh and had to fix it up the next time. It was way funny. The teacher called us in after and told us what we had said to him. Ha-ha.

On Thursday, we had a Spanish Feast or English Fast. It was way fun and way good! But I had the biggest headache after translating for a whole day. We are doing another one tomorrow. I am excited. I am really starting to get used to the Spanish language. But I am still not very good. The verb conjugations are really hard and different.

Utah is starting to get green; the snow has almost melted from all the peaks finally!! We had snow just a month ago at the MTC. People are complaining it is way hot. I love it!!

Well Monday was probably the worst 4th of July I have ever had in my life. We did not do anything. It was just a normal day at the MTC. But I guess that is how missionary work goes. We celebrated on Saturday the 2nd, which was cool. We had a speaker talk about the US and its freedoms, and then had bagpipers. It was cool, but not a real 4th. Then we watched the Stadium of Fire fireworks from the MTC. It was alright.

We played district soccer on Friday. It was fun. I am so bad a soccer. Ha-ha. O and on Sunday we had a really good fireside. Jenny Oaks Baker came to play the violin. She is so good. It was a good thing to hear music for a change. We can't listen to music here.

Well yesterday I joined the missionary choir. It was way cool. I am not the best singer, but I am good enough for the choir. It was a good break on the normal schedule. I bet my friends are a little surprised I joined a choir. Ha-ha. We had the best fireside yet. An emeritus seventy talked about obedience and the spirit. It was the best talk I have heard here. Obedience is the key to everything.

Well I love you all!
Elder TJ Melanson

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Missionary Blessings

Studying in class with Elder Carlson
This week has been a good week, but very up and down. It seems that I wake up every morning down and then my Father in Heaven turns around my day and by the end of the day it has been a good day. It is so evident how I am blessed here as a missionary.

A week ago I got to go to the temple again and my comp, we were on splits so it was Elder Covey, forgot his temple recommend. So we had to walk back and go to a later session. It was a blessing because I got to know him better and know he is the new district leader. We taught the older district, it was nice because they helped out my Spanish and teaching while I taught.  I have been running for gym with Elder Blake. It has been nice; it reminds me of my runs at BYU. It is weird being in Provo in such a different setting. I look at the Y every day and it brings back memories. Haha. They are all good and I am glad.

Elder Blake and Elder Covey

I gave the best lesson I ever gave. We taught one of our progressive investigators and it was amazing; the spirit was so strong. We taught about how god loves him as a person. It was great.  We sat in silence for about 3 minutes. I never knew how powerful silence was.

I got to meet my mission president. It was great. He is such a great guy. He has so much love for everyone. There will be a movie on of us, I think. Before that, Elder Bednar spoke to all of us about being preach my gospel missionaries. It was a great talk!! So inspiring. Every talk here is inspiring and lifts you up. I have never enjoyed talks that much. I pray that I will get the message I need from the speaker. I think it helps a lot.

O cleaning this week. I cleaned the bathroom floors, which includes the women’s bathroom. And we found a secret room with beds in the girl’s bathroom. I did not know girl’s bathrooms had beds in them. I knew about couches, but not beds. It was kinda funny. That was my funny story for the week.

God has also really humbled me here as well. I have definitely seen my weaknesses. I have a few quotes when I write a real letter.

Love, Elder TJ Melanson

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Our Best Lesson

Well on last Wednesday, Elder West and I taught our best lesson we have ever taught. It was at the TRC, so it was in English about the plan of salvation. For the first time we taught an equal amount and I did not control the whole lesson. It was great!! It was such a good feeling to teach a good lesson.
One of our progressive investigators dropped us on Thursday. He asked about polygamy the time before and he was just in a mood where he wanted to prove us wrong, so we did not answer the way we wanted. So he kicked us out. It was a great learning experience. I now know what to do if that stuff comes up again. I went on a run on Friday with a couple of elders from my district. We just spoke Spanish. It was a good confidence builder and really taught me a lot. We played a Jeopardy game on Saturday with one of our teachers. It was way fun!!

I love Sundays. It is a great study day!! I studied faith this week. It was great. I love studying the gospel. It is something I have definitely learned to love. On Monday, we had service. The mission presidents are coming today, so we had special cleaning. We first put up the flags for all the nations. Then we scrubbed bricks. Very interesting service. I thought they only cleaned bricks in prison. Haha jk it was fun. We had a sub teacher 2 months of the mish. It was great. His testimony was so inspiring. He made me so pumped to go teach the Latin people. They are a great people and I have already started to love them.

We got our new progressive investigator from Hermano Kohn. His name is Jonathan. It is cool. I like him a lot better. He is in a band and has lots of questions.

Yesterday was a great day. Hermano Johnson was very inspirational. He is such a great guy and a great teacher. The devo was amazing. It got me ready to go serve the Lord and walk with the Lord, always ready to open my mouth, so He can fill my mouth with His words.

Well, that’s my week.

Monday, June 20, 2011

MTC Zone Leaders

TJ and Elder Armes (Zone Leader)

Elder Robers (Zone Leader from Vernonia, OR) and TJ

Some familiar faces from college!

Soekhee and TJ

TJ and Elder Caleb Price

Elder Josh Davies and TJ

Elder Michael Abbot and TJ

Focusing on the Atonement

Hey it has been a good week I have been studying a lot, I focused a day of studying on the atonement it was great! I read a few conference talks and I read a few scriptures it was definitely an uplifting study, probably the best time I have had this week.  Just thought I would start it out that way. 

Well I get to go the temple today; we only get to go once on our P day so it is a good moment especially doing family names.  We don’t have service on our P days either which is nice because it gives another hour of personal time to write letters, and relax a little bit, but I have kinda lost what relax really means. We do our service on Mondays, my companion and I have cleaned the corners of the carpet with ghost buster vacuums, swept the sidewalk (the worst job), put up all the countries flags (best job), cleaned the chalk boards, dusted, that is pretty much it, it is fun, I always like service. My schedules for my days, are all about the same, wake up at 6, get ready til 7, personal study til 7:30, breakfast til 8, then personal study again til 9. Class for 3 hours, where we learn the gospel, Spanish, and teach progressive investigators (the teachers pretending to be investigators). We teach them in Spanish and they only talk in Spanish, it is way hard!!  We then go to lunch at 12, then class again, then language study, dinner then computer language study, and gym. Then we plan at 9, and then go to the resident halls at 9:20. We get ready for bed, read and write in our journals til 10:30, which is bed time. They schedule changes a bit each day. On P days it is different, we wake up, get ready, eat breakfast, go wash cloths/ write letters, then more free time to write, then personal study at 11, then lunch at 12, personal time til 1:30, then temple and more personal time til dinner at 5, then class after that (where we go to the TRC), where we teach volunteer investigators, it is fun.

My roommates names are Elder West, my comp. He is from Sandy going to Salta, Argentina, and then the other two in my room are elder Petersen the tall one, and elder Christian. They are both going to Fresno. There are 11 in my district; there were 12, one went home. (4 are going to Argentina and 7 to Cali.)

This week has been very long. We have done a lot of teaching our progressive investigator and have not got very far; it is hard to teach in Spanish and also understand everything he is saying.  We had a great zone meeting on Thursday and it has helped the other elders be more focused in their studying, which has been very good. It has been a lot of the usual, though not much very interesting. Our speaker on Sunday was very good. It was about chastity and how to teach it; it was a very good talk. On Wednesday we had the general primary president come to talk. We sang primary hymns, and she had a very simple message about how to be a representative of Christ and giving more than 100%. I also got the first vision memorized in Spanish; it is a good feeling to have that memorized.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Teaching in the MTC

Hey this week has been great. I have really figured out why I am here and who sent me and who is on my side. It is great to be in the Lord’s service! This week I taught more. We have progressive investigators that we keep teaching. I can’t remember if I told you about them already. We have two teachers and we teach both of them. One of them we were teaching for the first time. We were teaching the first lesson and my companion got scared and jumped past everything and went right to the book of Mormon. It was really funny. It messed my up real bad, but it worked out. I ended up talking for most of the time. Look in Preach my Gospel lesson one to see all that he skipped. We are teaching the beginning of the lesson tomorrow. The other investigator we had it a little more organized. We are preparing lesson 2 for him. It is about the plan of salvation. I hope the first lesson went well. He did not keep his commitment of coming to church, so we are going to try to harp a little on that. Even though these are fake investigators, it is great to teach them. If you pray and think of them as real, they really turn into real investigators and it is great. For the investigator where we jumped to the Book of Mormon, when I was bearing my testimony I got all teary eyed, the spirit is so strong here. I keep catching myself wiping my eyes because they are teary. I did not think I was a huge crier but I guess I am. ha-ha. The worst was at the mission conference on Sunday. It was a great 2 hour meeting where we were taught from the MTC mission president and his counselors and their wives. They had great testimonies. It showed me that I need to try harder, work harder, put in all of my time to serve the Lord. I have never worked so hard, and wanted the days to last longer so that I could have more time to work. The Devotional yesterday was spectacular. The part that stood out to me is every morning find a spot, after you have got ready for the day, and talk to the Lord. Tell him your plan for the day and have a discussion with him. I tried it today and it has already made a difference in my day. My Spanish is coming along. I want it to come faster, but I am working hard and trying my best.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Work Continues

Dear Family,

Hey.  Did not have enough time to write everything.  So more about the Door Contact.  One of my teachers was the investigator.  He acted like someone he taught.  It was way cool.  I understood most of what he said but I did not really know exactly what he was saying.  I could say some things in Spanish but not a lot.  It is so hard. 

Today I teach the first lesson in Spanglish and we have street contacting.  That’s about all I forgot, I hope.  Make sure you ask questions, then I know what to write.

Love, Elder Melanson

Elder Melanson, Elder West, Elder Peterson, Elder Christianson

My MTC District

Thursday, June 2, 2011


I have had a great time here at the MTC. It has been super fun, but really hard!  I had a great day on Sunday! The fireside was amazing it really made me want to be here! After the fireside I went up to go watch a talk by Elder Holland. It was the most inspirational talk I have ever listened to! Every feeling of wanting to come home washed away. Everybody had new energy that next day.  I am working way hard, but it is hard because my district is one of those talking ones, not one of the study ones, so that is hard.  But I pray that it will get better and I will be able to study hard even with distractions.

The first day in the MTC was like jumping into a cold lake we jumped right into learning Spanish. That was super hard. Now I can understand some of it and I can speak a lot of it! But not enough to really communicate. Haha. It is coming slowly but surely. We started of learning how to pray and bare my testimony. Now I can introduce myself and can a TINY conversation. The days are all the pretty much the same. I wake up then have personal study, then breakfast, than, personal study, then class, than, lunch than more class then language study than dinner, than, a language lab, than and gym.  I always play basketball of course. There are some pretty good players.

I have definitely learned the power of prayer. I have never prayed so much in my whole life. I pray for everything.

The devotional the other day was ok, it was Bro. Packer, Elder Packer’s son, he was kinda dry, but had some good things to say. He had us realize that not everything goes our way, no matter how much faith we have.

I taught my first door contact in Spanish it was hard. I understood a lot but I could not say much. I will be teaching the first lesson later today. And another door contact. It is super exciting to be able to do that. We are learning a lot here.

Love you so much and miss you!!
Thank you so much for your support and prayers!!
Love, Elder Melanson

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

First Letter

The first day in the MTC went pretty well.  We started learning Spanish and had our first teaching experience.  We group taught an actor investigator.  We were in groups of 40ish.  My district has people going to Argentina South and Fresno.  My companion is Elder West.  He is cool.  He is from Sandy, Utah, and likes extreme sports.  He is going to Argentina.  My other roommates are real cool.  They are Elder Peterson and Elder Christianson.  They are both going to Fresno. 

It is great being here in the MTC.  You can feel the Spirit right away and you can tell that the Lord is going to help us along our way.  It still feels unreal.  It feels like I am going to wake up in my bed at home.  The people here are great, at least for the first day.  They all helped us find our way and make sure we did not get lost. 

In the group lesson thing I talked about earlier, I stood up to talk.  The investigator gave a nice lead in to talk about families and how we believe in eternal families.  When I talked, all the investigator said was “ya” and “amen.”  I did not know what to say to that so I sat down and let someone else take over.  The MTC is going to be so hard, but it will be a good experience.  I am excited for my first 9 weeks here.  It was great having Tom take me to the MTC and being able to know someone to say bye to. 

The first day has been so confusing.  I feel so lost all the time.  Everyone says—just make it till Sunday.  So I am!  I love all you guys and hope you are having a great time.  Just remember—stay happy.

Note from Mom:  TJ's P-days are on Wednesday in the MTC.