May 2011 to May 2013

Thursday, December 27, 2012

New Area: Hughson

Week of 12/17/2012:

Ok, so this branch is super small. There are about 25 to 30 people at Sacrament every week. It is a really good branch, though. I already knew a few of the members. The ward mission leader was in the Spanish Branch I was in back in Patterson. He is way cool and I am glad to work with him more. And there is a sister that was in Modesto while I was there. So it was cool to already know some people. The Branch President is amazing. He is on fire. The first day I got here, he told us some people we needed to go visit. Then, he said he wanted to come to one of the part member family's house and personally invite the brother, of the sister who is a member, to be baptized. It was so cool to see that! It was probably the best thing that has happened while I have been here.

The work here is pretty slow and we have been busy doing a lot of other stuff and not missionary work for the past week. It will be a good transfer. We are really going to get this area running. I have been in area like this, so I am excited.
So this week not much has happened, so there isn't much to tell you about. The members here are awesome. They have made me feel like I am at home. We have good plans for Christmas and Christmas Eve, so that is good!

People Change and Things Change People

Week of 12/11/2012:

So the news for the week is that I am getting transferred again. I am completely split on this one. I am excited because I am going back to a Spanish area, but so many good things are happening in this ward and there are so many good member families here. It was really a cool thing to be here for a while. It showed me that English work can blossom just as well as Spanish work. I will miss some of the families I have taught here for sure. I am going back up North again to a city west of Modesto and Turlock called Hughson. So that should be fun. 

Here is a fun story for the week. So two weeks ago we were biking around talking to everybody we saw and we ended up talking to this guy who was putting up his Christmas lights. He said that he had talked with missionaries before and they had helped him out one time, so that was the first good experience we had with him as missionaries. He says he talks to missionaries about every 6 months or so. He told us to come back in a few days (that landed on a Wednesday) so we came back to talk with him. He welcomed us in. He is a very nice guy. We talked to him about lots of different things. He said that he was in a time in his life right now that he is willing to listen and learn, and that before he did not talk to the missionaries because he thought that his ideas could never be changed. We had an amazing lesson with him. We taught the Restoration lesson and it was super good. Throughout the whole thing we focused on the family and how the prophets help families and the gospel helps families and the Book of Mormon helps families. It was so cool. When we read 3 Nephi 18:21, it really struck him and he felt the spirit so strong reading that. It was so cool to see that people change, and that one day it will not be the right day for someone, but then in a month it might be. People change and things change people. That was the coolest thing to see with this guy, that he was at a time in his life that he was really changed and ready to receive the message of the restoration.
So this Sunday it was just about a miracle. We almost had 13 people at church. But we only had 7, which is still really cool. One of my favorite families finally came to church and they really liked it. It was so cool. There were talks that were just perfect for them. It was again awesome to see how the Lord works.

Another favorite family just about came to church as well. They are an amazing family. It will be sad not to see them being baptized (because I am being transferred), but it was cool to have an opportunity to teach them and help them along their way. We had another really cool lesson with them yesterday. It is so powerful when a family of 7 is all sitting and learning about the message of the restoration. And even the 7 year old is participating and teaching the parents how to pray. For the last few lessons it has just been the kids praying, but this time the parents prayed and the little 7 and 11 year old kids were helping them out and telling them what to say. It was so cool to see that. They are a very close family and will be a great family in the church.

More Miracles

Week of 12/4/12:

So this week has been a week of miracles.  It has been so cool to see the Lord’s hand in the work. I think that more than any other transfer on my mission, we are not working effectively with time. I try to push my companion. I try to do what I think is best, but then I have trust in my companion and just have patience, and overall, I don't think the work has hindered much. A little yes, but it is still going forth. That is a huge miracle in my eyes.

The other day I was just thinking about the last while on my mission and before. It is interesting to see how I have changed and the different decisions that I would have made. Some of the things I look to the beginning of my mission where I thought I knew a lot, but really I knew nothing and how I wish I would have known more back then.
So this week the huge miracle that I saw was on Thursday morning. We were riding back toward the area around our apartment, getting back from visiting people across town. On the side of the street, just a half block away from the church, there was a younger couple walking. I pulled over and talked to them for a while. It was a great talk we had with them and they said that we are welcome to come back. I asked if we could do anything for them and the lady said that we could just say a prayer with them, so we did. They kept walking after the prayer and my companion and I stayed on the curb and wrote down their information.

When I was done writing down everything, we started to ride toward the next people we were going to visit, and I looked up and saw that the couple was now right in front of the church. I had an impression we needed to take them on a church tour, so I rode really fast and caught up with them again. We asked them if they wanted to go on a tour of the church and they said they really would. After the prayer, the guy had really felt something. He wanted to know more. It was so cool and such a blessing to see how the Lord works. We took them into the church and started to begin the church tour. It was a super good tour of the church. We showed them a few pictures and the chapel. We did a brief overview of the restoration and it went really good. They understood the need for authority really well. It was for sure a good thing to go and talk with them again. We also showed them the baptismal font and they wanted to be baptized. So they now have a baptismal date. It was such a cool experience.
We are also teaching another great family and they are doing super good. We finally got the whole family to sit in to a lesson and it was awesome!! We got all 7 of them. It is the Mom and Dad and then 5 boys. I thought we were the biggest family of boys ever, but no, in Visalia I have met 2 families that beat us, one with just 5 boys, the other with 8 boys and no girls! Ya lots of boys. So we got the whole family sitting down by the end of the lesson. The father was in and out but sat in for the last 20 minutes of the lesson and one of the older boys came in for the last 10 minutes or so. It was so good the spirit was so strong. We asked them all a question. The Question was if Jesus was here right now what would you ask him? The mom said why are there so many churches and the Dad said how do I get my family together forever? It was so cool to have them ask those questions because they are so easily answered in our church. They have really become a solid family and a really cool one too. They boys are fun to be with because they are the ages of my little brother’s They came to play in the turkey bowl with us on Thanksgiving Day.

Getting to Know the Members

Week of 11/27/2012:

This week has been a good teaching week, but we have not seen many of our investigators because of the Thanksgiving weekend and a lot of them were out of town. This Thanksgiving time did allow a really good time to get to know a lot of the members, which was awesome.
The sister I have been telling you about got baptized on Saturday. It was very good baptism. Everyone was happy to be there. She was super happy because she had been waiting for so long to be baptized. 
Thanksgiving was full of good food. We stopped by a fair amount of families. A lot of the ward was out of town, along with our investigators, so that was a little disappointing, but it all ended up ok. Our mission right now is focusing a lot about trying to do missionary work the Lord’s way and not our way. It has been really cool to see how the Lord provides people to teach and work with.
The ward here is super good. It is probably the first ward that reminds me of the wards that I have grown up in. I have seen being on my mission that I have grown up in very strong wards and stake. It really helps. Some of the wards out here have to rely on the missionaries so much.

With all the new missionaries coming out what is happening to the Portland mission? How many new missionaries are coming in? Here in Fresno we are getting 60 to 75 new missionaries in the next couple transfers, most of them will be sisters.

Dogs are Sent from God ...

Week of 11/21/12

It has been a super good week and a half, full of a ton of things. The Lord has really blessed this area. We are finding those people that are ready for the gospel.

We found an awesome family this past week. Last week, we were riding our bikes around. We had just got out of a lesson and saw this lady walking her dog. I think dogs are sent from God to make it possible for missionaries to find white people walking around outside their houses.
We stopped and talked to this lady. She was going to the park with her daughter, who was a ways in front riding her bike. We talked a little with her about the church and our message. We asked if we could come visit her and her family and she said that would be great!
We stopped by at the designated time of Thursday. We were a little late because of the rain. I was a bit scared being a little late. I don't like being late when other people are counting on you. But it all worked out. She had forgotten we were coming by until moments earlier. She let us right in. As we walked in, her husband grabbed a thing of chew and asked his wife, "So what did you sign us up for again?" The wife said, "O they are just coming to share a little message about Jesus Christ." He seemed to feel ok about that and had us sit down and asked us if we wanted any water.
We started talking to them and the whole family about family interests and family stuff. They have two kids. The husband's demeanor was changing, which was very good.  We soon turned the small talk into starting with the lesson. Saying how families are the central units of God’s plan and he gives us prophets to help us and so on. We got through all the way to Jesus’ ministry and then I was kinda scared to move on. I could tell my companion was too. He is a very religious man and knows his stuff. But the spirit kept saying you gotta talk about Joseph Smith, so we did. And that was probably the best part of the lesson. The husband really liked it because it mirrored so well the olden day church of Christ and the Hebrews. The wife liked it just because it was a good story, but she was a bit skeptical. We gave them a Book of Mormon and told them we would bring a movie about Joseph Smith next time and talk about the Book of Mormon. They really liked that and invited us to dinner as well. So that was really good. People that feed you are always prepared.
We came back yesterday. None of them had read, except the oldest son.  We watched the movie The Prophet of the Restoration, the long Joseph Smith movie. It was really good; they all loved it and it helped both of the parents understand Joseph and his life. The husband had heard a lot about his life both good and bad, so the movie had put everything into perspective.  It turned the bad things he had heard to good because he understood why it happened. So it went really well. We also explained the Book of Mormon more. They are excited to read it and would probably come to church this week if it was not Thanksgiving weekend. They are an awesome family.

The sisters are doing really well. The oldest sister is still not smoking and excited about her baptism. The sad thing is her younger sister will not be being baptized with her because their mom said no and the youngest sister needs the permission from her mom. She's still learning more about the gospel though.

Miracles in Visalia

Week of 11/13/2012:

So I am loving Visalia. It is a very good ward here and a very strong ward. It is good to be here and see everything. If I did not want to go to a Spanish area again, I would love to stay here for the rest of my mission. My companion and I are getting along great.

I think I have seen more miracles here than anywhere else, and pretty much just with one family. So here is how it starts. This lady has been being taught by missionaries for a very long time. Like months and maybe years, but I am not sure about that. I know she has had contact with the church for years. Her ex-husband was a less active member. So when I came into the area, she already had a very strong testimony of the gospel. She even went up on Fast Sunday and bore her testimony. So that was great to see. The only thing stopping her from being baptized was that she smokes. She has been smoking since she was about 10, so it is a huge addiction for her. She wanted really bad to get baptized on the 24th of November, but without quitting smoking, she was never going to make it. So last Wednesday evening, we went over to her house and told her that she had to stop smoking "today" to get baptized on the 24th. She agreed to it. We told her that she could call or text us whenever she got the temptation. So on Sunday night, we even got a call at 4:30 in the morning. I think I have invested more time with this investigator than any other investigator on my whole mission. It has been great. I also think she has read and prayed more than any other investigator. I think she might even pray and read more than me, and I am a missionary. It is really cool to see the spirit that is with her. So that is miracle number one.

The other miracle is with her younger sister. We have also been teaching her. So she started to pray and read as well. She was very unsure if she should get baptized or not, but then, she got her answer that the church was true. That was an amazing moment. She decided she wanted be baptized with her  niece next April, a long time away. We tried to tell her it is better sooner, but she would not budge one bit. We went over on Sunday and started to plan out the baptism with the oldest sister. We asked who she wanted to say the prayers. She said her younger sister. We then cut in and said that was unless her sister got baptized that same day. ... The younger sister's eyes lit up and she said that she was going to be baptized on the 24th with her older sister. That was amazing. I guess the spirit just spoke to her. With a nice comment from our ward mission leader who was there, saying it was the best choice of his life, it was solidified. She told us, "I know I am going to be baptized. Why not just be baptized now." I though in my head yaaa! That is awesome; what a miracle.

Visalia, My New Area

Week of 11/6/2012:

It has been a very interesting week. The goodbyes were hard with lots of people, but I felt like when I left, I left doing the things I was called to do. I left with a very good feeling that I made a difference there. I left it with over 20 investigating families, which was great!! I am pretty sure they should have a couple baptisms this next month. I am now here in Visalia. My area is an English area. My companion is from El Salvador, but he moved to the US about 10 years ago. He now lives in New Jersey.
I am on the east part of Visalia from Pinkam east, so it should be exciting. It is a great ward and I really like it here. It is probably the strongest ward I have been in so far. Right now the work is kinda slow. I came in to the area with very little investigating families. So again, I am called to find, it is what I love to do.
This week we were able to find an awesome person. There is a really strong recent convert family, and his sister just moved in with them. We started to teach her just last Saturday, about 1 day after she moved in. She had heard a little about the church from her family but had lots of questions. She says she is not a very religious person, and really had not prayed very often. Our first lesson was really good. We segued really well into the lesson from just normal chit chat. And taught about the restoration. She liked it because no one had really ever explained religion like that to her. We gave her a Book of Mormon and told her to read it. We came back on Monday and she had some questions about The Book of Mormon and prayer, so we answered those questions and left her the challenge to read book of Enos int he Book of Mormon, along with the invitation to pray. Elder Flores and I can both tell that she really wants to know. She is a very prepared person which is very good! It is awesome to see the Lord put people in our path to teach!

A Few Pictures of Selma

Me on my bike in the Selma area

The grape vineyards in Selma

Selma: the Raisin Captial of the World

Transfer Time

Week of 10/29/2012:

So this week has been super crazy. I met a sister in Reedley that served with Dad on his mission. . It was funny when she met me at a Halloween party for the new combined ward. She looked at me and just like she knew me asked,“Did your dad serve in Japan?” I was like ya?? Then she went on about how Dad was almost always in her district and her district leader for a time. It was super funny. The world is definitely a small world.

This week we have been finding tons of new investigators. It has been really good! We found 2 really awesome people. One of the guys is in his 20's and plays baseball. He is a young parent and starting to realize he needs to find a religion for his daughter and for him. He is a way cool guy. It showed me that if we are just willing to put ourselves out there just a little bit, we will be able to find the people that are ready to hear the gospel.

Bythe way, I am leaving to go to Visalia 1st Ward. It is an English ward. I am a little disappointed to go back to an English ward, but it will be alright. I hope. My Tompa served in Visalia, so that should be fun to be in some of the same areas as him!

It was really sad saying bye to a few families and some investigators. I got close enough with some of the families here that I know I will always have a place to come and stay when I return to visit.

It has been cool to see the progression in the investigators. We finally got 2 more of our investigators to church, and they should be baptized in a couple weeks if all goes as planned. They both loved church and it was good to see them come.

This week has been a lot of biking around and talking to people on the street. It has been good to see that when you just talk to everyone, you find some awesome people. Two other people we found were down in the ghetto. One was a guy who I thought would never be interested to hear us, but he was and that was way awesome. I love it when stuff like that happens.
The first week of the Spanish branch was way awesome. It was a decent sized branch. I was surprised and when they get everything all organized. It will really be good.


Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Growth in the Area

Week of 10/22/2012:

The changes in the ward finally came and they are making a Spanish branch in the area of Selma. It was exciting and the branch leaders are way good, so it should be a success. My companion and I were talking yesterday after all the changes and they are getting pretty close to being able to make a Spanish stake in the Fresno area. Because there are 2 Spanish wards in Fresno, a ward in Madera (which is just outside of Fresno), one in Visalia (the other direction outside of Fresno), a branch here in Selma (which is between Fresno and Visalia), and they almost have a branch in Sanger (which is south west of Fresno). That means we just need one more right near the Fresno area to be able to make a complete Spanish stake, which would be way cool. It is getting closer!

Feeding the Missionaries

Week of 10/17/2012:
It has been a really good day today. And especially the past two days. Finally we have been teaching a lot of lessons again. We were on a 3 week stretch of just not teaching very much, but now I think we are back on the roll. One of the inactive members of the ward that we are working with introduced us to his friend, so now we are teaching his friend and his wife, as well as the less active member and his girlfriend. So that is super cool! It was way cool because last night they even prepared dinner for us. It says somewhere in the scriptures to measure those who feed the Lord’s servants as the ones ready for the gospel. I think that is pretty true.
The weather has finally cooled off a bit; it is only halfway through October. I am glad that I will not have to ride my bike in 100 degree weather for a few months, if ever again.

Conference Week

Week of 10/8/2012:

This week has been a good week. We were able to teach most of our investigators this week, so that was really good. And 3 of them were able to come to conference; which was also good!
Some things that stood out to me in conference was the talk by Elder Nelsen. It put a ton of pressure on me as a missionary that we have to know a lot and rely on the spirit a lot! That was a very good talk. The other talk that really stayed in my mind was the talk by Elder Christopherson in the priesthood session and how he was telling the Men to all step up and fulfill their place in the world and "be the Men that women, children, and God want.”

Here is a quick story for the week. So we were riding and down the street to go to the second session of conference and I saw ahead of me 3 youth and so we pulled over and started talking to them. They had no clue who we were or what we were doing. We explained our purpose and what we do. They seemed amazed. Then one of them said they were just talking about church before we pulled over and they wanted to go to a church on Wednesday, so we invited them to mutual and all. It was a great time of seeing the Lord’s hand in the missionary work.

Time is the Biggest Resource

Week of 10/2/2012:
This week has been a hard week. We were only able to teach 6 non-member lessons this past week. This area has not been that low since I first got here. It is really sad to see the teaching drop. I don’t really know what else to do, but it is time to change something, so each day this week I am making a goal to change something, anything from contacting in the street each day or flossing my teeth. I am not sure, but I am letting the spirit tell me that each morning and I will see how it goes. I am interested to find out and see how the goals change throughout the month. The goal for today is “just don’t be lazy.” For the past two weeks, because of the hard weeks, I have felt myself getting a little lazy, so that has got to change first and foremost. Hopefully, I end up a lot better then I start off. I will keep you updated on this October project.
On a good note, we found a really awesome person this week! We found him over a week ago, but we finally got to teach him this week. We started by teaching him the beginning of the restoration. We have to go pretty slow with him to understand things and he does not have a Christian background, but it is all good. We set a date with him for the end of October. He has a family, but we have just been talking to him in our first two lessons. Hopefully today we get to teach the rest of the lessons. He is a super humble guy. We found him just in a street contact. That was the cool thing about it.

The rest of this week has been a lot of bike riding and a lot of lessons with members. We are really trying to get the members to help us out. I think the biggest problem with missionary work is time both for the members and the investigators and all the people in the world. People don’t like to give up their time. I have learned that it is the biggest resource in the gospel and really in life.

Catching Up

Elder Melanson has been sending regular letters every week!  So blame for not keeping you up to date on the missionary happenings of Elder Melanson rests squaring on his mom's shoulders.  Here's the catch up blog updates for October, November and December!  These have been great months for Elder Melanson and he has moved twice during that time!  Enjoy the updates all at once!

Monday, September 24, 2012

It Was LIke They Were Family

Hey so this week has been another good week. It has been a harder one, but it was still good! We had some of our super good investigators drop us and say they did not want to know more. It made for a really hard start to the week.

But then, Saturday things started to turn around. It started with some service. We helped a member build in some insulation in his ceiling and roof; which was way fun. We had to put up studs and insulation and drywall and everything. It was a new good experience. Then, one our investigators, who last week said he was never going to read in the Book of Mormon, decided he would read it! The day ended with dinner at the home of a great family.

 Sunday came around and we had an investigator at church!  For a long time, we have had no success getting people to church. Then, the real miracle came. There was a Spanish Fireside and this great investigator family was planning on coming, but they did not show up. So, we rode our bikes all the way across town to see why they were not there, and the old neighbors, who never visit, decided to drop in. The family said they would be late, like an hour late, so they would still be there for the food after. We just knew they had to come into the church. Their friends left a bit late, and then, they got lost in the city. The church is kinda hard to find. I ended up running to the end of the street on one side of the church. Then, they got lost all the way to the other side, so I ran to the opposite end of the street. They finally saw me. They showed up super late and the other families were all leaving, but we had told one family to stay to help us with a tour of the church. It was good thing! They got along super well together. It was awesome. They are now great friends. Also, the investigator family is hoping to come to church! And they felt super welcome because the people who were leavening all came and said hi to them! It was like they were family. I am super excited.




Monday, September 17, 2012

Testimonies Strengthened Every Day

So, I am staying in Selma again. I guess I have found an area where I need to be for a little bit. I am excited to stay again because it seems like I am just not done here yet. We are finding people all the time and it is great. We have really been able to set up this area as one of the stronger areas in the zone. For almost 2 years, it has been a down area.

This week has been a really good week. We baptized a wonderful sister on Saturday! It was a really good baptism and very spiritual. It is so cool to see families put together through baptism. It goes to show that God is a loving God and that he can soften hearts, even if it takes a while. I love seeing the person getting baptized and the joy that comes from that.  

My testimony gets strengthened every day from working out here in the Lord’s vineyard. It is truly a great work. Two years is a long time, but it is all worth it.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Blessings of the Spirit

Yesterday, September 9, was a way stressful day. Elder Castillo and I had to talk in the Spanish Sacrament Meeting. I have not given a talk in a long time. The last one I gave was over a year ago, surprisingly. This was my first real talk in Spanish. I was a bit worried, but confident that I could do it. I knew that I can give a talk in English easy, but this Spanish thing kinda scared me. So I wrote a lot more out than I usually do, and there were a lot less bullet points.

When I got up to speak, God blessed me with the words and I just talked and used the outline of my talk. It was weird, because I really did not even read the parts that I had written. It was pretty much just like giving a talk in English.

My Spanish is really starting to come along. The two things that I still struggle with right now are a couple of the verb conjugations and then my vocab needs to get bigger. I have the basics; I just don’t have those cool words to use and a few times I catch myself not knowing a word. But the Lord has blessed me with it after a year of hard work. Maybe when I get home I will be fluent. It will be cool to talk with Trevor and Ryan in Spanish though; I will definitely be learning some stuff from them when I get home.

So, also on Sunday, we had to teach the Spanish Sunday School class. Elder Castillo and I did not even worry about the class; we were just working on our talks. So, we went to the class with nothing but the Spirit and the knowledge of tithing we already possess. The class went very smooth and it was really good. We were able to start up conversations and everything. So it was really good! I definitely have a heart full of gratitude right now.

Enjoying Service in the Local Vineyards

This last week we went and rolled the grapes. So the process of picking grapes and turning them into raisins is kinda hard and it makes me extra excited for college, because there is no way that I want to be out picking grapes and whatever other fruit for a job.
Grape picking starts out with a knife and you cut the grapes off the vine and put them in a big circle tray. Then you empty the tray onto a thing of paper that is about the size of four paper towel squares. The grapes sit on the water proof paper for two weeks, then when the grapes have dried into raisins, you roll them up. Then after another week, you can box them up and ship them out.
So, if you eat a pack of Sun Maid raisins in a while, I might have picked them. If not, then I am in the area where they picked them and boxed them up. Kinda cool huh? And a lot of hard work. It was fun for a day, and I'm glad I finally got a chance to work in the vineyards.

Temple Trip Miracle

Today, September 5, we went to the Fresno Temple. It was way fun to go again and the Lord definitely performed a miracle. Last night, one of the companionships in our district had their ride bail on them. So we told them they could ride with us and it would be all good. But then, our ride bailed on us. So, we had 4 elders not going to go to the temple; I am included in the 4. We finally found a ride that could take us there, but we would have no way back; so we took it. And we trusted that the Lord would provide a way for us to get back. We forgot that a senior couple was in our district; they took 3 of us back and there was 1 seat left in one of the cars for the last of us. We had a miracle drive back to Selma. The Lord provides for his missionaries and those who follow his commandments. It is great to see.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Enjoying Lots of Service

So this week has been a good week and it has been a long one, too. We have been doing lots of service, which kinda gets me all confused about which day it is. This next week we have a really cool service project we are doing. We are helping one of the members fall his big tree in his yard. That should be fun.

We found this guy about two weeks ago named Oscar. He is a way cool guy and he was semi interested the first time he talked to us, but the next time we came over he was way interested. He even stopped watching the Olympics to come and talk to us. It was great to see how the Spirit works. He told us he wanted to know how to have eternal life and he would do anything for it. That was kinda his big question "how do I get eternal life with my family?" It’s cool that we found him on the street as we were just talking to everyone.   I have found that is the key to finding people; it is just doing what you can by talking to everyone you see.

Simple Things Change Lives

It has been a super good week this week, lots of meetings and training. The good news was I was able to spend a couple of the really hot days inside. The bad news is my head is about to explode with information. There is so much you have to do as a missionary and all the stuff that comes with it is crazy and its 100% of the time, so there is no breaks. But it is great and so much fun. It is awesome to be able to see the change in people’s lives because of the simple things that we teach them.

So there is this one guy that we are teaching and he is one of those guys who wants to know everything. We tried to set a baptismal date for him for August or September and he wanted it instead in January or February of next year. So now, we keep visiting him and telling him he is ready whenever. So that has been fun. If you have any ideas let me know.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

A Hot Week

So this week has been a super hot one. I think I have decided that Portland is a lot better than I thought it was before my mission.

On Saturday, we met this really cool guy and his father and brother-in-law. They had talked to missionaries in the past, just in passing like what we were doing. We just rode by them and started talking to them. The father-in-law started by just kinda shooing us off, but the really cool guy, Franky, wanted to listen to us because he had always thought Mormons were weird and wanted to really find out what we were all about. We talked to him about the Book of Mormon, what us missionaries do, and shot down funny myths about the LDS church. In the end, Franky and his father-in-law were both interested about talking to us more. Especially Franky, so that was way cool to see! Just a quick story for the week. Have a great week everyone and a good summer!!!

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

The Book of Mormon Brings Joy

This week has been a super good week. I had a really good Fourth of July. It was much improved from the one at the MTC. We actually got to see fireworks and watch the festivities. That was nice and fun.

Missionary work wise this area is really starting to cruise. We have been finding a lot of people who are ready for the gospel. We have one lady we just found who is ready to be baptized super soon. She is an aunt of some members. The work goes so much faster when the members are helping out.

One of the really cool guys we met this week is named Jose. He is an older guy and we met him and started talking to him about the Book of Mormon. He got way interested, but he cannot read the small font of the Book of Mormons we give out. So, we went to the apartment and got him a big one, with really big writing. This book is bigger than most of your lap tops. It is big. He could read it, and then, before we could explain much, we had to go to another appointment. We came back yesterday and talked to him about this book. He is so excited about it. He was even excited when he thought it was a book to replace the Bible, but when he found out we use both the Book of Mormon and the Bible, he got way excited. This is so good to see the blessings of the Book of Mormon and the joy it brings into people’s lives.

Another Amazing Week

This week has been another amazing week. We were able to see another person better his life and come unto Christ through baptism this week. That was way cool.

I now have another new companion, Elder Castillo. He is from Florida. He is super cool and super funny. The best part about him is he is always bearing testimony. It brings such a power.

We have been talking to everyone on the street and we have found some pretty great people. We came across three field workers resting in the sun after a long day a work. We were again carrying the Book of Mormon with us and we talked to them about this new book of scripture.  One of the men was so excited and wanted to know more. 

It is weird I can barely remember what life was like before my mission. It is such a great experience going and serving the Lord.

My Spanish is coming along. I am alright at it, but still not all the way comfortable with the language. My accent is pretty bad, but I am working on it real hard. So hopefully I will have it down by the end of my mission.

Monday, June 25, 2012

A Great Week to Be a Missionary

This week has been a really busy week of teaching and getting paperwork done.

I have been serving in a trio companionship. On Wednesday, we went on a triple split that was way cool. We all took a city and set up appointments in that city. That night, we taught 8 lessons between all of us. Most of the time, areas don’t even have enough work for splits with two missionaries, but this area had enough work for a trio split.  It was way cool to get that much work done.

I am staying in Selma again for another transfer. I am so glad that I am staying in one place for longer than one transfer!!

It has been a great week to be a missionary.

Monday, June 18, 2012

A Super Interesting Week

This week has been super interesting. I really have not been in my area at all this week because of meetings, exchanges, and service. But it has been a really cool week. I think I have changed as a missionary more than any other week. I guess that is what happens when I sit in meetings. Ha-ha. My meetings were full of training. It has been amazing to see President Gelwix so much this week and I have been able to learn from him. We learned how to work more effectively with the members and with other missionaries.  We had some training on street contacting, my favorite part, mostly because I love it so much. I get to talk to so many people and see so many points of view.

On Saturday, we had the opportunity to be taught by an Apostle, Elder Russell M. Ballard.  It was great. What strikes me as super cool is the simplicity in how Apostles teach and talk. They don’t say anything that all the missionaries go WOW. It is all stuff we already know inside; we just need to be reminded that we know it. Elder Ballard taught that everything we need to know is in the scriptures and in Preach My Gospel.

I got to go back up to Modesto for our meeting with Elder Ballard.  It was great. It felt like I was going back home. I got to drive through all of my old areas, except Patterson, so that was super cool as well.

For one of the service projects I did this week, I got to throw chicks into the chicken houses. We threw about 10,000 chicks from their trays to the sawdust covered ground. It was so fun. The chicks are so small they don’t get hurt when they fall. We really enjoyed the couple of hours we spent there.  We also got to help someone move.  I love helping people move; I don’t really know why, but I think it is just fun.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Here, There and Everywhere

This week has been a super good week. We have been all over. We cover 4 cities and they all have work that needs to be done, so we are here, there and everywhere. Which is crazy!

Also, we have done some weird stuff as missionaries this week. One day we went over to this investigator’s house. He just moved in, so he was doing a deep cleaning of his house before he moved all the stuff in. The crazy part is he wanted us to bleach everything in the house, the walls, the floor, each of the cabinets in the kitchen, everything. So that took a while. After that, we shared a message with him and now he has a plan to be baptized early next month. So it is really cool how we have found people, especially the people the Lord has prepared. 

Last night, we found a family that had talked to missionaries, but moved. So the missionaries dropped them, but now they are back. We had plans to go visit a less active, but instead, we found this family because the less active member was not home. So that was really cool. 

We also had a member bring a friend to church and we will start teaching him in a couple weeks, with the member. So the work here in Selma is just booming. It is really cool to see. I hope I get to stay here a little longer.  The trend has been that I leave an area after one transfer; that would be sad. But I will see what happens. The Lord knows where I need to be. 

Sunday, June 10, 2012

God's Hand in the Missionary Work

I have a new companion from Phoenix, Arizona. He was born in Mexico. He is really cool guy and a super humble missionary. He is always looking to serve and be better. We are in a trio companionship right now and covering the cities of Selma, Kingsburg, Parier, and Fowler. We have a car so we can get to all the places we need to visit.

There have been so many cool things that have happened this week. Early this week we found this guy at his brother’s house, and we talked to him. He told us about a dream he had had where he saw the life of Christ. We set another appointment up with him and we went by yesterday. He lives way outside the city boundaries, so we would have never found him without the Lord guiding us and putting him in our path. It was a super cool experience.

Another cool story from this week was when we went to Parier, we talked to this drunk guy and he had been drinking a bit. But beer had destroyed his family and he wanted to have his family back, so we helped him decide to quit drinking and he poured out the rest of his beer. It was super cool to see. I have definitely seen God’s hand in the missionary work this week.

Some Photos from Madera and Selma

Mark's Baptism in Selma with Elder Miller

Bike problems in Madera with Elder Rodger

Elder Rodriquez and I in the Almond Orchards

Mormon Helping Hands - Painting a Bench

Lunchbox, Israel and myself in Selma

Huge rain and hailstorm that almost flooded our apartment
and created an 8 inch water puddle

Talking to Everyone!

This week has been great. We had a baptism this week! It was so cool to see. We just met him about 3 weeks ago. He is really one of the people who was truly prepared for us to teach. He has great faith and just sucks in everything that we teach him. It is so cool. It is always special to have a baptism, especially in a hard area like this.

 This week has been a week of following the Spirit and finding people in that way. It has been cool to see who the Lord puts in our path when we just talk to everyone. I have met some interesting people that way. There have been people who have just straight up ignored me and when I talked to them they just said nothing back. That is super funny. One time I had to try not to laugh. It is sad thought that some people don’t want to listen to a message about Christ.

My Spanish is getting better while being in this new area. I don’t really have to pause to say anything. Sometimes I have to think about how to start what I want to say, but after that it just flows pretty good. It is so cool to see the way the Lord works to help learn a language and be able to say what you need to say when you need to say it.

Monday, May 21, 2012

A Great Little City

I am now here is Selma, a great little city. Yet again, I have no car, but that is the way I like it, so that is all good.

It is so cool. This area just found a solid investigator, well, actually the investigator found them. He is going to be baptized this weekend. The missionaries only met him a week before I got here, so I get to see almost his whole conversion. So that is great. His name is Mark. He has the biggest hands I have ever seen. I can barely shake his hands because they are so big.

I am having a great time here in Selma, and I am having a great time speaking Spanish again.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

You Just Have to Have Faith

Well I am now going to my 6th area, Selma! Ha-ha. I will have been in more areas than a lot of missionaries are during their whole mission. I am excited though.

This week in Atwater has been a good week. We have been able to get some of our investigators that were not so committed to make commitments to things. If they do them, it might be a different story (that I will never know the answer to). It is the weird thing about a mission; it is like starting your life over every time you move. And I have a lot of restarts. I don’t know if that is all good? Ha-ha. No, it is just what the Lord wants me to do; so I am doing it.

This week’s story is of this man named Israel. He moved to LA, then San Jose, then back here. We got to teach him again. He has been super interested in what we teach because he wants to better his life. He has some drug problems, and also some other problems, but it is cool to see his demeanor change when we talk to him about the gospel of Jesus Christ. It is awesome to witness the change that goes into people with the Gospel of Jesus Christ. I hope he gets baptized in the next couple of months.

One more story: There is one story that is super cool. So, this lady pulled us over and asked what we were doing, if we were salesmen or church people or what? We explained to her, and at the same time in our district we were carrying a Book of Mormon with us everywhere we went, so we explained the Book of Mormon and what it is and gave her a copy. A couple days earlier we had talked to this guy watering his yard. We talked to him about the Book of Mormon as well. We went over to go see how they were doing. We found out that these two people, who we had met separately, were in fact husband and wife. Way funny. They put the pieces together when the wife walked in the house with a Book of Mormon, the same book we had given the man. They want us to come over this Friday. You are right. There are people who have been prepared. You just have to have faith to find them and they will find you.

Everyone have a great week.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

To Be a Part of This Work

This week is a real good week. We have found another great family. They are from Hawaii, so that is cool. Polynesians are the best.

It was really cool how we found them. We got a referral from the zone leaders. Who knows where they got it, but it was to go visit. The family lives about 20 minutes away from our main area, so we got a team up and drove out there. We went by their house once and nobody was there. We went to go visit some more people, and then, came back to see if the family was there. They were. We ended up talking with them and teaching a short lesson. It was great to see how the Lord works.

We have also got the whole support of the ward in finding all these families who are interested in the church. It is so cool to see and even better to be a part of this work. 

One of the interesting things about being with a Mexican companion during Cinco de Mayo is to understand the holiday better. It is funny that all of us Americans think the holiday is so big and the Mexicans don’t even remember it. They don’t even have that holiday in Mexico. It is like Memorial Day or President’s Day, not really big at all. So that is kinda funny.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

I Want to Know More

This week we have been carrying around a Book of Mormon everywhere we go. It has been great to see the miracles coming from that. One really cool experience, well they were all cool, but this one was really cool. There was this high school kid walking down the street. It was just him. He was a big football player type kid. We stopped and talked to him. He was super nice and on his way to mow his grandmother’s lawn. We talked to him a little about our message, then, my companion for the day (we were on exchanges) gave him a Book of Mormon. My companion for the day had just been out for 3 weeks, so he was pretty fired up. We all set an appointment for the next day, Sunday. Of course, this boy being so ready for the gospel, Satan would try to stop us from getting there, and he did. My companion (Elder Rodriguez, my real companion) got two flat tires right after church, when our appointment was supposed to be. We called in the reinforcements, the members. We got two members. My companion went to go fix his bike with one member and I went to the appointment with the other. It was a really good lesson. The member who was with me is very missionary minded. David, the investigator, had already read 5+ pages and it had not even been 24 hours since we met him last. So that was crazy and really cool. At the end, we asked him how he felt. He just said, “I want to know more.” We testified of the Holy Ghost and ended the lesson. It was super good, and he is a super cool kid.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

We're the Super Servants!

This week I was able to have a really cool experience talking to everyone on the street. This experience showed me the importance of talking to everyone, as well as how much we need the members to set good examples and open their mouth to share the gospel with people. We were biking to dinner and we were just about there and the across the street neighbor was outside walking with his kids. We stopped and talked to him, and listened to the kid talk about who knows what. The topic kept switching. But we started talking to him about the gospel a little and about Jesus Christ and faith and all. We found out he knew the member family across the street pretty well. So we asked him if we could come by; he said yes. Then we asked him a time that would be good, and he said he was busy all week, then paused, and said except Thursday. I said, name a time and we will be at your house. So he said 6:30. We now have this awesome appointment with a friend of a member. When we told the member family, they were in shock, both that he said yes and that they had not got their before us. It was kinda funny, but they are real glad we are going over.

It has been a good week with everything else, too. It is cool to see how the Lord’s work keeps moving forward in the areas where the Members do their best to help the missionaries. I have learned one thing on my mission. I always have thought, through my whole life, that missionary work is the missionary’s job and that the members need to help when the missionaries need help. But I have learned on my mission, it is supposed to be the opposite. The Members are the missionaries, while the full time missionaries are the teachers and supporters of the members. We are like the super servants that are on call 24/7. Yes, missionaries do find and they do a lot of the dirty work because we have to keep busy.

It is great to be a missionary at this time, with everything that is going on and all the help we have with technology and all.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Helping Out in Little Ways

This week has been a good week. This new area is interesting. I have never seen so many people who are just not all the way put together. I feel bad for them, and we try to help them out in little ways. For one guy, we give him a different pamphlet to read every time we see him; soon we are going to run out of pamphlets to give him. We already gave him the Word of Wisdom one. The best thing about it is he loved it. He said this is how I need to live my life, not smoking or drinking. It was kinda funny.

Another person we help out is quite amazing. He is all the way there in his head, but he just can’t move. We were given the name of this lady to go help by some members. She has a son who is 30 something and he got in a bad car accident when he was 20ish. It clipped his brain stem, so he can still think clearly and understand everything, but he can’t move any part of his body. We help him do some stretches, because his muscles are all tight. We help him move his arms and stand up on a board that holds him up to move his legs and all that stuff. So it is a great help. He can move a bit by himself, but he is still on a hospital bed all day, every day. It is really sad.

We have also found this amazing family. Elder Rodriguez and the other missionary who was here found him first, but never got in to teach him. We finally got in to teach him. His wife was not home, but we just taught him the Plan of Salvation. It was great. He grew up Southern Baptist, but did not like it, because if you did anything bad you went to hell. And he believes in a God of mercy. So we explained the Plan of Salvation he said, "Well, that is what I have believed my whole life." It was great. He also accepted a baptismal date for a month from now. It was super cool!! They are a great family.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

A New Experience in the Town of Atwater

I am now in a small town outside of Merced named Atwater. I am still in an English area but with a companion from Acapulco, Mexico. I still get to practice my Spanish a lot with him; so that is good. He is super funny and he got baptized just a few years back. It is cool to see him grow in the gospel.

The work here in Atwater is hard, as well as Madera, but here we have a few lights. We should have a baptism at the end of the month, a niece of a recent convert. So that is cool. Also, we are teaching a lady who has studied with the Jehovah Witnesses for a year and likes us better, but does not know how to tell the Jehovah Witness's how she feels. That is her only hold up for the truth.

Here in Atwater there is a big old air force base, so there are a lot of ex-military people.  It makes the area interesting. One of our recent converts is living at the Wal-Mart parking lot, so that is very interesting. I really don’t have many stories from Atwater yet, but later this week we have a mission conference with Elder Christofferson, of the Quorum of the Twelve, so that should be really cool.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

New Area and New Companion

Note from TJ's Mom:  Last week the computers the missionaries can use were down in Madera, so no e-mail.  A letter arrived on Saturday to let us know that TJ has been transferred to Atwater (North and near Patterson and Modesto) and is serving with an elder from Acapulco, Mexico.  We were hoping to receive more information from TJ's e-mail yesterday, but no word yet!  Maybe the Fresno area has a computer curse!!  Or maybe it's just a missionary mom who is anxious to hear from her son!  I'll keep you posted...

Monday, March 26, 2012

Pictures from the Fresno Mission

The Entire Fresno California Mission
TJ is 5 rows back, just left of Center, just to right of the Polynesian Elder shown below

TJ is barely seen--near this Elder's elbow!  TJ's companion is to the right of TJ.

Thank you to this great missionary who made it easy to find Elder Melanson!

A Week of Crazy Things

This week has been a week of crazy things. I moved apartments on a seconds notice on Thursday, so Thursday was shot missionary work wise. I am now in a new apartment and it is super small. It is just a small studio, but we don’t really need any more space, so that is alright.

On Friday and Saturday, I was not in my area, except a bit in the morning to weekly plan. Then my companion went to a neighboring city and I went with the other elders in my same city.

All and all, it has been a hard week for my area, and yet, it is still good. We have found 4 new investigators and had a good amount of lessons, and we even stayed out of the rain somehow.

The ward now trusts us and they are giving us names of people to go visit. It helps so much. The members just always tease us that we are doing work for other wards! Our investigators keep moving to the neighboring ward, Madera 2nd Ward, and we keep finding great people for the Spanish Ward here in Madera. It is kinda funny, but the work moves forward no matter what. It just helps when we have committed members and missionaries, who are going to do all in their power to find the people that are ready to hear the Gospel.

Funny thing, in an English ward, I am getting super tired of pizza. All the members feed us is pizza. That didn’t happen in the Spanish Branches!  

So that is what I am doing right now. It is nice and warm here, if it is not raining.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

The Work Moves Forward No Matter What

This week has been a good week. It started out really good. We have been working with the part member families and one of the families has a kid who is almost 14. He wants to come back to church and get baptized. So it is really good that we have a person who wants to go and make that step of baptism.

It has also been a fun week because we have got some crazy rain over the weekend and missionary work does not stop because of rain, so we went out and biked and walked around in the rain.  In the morning on one day when it rained, we were biking in a total rain storm and huge puddles. We got so soaked that we had to go change later in the day. We did find some good people to go and teach while we were walking around in the rain though.

It has been a week of the Lord bringing us through thick and thin, pushing His work around, because in a week were there seemed to be no success, we had success.  The work moves forward no matter what. 

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Sharing My Testimony

We are trying to encourage the ward to help us find people we can teach and it is a really cool way to find people. We go in to member’s homes and share a short message about faith and testimony. Then, we share Moroni 10:4-5 and then encourage them to first pray about someone who the Lord has prepared for them.  When the Lord gives them a name, they figure out how to share their testimony with that person.  Everyone is at a different spot; some people can be invited to a dinner or BBQ, others to play games or maybe go to church or whatever. It is a really cool program.

So this week I had the great experience of listening to Elder L. Tom Perry, an apostle. He came here for a mission conference. He had a great message about how the election is creating talk about the Church and we need to take advantage of the opportunity by finding the people who are searching for the gospel and not wasting our time trying to convince people to believe. Pray that we can find those who are searching.  It was also cool to see all the missionaries that I new in the mission and in the MTC.

It has been a good week with everything. It looks like the work is progressing, so that is good!

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Training a Greenie for a Day

So this week has been a lot of finding. I have figured out the layout of the area and can get around to most places so that is good.

On Wednesday, visa waiters came in to our mission and they became the zone leader’s companions. The zone leaders had a meeting, so we got to watch after one of them. It was fun to see how I was when I came out from the MTC and how super funny I would have been. He just tagged along for the day, so I got to train an elder for his first real day and then give him back to his companions.  It was a fun experience.

We went and visited a few members on Sunday and some of the members here are fun to get to know! One family has a huge animal farm and their goats just had babies. They are also a way fun family and it was great to spent time with them. Then, another family we visited has an eagle that he hunts with, so that was super cool.

This week has been a lot of bike riding and it is good because now I am getting back into shape after 3 months in a car.

Monday, February 27, 2012

A New Area: Madera

I am now here in Madera. It is a city that is about double or triple the size of Patterson. My area encompasses about half the city and we are on bikes. I have had lots of funny stories here in Madera so far.
My new companion is from Ohio and his name is Elder Rodger. 
On Saturday, I went on a mini exchange. Elder Rodger blew his tire while going to dinner and he tried to fix it. The tire did not fix, so we were on foot on Sunday. That was interesting because we had one appointment, and so we walked most of the way there and got a ride the rest of the way. Then we walked part of the way to dinner and got a ride the rest of the way. So, I have had a good work out the rest of the week.
Madera is good. We have found a lot of people. We have spent hours just contacting everyone we see. I have met so many people so far. I am having fun here.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Baptisms and Transfers: Moving to Madera

There is this family we are teaching who just loves having us come over. They always feed us, so we have had lots of second dinners. One time we came over for a little bit to remind them of a lesson we had at the church. Then as we left they said we should come back over if our next appointments fall through, which they did. So when we went back over and they saw us through the window, the two little girls faces lit up and the mom screamed (that part was kinda scary). They are going to be baptized next week. I just love this family.

The work here in Modesto is really taking off. It is super cool to see. We have another guy who is very humble and very nice. He is going to be baptized next week, too.

I am hoping that I can come back for the baptisms because I am being transferred to Madera, kind of close to Fresno.  I will just miss the baptisms.

That has been my week. It is super funny because the longer I am on my mission, the more everything just blends together. It is a really interesting moment in time.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Some Pictures from the Modesto Area

Elder Zanudo, Elder Hernandez, Elder Rogers and Elder Melanson
The four elders covering the Western side of Modesto

After the 1st transfer in Modesto, Elder Melanson serves in a trio with Elder Zanudo and Elder Garcia
Pictured here with Cecilio and his family

On February 6, 2012, Elder Melanson and his two companions did some sight-seeing in the Modesto area.
Elder Melanson and a Camel

Elder Melanson and a Zonky

Elder Melanson Climbing Rocks and Fitting Through a Really Really Small Hole

Seeing the #3 Train, which was used in various Western Movies and Back to the Future 3

A Normal Week in the Mission Field

This week, on Tuesday, I went on another exchange and it was alright, but the area I went to covers the local college. It was awful, especially because President Gelwix told us to talk to everyone personally. I put an exception to colleges, but my companion for the day did not. So I went and talked to a whole lot of college kids while riding my bike through campus. It was awful because there were lots of awkward conversations, but we did find some people that were ready for the gospel. So it ended up being fun.

I spoke at a funeral again. I have now been to more funerals on my mission than the rest of my life. I sure hope it is not preparing me for anything in the future.

Thursday was a good day. We were able to get a lot done. It was a good day!!

The rest of the week we have been concentrating on getting investigators to church, so that is what we have been working on the most.

I don’t really know what else to say… it has been a normal week in the mission field.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Some Sight Seeing in Old Western Towns

This week has been a good week. We have done a lot of teaching and are trying to get people ready for baptism. Last week, we found this really nice guy who lives with almost nothing. It is really sad, but yet, so cool. It would seem by looking at how happy he is at finding the gospel, that he has everything in the entire world. The gospel really does bless lives in every way.

Today was a fun preparation day. We went up to some old western towns, near Sonora.  We saw the train which is used for lots of old western movies. It’s train number 3. It was most recently in Back to the Future 3. It was way fun! We also climbed around in some sweet climbing rocks and rock formations for a good 45 minutes. We were climbing through holes and all sorts of stuff.  It was a good break from the normal everyday life. 

This week I have been riding my bike a lot, as I filled in for various Elders going into Fresno for leadership meetings or medical reasons. It’s nice to ride my bike, but switching from place to place every day isn’t one of my favorite things.  Because it is the Lord’s work, and not my own, I do it for Him. 

This week I have also missed the dinners I normally get from the Spanish people.  They are so good!

We have been doing lots of teaching, like always. 

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Zone Conference and Stake Conference with a Seventy

We are continuing to try to find new people, to get the group of people we are teaching revamped.

On Tuesday, we had zone conference. It was really good. It always gets me motivated listening to my mission president.

The big thing that happened this week was the branch had a big activity and dinner with Elder Alonzo of the Seventy. He is from Mexico. It was a big potluck dinner and then a fireside with him. He talked about not having fear and to not be depressed.  It was super good. I continued the listen to him and others speak on Saturday and Sunday as well. It was a very uplifting and rejuvenating weekend, and a bit different.

So, a funny thing that happened this week is we set an appointment with this guy, who we taught because he happened to be at a member’s house while we walked in to share a message with her. The guy was so interested! He had been talking to his friends and invited one of his teachers from college (I think) to come listen. We taught both of them! It was super cool to have people just coming to you, wanting learn about the gospel, not having to find them first. But, here is the funny part: after the lesson the member (who’s house we are in) started to try to sell us this type of coffee and said that is ok for Mormons to drink. She even called up an LDS guy from San Jose, who told us his temple president dad drinks it. It is not really coffee, but it taste like it. It is just super funny that she tried to sell it to us missionaries!

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

All in All... A Good Week!

This week started by answering people’s doubts about gay people and ended with a baptism.  It has been an interesting week for sure and very full.

For Thursday and Friday I was on an exchange. I was with Modesto 6th Ward in an English area riding a bike. It was really nice to be riding a bike and I am out of shape for sure. But when I was on my exchange, I had some pretty interesting experiences. On the first morning of the exchange, we had a church tour set up and the Lady no showed. We went outside to see if anyone was waiting outside and there was no one. I saw this guy walking down the street outside the Orangeburg Chapel and invited him on a church tour. He had gone on a walk because he was mad at his aunt. We talked a bit about basketball and then I invited him on a church tour. It kinda just came out of the blue. He said ya (I think he just wanted to see the gym and play ball). It was a good time. We gave him the tour, talking about some of the pictures and the story behind them, the Sacrament room, then baptism, and got a baptism date out of him, too. It was super cool!!

The next morning, I had to talk at a funeral. Thank goodness I got to talk in English. It was very interesting because I have never actually talked at a funeral and I did not even know the guy or anyone there at all! The person who died and his family were not members. Let’s just say I have never relied on the Spirit more on a talk.  It was a very interesting experience.

Saturday was a day packed with stuff to get ready for the baptism on the next day and the zone conference on Tuesday. We did not get much real work done. I really don’t like those days.

Sunday was a great day! Cecilo was baptized. The water was cold, but there always has to be something that goes wrong at a baptism. It is just Satan throwing in his last lame punch. The work of the Lord will never be stopped though! His family enjoyed the baptism and is interested in learning more.

Elder Garcia is the new companion in our trio, with Elder Zanudo and myself.  He is from St. George, Utah and we get along great!

So, all in all, it has been a good week. 

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Some Pictures from the Mission

TJ just sent us an SD card, so we have some pictures to share of the past several months!

Elder Roestenburg and TJ - October 2011

Elder Roestenburg and TJ

Patterson, California

Patterson, California

Elder Coleman and TJ--dressed for the cold air of November 21, 2011

Zone Conference  -November 23, 2011

Patterson, California

Turkey Bowl??  How about Mud Rugby Bowl!!  Thanksgiving Day with the Patterson Ward. 

This is Elder Melanson tackling a Tongan.  Elder Melanson said it must have helped to be older!

The Muddy Crew with the Patterson Ward Bishop.
TJ is the muddy faced missionary in the top right!

Fire Hose Cleaning System

Patterson, California

Elder Coleman and Elder Melanson with the Tongan Boys

Elder Melanson saying goodbye to some favorite families  - November 30, 2011

Can you believe this is I-5?  If I headed north, I could be home!!

More favorite families in Patterson, California

Learning how to fix a washing machine!

Elder Melanson - the true missionary look!

A favorite investigator in Patterson

Making tortillas with Sister Lopez

Saying goodbye to Patterson

A real conquistador hat that a favorite investigator let me try on!

A street in Modesto that reminds TJ of home!

Elder Zanudo and TJ playing UNO with a family on New Year's Eve!