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!