Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Delicious Dozen and a 3 Pointer...

So we have had a fun couple of days.  Today, we started the day off by going to Denny's for all you can eat pancakes for only 4 dollars.  I put down 12 (hence the delicious dozen), and between the 5 missionaries we ate 52 pancakes. Nobody really wants to think about eating pancakes for a very long time.  Personally I had around 2500 calories, including syrup, butter and the pancakes.  We are pretty full and are probably going to just take a nap later.
Yesterday, we got Elder Frost, from Flagstaff, he will be my replacement here in the Nampa 32nd branch, and we went to do some service.  We were cleaning out a garage and I went to take out a bag of trash, and the bin was very full so I pushed it down with some force to get it all in.  I quickly closed it and ran away because it really smelled and there were a lot of flies all over it.  I went to go continue cleaning and I realized that my hand was covered in blood and it was dripping on the ground. I ran inside to wash it off and found out that I had a pretty deep cut over my knuckle.  We put a bunch of salt on it to hopefully stop the bleeding but it really didn't do a whole lot.  So we took a trip to the ER.  While going in I realized that I could see my tendon, so I thought it safe to get it checked out.  There was nothing seriously damaged, but I did end up getting 3 stitches put in.  In Spanish, the word for stitches is the same for points, so that is how I got a 3 pointer.  So I get to go home with a battle wound.
I really enjoyed being able to watch all 5 sessions of General Conference.  I was grateful to have some of my questions, that I had about what to do for the rest of my life, answered.  I can't wait for the conference edition of the Ensign to come out so that I can review all of the wonderful council that we received.  One talk that I really enjoyed was the talk by Elder Holland during the Priesthood Session.  He talked a lot about preparing for a mission, and how everyone needs to, young men, young women, and even the slightly more seasoned members need to prepare to serve a mission.  I would love to be able to serve another mission one day when I am as old and crazy as some of our office staff seem to be.
Hopefully we will be able to get up here soon after I get back, I am hoping to be able to visit a bunch of people.  Especially for Sunday, because Cornelio and Zenaida are going to be confirmed on the 9th and I would really like to be there.  But what ever happens happens.  Hope everyone has a great day today and tomorrow, and I'll see you tomorrow.
Elder Paxton

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Time to run!

So today is going to be a very, very short email. We went to the Zoo again, as a Zone activity, and getting back took longer then hoped (we almost ran out of gas, we pumped half a gallon more then I had ever pumped in this car).
Also tonight we are going Ontario, for a baptism that I have been waiting for a long time to have. Cornelio and Zenaida are going to get married and baptized tonight at 7:00 (another reason for being in a hurry, we have to go to dinner, and make the drive out to Ontario and hopefully get there by 6:30ish).
Cornelia and Zenaida
We had a better week this week and are hoping to be able to teach a lot of families this week. We have a lot more appointments set for this week then we did for last week.
Well, sorry for the shortness, but it's time to run!
Elder Paxton

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Hello Family!

This week was a little disappointing, because our investigator pool has been drying up, but we are working on creating a lot of streams (of new investigators) to keep it full and to keep us busy.

Elder Acuña and I are working extra hard this week to have a lot of referrals and to convert those referrals into new investigators.

On Sunday evening we were finally able to contact a referral that we got from the Zone Leaders almost two weeks ago.  Her name is Rosa Dominguez, and Elder Acuña actually knew her in Boise when he served there, over a year ago.  She seems pretty interested for herself, but more interested in the Gospel, for her children.  She was our last visit of the week (week ending on Sunday at 9:00, and we visited her at about 8:30).  We were able to have a lesson with her and set an appointment with her for Friday.

Last Friday, I went on exchanges to Caldwell.  I always enjoy going back to visit my "birthplace,"  especially since I am now able to communicate, much better, with everyone there.  We were able to have a couple of teaching visits, and also had a random service project.  We were at a house and started to visit, and the mom came out and started to get the lawn mower ready, and we took it from her and mowed the lawn, in our shirt and ties.  I know that they were very grateful for the help, and Elder Ilagan (my temporary companion) and I were happy to help.

Yesterday, we had a funny experience.  We were told that we had interviews with President Cannon in Boise, so the whole zone went.  We were all a little confused, because normally interviews are done by district.  So we were waiting in the mission office and when he got done with the other Elders that he was interviewing, he looked very surprised to see all of us there waiting.  It turns out that it was supposed to be the district that is close to Boise, and not the whole zone.  President was happy to see all of us there ready and on time, but he said that he didn't have time to be able to interview all 16 of us.  So we are going to have interviews on Friday morning, like he was planning.

We are planning on having a great week and we would also appreciate any prayers and referrals on our behalf (we are teaching in the Nampa West Stake, so if you know any one there that speaks Spanish let us know).

 Elder Paxton

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Sights in Boise

We have had a couple of fun P-Days these past few weeks.  We did make it to the zoo last week, and even though it was a lot smaller then the PHX Zoo, it was still really fun to go. We might be going back in a couple of weeks. We didn't have enough time to see all of the animals for as long as I would have liked.

Today we took a trip to the famous Smurf Turf.  We didn't get to actually go on the field, but we took some pictures close to it and in the book store they had some old turf that was used in years past, so touching that had to do.  It was pretty fun, because one of the members that goes to the Boise branch works there and she gave us the guided tour, which included going to some of the other things that there is on campus (I think she was just trying to get us to want to go there).  We also got to eat lunch at the cafeteria there.  It was buffet style so we all enjoyed it.

While we were in Boise, so close to Lori's house, we decided to make a quick stop there.  Only Lori, Gus, and Josie were there but we did see Ilah walking home as we were driving away.  It was fun to see them, and we will be seeing them again before to long.

On Sunday we were able to have Mike's baptism.  His family have been members for a long time, but because of some legal issues he was able to finally be baptized, after two years of anxious waiting.  It was a fun baptism, no filling of the font by hand, but the Spirit was very present.  For some reason, most of the baptisms that missionaries have are always really warm. We were all sweating in the room where the font is and have the entire room filled to standing room only didn't help the problem.  I think for our next one we are going to get there 3  hours early with some portable swamp coolers and fill them with ice water so that the room is freezing cold when everyone first gets there. By the time things get going it should be a very nice comfortable temperature, especially for us missionaries who have to wear our jackets.

So we have had a pretty long day today, we got up at 6:30, like always, but we have been going since 7:30, when we got our haircut, and then we went down to Boise. We have an appointment at 6:00, and still need to go shopping for the week so we need to get going pretty soon.


Elder Paxton

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Another Shalimar missionary

That is so crazy that Jake is going to be coming up here.  I will have to show him around when he gets to the field.  If Bishop wants us to speak together that would be great.

With that note about the language in Jake's call I am pretty sure that every call letter says that your mission president may adjust your language assignment, according to the needs of the mission.  I have only heard of one English Elder that served in Spanish for his very last transfer, but that is because he has served in a lot of "Spanglish" areas and had a lot of Spanish companions, who did their language study, so he studied Spanish as well.  Besides him I have never heard of anyone coming to Spanish from English.  Elders do go English from Spanish quite a bit though, I have been lucky enough to never have to do that.

The fun never ends in the great Idaho Boise Mission.  In the group of Elders that came with Elder Arrieta, there was an Elder Flake, from Snowflake.  The funny thing is that his cousin Elder Flake from Snowflake is already serving in this mission.  There was actually a 50/50 chance that Elder Flake would train Elder Flake (it didn't happen).

This past Saturday we had a pretty fun day.  We went to a baptism, in Caldwell, for Jesus Benitez.  I am pretty sure that all of his family are members.  I had met them when I served in Caldwell, but I didn't meet Jesus until his baptismal interview  this past Thursday.  When we got to his baptismal service an Elder was outside and told us to not put on our suit coats yet because the font wasn't full yet and they were filling it by hand.  I thought that it may have been mostly full, but it only had about three inches of water in it.  So everyone was filling up the font by hand with pots and pitchers and even trash cans (only the clean ones).  It was pretty fun to do.  Eventually we got a hose from somewhere so that was going into the font, and at about that time, the font filler finally answered his phone and came and started to fill it the normal way.  It was good that a lot of English Elders were there so there was a lot of helping hands.  After all was said and done we had a great baptism.

Jesus Benitez' Baptism

That is pretty much all that has been going on here.    We are planning on going to the zoo today.  I have planned a couple of times but never been able to make it so we will see if we get there today.

 Elder Paxton

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Sad News...

Last night we missed a call from President Cannon. We weren't able to call him until this morning, and he shared some very sad news. Elder Arrieta has received his visa to go down to Mexico. It seems like all of the times that I get a visa waiter they don't have to wait for very long before they get their visa. We have really enjoyed having his enthusiasm and his desire to work.

Here's a picture of Elder Arrieta with Elder Paxton that the office sent this week

The good news is that we did have a great week together. We upped the number of total lessons taught. And were able to set a new baptismal date.

Michael Hobbs is going to be baptized on Sunday the 11th (9/11). Hopefully there won't be any problems with it happening on the 10 year anniversary of the attack on the World Trade Centers. We were able to teach (review) him all the things he needs to know before baptism. His parents have done a very good job of helping him along the way. He has already read the Book of Mormon through twice, the Doctrine and Covenants, and the New Testament. I think he gets the prize for being ready the most before baptism. He is really excited to get baptized and can't wait to be a member of the church.

On Sunday we didn't have any investigators come to our branch (Angel went to the branch in Kuna), but we did have a Spanish speaking member bring a friend to our branch. She said that she wants to come to church more, and also have us over to teach her. We have an appointment to go by around 2 tomorrow and hopefully all goes well and that we can baptize her very soon. We have high hopes for her though.

Last Wednesday we had a really fun service opportunity. We go to cut down a very large tree, using nothing but a hand saw and a machete. Elders aren't allowed to use power tools, so the chain saw was out of the question. The good thing is that it was a tree with a really short trunk and we just cut all of the branches off. The biggest cut was probably about 8-12 inches. We had a lot of fun and worked really hard.

Thankfully nothing was damaged due to falling branches or the wild swinging of the machete. It was a great help to the family, because one branch had fallen from some really strong winds, and it was sitting on top of her fence and was starting to break it. So with little damage to the fence the whole problem was taken care of. I really enjoy doing service, especially when we get to do some physical work.

Well that is pretty much everything that is going on here. Elder Acuña and I are planning on working hard, even after Elder Arrieta is taken from us.

Elder Paxton

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Nampa for one more transfer..

Mom, It is good to hear that you are recovering quickly, I know how much you love to stay seated and not doing anything. Hopefully you aren't too limited in your movement. When does the doctor say that you will be up to 100%?

So, transfer doctrine. Elder Padgett got sent to Mountain Home, which is a Spanglish area, with mostly English work. His companion is an English elder.

He is also going to be a District leader. I am going to be staying in Nampa, and my companion is going to be my brother. Elder Acuña is going to be coming up from Burley to help me train an new visa waiter. I am looking forward to serving with Elder Acuña again and hopefully we will get to have the visa waiter for more then a week, like the last one I had.

There really weren't very many changes is my district, only Elder Padgett left. Everyone else stayed, so this district should be just as good as the last.

This past week we mostly did a lot of saying goodbye, well Elder Padgett did, and I went with him. We had a lot of appointments fall through during the week, so we weren't able to teach as many people as we had hoped. This next transfer we will have a lot of work, because our ward mission leader (who was released as branch president about a year ago) gave us all of the progress records (a weekly report given to our leaders) that he had. So we have lists from missionaries who have already gone home. We now have a lot of potentials to contact and so hopefully a lot of good will come from it.

It will be a little hard to go home at the end of this next transfer, I will just have to get to work and not worry about it. I could probably move up here after I get released and be a "third companion" for some elders. We will have to figure it out when we get there.

Hope all is well in AriZion. Oh, how is the bathroom coming along? I had forgotten about that.

Anyways, have a great day and talk to you next week.

Elder Paxton

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Not a lot of time!

We don't have a lot of time today because we had a super fun zone activity. We went down to Melba to a really cool family's house (one elder was serving in the Kuna area and met them). We played basketball then ate some hamburgers, then played some volleyball. Then to cool off, we played a game with their hose, and then some two hand touch football in the "rain." We were slipping and sliding around it was hard to even try to play football.

We still have the date with Marco, but we might have to move it back due to him being with his girlfriend and also we can't find him. Hopefully we will be able to find him and teach him. Mike is also going well and we have an appointment with him tonight, we are going to keep teaching him and we imagine that his dad will tell us when his baptism will be. I think they are still working out some legal issues but he should be good to go here pretty soon.

I am still not sure if I will be able to talk on the 9th, partially because I talked with President yesterday and he said that I already have a plane ticket, but he didn't tell me for when. I don't know if the mission has plans already made for me. If you want you can call them and ask.

(I called the office today and they have him scheduled to fly home on Thursday the 6th, but we will be changing that flight so that we can go pick him up and visit some places in Elder Paxton's mission. I will let everyone know when we have his return home date figured out)

So sorry this letter is so short but we got a little over zealous with our zone activity. I hope that your recovery coninues to go well and that you will at least be ready to run all over Idaho shortly after general conference.

Elder Paxton.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Pictures from Idaho...

Today I received Elder Paxton's camera card in the mail. I have included a few here for you to see.
It can't be Idaho without a tractor,

Or Spanish speaking Elders

The pictures below are several from his tour of the Old Idaho State Penitentiary

Random shots from the Idaho Boise Mission...

Danny and Tony Alvarez's baptism July 9, 2011

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Release Date?

I haven't heard anything about getting released, and I am very happy to still not have heard anything. Although as you can see by the picture I am reminded of home from time to time.

My ministerial certificate expires on the 4th of October, but usually what happens is on Tuesday I will go to Boise, Wednesday we spend the day with President, and on Thursday is when most Elders fly or drive home. I don't know exactly how long I want to take to get home, so I don't know if I will be able to speak on the 9th, we'll have to wait and see. I still haven't gotten the letter from Bishop McCook.

I did get the package from Mom and Nicole and almost all of the treats have been enjoyed/devoured. The other Elders in the house are grateful for the package as well. All that is remaining is a couple of mangoes and the pretzels (not because they aren't enjoyed, but because they take a lot of fluids to eat, and I ran out on Sunday).

Last Saturday we had a lesson with Marco, and we were able to set a baptismal date with him for the 27th of August. We feel that it will be very easy to teach him because he seems to already know all of it and he told us that he wants to learn everything again from the beginning. So pretty much as we are teaching he is teaching with us, so we are excited for him to be baptized. Also, on Sunday he and his mom came to church. The rest of the family wasn't able to make it because of work and other conflicts, but this next week they told us that they don't have any plans, besides church. Yesterday we went to their house and watched the story of John Tanner. Rafael, the father, after watching it said that he felt recharged in a way. He was asking his sister-in-law if she had read the Book of Mormon recently, and when she answered that she hadn't, he was basically commanding her to read.

Tonight we have another lesson with Mike Hobbs, the 10 year old that we found out last week isn't a member, and are planning of having another great lesson with him. Hopefully we will be able to set a date with him tonight. Last week his dad said that they are planning on having the baptism within the month, and had to talk about a few things so we think tonight we will be able to see how everything is going.

That is pretty much all of the "cool" things that are going on here and we are getting ready to go play some basketball and maybe go to Boise.

Elder Paxton

Saturday, August 6, 2011

What a Week!

Mom, I hope that everything goes well with your surgery. I am sure you are super excited to have surgery and I also imagine that you cant wait to go through the recovery, being all the pains of healing and the limited mobility for a while.

That is sad to hear about your contractor passing away. We have also had a similar experience happen here. Elder Padgett had been teaching this family before I got here and they had gotten a little turned off to the gospel, and so I have only met the mom at the door a couple of times, but have never taught them. About a week ago we got a call from their neighbors/fellowshippers, and they told us that their son had taken his life as well. The family is good friends with a bishop and he has been over a couple of times. Our first thought was that the gospel is exactly what they need in their lives right now, but we want to be sensitive to the matter and not come off as "taking advantage" of this and using it to baptize them. We have talked with the Bishop and he told us that maybe if we go by in about a week that might be really good for them. The day it happened the Bishop went by and committed them to coming to church, which they did, and the talks in sacrament meeting were all focused on Christ, their followshippers said that they really benefited from the messages. We will see how things go there and what help we can be.

Enough of sad things let's focus on the great miracles that happened this last week. We now have two investigators that have expressed a desire to be baptized. Both actually came from a less active member that we met a couple of weeks ago. The first time that we actually had a lesson with Maria Gutierrez, her non member son, Marco, was there and we talked with him a little bit and he expressed interests in learning more, so we set a return appointment. We weren't able to visit with him until yesterday and he told us that even though he has a basic understanding of the church he wants to start from the beginning and work towards baptism. We probably would have set a date but he got a call and had to leave to meet with someone, so our lesson got cut short. We are going to try to visit him on Saturday and then see him at church on Sunday and probably have another lesson with him on Monday.

The other investigator that came from Maria is her brother in law. The way we met him was by looking for Maria and Marco was there as well looking for her, but she wasn't there. He said that she would probably be at his aunt's house, so we followed him there, found Maria, and met her sister Amparo. Amparo is also a less active member and her husband Angel is not a member. When we went back, we taught the first lesson and gave him a Book of Mormon, and he told us that he would come to church. He wasn't able to make it because he was helping someone change houses, and Sunday was the only day that they could borrow the truck to do it. But in that first lesson we asked about baptism and he as well wants to work towards being baptized. He asked us if his new born could be baptized as well, so we read in Moroni 8 and explained why we don't baptize little children and then we explained about blessing the baby and he understood it completely and said that he would love to have the child blessed. Tomorrow we have a return appointment with Angel and Amparo, and we are expecting it to be a good one.

Sunday night, an English member of the branch called us and told us that they would like us to come by, teach, and prepare their son for baptism. He is ten and hasn't been baptized because they were working on getting him fully adopted. So tonight we are going to go by assess the situation and probably have his baptism very soon. He has been coming to church for a very long time and probably can teach us everything that he need to know for baptism.

There is a lot of improvement happening in the great area of the Nampa 32nd branch. Elder Padgett and I both are grateful to be serving here, and are excited to watch all of the great things that are happening work out.

Vamos a seguir echandole ganas

Elder Paxton

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

A little apostate?

Well today we are being a little apostate and using members computers because the family history center is closed because of painting and the library here in Nampa is super packed so to save time we are using members computers.

Before I forget I did get both of the packages from Lori and Grandma, muchos thank yous for those and the art work is yet to get put up but I am planning on putting it on the wall above my bed.

Yesterday we had a meeting with President Cannon. It wasn't our normal zone conference, it was called a zone training meeting and there were only two zones there, ours and the Nampa english zone. It was really good, we talked a lot about planning and setting goals. He made a really cool chart that helps understand the path that an investigator takes to progress to the temple. We watched a couple of videos to help us know how to plan and that way we can better plan for our investigators. We are hoping to be able to be better missionaries. The missionaries that are coming out now in the field now are going to be such amazing missionaries. We are also getting dvd players so we can watch training videos during our companionship studie. I don't know if we are going to be able to use them in our lessons though. I hope so because it seems like most hispanics, either don't have the controller to change the language, or their dvd is broken and they don't feel like they need to get a new one, so hopefully we can use it, it would make everything easier.

Today we had our zone activity and we really enjoyed it. I have started a petition to not always play soccer so today we started with volleyball then we played dodge ball. We really had a great time, I forgot how much dodge ball makes you tired. All of the Elders played, even though some people had some back pain and others didn't want to play, but everyone played and had a great time.

Well I have to get off so that Elder Padgett can write his family. I hope that the paint in the family history center is dry by next week so that we can do everything a lot easier.

Elder Paxton

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

My new Home

What a great week! So as everyone knows I am now kicking it with all the gangsta cholos in big city Nampa. Elder Padgett and I are really excited to be serving together and to help this area reach it's potential.

This past week has been a little bit of a change from the Ontario and New Plymouth area, but I am really enjoying my time here. I am sort of starting to understand where everything is in town. On Sunday we had Branch Conference, so that made it really easy to meet all of the Branch and Stake leaders. The Stake President (President Asay) speaks Spanish, and so far in my mission speaks the best of all the stake presidents. Presidente Dardon is from Guatemala and he is a great leader and really loves everyone. We have made a lot of new contacts and have received some referrals and we are hoping that we will be able to make good contacts with all of them and help them to feel the Spirit and to have the desire to learn more.

Also this past week I had a very wonderful experience. Back in New Plymouth we had been teaching this sister by the name of Sandy Skinner. We first started teaching her shortly after I had first gotten to Ontario. She was very excited to learn the gospel and had said on multiple occasions that she had been prepared her whole life to except the gospel. She has had many spiritual experiences, including a dream that she had about 15 years ago. In this dream she had died and when she was on the other side of the veil she saw three lines of people and they were handing out robes. The first line was getting black robes the second were getting blue and the third were getting white. She had always remembered this dream and had never found the answer until she heard about the Plan of Salvation. She also heard a "still small voice" that had protected her a couple of times in her life.

Sandy definitely marches to the beat of her own drum. If you remember a few months ago a family got married on mule back, that was her and her husband. And so when it came time for her baptism, she just had to do it in the river. I was honored that she would ask me to perform the baptism. She said that I had been going over the longest so I should be the one to baptize her. Of course there is no rule that says that, but when she decides to do something that is how she is going to do it.

The water in the Payette river felt wonderful and it was very tempting to "accidentally" slip and have to go for a swim down the river, but I resisted. I was able to feel the spirit that was present, especially because, right after the baptism, a sister from the ward played "Amazing Grace," and we all sang along. It was a very spiritual experience, one that I will not soon forget. I am also very grateful for the young man that took all of the pictures for me, it will make it easier to always remember.

Another fun thing we did this week is we went to the church orchard in Caldwell to thin the peaches. It was a good branch activity and I always enjoy service. I wish that I had remembered my camera, because on top of the ladder there was a great view of the Snake River, and all of the trees in between. As always, at every Branch activity that exists we had food. The horchata was very delicious and we enjoyed the American touch to the food, the hot dogs.

It is pretty fun living with the other Elders. We pretty much only see them after 9 at night, and before 12 in the morning. We all study personally in the same room, but when it comes to companionship study, we take turns going in to the bedroom. I think that we might have a couple of house studies, but we will see how everything goes.

My responsibilities as a District Leader are basically, run district meetings, which are every Friday, and collect the numbers from the Elders on Sunday. I am also supposed to go on exchanges with every companionship once every month. The district includes, Ontario, Caldwell and Nampa, so there are a total of 10 Elders in our meetings, two being the Zone Leaders, which go to every meeting. I am also to do baptismal interviews for anyone that I haven't taught before. I don't have any scheduled, but hopefully will have some in the near future.

That is just about everything that is going on here.


Elder Paxton

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

So, What's your new address?

That is such a crazy storm you had in Phoenix, it is too bad that I wasn't there to enjoy it. There really hasn't been much fun weather up here just heat, not Arizona heat but pretty hot for here.

Well as guessed I did get transferred, and yesterday morning I left Ontario and moved to Nampa Spanish 1, which is the Nampa 32nd branch and covers the Nampa West Stake. My new address is 142 Smith Ave Apt 1 Nampa, ID 83651. GO SUNS!!!

I am serving with Elder Padgett from Winter Haven, Florida, which is near Orlando. He has been out for one transfer less than Elder Phelps (entonces como 9 meses). I am really looking forward to serving in the area and I am also hoping to continue the success, well its not really up to me, but I am hoping to work hard enough and be obedient enough to be able to be as blessed.

Today we went down to Boise to go to the Temple, even though it is closed, and I was hoping to be able to take a picture with my grandson, Elder Sewell is training in Wendell. Hopefully I will be able to take another 3 generation picture before I die. I only met my grandpa once and I don't remember if I was able to take that picture with my papa, but we will see what happens.

I cant really tell you a whole lot about the area, being that I have only been here for about 36 hours, and all of today was spent in Boise, but we do live with the other Nampa Spanish Elders and I always enjoying having more people to visit with, no matter how much I like my companion.

I didn't really want to tell you this but you will be getting a letter that says it anyways, but I am also going to be serving as District Leader. My district includes the Elders in Nampa, Caldwell and Ontario, so the District is 4 companionships and the Zone Leaders go to every district meeting in their zone. I am going to revert to the eternal principle of delegation. I don't really like to be the leader but if President says that I can do it, then I do it, because it comes straight from the Lord.

Well we have to get going and do work here in Nampa, so have a great week!

Elder Paxton

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Another Week Down....

This week was a great week. Today we had our zone activity and we went to the Old Idaho State Penitentiary. We took a zone photo behind bars and had a good time looking around the whole place. I took a lot of pictures of all of the "fun" things that the prisoners were involved in. There were still some there sleeping, but you will have to wait for that one because it is on my camera and these pictures I took from Elder Phelps's camera.

We also went to the temple for the last time before it closes. It was really really busy, which is good, it shows the need for the Meridian temple. We had everyone of our zone members at the 8:30 session. We tried to be at the 8:00 session but there were too many people to get our entire zone into it so we all waited, which I enjoy because it gives us more time to read from the scriptures and prepare ourselves more spiritually for what we were going to do. After the temple we went to Cafe Rio, for $1.50 taco Tuesday. I was really hungry, but I didn't let my stomach make my decision, my wallet was the one in charge today. So I only got 3 tacos, instead of 5 or 20.

This has been a very exciting day and we have been enjoying all of our success. We are having another baptism on Saturday at 7:00 in the Ontario Stake Center. Two boys are going to be baptized in the New Plymouth 2nd Ward. Danny and Tony Alvarez (10 & 8 respectively) are the sons of Willy and Blanca. Blanca is a member, but is less-active because of health problems. Willy is not a member, but really wants his boys to be baptized, but as is the case all to often, "its not for him." The boys have been coming to church for the last month or so, and this last week they even walked because no one was able to give them a ride. It's a good thing that they only like around the corner from the church. We are looking forward to their baptism, as well as their whole family.

On Saturday July 2, 2011, Charlotte Barton became the newest member of the New Plymouth 1st ward. It was great to see her husband be able to baptize her, and her father in law confirmed her. There was a really great turn out at the baptism, a lot of the family on the Barton side was present, and a lot of the ward was in attendance as well. We always enjoy seeing a lot of the ward at our baptisms. Sunday was her confirmation as well as her baby blessing, so it was a very special day for her and her family. Also on Sunday, Brayan Quinteros was confirmed, he being baptized last week.

We had a good 4th of July. We also had a ward breakfast and we had it outside in the beautiful morning weather. But as the day went on it got pretty warm. According to our car, the temperature was at the hottest 98 degrees, I am sure that your day was a lot hotter, but that was pretty much the hottest day of the year. We also had a miracle. After the breakfast we had our studies and then left New Plymouth to go back and do work in Ontario. Right after we got out of town we pull over to see if there is anyone we can call and visit before we left. While making calls, a member drives by, stops, then backs up to talk to us, and tells that he had been to the house across the street, from where we were parked, the night before and talked about the church and gave him a Book of Mormon and tells him that he was going to send the missionaries over to teach him more. We asked him if he would like to go contact him right then so he parks the car and introduces us to Joshua. Joshua has had a rough past and has done a lot of things that he regrets and is now searching for a place for his family to belong. He is very studied in the bible and has a strong testimony of the Savior, but has never liked the Catholic church or any of the churches that have branched off of it. He also has been against organized religion,but has come to the realization that if you aren't organized then you will fall. So we answered a lot of his questions and set a return appointment to meet with him on Wednesday. We are excited to teach him and we can see how much he and his family will be blessed, by becoming members of God's only true church on the earth.

We just keep on trying to finish out the transfer with a bang, this being the last week, and transfer calls coming on Friday.


Elder Paxton

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Knowing who you are...

It is interesting how a lot of people think that they need to find themselves before they want to get in to the church. I always think of a quote from President Boyd K. Packer that talks about the study of behavior. He says that, “True doctrine, understood, changes attitudes and behavior. The study of the doctrines of the gospel will improve behavior quicker than a study of behavior will improve behavior.” “LITTLE CHILDREN,” ENSIGN, NOV. 1986, 17. The best way to find out more about oneself is to understand who we were before we were born, and who we can become, and to understand the doctrine of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. For me, knowing that has made all the difference in my life.

Last night we had a lesson with a friend of one of the members in the branch and she was wondering about why so many people worry about tomorrow and not about today. We watched the video called, Our Heavenly Father's Plan. When it raised the questions,' Where did we come from', 'Why are we here', and 'Where we are going', she asked me if I already knew the answers to those questions and I said that I did. She was impressed that I, being so young, already had that knowledge. She kept saying how even though she was older then us she was still wanting to learn from us "babies."

On Sunday we had another great baptism. We had it after all of our Sunday meetings. So during our sacrament meeting the font was filled and after the whole branch moved to the Relief Society room for the baptism. Brayan is ten and he is super smart. We didn't really need to teach him anything, all we did was review everything. His dad Antonio, who has been a little less active, has been working over the past weeks to get the Melchizedek Priesthood, so he was able to baptize him. I think that he is going to be ordained this next Sunday, and if that is the case then he will also be able to confirm Brayan as well. It was a good service. I think that at the end of the year they are planning going to the temple, Alba was baptized this past December, so it will be cool to see them go through when they can.

Brayan's baptism

During the process of teaching Brayan, we met his 13 year old cousin Erikah, and there was a small miracle involved, that can quite possibly result in a whole family being baptized. We went to Brayan's house to go over the baptismal interview questions to make sure that he understood everything and to be sure that he was ready for baptism. We get in the house and realize that we needed to get something out of the car, also we wanted to get a copy of the Book of Mormon for Brayan's cousin. We go out and I get what we forgot in the car and Elder Phelps gets a Book of Mormon out of the trunk and we go back in and start the lesson. When we get to talking about the Book of Mormon, we go to mark 3 Nephi 11, and Elder Phelps finds a testimony that he had put into a Book of Mormon, weeks before and had forgotten about. The interesting thing about that testimony is that that it was from a 13 year old girl from Nampa, his last area, and he had been carrying it for a few weeks, then put it in to a Book of Mormon, and it just happened to be the one that he grabbed really fast for another 13 year old girl in this area. Things like that don't just happen. We are probably going to go and visit her and her family sometime in the next couple of days, and hopefully it will be another wonderful experience.

On Saturday we had another barbecue in the name of missionary work. Last Tuesday we met with our Ward Mission Leader and one of our ward missionaries before we went out on splits. Bro. Jones, the ward missionary, said that we should have a barbecue for all of our investigators, and less actives, and also invite the members. That would be good for them for fellow shipping purposes. So we did, and it was great. I didn't count how many people were there but there were a lot that were not members that really had a good time.

That is pretty much everything that has been going on this past week. I hope that everything goes well for Trevor with his interviews and everything.


Elder Paxton

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Preach My Gospel

It is always a little interesting to think that my mom is going to be with in the mission boundaries and it isn't against the rules because you aren't coming to visit me. Happy Anniversary Grandpa and Grandma De Mond!

We had a great zone activity last week. I didn't take any pictures because I left my camera in the car in Caldwell, from there we went to Nampa with the zone leaders. We all enjoyed the activity, especially because it was a good mix between Hispanic sports (i.e.soccer) and American sports (i.e. baseball). It took a little while for the Hispanics to enjoy it because of some of the rules that there are from baseball, but in the end we all enjoyed ourselves and then we had a barbecue. I was the head chef for some reason, probably because I was the closest to the grill. I wasn't too worried about it because all that we had was hot dogs, lots and lots of hot dogs. The people who were making the assignments didn't do very good math, or those that were assigned didn't listen very closely, because there were about 20 more hot dogs then buns. But everything worked out in the end.

Elder Phelps and I are enjoying spring in Ontario. Flowers are blooming, birds are chirping, and they are chirping because we are getting a little too close to our new neighbors. We noticed in the bush next to our house that we have a couple of new baby birds, and mom and dad don't like that we are taking pictures of them, they are always squawking whenever we are close to them, but so far they haven't attacked us. Hopefully we will be able to see our new friends grow and maybe even fly away.

We have been having a good time being a part of the Lord's work. Last night I was reading in Alma, the whole mission is reading the Book of Mormon before August 14th, and I just finished reading the great examples that Ammon and his brethren are for us all as missionaries. One verse stood out in particular to me. It is in verse 10 of chapter 29 and it reads as follows,
10 And behold, when I see many of my brethren truly penitent, and coming to the Lord their God, then is my soul filled with joy; then do I remember what the Lord has done for me, yea, even that he hath heard my prayer; yea, then do I remember his merciful arm which he extended towards me.
That is so very true (it better be, it is coming out of the Book of Mormon). Too often life we get to wrapped up in the things that are going on in our own lives, that we forget that we owe our lives to our Lord who's "merciful arm which he [extends] towards [us]." That is the joy of missionary work. We feel the joy of forgiveness, through the atonement of Jesus Christ, then, because of that joy, we want to share it with all of our neighbors (both figurative and literal, mom) and as we share the blessings we have so freely received, our neighbors will want to learn more and they will receive the same, or similar blessings that we have received. And then we start the whole process over again, because of the joy of helping others come unto Christ.

One thing that we have been doing a lot is inviting members to think of the many blessings of the Gospel. Then we ask them if they know anyone who could benefit from those same blessings. Then we invite them to pray for them by name, asking how they should go about sharing their feelings. When we approach missionary work this way it is more then pushing our religion on our friends or neighbors, we are sharing what makes us happy.
I will close with at quote taken from Preach My Gospel by, President George Albert Smith (1945–1951),
“That is your mission, my brethren and sisters of the Church, that is your responsibility. Freely you have received and our Heavenly Father will expect you freely to share with His other sons and daughters these glorious truths” (Nibley [1948], 213).
“We will attain our exaltation in the Celestial Kingdom only on the condition that we share with our Father’s other children the blessings of the Gospel of Jesus Christ and observe the commandments that will enrich our lives here and hereafter” (Sharing the Gospel with Others, sel. PrestonSharing the Gospel with Others, 190).
I look forward to hearing your reports on your success in sharing the gospel, Alma 26:27.

Elder Paxton

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Busy Elders!

This Saturday I had the opportunity to baptize Savannah Lewis. It was a great baptismal service and we were able to make a connection to just about everyone important for her in her service. Her English and Choir teacher directed the service (he being the ward missionary leader), Elder Phelps gave the opening prayer, her Seminary teacher gave the first talk, I baptized her, the Mia-Maids sang a special musical number (Savannah is 15), her Sunday School teacher gave the second talk, a member of the Bishopric welcomed her to the ward, and one of her good friends and fellowshippers gave the closing prayer. It was great to be able to have everyone there to support her. And on Sunday Bro. Jones confirmed her, he being a long time family friend.

We are very excited for her to be the newest member of the Church in her family. We think that she will be a great asset to the ward, and the Young Women are really doing their part to make sure that she is welcomed. Next Monday she will be going to girls camp and they have her signed up for a special youth conference that is going on in Nyssa in July.

We are working with a bunch of other people to help them prepare for baptism. Yesterday we set a baptismal date with a 10 year old boy in the branch. He is super smart and has come to church for the past two months. We didn't really know that he wasn't a member until we ate dinner with them last Monday. So we started to teach him and he is super smart and pretty much already knows everything. The really cool thing is his recently reactivated dad is worthy to baptize him. His date is for June 25th.

This past Sunday Elder Phelps and I had the opportunity to speak in the Branch. On Saturday Presidente Machuca called us and asked to speak and of course I said that we would. We didn't have time to prepare on Saturday, because we were a little busy with a baptism and other lessons, and if you look at the schedule from last week there really isn't much time to prepare on Sunday, so what ended up happening was that we prepared as we gave our talk. I guess it was really good because in the middle of my talk, Presidente gets up and asks if one of the sisters would go out and entertain the loud children so their mother (who we are teaching and preparing for baptism, no date as of right now) could come back in a listen to my talk because he felt that is was really important for her to listen. Things are a little unorthodox in a branch, but I am sure that Presidente was acting on a spiritual impression. After he said that I thought the pressure is really on, I better make this good. When she came back in she really seemed to be listening intently so I hope she got something that can help her.

Today we are heading to Caldwell for a zone activity. We are going to be playing kick ball and having a barbecue. It should be pretty fun and we need to get going here pretty soon so what I have written will have to be good enough for now.


Elder Paxton

PS: I did get the surprise package on my door step from Jeanette. It was pretty crazy to think that she was at my door, when for most of my mission she had been on the other side of the world.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Now Behold...

Now behold, it came to pass that I, Elder Paxton, having ministered much unto my people in word, (and I cannot write but a little of my words, because of the difficulty of typing our words upon emails) and we know that the things which I type upon emails must remain.

As we had hoped, our "office work" on Memorial Day really paid off. Wednesday we had four lessons. One of the lessons that we had we met two new investigators that would later (on Saturday) set July 2nd for their baptismal date. On Saturday we had another 4 lessons. As of right now we have four investigators with baptismal dates.

The closest one is going to be on this coming Saturday at four. She is going to be the newest addition of the Lewis family to the church. Her mom (Donna) got baptized on May 2nd and Jalin (her 11 year sister) got baptized on May 23rd. Savannah is 15 and is already planning on going to girls camp, which is on June 20-24, and might be going to youth conference and is very excited to be involved in all of the activities that the church has. She was spiritually converted to the church very quickly. The other day we were over at their house and everyone was talking about getting tattoos (Donna is a "mom" to about 30 of the kids in town and a couple were over that day). Savannah was just sitting there not saying anything, so I asked her what her opinion on tattoos was and she said that our bodies are a gift from God and that we shouldn't do anything to them, and we had never taught her anything along those lines. We are pretty sure that she is going to be the laurels president before too long.

The real miracle of the week didn't happen until Sunday. Our schedule on Sunday is as follows:
  • 7:30-New Plymouth 1st PEC
  • 9:00-NP1 Sacrament
  • 10:15-NP2 PEC
  • 11:00 NP2 Sacrament
  • 12:45-Branch classes
  • 2:15-Branch Sacrament
So, we are running around a lot. During NP1 Sacrament we had 5 investigators at church, which we were pretty excited to see that many people at church. In NP2 we had four more bringing our total up to 9 for the day (I have had entire transfers where there were less investigators at church, all six weeks combined) so we were even more excited. But the real amazement came when the Branch's Sacrament meeting started. We counted a total of 15 non-members above the age of 8, and a bunch more under 8, but they don't count as investigators. So we had a total of 24 investigators at church between the 3 units that we cover. We were so amazed to have that many people at church. All of the children that were there were a little loud (by a little I mean EXTREMELY), but one of the members got crayons and paper to keep them entertained and quiet.

We continue to see miracles and are loving all that is going on in this great area. On Thursday we had lunch with President Barlow (Stake President) and he says that the Ontario Stake has a tradition of being one of the highest baptizing stakes in the mission, and we sure are glad to be a part of it. Elder Phelps is hoping that he and I serve here until the end of my mission. I don't think that will happen but we would probably have a lot of success during that time.

And behold, I, Elder Paxton, am forbidden that I should write the remainder of the things which I saw and heard; wherefore the things which I have written sufficeth me; and I have written but a small part of the things which I saw.

Elder Paxton

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Staying or Moving?

Staying...So I am looking forward to serving in the great Ontario Spanish/New Plymouth English area for the 14th transfer period of my mission. Elder Phelps was extremely ecstatic to hear that we would be serving together for another transfer. He often reminds me that I have been his favorite companion thus far in the mission.

I am starting to feel extremely old now that I am 20 (in mission age). I really try to hide my "age" from the members to avoid the dumb comments that always follow (i.e. "Oh you are almost home," or "You are probably getting trunky huh?" or other dumb things). The way I avoid that is when they ask I just say that I have been out for over a year, they usually just say, "oh okay," and leave it at that.

Here is a picture of Zoe that I sent to Chris with the caption "I hope they call me on a mission"

Zoe looks like she is ready to hop on a plane and come serve with me. I know that I would be perfectly okay with that and I know of a lot of the people up here would be totally okay with us having a third companion. There is a family that has a perfect lab family. The Daddy dog is a chocolate, the Mommy dog is black, and the baby dog is yellow (attached is the family picture).

They were all so cute together sitting outside of the door of one of the part member families that we visit.

On Sunday we had another great line up of Sacrament meetings. In the first ward Brother Jones, quite possibly the best ward missionary of all time, gave a talk and spoke on the importance of always keeping your goal as the Temple, especially in missionary work. And in the second ward, President and Sister Cannon came and spoke and as always it was a great treat to hear from them. They also stayed and participated in our gospel principles class. Elder Phelps and I always enjoy hearing from President and now the second ward was privileged to hear from him as well. Hopefully it will help the work in that ward because as of right now not a whole lot is happening there. We are also getting a new ward mission leader in the second ward and that might help as well.

Yesterday we had a really fun day. We went to two barbecues, one in New Plymouth and one in Ontario, the first being an American barbecue and the second being Mexican. It was great because between the two we were able to contact all of our major investigators. It really made it easy to show that we are real people and not just salesmen. We weren't able to teach a lesson yesterday but we made some appointments for later on this week and we are hoping to be able to see the blessings from our "office" work as the week unfolds.

We are hoping for a lot of great success during this transfer and should really be super busy all transfer long with a bunch of baptisms. We might even have two in one day, and depending on how things work out and maybe one the next day as well.

Hope everything is going great and that you are all enjoying the weather which last saturday was exactly twice as hot as our temp, haha


Elder Paxton

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

"I like to look for rainbows..."

Dearest Familyest,

Last night we had a great baptism of Jalin Lewis. The Spirit was so strong and we really had a lot of people there to support her. The activity day aged girls (Primary girls from 8-12) sang When I Am Baptized and it was really special. It was really special, because after Donna's (her mom) baptism, a couple of weeks ago, on the way to our next appointment we saw a rainbow and both Elder Phelps and I both started to sing, "I like to look for rainbows..." It was a great baptism even though I had to give a talk.

The Skinners, the red neck wedding family, are now both eligible for baptism, although Sandie is the only one that is really that interested at this moment. She is planning on being baptized on June 4th and she wants to do it down at the river. It is probably around 45 degrees being that it is mostly snow melt, so we are trying to talk her out of it. I have been meaning to talk with President and see if there is a way that we can get him to veto the idea, but we will see what actually happens in the end.

This morning was great because a brother from the New Plymouth 2nd ward took us down to the temple, to help us get as many temple trips in before July 11, when the temple will be closed for who knows how long. It was really fun because President Cannon and his wife were there as well. It is always to see him and see how much he loves all of the missionaries in the whole mission. I feel pretty lucky to be a Spanish missionary and to "have a special place in his heart." Last week after zone conference while we were waiting for our ride he mentioned to us about how much he loves all of the missionaries but that the Spanish elders are special. Probably because we have to learn another language, but today we saw that Sister Cannon has her tag in Spanish, so that makes me wonder if there is any other reason why they think the Spanish elders are special. It is obvious that he loves everyone, you can look at him and tell very easily.

The family that called you on Easter is a member family, the most recent convert in the family got baptized about a week before I got to Ontario. I am glad that you are thinking about getting the missionaries to them to teach, but Elder Cottam already beat you to the kill.

Elder Phelps and I have really been enjoying our time together in this area and have been trying very hard to keep the work up and going.We are a little sad for transfer calls to be coming up so soon and are excited and nervous to see what is going to happen. We both know that what ever happens is the Lords will and we are both ready to go and do the things that the lord commands through our loving President.


Elder Paxton

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

"Satan Knows...

...that the church is true. He knows that the Book of Mormon ,Plan of Salvation is true, and all of the principles and doctrines of the Church are true, but that is not going to save him. Knowing is not enough, what makes a difference is that we become and do what we know to be true." Levi Roberts, recently returned missionary from Fruitland, Idaho.

That was taken from a talk given in the New Plymouth 1st ward this past Sunday. Bro. Roberts also talked a lot about how we (the full time missionaries) should not have to knock doors to find people to teach. He shared a story about his mission in Brazil about how in a little branch made up of a lot of new converts who would share the gospel so willingly with everyone that they met. They didn't know a whole lot about the gospel, but they acted and wanted to share the joy of that the gospel has brought them with everyone. He said that they would bring him a list of names every Sunday to church of sometimes up to 20 names and they had many baptisms from that experience. He also said if they would meet someone new at church they would teach them throughout the week and by the next Sunday after church they would be baptized. That happened a lot in this particular area. Then he went to explain how that is possible everywhere.

He also shared a personal story of when he was younger, and his mom would ask him to do things (i.e. clean their room, take out the trash...) he would often say "I know," to which his mother would respond, "I know that you know, I want you to do." I think that is how our Father in Heaven would respond when we say, "I know that I need to pray," or "I know that I need to go to church," but I am sure that he just smiles and says, "I know that you know, I want you to do."

Needless to say Elder Phelps and I wanted to give him a standing ovation, but that isn't very appropriate during sacrament meeting, but we did thank him after the meeting. We also began to ask if ward members had any names ready for us, no one did, but things are still going great.

This week we had a lot of good experiences. As you can see by the pictures we had a real Red-Neck wedding. A couple of our investigators got married this past Saturday. They had the bishop marry them on mules, while he was standing on a flat bed pickup truck, they originally requested that he be on horseback, but he didn't feel like it would be very appropriate to preform a sacred ordinance on horseback, so they settled for the flat bed.

Yesterday we had Zone Conference which is always a treat. Something interesting is that we talked a lot about becoming, so sacrament meeting the day before was kind of a warm up, or maybe the Lord is trying to tell me to be better... Who knows. It is always great to hear from President Cannon and we also had the opportunity to hear from Elder Nattress, who is the area seventy for this area, he actually used to be the Ontario Stake President. He told us how he had some training meetings to go to and he was assigned to sit at lunch with President Thomas S. Monson. Elder Nattress told us President Monson talked about how much he loves the missionaries and that he even talked about a missionary by name, whom he had met years earlier. It is amazing to think that the President of the Church has the ability to love each and everyone of us, even though he hasn't met most of us. And that he remembers names, after who knows how many years.

Last night, after Zone Conference, we had two really spiritual appointments. The first being with the Castillo family, from Nayarit, Mexico. We first met them one day when we went to the post office, and on the way out we both had the impression to go across the street and say hello to our branch president, who has a store there. When we got inside we quickly noticed that the woman behind the counter wasn't Pres. Machuca. We started to talk with her and she was really nice and then after talking for a little while she said that we could visit her and her family some day and gave us directions to her home and told us that Monday and Tuesday work best for them. So last night we stopped by and met the rest of the family, Porfirio, husband, Luis, 6 yrs. and Kayla, 1 month. We had a great lesson and when we brought out the Book of Mormon, Porfirio said that he has seen an ad on TV about it and was interested in getting one.

They are great family and we are looking forward to teaching and baptizing them. Then we went to our second appointment of the evening and really saw the hand of the Lord. We were at Imelda Arroyo's house and the Sanchez family (members) came to fellowship her. We didn't have a lot time so we watched the Restoration movie with her. Since she works nights she was having a hard time staying awake, and so her little 3 year old daughter took it into her hands to keep her awake the whole time. The Lord was really working to keep her awake. It was great. Imelda has a baptismal date for May 28th and last night we set a date with her 8 year old daughter as well for the same day.

We are seeing great things going on here and are really enjoying serving in this great area


Elder Paxton