Monday, July 30, 2012

Week Three in Atlanta...Baptism coming up!

Hello everyone.

     This week has gone fast, just like the prior. I have had some pretty interesting experiences I would like to share with you. Things have been going pretty well here in Atlanta... I have been trying to keep my head and heart up. It is really difficult being away from all of the people that you love so dear. It is difficult being detached from the world and not hearing about anything in the news until you hear by word of mouth. Then again it is sort of a blessing to be away from worldly things. I know that this is where I am supposed to be and I know that there are specific people here that need me. I have been trying to keep in shape and running outside my apartment every morning. I am trying to learn piano because that is the only instrument I am allowed to play out here... I am searching the scriptures and words of the prophets. I find comfort in these things. It is very hard for me being away from my loved ones and occasionally hearing from them. So I need to find other things to help comfort me. I need to learn how to rely more on Christ and his atonement.
     Well I will get into the week. I will start out by telling you more about Leesa. Leesa is still planning to get baptized on the 4th of August. She has an amazing testimony of the Church. We have been keeping in close contact with her because we know that Satan will do everything in his power to prevent Leesa from being baptized. She is aware of his power and knows that being baptized is what she needs to do. She got to have a lesson inside the waiting room of the temple. We were unable to be present at this lesson because it is out of our area. Our Ward Mission Leader told us it was full of the spirit and tears. She says that she can not wait for August 4th, 2013 when she will be able to go through the temple for herself. I hope to be able to be there that day when she goes through. I can't wait for Saturday and to see her come up out of the water.
     The next person I will talk about is a man named Hindillo. Hindillo is from Sierra Leon (I don't know if that is how you spell it). He is married to a member of the church. They have known each other since they were little. Their marriage was actually an arranged marriage when they were 14. She moved to America when she was 20 and waited for Hindillo to come to America. Three years ago they were marriage and now have a beautiful daughter. Hindillo's wife (I have no idea how to say her name) is an amazing member of the church. She has been a member since 1998. Hindillo is very interested in the church and wants to become closer to God. He is a very religious man and believes deeply in God. He loves going to church with his wife and has a very strong desire to get baptized. He is learning more about the Church and loves what he is learning so far. He has prayed about what he has learned and is receiving a witness for himself that it is true. He is planning to be baptized on August the 18th. I have great respect for this man and the faith that he has. I have no doubt that Hindillo will become a strong member of this Church.
     That is all the people that I really have time to tell you about. I still don't have a library card... The office was supposed to send me one in the mail and they still haven't. They have a package for me that I still have not gotten... There are new missionaries in the office and I think that they are still learning what to do so things are kind of hectic right now. Be sure to send this USPS when you send to the mission office because they can forward the package or letter to wherever I may be. They cannot do this with other carriers. You can also just send things to my direct address. I will get it quicker that way.
      I met a very interesting man named Max when we were walking around Atlanta. He comes up to us and just starts going off on bible verses and preaching to us. He was a very nice guy and loved us for preaching the gospel. I do not think that he was all the way there though... He began to spill random information (most of it I could not understand). He asked us if we knew how to speak in tongues, and was said no. He said that he knew how to and showed us. He started making baby noises "boo-boo ga-ga" and said that he was speaking in tongues. He said that babies speak in tongues because they have not yet sinned and are perfect (which is true doctrine minus the speaking in tongues part). It was really funny. He told us that library or "libary" as he'd say was full of lies. That is why it is called the li-bary. Haha. Crazy man.

     Well I hope all is well in the lives of whoever is reading this. I don't know if anyone is even reading my letter anymore... But if they are thanks for reading. I hope to hear from whoever is reading this because I love hearing from people back home. I really miss all my family and friends. Well I love you all. Remember that God loves us all and he is good. He know us each by name. He knows our needs and desires. He won't always deliver us from our trials, but he provided us with a savior to help us through them so that we may still learn and grow. Don't forget that.

-Elder Ryan Romero

Elder Romero waiting for MARTA the train system in Atlanta

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Second Week in Hotlanta

Hello Everyone, 

     Today has been a busy week. I have done a lot of stuff. So I still don't have a library card so I don't have a lot of time to write emails or read them... So I am going to have to be kind of quick. I'll start out by telling you more about where I am serving, then I will tell you about the people  I am teaching. 

     Like I said in the last email I am serving in a town called Lithonia. It's a little ways from the big city. Atlanta is interesting because you can go down one street that is super ghetto, then you could go down the next and it will be very nice. The apartments that I am staying aren't very nice. They are safe... So don't worry parents. The first day I got there there was this car with HUGE rims on it. The next day the rims were stolen off the car and these piece of crap ones were placed on it. Haha. I have pictures I will attach to the email. There are very interesting people all over the city. Like I said in the last letter, my companions and I are literally the only white people in the city. Some people around here really don't like Mormons. We walked out of a store one day and this guy yelled at us and said, "Hey, you guys Mormons." and we said, "Yeah, you've heard of us?" and he said, "Yeah, you guy's in a cult, Joseph Smith is in hell. You guys in multiple wives and gay marriage. That's all a sin." Then we said, "You obviously know nothing about our religion." and tried to give him a pass along card with our website on it. Haha. It was pretty funny honestly. It is amazing to see how much people do not know about the Mormons. 

Car that rims were switched out on

     There are trees everywhere. I have never been to a place that has as dense forests as there are here. You never know where you are at. You cannot tell which way is North. It is so confusing and often gives me headaches. Coming from Utah where you ALWAYS know where you are at, it really sucks going to somewhere where you never know where you are at. I will get used to it though. I did not think that it was going to be this green. Atlanta is a really cool city, and the towns around it are really cool too. You can't tell that you are in a city or a rural area because you always feel like you are in a forest of green. It reminds me a lot of pictures of the Sacred Grove. 

     So I will start telling you about the people. The first person I want to talk about it Leesa. She is going to be baptized on August 4th. She is so excited. She is scared we are going to drop her and she is going to drown though. Hahaha. She is an amazing lady. She has investigated almost every religion. She called us yesterday on the phone crying saying, "My search is done." She has been through so much, and it is such an amazing experience for me to be able to bring peace to someone that has been searching for it their whole life. 

     The next person I want to talk about is a man named Antonio. He is a buff black man. He works at a car stereo place. He is awesome! He is the kindest man. He has a wife that is a less active member and two children. He is interested in the church and wants to learn more about the Priesthood. Antonio loves meeting with us and loves the spirit that we bring into his home. I get excited every time we meet with Antonio because him and I get along so well. I love people that I can make laugh, and there aren't very many people that I can make laugh. Haha. 

     There are a lot more people that I would like to talk about but I just don't have the time. =(. I am going to get a library card next week so hopefully I will have a little more time.

     I'd like to share my testimony before I go. I know that this Church brings people peace and happiness. I know that because I am seeing the change that it is bringing into people's lives. I know that by living the gospel you can experience peace and happiness in this life more than you can by any other means. I love teaching the people of Atlanta. I love them so much. I know that Jesus Christ is a perfect example for us to follow. By following the doctrine of you can become more like him and have all the attributes that he possesses. You can have faith, hope, and charity. You can have a love for people that you don't even know. You can have your anger towards your worst enemy disappear.  You can be forgiven for any mistakes that you may have made. I know that this Church is true and I know that the Book of Mormon is the word of God and that you can find peace and happiness in its teachings. 

     I can't wait to tell you guys all about next week. I love you all. 

Elder Green, Elder Romero, Unknown Elder, Elder Pettit in MTC

Monday, July 16, 2012

First Week in the Mission Field

Hello Everyone!
     First week in the mission field. I have got a lot to say! I don't have a ton of time to write so I will try to get as much in as I can.
     I was assigned to serve in the Atlanta East zone. The area I am serving in is called the Lithionia area. Atlanta is much different from Utah. Hahaha. I am the minority. When I go into a store I am usually the only white person in there. My trainer's name"S" are Elder Hansen, and Elder Heimuli. Yes, I have two trainers. Hahaha. They are the zone leaders for the zone and Elder Hansen is going home in 6 weeks. So once he leaves Elder Heimuli will be my companion. Let me first start off by telling you how incredibly blessed I am. I know that God knows me better than I do. I know he loves me and cares about me IMMENSELY. I know this because I have been assigned to serve with two of the greatest people ever. Elder Hansen is a carbon copy of my Dad, and God knows that there is no one else I'd rather train me in the mission field than my Dad. He is loving, caring, understanding, and an incredible leader. The other missionaries call him "Prophet Hansen." He is really smart and spiritual. My other companion is a really tall Tongan. God also knows that I love Tongans and love people that like the same things I do. Elder Heimuli is me in Tongan form. We listen to all of the same music and have very similar style. In the MTC I did not meet one person that knew who Brand New was or even Taking Back Sunday. HE LOVES THEM, and I love him for loving them. Hahaha.
     So I'll tell you about my experiences so far. I am already in an odd situation by being trained by two zone leaders. To add to the oddness we are white-washing an area and creating a new zone. So I have had my work cut out for me. When you white wash an area you replace both of the Elders in the area. So we have no one telling us about the people or where we should go. Besides the notes they left us. We have met some amazing people. I will tell you about three people. I do not have a lot of time. The library I am at only gives you an allotted time for the computers. So I am sorry if I can't get everything in.
     The first person Brandon Corely. Brandon has been a member of the Church for 1 year. He was the first person that we taught. Brandon looks a lot like Ludacris and talks like him too. He has two young kids, a boy and a girl (they are both adorable). Brandon doesn't have a phone so we just dropped by. We dropped by because he was on the less active list. When he opened the door I was not expecting the reaction he gave. He opened the door smiled and said, "Elders, where have you been? I have been waiting to meet you!" and gave us a good handshake and a hug. Brandon just recently got out of jail and has been on probation. I don't think I should go into detail but he has had a rough life. He found the gospel and has been cleaning up his life. He wants to receive the priesthood and get sealed in the temple to his family. He has an amazing testimony. His testimony of Joseph Smith is inspirational. He knows that Joseph Smith was a prophet. He has read all about Joseph Smith from both sides (the LDS side and the Anti-LDS) side. Nothing can shake his testimony. It was really funny hearing him talk about Joseph. He looks up to him so much and wants to endure to the end just like Joseph did.
     The second person that I want to talk about is a man named Bro. Burgs. The best way to know what this man is like is watching finding Nemo and analyzing the character "Crush". Or going on youtube and watching the channel goodneighborstuff and watching Kyle do his cool guy impressions. He is the coolest man I have ever met. He is from our ward, the Twin Oaks Ward (I'll tell you more about it in a second). This man is a tall skinny guy. He is married and has two kids. He doesn't do up his top button and won't have his tie done up all the way. He looks like a surfer punk. Yet this man is a testament to the saying "do not judge a book buy it's cover". This man is full of love and the spirit. He is hilarious! Bro Burgs volunteered to be a scout leader (Well he more of just asked the bishop if he could do it) haha. After church he came up to us and asked us if we could go home teaching with us. We said we could. He went home and dropped the family off and came back and picked us up. He came with sandwiches, jones soda, cheese, and gum. Haha. When we got in the car he told us, "Elders, I'm brother Burgs. I like to have fun, I am a laid back guy, but don't worry I obey all the rules." I don't know how to explain this man other than sincere and real. He wasn't trying to impress anyone by being "cool" that is just the way he is. On the way to the appointment he told us all about his mission and his experiences with the atonement. When we got to the appointment we talked for awhile and then he went right into the lesson. He gave a great lesson and listened to the spirit. This guy is living proof that you can still live the gospel, obey all the rules, and still be a fun cool person to be around.
     Alright, last but most certainly not least. Leesa Postelli. This women is an investigator. She has been around to every church. Investigated every Church. She has even been a preacher in a Southern Baptist church. This women is educated as all get out. She knows the bible. One day she decided to go to the LDS church. She got in contact with the Elders before us. She took asked them questions and visited with them and absolutely fell in love with them. When she found out that they were going to be transferred her heart was broken. She called the mission president and told him to please not take them away from her. She was very hesitant on meeting with us. She was scared that we weren't going to be like the other Elders, but she agreed to meet with us. We met with her in a members home and she poured her heart to us. It took some work, but we got her to open up. We asked her about the Church and why it interests her and she told us that when she met the members, and met the Elders, that there was just a light in them that she has never before seen in her 48 years of living and searching. She says, "it must be in something you guys drink." as a joke. She knows that it is our religion and she wants everything that we have. She has a desire I have never seen before. I am so blessed because I bet some people go their whole missions without meeting people like Leesa, but we've found her within the first week of my mission. She has an unbreakable testimony of Joseph Smith. She is reading the Book of Mormon and starting to accept it as scripture. She is amazing.
     Alright, I am completely out of time. I have to use some of my companions time so I can just send this email off. I will try to put some physical letters in the mail today. I have a lot of pictures for you all. I have so much more to tell you but the computers and the library won't allow me to have the time to write it all...
     I know that God loves all of us regardless of who you are or what you believe. I know he is there watching over all of us.
I haven't got any letters yet... Get to work! Love you all!
-Elder Ryan Romero.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Pres. and Sister Snow with Elder Romero

Ryan called us from the airport on Tuesday morning e-route to Atlanta. He was excited to be starting his new adventure. The MTC was now a fond memory, and he was full of wonderful stories of people he'd met and things he had learned. He seemed to be on a spiritual high and ready for what he was embarking on. He'd met some great teachers in the MTC. Who can ever really be ready for two years of unpredictable experiences that challenge you every day? It's something that you just jump into with faith and enthusiasm, and I think that is just what he was doing.

 Ryan with Pres. and Sister Snow in the Mission Home July 10, 2012

Monday, July 9, 2012

Last Day in the MTC

Hello everyone!
     Today is my last day at the MTC. It has been a great day. I am writing today because I won't be able to tomorrow. I have to say that I loved my MTC experience. It was a tough three weeks, but I can honestly say that it was one of the most rewarding three weeks of my life. I have learned so much about myself, made some eternal friends, had the best teachers ever, and had the best district ever. I could not have asked for a better MTC experience.
     Today we watch all three episodes of "The District 2." It is only a three part show where they follow these missionaries in San Diego around. It is amazing how much you learn from these videos. I have never been so pumped after watching a video than I was after I watched that. It was like watching a snowboarding video in the Fall and being really excited about going snowboarding, but that feeling times 20. I am so excited for tomorrow. I am so excited to find the people that I am suppose to teach. I am so excited to love them with the love of Christ. I am so excited to share with people the message that has blessed my life! I am so excited to fall in love with the people of Atlanta!!! I know that people wait their whole life's to hear the message that I am going to bring them. I am forever grateful for the decision that I made to come and serve because if I wouldn't have, those people wouldn't have the chance to hear that message in this life. I am going to work so hard, harder than I ever have before. My teacher told us yesterday that there are only two types of missionaries. There are the "no-regret" missionaries and the "I blew it" missionaries. I want to have no regrets when I come home, and I will. I will come home knowing that I have shared my message with everyone I could, and that I have helped and changed the lives of as many people as I could.
     I want to end with a spiritual thought. Yesterday the scripture 2 Nephi 31: 20 really spoke to me. It says, "Wherefore, ye must press forward with a steadfastness in Christ, having a perfect brightness of hope, and a love of God and of all men. Wherefore, if ye shall press forward, feasting upon the word of Christ, and endure to the end, behold, thus saith the Father: Ye shall have eternal life." Now replace "Wherefore" with your own name. This scripture literally spoke to me when I did that. I know exactly what I need to do in this life and on my mission. I know that I need to press forward with Christ, have hope and the love of god, feast upon the word of Christ, and endure to the end. I know that if I do those things I am going to have a fantastic life and a fantastic mission. I am a worrier. I have worried a lot in the MTC. When read this scripture and it told me to have "hope" I know that that is what I needed to do. I was lacking hope. I know that by reading the scriptures you can gain more hope in your life than by any other means. The scriptures give us purpose, and without a purpose we would be nothing.
     I am excited to tell you guys about all my experiences in Atlanta. I can't wait to send pictures! I have taken a lot with all the amazing people I have met! Oh and one last thing, everyone listen to "Abide with me; 'Tis Eventide" I love that hymn. I have probably heard it before the MTC, but I never realized how amazing it is. LISTEN!
     I love you all so much and miss you!

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

End of Week Two

Hello family and friends!     
     This week has been an busy week. It definitely went by faster than the last one. They are keeping us really busy here at the MTC. They have every second scheduled out. You don't really have a second for yourself besides the 30 minutes they give you at night to write in your journal and pray to your Heavenly Father. I am very exhausted and sometimes doze off in class. I really try hard to stay awake though. Sometimes I just stand up out of no where and start walking around to stay awake. I have some great teachers too that know how hard it is and put forth an extra effort to keep their students awake. Some of them have us dance, sing songs, or just go out and get a drink.
     I am becoming really close with a lot of the missionaries here that aren't in my district. I am really close with a companionship that is going to Finland. Their names are Elder Batey and Elder Jefferies. Batey played basketball for Weber and is an awesome kid. Jefferies went to BYU Hawaii and danced for the PCC. He is crazy buff. Jefferies and I have become really close because we both value are health. I told him that I want to be as fit as I can before I get to the mission field and there is a goal weight that I am shooting for. He has put me on a strict diet. Each morning I usually have a bowl of shredded wheat or grape nuts (the grossest stuff ever) and I slice a banana in it. Then I have 4 boiled eggs (just the whites) and 3-4 cups of water. Those are usually the only carbs that I have throughout the day. For lunch I usually have just protein, and then at dinner I try to have just veggies. I try to not eat anything else after I have dinner. It is tough. If I am going to discipline myself in every other aspect of my life then why not discipline myself in the way I eat? I have only lost 5 pounds so far but I am noticing a change in my body and the way I feel. I run every day to try and get out all my anxiety. It is one of the few releases that I can find here in the MTC.
    Sometimes I long for my guitar. I miss my music a lot. We sing a ton in the MTC. I like it a lot. I feel like I have become a better singer since being here. Even though I don't have many ways to release my feelings I am learning how to do it in other ways (I am sure that this was the intent of the people who designed the MTC). Prayer, scripture study, and writing in my journal have been what has been getting me through these past two weeks. They give us 30 minutes to ourselves each night and I cherish those 30 minutes. It gives me a chance to reflect on my day and my feelings. It helps so much to write them down. It clears up all the jumbled thoughts that build up throughout the day. Then I get a chance to read my scriptures and ponder on those. My favorite of all is getting on my knees and praying to my Heavenly Father. Sometimes in the MTC you feel like you have no communication with the outside world, and no communication with people that you know truly love you. When I pray I know that I am talking to somethone truly loves me, cares about me and knows what I am going through. Sometimes the at the end of the day the burden seems so heavy that all you can bear to do is kneel. While praying I can feel that burden being taken off my back, and I can feel his love for me. Most of the time, that is just all that I need. Love.
    Yesterday my companion and I taught out investigator. His name is Nickson. He is from Kenya and talks really quietly and so it is hard to hear him. The MTC brings in investigators for the missionaries to teach. Sometimes those missionaries and members acting, or converts acting like their investigator self, or they are real people that get paid to be there. Nickson is real. A lot of the time you can tell because you can see if the person is endowed or not. Nickson is not. Yesterday Elder Price and I talked to him about the restoration, and talked to him about his Heavenly Father. While going through the lesson I was explaining to him prayer, and how his Heavenly Father wants to hear from us and loves us just as an Earthly father would. After I told him that he said, "If my Heavenly Father loves me then why doesn't he just tell me that this is right, or show me what to do? Why doesn't he, or an angel, reveal themselves to me and assure me that there is a life after this and that the church is true." Sometimes I have wondered this, and sometimes I have wondered why sometimes I don't get an answer to my prayers or have a whisper in my ear as to what I should do. When I answered Nickson I realized I was answering that question for the both of us, and at that instance the spirit was filling my mouth. I told Nickson to imagine he had a son. I told him that it would not be wise to hand your son money and tell him to go buy what he wants. I told him it would not be wise to tell your kid what to be and hold his hand until he becomes what you want. I told him that these are not wise because they do not show love and they do not build and strengthen people. He understood. I told him that you show your kid how to work for what he wants encourage him to work towards his goal. I told him that you let your kid decide for himself what he wants to be from his own experiences and encourage him and show him love as he strives to be the best he can (and sometimes we do have to make course corrections for our children). These will make him strong. He understood and agreed. I told him that it is no different with out Heavenly Father. He will not give us the answer to all of life's questions for ourselves without doing the work to earn that answer. He will not hold our hand and tell us where to go or what to be without going through those life experiences to decide for ourselves. He does that because he loves us. He does that because he wants us to become strong like him, because if he didn't we would learn nothing and we would be nothing. Nickson now understood as did I. I realized at that instance that my mission is going to be tough. It is going to be the hardest two years of my life, but they are hard because my Heavenly Father loves me and he wants me to be like him. He wants me to be strong. He wants me to go through my own Garden of Gethsemane to grow and understand the atonement. He loves me so much that he gave his son for me so that I can make it through this and so when I do make a mistake he can help me make my course correction.
   Well, time is up. I hope to hear from you all the over next week. I love you all so much. I leave to Atlanta on the 10th.