Monday, January 28, 2013

The Stone is Rolling

This past week was a very good week in terms of missionary work. Elder Armenta and I have had one of the most successful weeks since we've been in Dunwoody. We were able to get a member present at almost all of our lessons taught to investigators. We have become so close with the members. They love coming out on team ups with us, and are so interested in all the people we are teaching. The members of this ward want to see someone be baptized just as bad as we do. It is great. 

     As time goes on I am realizing how important little acts of kindness are. The simple things seem to be what people notice most. There is a member in our ward named Brother Bennett. He is an amazing man. He was less active in the Church ever since he was a little kid. When he was about forty when the missionaries stopped by his house and helped him rekindle his testimony again. He now has a bonfire of a testimony. He has to be the most charitable man I've ever met. Always volunteering to serve whenever he is needed. The thing that is interesting is that not a single member of his family is a member of the Church. He married outside of the Church and by the time he was reactivated his children were already pretty grown up and were doing their own thing. He has tried sharing the Gospel with them but they just haven't showed much interest. Last week he invited us to have dinner with him and his family. During dinner his 17 year old son and I began talking about Alaska, music, t.v. shows, and all of these things we had in common. We really got along well. I didn't know if his son has really connected with the missionaries like that before. The next time I saw Brother Bennett I asked him about his son and asked him if he had any friends that were members of the Church, and he said, "No, he doesn't really know any of the kids in the ward." and I said, "Well, we'd like to be his friend. Do you think he'd be interested in playing tennis sometime?" Brother Bennett was so happy. He told us that he was so excited for his son to have friends that were members of the Church. Seeing his joy made me realize that I may not stay in this area for much longer, but I do have enough time to impact each one of these members by doing kind simple things for them. I know that the small things that I do in this ward are what may have the most impact in the long run. 
      Beth is doing very well. We have been able to meet with her twice this week. We even were able to set a baptismal date for February 2nd with her! That is if it won't cause contention with her an her husband. Ever after we set the date with her Satan has been working hard on her. She has had quite a few trials but her faith seems to be prevailing. We were able to meet her husband on Sunday and that was a huge milestone. He came to pick her up from Church and she wanted us to come out and meet him. I think that he was very surprised when we walked out with her towards the car. Luckily he was nice and got out and shook our hands. Hopefully he see's that we don't have horns and we are just normal 19 year old young men. I think that it was very good though. I just hope that she will be able to make it to her date and that everything goes smoothly. 

      I really want to stay in this area another transfer. There is so much going on. So many seeds have been planted and I really want to be here to see the harvest. That is not important though, what is important is that the harvest happens. Elder Armenta and I have grown to love the people on this area so much. We were at dinner last night with the Huckaby family. They have three of the cutest children alive. One of them is a three year old boy. I asked him what his favorite t.v. shows are and he said, "I love Mr. Tiger's Neighborhood." I think that is what it was called that but I guess that it is an animated version of Mr. Rogers Neighborhood, but with a tiger instead of Mr. Rogers. Haha. After he said that the Mom started to explain to me what the show is. In the middle of her explanation her son cuts her off and screams, "I like the show but Mr. Tiger always calls me his neighbor, BUT I'M NOT HIS NEIGHBOR!" Everyone around the dinner table busted up laughing. Elder Armenta and I almost fell out of our chairs. He was so angry at Mr. Tiger for calling him his neighbor. 
      Seeing this families makes me so excited for a family of my own. My favorite thing is when the parents ask the children to give a blessing on the food, and the child gives a humble little prayer. When I was little I never realized how great of a gift it was to know how to pray, until I got out here and began to meet people who had no idea how to pray. I want my children to have what all these amazing member's children have. I want them to have parents who will teach them how to pray and teach them how to live the Gospel of Jesus Christ. While in these members homes I have never felt such joy. I feel this joy because it makes me so excited to have what they have. The joy I find in these families cannot be produced by things you can buy. It is only produced by parents who love their children and teach them how to follow the teachings of Jesus Christ. That is exactly what I am going to do with my family. I am never going to forget being in the homes of these families and feeling the way I've felt. 

      Well I hope that you have enjoyed reading about my week. I love you all so much! I hope to hear from y'all soon. 

-Elder Ryan Romero 

Monday, January 21, 2013

A change of pace

This week was a very tough week for me emotionally, but I have to say that I have grown so much this week because of the trials I've faced. It has made me look back on the past Seven months. I have asked myself, "Am I giving all of myself to the Lord?" My Mom sent me a letter and attached one of my friends letters to it. Reading his letter really inspired me. From this point on I am changing the way I am going to do missionary work. I am losing myself in this work.
     I realize that in my letters I need to give more information about what is actually going on out here. So I'll start and tell you about the ward. This ward was really struggling at first with the missionary - member realationship. This ward is mighty in its potential. I have met the most amazing people in this ward. When I first got into this ward I wondered why the missionary - member relationship was struggling. When I got into this ward I made it a goal of mine to have a relationship with every member of this ward. I have to say that my comanion and I have succeeded in doing this. As we strengthened the relationship with the ward we realized why the relationship was struggling in the first place. The past missionaries never took the time to get to know the members. We'd visit members and they'd say, "This is the first time the missionaries have stopped by. I really appreciate you guys thinking about me."
     This ward has completely turned around. I have made lifetime friends in this ward that I will never lose. The Aspers are like my second parents. Brother Asper is my Georgian father. We have grown so close. He has taught us so much about life and the Gospel. He has been an inspiration in my life and I truly feel that I was supposed to meet him. I truly feel he has changed the course of my future just from meeting him and getting to know him. I will never forget the Aspers. I will never forget the people of this ward. There are so many amazing families.
      I will tell you about about one more family. The Wombles. Brother Womble used to be a baptist preacher. I have to say, he is the most amazing team up out there. This man knows his stuff about all the Churches around the Atlanta area, because he had one of them. When he speaks he speaks with power. He has no fear. His example to Elder Armenta and I has changed the way we think, and truly made us better missionaries.
      The members of this ward have grown to love the missionaries, and we have grown to love them. I still look back when I first came into this area and thinking, "I am going to be so depressed here, not even the members care about us." Dunwoody was truly the area that no missionary wanted to go to. I'd have to say that it is now one of the stongest area's in the Atlanta East zone. The members are excited about missionary work, they want to give us refferals, and they trust the missionaries. I am very proud of the work that my companion and I have done in this area (as you can tell haha).
      Elizabeth has talked to her husband and it sounds like that things are becoming less tense between them and the Church. We are hopefully going to have dinner with her, her husband, and the Aspers this Wednesday night. If it happens it is going to be fantastic. She is ready to be baptized, we just need to make sure that her husband is okay with it.
      We had one of our new investigators come to Church this Sunday. His name is John. He is a really nice guy, but a little rough around the edges. Those are my favorite kind of people though, because you can truly see the Atonement work miracles in their life. John is a Veteran, but very young. He was injured a little while back and is now just going to school and looking for work. I am so excited to watch him progress and watch his life change. I hope that he continues to meet with us, and continues to come to Church.
      Tony and Kim haven't talked to us for awhile. They were progressing so smoothly but now we can't seem to get ahold of them. I am fairly possitive that they got antied by one of their friends... Hopefully we will be able to get in contact with them somehow. We have knocked and called and knocked. No answer. Pray for them.
      We have not been able to contact the Roldan Family since Christmas. It is the same story with them. We have tried everything. We have tried calling, knocking, leaving notes on the door, trying to communicate through the children. Nothing. I know that they still love us. I know that they still have a testimony of the Church. I know that the reason that they are being like this is because they are just so extremely busy during this tax season with their job. I just hope that things work out in the end.
       That is all the news that I really have from this past week. I know that my mission is making me grow. I don't feel like it is turning me into a different person, but a better person. There is a difference. Brand New and Thrice are still going to be my favorite bands when I get home. I am still going to want to go to rock concerts and wear band t-shirts and buy band posters. I still love snowboarding. I am still going to love the outdoors and math haha. Those things have not change, in fact I love those things more. Everything that I have had a love for has just grown in these past seven months. But I have developed new loves. I love the scriptures. I love learning about the characteristics of God and Jesus Christ. I love the 12 apostles (of the N.T. and modern day) and their attitudes and teachings. I love serving my neighbor. I love sitting down with people and hearing their story. I love old people. Haha that sounds really weird I know, but retirement homes used to be my least favorite place to go. Going there and seeing home bound people is quite honestly one of my favorite things to do now. The people that I have grown closest with out here on the mission have been the old people. Haha. I love God. I truly love God with all of my heart. Every breath I take has been given to me by him, and I love him for that. My new loves have not replaced my old ones. They have not made me into a different person, but a better person.
      I hope that this letter makes up for my past depressing informationless letters. I will try to make them better.
I love you all so much. I love hearing from you all and I hope that everyone is doing well.
Gaki at Stake Conference...she never smiles for pictures, must be an African thing

-Elder Ryan Romero

Monday, January 14, 2013

Ups and Downs

     This was a very interesting week. It was a good week, and a not so good week. First I'll tell you why this week was good. It was good because we got a promising new investigator. Her name is Elizabeth. She walked into Church last Sunday and found us. She has been in contact with Sister missionaries in temple square for some time. She is very interested in the Church and really wants to know more. She says that she wants to be baptized and ever since her decision she agreed to be baptized good things have been happening. She was an answer to my prayers.
      The Sunday that I met Elizabeth was a very difficult Sunday for me. The Roldans aren't able to come to Church anymore due to their new work schedule. Tony and Kim seem to not want to talk with us anymore, and our other investigator named Claudie went to another Church with her friend... We didn't have anyone at Church. I remember that morning praying that God would have just one person to be at Church. During sacrament it didn't seem like anyone made it, at least no familiar faces. Then after sacrament Elizabeth came up and introduced herself. She was truly an answer to my prayers.
      Now for the bad, Elizabeth's husband is VERY against her meeting with the Church or having any affiliation with Mormons. He is so serious about this that he has threatened to divorce her if she was baptized into the Church. We are not allowed to go over to her home to teach her because of him. Luckily we have the Asper's home to teach her in. We were able to teach her twice over the last week. Both lessons were very very good. She really enjoys meeting with us. On Saturday the night before Church she texted us and said that she doesn't know if she will be able to continue meeting with us due to her husband. She didn't come to Church this weekend, and we don't know if we will be able to see her again.

      I know that God gives us challenges so that we can grow. I know that my mission is going to just get harder, because God knows that I can endure more. I must carry my own cross, and go through my own garden. I must press forward with a steadfastness in Christ, looking towards him in all that I do. I must have faith that I will find success in this area, and that we will baptize someone. Sometimes it feels like the well here is dry, but I know it's because I'm not digging deep enough. I don't know what God has in store for me, but I have to have faith that whatever it is, it is for my good. It reminds me of D&C 122: 7 when Joseph Smith was in Liberty Jail, "And if thou shouldst be cast into the pit, or into the hands of murderers, and the sentence of death passed upon thee; if thou be cast into the deep; if the billowing surge conspire against thee; if fierce winds become thine enemy; if the heavens gather blackness, and all the elements combine to hedge up the way; and above all, if the very jaws of hell shall gape open the mouth wide after thee, know thou, my son, that all these things shall give thee experience, and shall be for thy good." I know that my problems are very small in comparisons to Joseph's, but I know that the hard things that I face are for my good.

I love you all so much. I hope that anyone that reads this has a good week. I'd love to here from you.

-Elder Ryan Romero

Monday, January 7, 2013

Six months in the Peach State!

In three days I will have spent half a year here in Georgia. It seriously feels like yesterday I was riding in the car with Elder Hansen and Heimuli to my very first area. I just can't imagine what it is going to feel like when I hit that year mark. I wonder where I'll be, but most importantly who I'll be. My new years goals are kind of vague, and I should probably be more specific in setting them. The main idea of my goal is that I want to be a better person. I do have a few specific things that I'd like to focus on, but I don't think I'll share them here. I don't want to change by focusing inward and picking out the specific things for me to work on. I want to change by focusing outward and helping others. I think that is a key doctrine that the Savior teaches. So that is exactly what I am going to try to do. I am going to try my hardest to forget myself and my problems, and focus on helping other people. I know that when I do that I will grow much more. 

      This week has been a pretty tough week. We haven't been able to meet with the Roldans for 2 weeks now. They left on vacation for Christmas and now they are working 16 hours a day 7 days a week. They do the taxes for most of the Hispanics in the Atlanta area. So we don't know when will be the next time we can meet with them. We are working very hard though and came across a few new people who seem pretty interested in the Church. The Lord has really blessed us in this area. We are consistently finding people to teach. They kind of just pop up out of nowhere. I know that the Lord is placing people in our paths. 
      I feel like I am slowly becoming a better missionary. I am getting pretty good at talking to people about the Gospel. One thing that President Harding is really pushing is being BOLD. "Boldness = Clarity" he says. I believe he is right. I think that I have done pretty well in being bold. At the start of my mission I was way to scared to ask someone about their religious background or ask what they think about us, but now I will just go ahead and ask. Fear I feel is still holding me back from sharing the Gospel with some people... I need to work on that and just not scared to talk with anyone. 

      We have recently been doing our morning companionship studies in the morning with Brother Asper. He has been a convert for a year and a half now and loves to study. He is probably one of the most well educated men I have ever met. He is so kind and love sharing with us the things he has learned.  He gets so excited about missionary work it is kind of funny. He is like a kid in a candy store when we find someone new. He comes on team ups with us and helps us out with anything we need. He is really the most charitable man I've ever met. 
      The members of this ward are really amazing. I love them so much. They have really grown to love Elder Armenta and I. We really work well together and get along with everyone. Things in this ward have really changed. The work is really moving forward here. When I think back of what this area used to be, and what it is now. It is just a total difference. Even if I don't baptize anyone in this area, I will know that I have done some good in this area. 

      President Harding sent out two Book of Mormons to each companionship with a marking guide for our new years goal of reading The Book of Mormon again. In total they probably shipped out about 330 Book of Mormons. They shipped them about 10 days ago and no one has received their Book of Mormon. All they received was a ripped open package with the marking guide, no Book of Mormon. I don't know how whoever did this knew what was in the package, and I don't know why they would do this. It is clear to me that Satan is a very real person, and that he really will do all that he can to stop this work from moving forward. I just hope that no other mail gets tampered with. 

      Well that is about all I have to say for this week. I hope to have more exciting things to read about next week. 

I love you all so much. I miss you all so much. 

-Elder Ryan Romero