Monday, December 30, 2013

Things are going to Change

    I got the call for transfers this morning. Looks like I am going to Snellville, whitewashing and training. This won't be the first time. Haha. I am excited for the future and pretty nervous. Whitewashing is not my favorite thing to do, it is can be confusing at times. I am just excited to get to work and get lost in my new area. My new companion's name is Elder Rose. I haven't met him yet but he is going to be coming straight from the MTC. I can't wait to show him the mission field and help him get aquainted with missionary life.
     This last week was a great week and I have so much to write about. I need to tell yall about Rex and Treena, Linda, Edythe, and David. This week was one of the most incredible weeks of my mission and I just hope that I can convey the stories well. Here we go.
     As you know we did the Secret Santa for Rex and Treena's friend on Christmas Eve. Treena's friend's name is Alisha and her son's names are Dillon and Talon. Last P-day Elder Robison and I went out to go and buy them their presents. We called Treena and asked her what they liked, and she told us that they like Lego's and Skylanders. And that was pretty much all that we had to go off of. Well we went shopping at Wal-mart (worst place ever to go around Christmas). I never realized that Lego's were so darn expensive! So we got some generic brand lego's that I am sure they are happy with. We got them this awesome Spiderman lego set, a lego batman game, two skylanders, some beyblades, a crayola marker maker kit, and techdecks. We got a lot of awesome presents. Bishop helped us out and gave us a 100 dollar gift card to Wal-mart. When we went to the checkout we were astounded by our shopping-expertise. All of these gifts rang up to $100.18. We were very happy. Haha. We went over to the Embry's home and wrapped them. The night came and it was time to head over to Rex and Treena's home. I felt like Santa walking in there with all of those presents. Dillon and Talon looked at us with big eyes because they knew that they were going to have a Christmas. Dillon is 12 years old and has bright red hair. He was very shy and quite, very worn out from the Christmas excitement and spent most of the time at Rex and Treena's sleeping. Talon is such a cute little eight year old and was very talkative and energetic. After talking to them for a bit we found out that they both LOVE spiderman, their favorite video games are Lego video games, and they LOVE skylanders. We were so excited for them to open their gifts and see what they got. I can't tell you the joy that I felt being able to give this family a Christmas. I can't explain it. The spirit was so strong in that room. Rex is kind of a hard faced guy that doesn't show much emotion, but even he was getting teary-eyed. Dillon and Talon loved their presents and Alisha couldn't thank us enough. Rex and Treena were so happy that their friend was able to have a Christmas this year and kept asking, "What can we do for you guys?" and we'd say, "You don't need to do anything for us... Just come to Church please!" This experience was amazing and it made for the best Christmas Eve I've ever had.
     Next was Christmas day with Linda! Gosh, I love Linda so much. She invited over for Christmas dinner in her little apartment. That place was crowded! But amazing. We got to meet all of Linda's family and friends and share the Gospel with them. Turns out we've met Linda's daughter and husband before. Elder Anderson and I tracted into them last transfer. They were really nice, but weren't too interested. This time we got to talk with them more and got to hear about Linda and Scott's testimony of the Book of Mormon. I think that it sparked their interest a little more. The dinner was amazing. Linda and Scott spent all day cooking a feast, and it was sooo good. We knew transfers were coming up and I had a feeling that this might be the time I got to see Linda. I told Linda how much I enjoyed teaching her and how glad I am that we found her. I told her that I was probably going to go, and she didn't seem too happy about that. She gave me a big hug and wished me luck where ever I went. Goodness, I can't tell you the crazy amount of feelings that I was having as I was walking out of that house. My heart was so full and I just couldn't contain the love that I was feeling for the people that I've served. As we were walking out of her apartments I got really quite and my eyes got all watery. Elder Robision said, "Now don't go soft on me Romero!" But I couldn't help it. I am just going to miss Linda so much. I care about her so much. I want her to have all the blessings that this Church has to give.
      On Saturday we went out with David again. We went to go and teach Edythe! This was such a great lesson. David and Edythe got along so well. David loves chess, and guess what! Edythe loves chess! Who would've thought? Edythe was very impressed with David and his testimony of the Gospel after being a new member. She agreed to be baptized on January 4th. I am so excited for her. After our lesson with Edythe we went out to eat with David and I gave him his Christmas present. He was very happy to get a copy of The Inevitable Apostasy. I included some pictures from him baptism and he was very excited to get those too.
      I have loved my stay here in Dallas. It has been incredible. I have loved every single second that I have had here. I have fallen in love with this area and the people who live here. I have had some of the most incredible experiences here in Dallas. Experiences that have totally changed my life. I am grateful for all the people that I've met and the new friends that I have made. I am really going to miss Dallas. I am going to miss Elder Robison. I am going to miss all of the investigators and members in this area. I am envious of the next missionary that gets to serve here. He is very lucky.
     I don't have too much more to say. It is time for me to wrap this up and get going. I love you all so much. I really really do. Getting to talk to everyone back home was great. I love my brothers and sister so much. I love my grandparents and cousins and I am so glad that I got to talk to them. I can't how much time has past. It is absolutely unreal. I have six months left of my mission, and I am going to go out with a bang. I am so excited for my new area and all the new amazing experiences that I am going to have. I love you all and hope to hear from you soon.
Love you guys!
-Elder Ryan Romero

Monday, December 23, 2013

Merry Christmas

Holy Cow. Time has gone by fast. Too Fast. I can't believe a year ago I was in Dunwoody with Elder Armenta. So much has happened since then. I just can't believe it, I can't believe it has been a year. I am sorry for my amazement, but it is really just striking me as I sat down to write this letter. A year ago I was sitting in the Albanes home writing about how I wanted to bring home the best souvenir, the atonement. It feels like yesterday I wrote that email. I have grown and changed so much, and it is times like these when I realize it. When I have a specific day that I can reference back to. I have so much that I want to say and write about in this letter, so I am just going to go right into it.
      First off I want to thank my Ward back home for the package that I received from them. Thank you for all of the little notes, I read all of them and appreciated your kind words. I am so excited to meet all of the people that I have not got a chance to get to know or meet yet. Thank you so much!
      This week was a rougher week as far as key indicators go, but was actually not that bad of a week. We got to see a lot of our investigators. Elder Robison and I were able to give a lot of presents out to our investigators and other members of the ward. Edythe came to Church again and loved it. We were able to teach her about the Plan of Salvation and she enjoyed it so much. I love Edythe so much and am so glad that we found her. She is awesome. We were able to change out all of the batteries in her fire alarms so that they would stop beeping! She was very grateful for that.
      We had a great lesson with Linda and she just opened her heart out to us. She is just amazing. She was given some anti-mormon litterature and it just did not even phaze her. She has such a strong testimony of Joseph Smith, her heart is just so soft and she is so open. We will be having Christmas dinner with her and her awesome boyfriend named Scott. Scott is a great guy and has been very supportive of Linda and has been open to our message also.
      I have to tell y'all, I have never felt so much love for people before. I have never cared about people as much as I do now. That has been one of the grand transformations on my mission. I love people. I love them so much. My ability to love has just grown more than I ever thought that it could. I would do anything for Edythe, Linda, the Styles, Rex and Treena, David and his family, the Rice family, and I could go on on and on. It's not that I could do anything for them with the intentions of getting something back, like joining the Church. But I could do anything for them because I truly love them. When I am in these people's home, teaching them and telling them why I am there doing what I am doing. I mean it, I truly truly mean what I am saying. "I am here because I love you and your family. I know the Gospel can bless your life. It is the greatest thing that I could ever give to you. And I want to give it to you because I love you." I have said that my whole mission, from day one till now. But when I say it now, it carries a lot more weight. Because, 1. My ability to love a stranger unconditionaly has increased as I've come to understand how the Savior loves. And 2. My testimony of the Gospel has increased tremendously. So when I say "I know the Gospel can bless your life" and "This is truly the greatest gift I can give you." I truly mean it, because I know it. I just love these people so much. I love them because I've served them. Gosh Mom, you were always right. As my love has become more and more genuine you can tell that it has had an impact on the people I teach. My ability to love our investigators has increased as well as the members. Everytime we go out with a member or they feed us or whatever it may be that the members do for us I am just so incredibly gratelul. Whenever they drop us off I always find myself saying, "Thank you so much and we really love you." At first it felt like such a strange thing to say, but after Brother Crew and Brother Seawell would say that to us after we'd go out with them. It just felt so natural for me to say to everyone. I just love this ward. I love the people here. I love Dallas. I am so grateful to have served here.
       This Christmas is going to be amazing. I am so excited. Yesterday we called Treena and Rex and asked them if there was anything that we could do for them. They told us that they were pretty good, but their friend could use help. She has two kids and isn't going to have much of a Christmas this year. We told Treena that Elder Robison and I had some extra money and we'd go purchase the kids a few toys and we'd drop them off to her later Monday night. She was so grateful and very excited. A few minutes later she called us back just thanking us again, and said, "I would like my friend to meet you guys and you can give them to her in person. I want her to know who is giving these gifts." We thought that that was a great idea. Because now we will have the opportunity to meet Treena's friend and share the Gospel! I have honestly never been so excited for a Christmas event than I am to give these presents to this amazing family. It probably won't be much, but I am just grateful for the opportunity to give. It seems like as I've grown up that the spirit of Christmas has gotten less and less present. When I was a kid it seemed like the month of Decemeber would be the slowest month of the year, because I was just so excited for Christmas and I would count the hours till it would come. But as I've grown up Decemeber has just like another month... That warm feeling and excitement wasn't really there anymore. This year as I've focused on how I can help the people I am teaching and am around, and that feeling of Christmas that I had when I was a little kid has come back. However it is not because I am going to receive that sweet new toy I wanted all year, but because I am going to give that sweet new toy to a youngster that has wanted it all year.
      Along with being able to go get these presents for those kids today, I also get to go give another present to one of my recent converts! For one of my Christmas presents this year I asked for a copy of a book called "The Inevitable Apostasy and the Promised Restoration." By my favorite General Authority, Tad R. Callister. I asked for this book so that I could give it to John Steele. My favorite member Brother Asper gave me a copy of this book because it was his favorite book. And now I want to give a copy of it to John, because it is now my favorite book. I wrote a little note in the front cover of it to John telling him how grateful I was to have been able to be part of his conversion. I told him what the book I was giving him meant to me and that I hoped that he would develop that same love for it. I told him how that book has just opened my eyes and helped me understand my other favorite books, the standard works, so much more! And I hope that it has the same effect on him.
       I am so grateful for this Holiday season. I am grateful for the birth of Jesus Christ and everything that he has done for me. This year I just hope that I can do more for him than I did this previous year. I am so grateful for my choice to come on a mission and serve the Lord. The blessings and gifts that I have received from that decision are more than I deserve. I am so grateful for the gifts and talents that my Father in Heaven has given me. I am so excited to serve him for the rest of my life and to spend these last months that I have giving him my whole heart and all of my time. I love my God, I love my Savior. I love my Family, and I love my friends. I hope that you all have a wonderful incredible merry Christmas!
-Elder Ryan Romero

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

A Lot to Cover

 I honestly don't know where to start. I have so much to say, so much to cover, and so little time to say it all. I am sorry for not emailing last week. We had a Stake Missionary Christmas party that took up our P-day and did not allow me enough time to write an email. But some great things happened over the past two weeks that I want to talk about. Alright, I am just going to drive through everything as best I can.
     Let me fill you in on how David is doing. David is GREAT! He's come out to teach with us quite a few times over the last two weeks. I love this kid so much! He referred us to his friend who is just as awesome as he is. He came to teach the Style family with us on Saturday and then on Sunday he came to see a less active lady with us. I think that David gets so much out of coming out with us. You can tell that he is growing and learning more and more as he has these awesome missionary experiences. I am convinced that the best way to strengthen members of the Church is to get them to do missionary work. David and I get along so well and we are sure to be life long friends. He really looks up to me and I really really look up to him. I am so excited to remain in contact with him after I leave this area.
      We had an awesome new investigator named Edythe come to Church today. Having new investigators come to Church truly is the greatest. The joy that you feel when they walk into the Chapel can't really be described. It turns out Edythe is really good friends with a lady in the ward. They worked together for many years. What Edythe said to this member was awesome. She said, "You didn't tell me you were part of this Church! Why didn't you ever share this with me?" Haha. This statement shows that maybe our friends do want us to share our Church with them, and to not be scared because it may be exactly what they are looking for! I am very happy that we found Edythe.
      Ugh. I can't really even remember all of the things that have happened over the past two weeks that I wanted to write about. I had the intent of filling you guys in on all these things that have happened. My mind is so clouded right now that I cannot even think clearly. I am so caught up in an experience that Elder Robison and I had last night. It is all that I can think about. I guess that I just need to write it down. I am sorry that sometimes I don't tell all of my, funny, cool, interesting missionary experiences. I like writing, it is a way that I can get my thoughts organized and out of my head where I can see them. I may spend a lot of time writing about one thing that happened and leave out a funny experience that happened with me and Elder Robison. I think that in the end I and the reader (whoever reads this) gets more out of the short time that I have to write this. 
      A couple weeks ago we got a referral from some missionaries saying that this one guy wants to meet with us. Simply to make a long story short, this person's intent in meeting with us was to argue and to try and convert us. Which doesn't really quite make sense. Most Christians today believe that baptism is not escential for salvation. Thus they weren't trying to "Baptize" us. I love what my muslim friend Rizwan said as we were discussing religion. He told me, "Christianity is apparently the easiest religion to be part of. All you have to say is 'I am a Christian'. And there ya go, you're a Christian!" I thought his statement was very funny, and extremely true. When you look at anti-mormon attempts to "convert you" or "shake your testimony", and they may say, "We are telling you these things because we love you and are concerned about your salvation." Their real intent is to get you to deny the doctrines that you know to be true, because that is the only thing that will satisfy them. Because they don't care if you are baptized into their Church . Baptism is not an ordinance of salvation in mainstream Christianity, they aren't looking for you to DO something, because works are also not a part of their doctrines of salvation. All of you have to do is believe a certain set of beliefs, and you're good to go. What they wanted me to do was to deny what I know to be true. There are so many thoughts, and so many things that I want to say right now about this conversation. My mind is a doctrinal hurricane right now. I have never been so inspired and had such a desire to write a book on the doctrines of the Bible, and other scripture. That sounds really lame, but I am serious. I am going to write a book. I am going to get my thoughts down on paper. I am going to break down the scriptures and show that this all makes sense! I have learned so much on my mission. I have learned so much about other religions. I have learned so much about the scriptures. I have had so many amazing experiences and because of all of these things I just KNOW that this Church is true. Goodness people, PLEASE READ YOUR SCRIPTURES! Study the Doctrines, study the context, understand the history. What I got out of this experience is that hard hearted people will never come to a knowledge of truth because they DENY it. Our message, the Restoration, the Plan of Salvation, it all makes sense. It just simply makes sense. The Christian world is in confusion and so divided because their doctrine does not make sense. They are searching for the truth, but they don't know where to find it. Like I said, I have a lot on my mind. I am sorry for this burst of random thoughts. My experience from this conversation follows the EXACT same trend that has followed with other anti-mormon individuals. They have NOT read their New Testament, and they surely have not read the Book of Mormon and prayed about it. These folk's were not an exception to this trend. I want to make clear that my intent in this conversation was never to degrade, bash, or whatever. At the end of the conversation we all shook hands and no hard feelings were left between us.
       I love this Gospel. I know it is true, and I wish that I could just spend time writing and writing about how true it is. I wish each week I could just write about what I learned about in personal study about the Book of Mormon and the Bible. I wish I could just pour my mind out in these emails and show you truly how much I love this Gospel, how much I love the scriptures, and how much I love Jesus Christ and his Church. The Book of Mormon is nothing less than a miracle.  It's purpose is, "unto the dconfounding of efalse doctrines and laying down of contentions, and establishing fpeace among the fruit of thy loins, and gbringing them to thehknowledge of their fathers in the latter days, and also to the knowledge of my covenants, saith the Lord." And that is exactly what it does. I love the scriptures. 
       Time is up and I have to get going. I love you all so much. 

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Birthday Baptism

David is now a member of the true and living church. He was baptized this Saturday, November 30th on his birthday. Everything was perfect and went through so smoothly. Thank you for all of your prayers. I can't stop thinking about the first time that I met David and the events leading up to his baptism. You can't deny the truthfulness of the Gospel when you witness it firsthand in your life, and other people's lives. This week has been incredible, and I have so much to tell but so little time to write it all.
      I'll start with Thanksgiving. This year I spent Thanksgiving with the Pettita family. They are an awesome family in the ward that loves the missionaries. We ate the works. Turkey, ham, stuffing, yams, gravy, and any other comfort food you could imagine. I was in paradise. It was an awesome Thanksgiving, but the greatness of this holiday did not end at the food. After dinner we texted all of our investigators and told them that we were thankful for them and their amazing families. Immediately after sending this text we got a call from Eli, one of our investigators that I tracted into the first week that I was here. Eli is best friends with a recent convert of the Church. I can't remember if I've told his story before, but he is awesome and has a great family and they are all from Kenya. Haha. That is Eli in a sentence. So he called us and said that he loved us and told us to come over that night to have dinner, and of course we agreed to that! So we went over there and they had prepared a feast for us. Mary, Eli's recent convert friend, was also there. She has been an incredible help in the progress that we've made with Eli. They made some of the greatest food I have ever had. I can't even describe it. Too good to describe with words. Haha. After dinner Eli told us that he wanted to take us over to his friend's house to meet him and his family. So we went and did that and got to meet a lot of new people who are interested in the Gospel! You just could not ask for a better thanksgiving than the one that I had.
      The following day we had another great experience with Eli. He wanted to take us over to the hospital to give a blessing to his friend who got injurred pretty severely. So we went over there with Brother Seawell and gave her a blessing and met another great family!
      The next day was Saturday, the day of David's baptism. And like I said before, everything went extremely well. Usually it seems like something always goes wrong on baptism day. Either people don't show up, they get cold feet, the font doesn't get filled, or something disasterous. But nothing bad happened. All went very well. Sister Bush brought a birthday cake for David and after his baptism we lit the candles and sung him happy birthday. Elder Robison and I were planning a little surprise for David after his baptism. David never has really had any nice church clothes, so we were going to take him to get some good looking clothes for his confirmation the following day. This inspiration was not only felt by us, but also by the Aldermans. After the baptism Sister Alderman came up to me and said, "We would like to go and get David a birthday present. Can we take him to go and get some new church clothes?" Of course you can! So we all went together and got David some great looking pants, white shirts, and some ties. He looked just like a missionary. Another awesome thing was that David's mom, Carmen, knows some of the members of the ward! She knows the Kellys and the Crisps! And she really loves them! Pretty soon we will be going over to the Kelly's to have dinner with the whole family. Oh, and one more thing, Linda came to David's baptism!! Linda is the investigator that David came to teach with us. It was Linda's first time being in the Church and she loved what she saw and felt. Like I said, this week was just full of miracles.
       I can't express how grateful I am for all of the things that God has given me. My heart has been full this whole week and I just can't get over all of the incredible things that have been occurring. I had the opportunity to bear my testimony this Sunday. My testimony was so easy to bear. It was not hard at all to bear testimony that I know this Church is true, because I've witnessed it with my own eyes. It wasn't hard to tell the ward how much I love them and how grateful I am for all of the service that they provide the missionaries. I am so grateful that I chose to come out and serve a mission. I can't imagine what my life would be like if I did not make the descision to come out and serve the Lord. My life would be totally different, and I would be a different person. I am grateful for every individual person that had a hand in helping me prepare and grow a desire to serve, without my friends and family I would not be here today. I love my parents and my brothers and sisters. Many times on my mission I will reflect back on my childhood and use my experiences to help teach. These experiences will come to me at a moments notice, not a preconceived thought. And while I speak about my past, and teach by the spirit, I realize that the Lord has been preparing me and building me up every single day that I have been alive. Some of my most casual memories, or seemingly insignificant descisions have grown and grown into the most important memories and life changing desicions as I reflect on my past. It is hard to explain... But I am just so incredibly grateful for my past. I am so incredibly grateful for my decision long before my 19th birthday that I wanted to go on a mission. And even with that desicion, trials were still very present in my life trying to stop me from going. I know that this is where I am supposed to be. I know that I am doing the right thing. I am so grateful for my parents. I love my Mother with all of my heart. I can't express how grateful I am for you, Mom. I am grateful for you dilligence and tireless effort it took to raise me. I am so grateful you had the courage to cut me down so that I could grow into who the Lord wants me to be. I know now that all decisions that you made in raising me were truly what our Father in heaven wanted you to do. I know that your love for is truly unconditional. I remember when I was young I would always ask you how much you loved me? And you would always reply, "To the moon and back a million times." I always loved when we would read that book, and throughout our experiences together I really came to know that your love for me even exceded the words you used to describe it. I also came to know through these same experiences that I loved you with an unconditional love, because even after our quarles, just minutes later we would be hugging and crying. I am so grateful you taught me how to truly love. Dad, you're my hero and I look up to you. I am so grateful for your example to me. You've raised me with the love of Christ, because you are truly one of the most Christlike people I have ever met. I have specific memories from my childhood of you going out of your way to help your neighbor and to do a good turn daily. For this I am incredibly grateful. I hope to follow your example as a future father, because I know if I follow in your footsteps, I will also be following in our Savior's footsteps. I love you both so much, and I can't wait to be with you again.
-Elder Ryan Romero

Elder Robison, Elder Anderson, David, Elder Romero