Wednesday, January 22, 2014

A Good Week

      This was a pretty good week. A very busy week. I have a lot to talk about. I'll start off first by telling you more about my area. Snellville is much more of a city than Dallas was. A lot more people and buildings. Just like anywhere you go in Atlanta there are rich parts and poor parts of the city, and they are not really separated. You'll go down one neighborhood that will be very poor, and then you'll go to the adjacent neighborhood and it will be very wealthy. People are pretty easy to talk to around here. I really have a gift for talking with people and quickly becoming their best friend. I have really liked most of the people that I met in Snellville. It is very easy to just go up to people and start talking to them about their lives, interests, or occupation. Most of my stories this week come from just talking with everyone.
      Just a couple of days ago we were in Goodwill looking for some people to talk with and I noticed this one guy looking at children's books. I approached him and started talking to him and found out he was trying to find some books for his kids. We must have talked for fifteen minutes. He was awesome. He's a musician, a programer, and an artist. He was very interested in what we were doing as missionaries and has met with missionaries in the past. He was very welcoming of us coming over and meeting with him and his family. We will be meeting with him tonight.
       Next I have to tell you about Olga! This is the neighbor of one of our investigators. We knocked on her door and she comes to the door and opens it and tells us that she doesn't talk to strangers and that she is happy where she is it. Before she could go back inside I said, "Wait! We don't want to be strangers." And immediately I pull out my wallet and she her my drivers license, BYU-ID, and debit cards. I told her, "We've got nothing to hide! We don't want to be strangers, we want to be friends!" She thought I was funny, and wasn't expecting I'd open up to her like that. I told her about what I was studying back at BYU, and what I did back home. I told her about my family and all sorts of things. She was very touched by our willingness to leave all of that behind and come out and preach the Gospel. We got to learn a lot about Olga, after we opened up to her she opened up to us. We found out that she moved here from Russia about 25 years ago and her and her husband buy old BMW's and fix them up and race them. She's awesome. She told us that she doesn't attend any particular Church because she doesn't like how many different denominations there are. As we were nearing the end of our conversation she asked us if she could give us money. After we declined she said, "Well how do you all survive." I told her that usually people have us over for dinner. I told her instead of her giving us money, she could feed us dinner! She thought that was a great idea. Haha. So we will be having dinner with Olga and her awesome family soon. 
        Now I have to let you know how our current investigators are doing. We have been so blessed this week. Our investigators are really progressing. We have been teaching a lady named Yolonda that the previous Elders have been teaching for about four months. Yolonda is a great lady and really loves the visits from the missionaries. Unfortunately she has never really been taught a clear lesson about the Restoration before. She told us the previous Elders would read the Book of Mormon with her each time they would come over. When we asked her what the Book of Mormon was about and why it is so important, she did not give us a cohesive answer. She told us that she struggled reading the Book of Mormon by herself. We dug deep and tried to find her real concern. After digging for a bit she told us that she doesn't understand why we have The Book of Mormon when we already have the Bible, and she feels that everything that we need is in the Bible. We quickly realized that she was being apathetic about the Book of Mormon because she did not understand what it is, or why it was important. We started to teach her clearly and to her understanding. We explained the importance of the Book of Mormon and went over basically the whole Restoration. After teaching clearly she said, "Wow, now I actually want to read the Book of Mormon." We knew that what we told her really stuck and we were affective teachers because we met with her again two days later that Saturday night. She came over to a family's home in the ward, the Byrd family. She brought her 19 year old son named Isaac and we had dinner and a lesson. Before we started teaching her what new things, we followed up on what we taught her last time. She had been reading the Book of Mormon by herself, and what really amazed us was how well she understood and remembered the Restoration. We would ask her questions like, "What is the Priesthood." And she was able to tell us its purpose, how its given, how it was lost, and how it was restored. When she was telling us about how Christ's church was restored I was blown away. What she remembered and got out our lesson previously was astounding. As she told us about the first vision she almost said it word for word the way Joseph Smith described it. She even said, "Personages". Now of course this is because every time we tell the first vision as missionaries we use Joseph Smith's own words. I was just amazed by how well she remembered. Elder Rose and I were not the only ones amazed, the members we flabbergasted. Haha. It was clear that Yolonda now understood our message, but now she just has to come to know that our message is true through study, prayer, and coming to Church. We discussed that night about how to gain a testimony and we went around to each member of the Byrd family and had a little testimony meeting. It was a really great lesson. 
          Now its time to switch gears and tell you about the family we are teaching, Reynolds family. Sister Reynolds is blind. She and her husband have three incredible kids. This family has been prepared to hear our message. Sister Reynold's best friend is a member of the Church in Mississippi. We have taught her all of the lessons and she and her children are ready to be baptized. We originally scheduled Sister Reynold's baptism for the 25th of January, but have pushed it back because we feel that our Father in Heaven would really like for the whole family to come into the church together. Brother Reynolds is an incredible guy and is not against our message whatsoever. He is a very sincere seeker of truth. He loves me and Elder Rose and loves everything that we have taught him and his family. He really wants to make sure that this is the right decision for him before he gets baptized, which of course is the right thing for him to do. However Brother Reynolds has not made the effort to come to know these things are true like his wife has. He told us that he has not been able to read the Book of Mormon yet. Brother Reynolds is not against his family being baptized, and would be very happy for them if they were. We told him that it would be so incredible if he could come to know these things are true for himself so that he could be baptized along with his wife and kids. He agreed and has committed to do what it takes to receive an confirmation of the truthfulness of our message so that he can be baptized with his wife and kids. We invited him and his family to work hard to come to know together by the first weekend in Febuary so they call all be baptized that day. I love this family so much. I am just amazed by the love this family has for each other. Their kids, Tre and Dantavin, are only 10 and 12. But are so obedient and loving to their Mother. Tre really takes the lead in helping her in all situations and being a good example for his little brother and little sister. This family is going to make the best members of the church. I am blown away by the effort that Sister Reynolds has put into receiving her own spiritual witness. We have only been teaching her for two weeks, we are the first missionaries to teach her and she is already in the Book of Mosiah. She is so intelligent and sincere. She keeps all her commitments. Elder Rose and I are so blessed to be able to teach this incredible family. 

       I don't have anyone else that we are teaching to tell you about, but I have another great experience that I would like to share from this week. As I mentioned before in my previous email, our ward mission leader's son is dating Bellen Albanes. His name is Luke. This week Luke came down from school to come to Church with his family. When I met him I told him how much I love the Albanes family and asked him if he could just text them for me and tell them that I say hello. He laughed and said that he would. Little did I know that the Leonard family (my WML's family) was planning a little surprise for me. Right before sacrament meeting Sister Leonard came up to us and told us that we are going to want to sit with her family today. I was confused why. After we moved our stuff Luke came up to me and told me to follow him, so I did. He took me out to the Church parking lot and just getting out of their car were some familiar faces! The Albanes family! Oh my goodness, it was so great to see them all again. After Church we all got together at the Leonard's home and had a really good reunion. I love that family so much and they really love me too. Brother Leonard was so happy to see how close I was with the Albanes family and how well I've gotten to know them. It is amazing how God has worked to help me gain the trust of these members here in the Snellville ward. I am so happy that I worked hard in Dunwoody to get to know everyone and be obedient and work hard. The trust and friendships that I gained in that ward are still affecting me today.
          I want to write really quickly about some things that I have been pondering on and some things I've learned over the past week. This week I have been studying some teachings from President Boyd K. Packer.  I am studying his teachings because Elder Packer is a master teacher, and I would like to become a better teacher. Some of the things he says are so interesting, and I want to write about them real quick. He says that teaching is, "The finest of the fine arts." It is one of the most important gifts to work to gain. He explains by telling how the Savior was a teacher himself. He is usually referred to as "Master" or "Rabbi" which both words mean "teacher". He was the perfect teacher. The thing that I have been thinking about is, "Why is it so important to become a teacher?" The Savior was a teacher, but why should I be one? And I am necessarily speaking from a missionary perspective. It is obvious why a missionary needs to be a good teacher. Missionaries spend two years working to become master teachers like the savior, but why is that an important quality to have among returning home? Because I don't intend on being a High School teacher, or work in any school really. Maybe a Univeristy after I finish my solo career. I think that only a few people want to become a "Teacher" by profession. So then why is it essential for me to become a teacher? Well after studying Boyd K. Packer's teachings I have come to realize that becoming a great teacher is really the most important trait that I can gain from serving my mission. He emphasized the fact that ALL parents need to be good teachers to teach their kids. They have to teach them how to be honest, how to have faith, and how to live righteously. Teaching these things to our children is perhaps the most important work we will ever do! After learning this I have really grown a new desire to become the best teacher that I can be while I am still out on my mission and continue to teach once I get home. I want to be a master teacher so that I can teach my children. A lot of the times throughout my mission I ask myself, "Why did God send me to Georgia. Of all places, Georgia? Really? Didn't the Lord know that I would've been great at learning another language? I would have loved to learn a new culture too." This thought conversation with myself has often got me down, more at the start of my mission than now. When reading what Boyd K. Packer had to say about teaching it was almost like an answer to my question, "Why Georgia?" Because the Lord wants me to become a great teacher. He intends for me to teach his Gospel throughout my lives. To my future family and in other Church callings. I am so happy with what I've become and the knowledge that I've gained from my mission. I love the Lord and I love his Gospel. And there is nothing that I love more than Preaching his Gospel.

Love you all, 

-Elder Ryan Romero
 Elder Romero, Elder Rose and the Leonard's

Albanes, Leonards, and Elder Romero and Elder Rose
Elder Romero, Elder Rose and the Albanes


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