Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Flying Solo

  I am still without an official companion. I got the call this morning about transfers and it looks like I am going to be training a new missionary again. I am surprised that they would trust me with another one. Haha. I am just kidding. I love training. This is the sixth missionary that I have trained on my mission. I just can't believe that. It looks like that Snellville may be my last area. That is just crazy to think. Well, I love this ward. This is a really great ward and the members here are so helpful and they really seem to enjoy working with me. I feel very excepted here and appreciated. I know that the new missionary that I have is going to be coming into a great ward, and a lot of great teaching opportunities. 

     This week has been pretty crazy, obviously. During most of the day I have been with members of the Snellville Ward, but during the night and mornings I have been with the Centerville Elders. Their names are Elder Holt and Elder Tshuma. Elder Tshuma actually came out to the mission the same time that I did, except we weren't in the same district in the MTC. I love these two Elders to death. It has been a blast being with them, and we've had a lot of great experiences serving together. I really respect these two Elders, it has been awesome getting to know them. Elder Tshuma is from Zimbabwe and is a convert to the church. Elder Holt is from Utah and is very similar to a lot of the friends that I've had back home. These two Elders are great workers and teachers. I have learned a lot from them. We've had some pretty funny moments together. Elder Tshuma cracks me up, him and I joke around with each other. We've had some pretty funny conversations about his life back home in Africa. One of the best ones was about why he wants to get married here in the United States and not back home. He says that he doesn't want to pay the "wife tax" or something along those lines. And I said, "Elder Tshuma, what in the world is that?" And he laughed and said, "Well when you marry someone you have to pay their father with a certain amount of cows. And I don't have any cows, so I want to get married here." Hahaha, I was laughing so hard. I felt like I was in Johnny Lingo. A few days ago Elder Holt lost his wallet and we were looking everywhere for it, and I asked him if he's prayed to find it yet. He said that he hasn't. Right then we all got together and said a prayer that we could find his wallet or know if it was stolen so that we could cancel the cards. After the prayer I told him that we needed to look in the car again for it. Less than a minute later he found his wallet in the trunk of the car in his jacket. Revelation! 

      I have had a lot of good opportunities to teach my investigators this week and to find new ones too. I had an incredible lesson with Yolanda this week. I taught he with a High Priest from the ward named Bro Becknell, he is a great guy. Every time we teach Yolanda, she is sort of antagonistic at the start of the lesson. The adversary really works on her between lessons. She does not feel that feel comfortable with The Book of Mormon because she feels like everything that she needs is in the Bible. Near the start of the lesson she asked us, "If Jesus were to come back right now and I was not part of your Church, would I go to hell?" Now of course we know the answer to that question is, "No." However, if you just answer that question as "No." then you run the risk of making the investigator think that your message is not important to their salvation. Our idea of salvation is different than most Christians. To the modern Christian, it really is just Heaven or Hell. There is no in-between. That is what Yolanda has been taught her whole life. To them, there is not much different between immortality and eternal life. Both are forms of salvation. Unfortunately, the last time that we taught her the Plan of Salvation, we were not able to finish the entire lesson. We had to end at the spirit world because of time. I think that that really happened for a purpose though, because this question that Yolanda had was addressed through teaching the rest of the Plan of Salvation. We told Yolanda that, "No. Of course you won't go to hell. You are incredible person and you are surely not going to burn in the depths of hell for eternity. We don't believe that way. We believe that everyone will be rewarded according to their heart and works. A loving Father would not throw his child in the furnace for making a mistake. However, he is going to be just and reward the righteous differently than the less-valiant." What Yolanda said next was amazing. Just like when we taught her the Plan of Salvation before, you could see all the pieces starting to connect in her head. She said, "You know, I've always believed that way. I have believed that there are levels to heaven." Right when she said that I threw my hands to my forehead. And she looked at me and laughed, because she knew exactly what I was thinking. Time and time again I have told Yolanda that she has been prepared by the Lord to hear our message. I've told her that the things that she has learned in her past Churches and while growing up have prepared her to know our message is true and accept it. Whenever I would say this, I don't think it really sunk in. I think that she thought that I just said this to everyone. So when I put my hands to my head and she saw me she said, "Don't say it Elder Romero!" And I said, "Say what Yolanda?" And she said, "That I've been prepared." She laughed, and then I told her that there is no denying the truthfulness of this Gospel. I told her that before I came out on my mission I doubted that I would ever have experiences like the one I was having with her. But they are a normal occurrence to a missionary. I doubted because I didn't have as strong of a testimony as I do now, but now I am just not even surprised by them because they happen so often. I told her that experiences like these are special though, and the Lord gives them to us to help build our faith, and we can't waste or forget them. We have got to act. Yolanda was amazed by the rest of her message and she new that it was true before we even taught it. She told us that her belief in different levels of heaven was not something that she learned in any Church, but something that she has always just felt was right. I love being a missionary and watching the truth unfold itself before my eyes. 

      Regina is doing great. Her and Alvin still aren't married, but they are still progressing and doing incredible. Regina's intent is so real and righteous. She loves the Church and loves everything that she has learned. The Bishop's wife, Sister Clay, is very close with Regina and helps her out a lot. Sister Clay texted Regina and asked if she needed a ride to Church and Regina texted back and said, "I am not a person that expresses herself well verbally, but I feel loved and accepted by you and the members. I feel as if I found a new family." I was so thankful that Sister Clay forwarded me this text message. It is experiences like this that make everything I do seem worth it. Regina and I have become very close. She loves me and my cheerful personality. She told me just the other day, "You know, if you were having a bad day, I would never now it. You always seem so cheerful and happy." Hahaha. I thought that it was funny that she said that, because that day actually wasn't the best day because I lost the keys to my apartment. I don't know what it is, but I just can't be said when I am around people who are interested in learning more about the Gospel. I didn't have to act happy around Regina. I was happy to be with Regina, and I was happy that she was sincerely seeking truth. No matter what kind of day I am having, I am happy when I am in a lesson teaching the Gospel. My favorite thing is seeing Regina and her family at Church. I love her kids so much. I love seeing Tre and Dantavian with their matching clothes. And LaClaudia in her cute little dress and hat. That truly is the greatest thing to see. 

      That is about all that I have to write about for this week. It has been great spending a lot of personal time with the members of the Snellville ward. It has been so strange being the only missionary at dinner appointments. It has been so strange speaking in the singular and saying sentences like, "I really appreciate you." and "I really thank you for coming out with me." Hahaha. It has really given me a good opportunity to let the members get to know me and let me get to know the members. I really love the Bishop in this ward. He has got to be one of my favorite Bishops I've had on my mission. Monday night I got to spend quite a bit of time. We went out to teach some lessons and then he took me to go get some frozen yogurt. It was a great little experience, it was like going out with my Dad when I was a kid. Haha. One of my other favorite members is a guy named Brother Tackett. He is the second counselor in the bishopric. Man is he a great guy. So sincere and has a great testimony. He is a big hiker, backpacker, and outdoors man. He told me that he has always wanted to hike Mount Timpanogos, so I told him that right when I get home we are going to go hike it! On Sunday he told me about how he went to go swim with the manatees in Florida, and he told me that next December we could go do that. Haha. I love this guy, he is so great. 

       Well I love you all so much. Have a great week! The Church is true. 

-Elder Ryan Romero 
Elder Romero and Elder Andersen…6 hours after Elder Andersen arrived in the Mission field! Dinner with the Richards family

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