Monday, October 26, 2015

Week 61 - "Dude, never say that again..."

Hey everyone! Effingham is a super cool area. It is really different compared to the other areas I've been in so far. It's a country town of about 12,000 and the area includes a ton of tiny towns and villages up to 45 minutes away. It's really fun actually! My last areas have been either suburbs or in the city, so it's cool to see the change now. Illinois is super flat but there are a lot of trees that are all super pretty right now!! Super bright colors :)
We are teaching a decent number of people. Apparently the area was struggling for a bit but started picking up pace a few weeks before I get here. Lucky me! We also had our first district meeting, which was pretty cool. It's fun being conducting it and trying to help other missionaries reach their potential. It's not too hard but it is still new for me, but over time it'll come more naturally and be easier :)

Our top progressing investigator is named Brandie. About five months ago she approached the missionaries on the street one day and asked if they could explain the church to her because she had a sister who was a member and wanted to learn more! She wants to be baptized and is working towards that goal, but struggles with smoking at the moment. We are working with her though! She is friends with everyone in the branch and comes to church every Sunday. I could see her getting baptized before the year ends easily!

We also had a few other lessons with super awkward people, haha! One of them wants to be baptized and even has a date set, but whenever we ask questions to gauge her understanding, she just stares blankly and doesn't say anything or just say she doesn't know. It is really difficult because she says she's super excited to be baptized and everything, but we don't want her to be baptized if she doesn't fully comprehend what she's doing. Advice would be appreciated I guess?

Another cool thing is that there are a few members who are hispanic and speak little English who were super excited when they found out I could speak with them in Spanish! There are also some former investigators who we were trying to get in contact with again because they were Spanish speakers :) Even if it's an English-speaking branch, I might be able to continue to use my Spanish skills to help others, which I am very grateful for. I know our leaders are inspired and send us where we are needed the most! This Church is true!!

Love, Elder Hayes

Here is an anecdote elder Hayes related to Sofia. I had to post this:

Hahahaha okay so here is a super embarrassing and hilarious story. So we were in this lesson with this lady and her two kids which were like 18 and then this little 6 year old or something. We taught a normal little lesson and then the little girl ran somewhere in the room and like tripped and smacked her face on the side of the couch LOL and she started crying. Then the mom is like "ayyyy por estar corriendo" or something like that because the mom had been trying to calm her down for a bit. Then I was like "hijole, se dio un senor madrazo!!" and she just kind of smiled and then when we left the house Elder Solis is like "dude, never say that again" hahahahahahahahaahahahahaha I was so embarrassed but it's freaking funny. Apparently madrazo is not a very professional word!

Photo 1: me at the "cross at the crossroads"!! effingham is right on two major highways, and it happens to be the home of the largest cross in the USA!!!
Photo 2: i thought this was funny lol
Photo 3: classic street sign pic.
Photo 4: me and elder christiansen!! that's elder lloyd in the back

Monday, October 19, 2015

Week 60 - I love being out here!

Sorry about last week's email not going through! I just resent it! You all get double emails to read this week :)

I can't believe so much time has passed! Week 60? That is a big number, haha!! It's been a really interesting week, but I'll start with the big news...

I'm getting transferred!! I have spent five transfers (seven months) here in the San Carlos branch, which is a super long time compared to how long people usually stay in areas! I am so so so grateful for the chance I had to meet all these wonderful people. I never would have guessed I'd love these people as much as I do :) I also feel like my Spanish has improved a lot which I'm super happy about! And I'm sure my parents are too :)

On Wednesday I am getting moved to Effingham, Illinois! It is a small branch that's covers a fairly large rural area about an hour and a half from St. Louis. I'm super excited!! It will be very different but I'm looking forward to the change of pace. I will be getting a fairly new missionary named Elder Christiansen (pronounced chris-chi-an-sen, not chris-chen-sen). Additionally, I will also be a district leader over three other companionships! I have no had this opportunity yet so it will be something new. I'm excited to get to not only help those in my area but other missionaries as well. It should be a good experience!

My new address will be:
404 W. Edgar Ave.
Apt. 1
Effingham, IL 62401

This last week was very slow because Elder Solis got really sick suddenly and he hasn't been able to do much. He's getting better though! He needed lots of rest so I had plenty of time to tidy up the place, read, and take a few naps myself, hehe :)

A few cool things did happen, though! We were able to set another baptism date with a 10-year-old girl named Bella. I don't remember if I mentioned it in earlier emails, but she is pretty solid it's just getting her less-active family to start going back to church. She'll get baptized though; I'm sure of it! The date is set for November 14th, though it might need to be pushed a little.

Friday night I was called my Presidente Delgado (the branch president) and asked to give a talk on Sunday. I was pretty annoyed because of the late notice but I accepted and ended up doing it. I did an okay job I thought! It was also cool getting to give a talk and address the whole branch my last Sunday there. They have all been great to me and I have learned so much from them and their testimonies :) I know that this work is true and that I have been called by God to do this! I submitted my application to show my willingness but the call to serve a full-time mission came directly from the Lord through one of this appointed servants. I love being out here!!

I love you all! Send me cool stuff! Bye!!

Love, Elder Hayes

Photo 1: me with hermana hermosillo!! she's so cool!
Photo 2: me with the carr family, the coolest family ever!!
Photo 3: me the hernandez!! also the coolest!!

Monday, October 12, 2015

Week 59 - Shakirra gets baptized!

It's been a really fun week! Lots of good stuff happened. Jesus and Martina got married and we got to drive to Columbia for it!! It was such an awesome experience. They have been waiting for this day for so long and they look so happy :) Now Jesus can finally be baptized!! There are a couple really small things we need to work out but it should happen in the next month :)

Something else we have been focusing a lot if less-active work. There are so many less-active members on our rosters who have moved and nobody knows their new addresses!! But we've been talking to members who know everyone and calling the phone numbers we have and getting new phone numbers from people and all this stuff so we can find them and get them in contact with the church again. It's been awesome! We've been able to find a lot of members who hadn't been visited in forever by missionaries or other members.

On Tuesday we taught a lady named Dilia who we tracted into about a week or so ago. She is really interested and happens to know a member from our branch already! It's pretty cool when stuff like that happens :) We've only taught her one lesson, though, so we will see how things go!

Over the weekend a few things happened. First of all, three weeks ago Elder Solis and I were knocking a few doors near an appointment we had when the appointment fell through. We met a lady named Shakirra who we gave to the English missionaries as a referral! Here's the crazy part-- on Saturday she got baptized!! She was apparently incredibly solid and just loved everything and was baptized as soon as was possible. It's cool to look back at experiences like that and realize that that lesson fell through so that we find Shakirra. We didn't teach her but without us finding her she wouldn't have heard the gospel at that time! At the baptism she was really emotional and thanked us for knocking on her door that day. So awesome! :)

That evening our branch had a Hispanic party type of thing where they set up a bunch of tables that represented all the South and Central American countries. They also had a bunch of people prepare folk dances from their countries and it was super cool. We even had some investigators come!! There were so many people there and it was just a super fun party.

On Sunday we taught Bobby and Macy, Angel and Luz's kids! We shared with them part of the Plan of Salvation. It's interesting because they have very little religious background so we are starting from the bottom with them. It was a really good lesson though especially because Luz agreed to be baptized on November 14th with her kids!! She felt good about the date too because the 11th is her birthday :) Miracles do happen, woohoo!! :)

Overall it was a super cool week. Lots of awesome stuff happened and as I reflected and tried to apply what we learned from General Conference I saw a lot of blessings. This church is the true church! Love you all!

Love, Elder Hayes

Photo 1: last monday we went to the botanical garden in st louis! It was super cool and they had lots of really pretty gardens and cool exhibits!!!
Photo 2: elder me, elder atkin, shakirra, elder jimenez, and elder solis!! fun fact: elder atkin's mom and my mom are friends!!

This is an investigator elder Hayes and elder Solis referred to elder Atkin (my friend's son from AZ - small world!) and elder Jimenez. Elder Atkin got to baptize her and my son and his companion were able to be there. So fun!

Monday, October 5, 2015

Week 58 - General Conference is the best!

What a week! So unfortunately, it was a little slower than most weeks. Most of our work happens on the weekends, so we think it was mostly due to General Conference taking up most of the weekend. Worth it, though! What a great conference it was!! I really loved it. Before my mission I never really appreciated how significant General Conference really is. It really does feel like all the talks are meant specifically for you!
Since not too much happened during the week, I'll skip straight to the weekend. Of course, Saturday we spent most of the day watching conference. One of the talks I really liked was Elder Holland's on the importance of mothers!! It really made me appreciate my mom and everything that she does for me. My mom is the greatest :)

I haven't always been the best at taking notes, but let me tell ya this time around I was writing stuff down nonstop! It was great! Ideas and thoughts just kept coming to me as I listened to all the speakers. We are so blessed to have the opportunity to hear from these people every six months and throughout the year in the church magazines. It's modern scripture!!

Before the first session on Sunday, we were able to teach a less-active member who we had found a few days earlier named Jorge. We just happened to knock on his door and he was like, "Oh yeah I'm a member! I was baptized when I was eight!" and we're just like, "What!! Awesome!" He hadn't been to church in the last ten years since he moved here from Guatemala. He says he'll be moving back in December, but he said he'd start coming to church now that he knows where the building is! Hopefully he'll get back in the habit even after it's been so long... :)

Sunday afternoon was probably my favorite session for some reason. I just really enjoyed every single talk. I'm sure ponderizing scriptures is going to be a big thing now on social media, haha :) I'm looking forward to giving it a shot!

Later that evening we taught Bella, who is a ten-year-old we started teaching a couple weeks ago. Both her parents are members and Bella wants to be baptized and take the lessons. Her parents are members and have testimonies but just don't go to church since there isn't a separate Spanish branch for the area they live in. The problem is there will never be another branch unless everyone gets reactivated first!! It's a vicious cycle.

Overall it was a slow week but I still learned a lot, especially from conference. I'm excited to read over and study the talks once they're released! I know this church is led by Jesus Christ and that the three new apostles were chosen by him directly through a living prophet!

Love, Elder Hayes

Photos: Eating hot dogs and roasting marshmallows at the Rice's home!

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