Monday, November 30, 2015

Week 66: She said this couldn't be a coincidence

Thanksgiving is such a great holiday. I am so thankful for my family and my friends that love and support me. I am thankful for the opportunity I have to serve a mission and for all the people I have been able to help.

This week was a little tougher because a lot of people cancelled due to the holiday. We did get fed about three Thanksgiving meals throughout the week though, so that was enjoyable! I seriously feel like it was just barely last Thanksgiving! Time flies incredibly fast let me tell ya :)

It is getting cold but not as cold as it is back home in Idaho so that's something I'm okay with lol. Still pretty chilly though! We are running low on miles for our car so we were walking around town the other night and it was cold so we were all bundled up and everything. We ended up running into this lady on the street who had been going through a lot of problems and was on her way to the store to buy cigars. She said she knew they didn't help in the long run but that it helped ease her stress. We talked for a while and eventually she said this couldn't be a coincidence and that God was telling her to turn around and not harm her body. Goes to show that God sees everything and has a plan for all of us. He's aware of all His children and is constantly trying to guide us down and show us the right path.

I'm excited for Christmas! We just got a bunch of #ASaviorIsBorn cards to hand out so that will be super fun. People tend to be a little bit nicer around this time of year :)

I love this gospel! I love this Church! I love Jesus Christ and I love being a missionary :) I love all of you and am so thankful for everything I have.

Love, Elder Hayes

Photo: Me with Elder Çoka who is going home to Albania today!!

Monday, November 23, 2015

Week 65: Prayer and diligence go hand in hand

What's up everyone! This week has been pretty interesting. We were able to find a couple new people to teach so that was really awesome! The downside of the week has probably been the weather... it is awful! Saturday it snowed and it was so cold and windy we were pretty much dying. I might be exaggerating but we were super cold. I love the snow when I can just chill by a fireplace and be inside but not so much when you're knocking doors on it... yeah lol.

So I think the biggest miracle that's happened recently is Madalynn. She seemed a little hesitant after our first lesson with her last week and did not expect her to come to church at all but she came last week and again this week!! She seems to like it actually! We also taught her the Plan of Salvation which she admitted was different but seemed to understand it. We are very excited for her!! :)

I forgot to mention this last week but Brandie, someone we had been teaching who was supposed to get baptized this month, sent us a text saying that she would not be getting baptized and asking that we stop coming by. We were completely shocked because she seemed completely willing and ready and had been coming to church for so long! We tried to visit her one last time but she wouldn't let us. We were really sad but have come to realize that we can't force her and it's her choice after all is said and done. We did all we could for her!

I am very excited for Thanksgiving! A few people invited us over so we might have multiple Thanksgiving meals lol. That should be exciting!! I love the holidays they are just so fun and exciting! Things are great here in Effingham. Thanks everyone for the love and support!!

Something else I've come to realize recently is how important prayer and diligence are. We can't do this alone but God also expects us to do our part. We can't just work or just pray! They go hand in hand. As we've tried to apply that we've seen quite a bit of success here! In fact, looking back at past records, the area is doing the best it has done in quite some time. Woohoo! :)

I love you all! Here's my address again:

404 W Edgar Ave. Apt. 1
Effingham, IL 62401

Love, Elder Hayes

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Week 64 - It's getting chilly!

Hello everyone! So I've been out 15 months now so that's pretty cool. This transfer is almost coming to an end which is insane to think about! I really love this area and all the people we get to help. Lots of stuff is happening!

So Kennedy is still struggling. He's got lots of problems but still really wants to be baptized. He comes to church every single week and reads and prays every day and does everything we ask but just has a few struggles that will take time I guess. It'll happen some day!

We found lots of cool people this week too! The most promising one is this lady named Madalynn (people call her Lynn) that we found while knocking doors a couple weeks ago. We were finally about to set up a time and were able to meet with her! Despite her many dogs' disruptive barks, we still had a great lesson and she agreed to read and pray. She said maybe to church, but ended up actually showing up! We are so surprised and happy for her!!

Someone else we started teaching is Lana, the 10-year-old daughter of a less-active member. She invited a few friends over too so we ended up teaching all of them! It was a pretty good lesson overall. Teaching kids is always interesting because you have to make everything so simple and you have to keep them captivated so they don't get distracted, haha. It was good though! :)

The last one we found is this 16-year-old girl named Baileigh. We knocked on her door one day and she said we could come back another time. We tried back and met her older sister and mom, who were both surprisingly also welcoming and really nice!! Our branch actually only has two young women, and Baileigh knows both of them from school, so we brought one of them to our lesson with her and it went so awesome! We are so excited for Baileigh and for everyone else we found this week. So many miracles!!

We have definitely been seeing the blessings of working diligently. We try to talk to everyone we can each day and we have been blessed with quality investigators to teach :)

On Sunday I gave a talk on hope. I was a little nervous and not looking forward to it too much but I'll be honest I did super good. My speaking skills have improved tremendously since I've been out here and I felt like I gave a pretty good talk! I also learned a lot during the preparation process :)

It's getting chilly! Thanksgiving and Christmas are just around the corner, woohoo! :) I know this church is true! I know we can all live with our familes forever through God's plan for us! I love all of you :)
Love, Elder Hayes

Monday, November 9, 2015

Week 63 - There is no way this work we are a part of isn't true

​Lots of cool stuff happening over here. This week we emphasized working with members and have been making an extra effort to get them to come to lessons with us and also to help them be member missionaries themselves. It's been super cool!

Tuesday night we saw the Garcia family, the part-member family who recently moved in. We brought a Spanish-speaking member with us and taught them the Restoration. Darwin likes learning and asking questions but he does seem very set in his ways. He would ask questions like, "soo... is this Joseph Smith in the bible?" and stuff like that. I got a little annoyed but managed to keep myself in control, hehe :) They are a very nice family and hopefully we will be able to get them to church one of these days.

Kennedy, the investigator I mentioned last week who wants to be baptized, has been doing good for the most part. He has had a rough past and recently a few things came up that we were unaware of, so his baptism date for November 21st might still work, but it might be pushing it. He is still super enthusiastic and excited about all of it though! I am positive that it will happen when he's ready. It's been amazing to see the gospel change his life!! He knows it's true! He came to church again and loves it so much. He says he's shocked at how easy it is for him to stay three hours at our church but how he struggles to sit for just one hour at other churches, haha. Pretty awesome!

On Thursday we had a pretty good district meeting. I gave a training on contacting people. As a zone we are starting to keep track of how many contacts we get each week, or in other words, how many people we invite to learn about the restored gospel each week! My training emphasized how although we should be talking to everyone, we should also strive to give each person a fair chance and not be generic and quick about it just for the number. I thought I did pretty good :)

On Saturday we visited a less-active member named Sarah. She is Samoan but grew up in Hawaii! What brought her to rural Illinois I don't know, lol. She is super cool and we have been going through the lessons with her recently. At the end of our lesson, I noticed she had some family pictures on the wall and I asked if she had kids. She said she did and that they were not members of the church. We asked if she'd like them to hear the gospel and she said she would! So hopefully next week her children will be present and we will get to start teaching them. We're so excited!! :)

​Overall it was a really cool week. We found lots of people with some potential and even one family who seemed pretty excited to meet with us! Hopefully this coming week will be full of miracles too :) Illinois is super weird but I love being here! I've learned and grown so much. There's no way this work we're a part of isn't true. I know Christ lives and loves us and is leading this church!

Love, Elder Hayes

Photo 1: elder christiansen and i sippin some starbucks #rebels #jk #itsnotcoffee
Photo 2: sunset!
Photo 3: a meal i prepared for myself!! stir-fried veggies with eggs and queso fresco (mexican cheese)
Photo 4: walkin down a rural road in shumway, illinois (population: 207)

Monday, November 2, 2015

Week 62 - Effingham, Illinois

This week has been phenomenal!! So much stuff is happening! I seriously love this area. It is so different but so wonderful. I love the people and I'm not sure why but I love driving out to the tiny little towns and villages on the outskirts of our area. It's just super fun to me!! :) Driving down those country roads is so fun.

We met with Brandie a couple times and set a plan with her to stop smoking. She is getting baptized on November 28th, which at first I wasn't too sure about but after these lessons I am confident that she will make it. Her sister, who is a member, will be in town that weekend so she wants her to be there for it :) She is doing great!! Lots of progress!

A new family moved into the branch last week too. They are the Garcias and the wife, Claudia, is a member but her husband and six children are not! She was recently baptized in another ward but just moved to Effingham. They are super nice and we are starting to teach the husband!! I am so glad we have Spanish speakers to teach. I was definitely sent here for a reason! :)

We also got in contact with another cool family called the Angels, who are also Mexican. They were taught a few times in the past but the language barrier made it a little difficult for the past missionaries. Now that I'm here there might be a higher chance of them progressing!! Wooohooo!!

The biggest miracle of the week however was Kennedy. Kennedy is a guy that was found a week before I got to Effingham. He is 21 and has had a rough life but is really humble and super excited about the gospel. The first few lessons we had it was mostly just him talking and talking about his life and stuff so we weren't sure how interested he was, but he was able to come to church on Sunday and he is loving everything we are teaching him. He is reading the Book of Mormon and he is amazed at how much sense it makes to him. He even said at one point, "everyone needs one of these!!" :) He is just so enthusiastic. We love it! The biggest surprise was that he really wants to be baptized so we set a plan with him and the date is for November 21st!! It is pretty soon but we are confident that he will be ready by that date. We are so excited for him and so grateful for the opportunity we have had to find him and introduce him to the truth.

I love being a missionary. It is the greatest thing I've ever done! I love seeing the gospel change people for the better. I know this is the true church and that the work we are doing as missionaries is very real. It's true! It's all true!!

I love you all and have a great week :)

Love, Elder Hayes

Photo: elder christiansen and i at a local corvette museum!!

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