Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Week 70 - NEVER ignore spiritual promptings!

Sorry if this email is a little shorter than usual! My hands are really cold and it's hard to type lol. This week has had very good moments and also not so good ones. I'll start with the good news :)

Christmas Eve morning we were handing out the last of our A Savior is Born pass-along cards in downtown Effingham. We thought we were done when we realized Elder Christiansen had a couple more he had forgotten about! We kept walking and looking for people to give them to when a lady in a parked car notices my BYU-Idaho jacket and calls us over. She is with her kids and says that they just moved from Pocatello! She also says that her and her family were pretty much active members back in Idaho but her husband wouldn't let them be baptized. She had a calling and paid tithing and everything, though! It was definitely not a coincidence that I had that jacket on and that we had a few more cards to hand out :) Hopefully we'll see them this week!

I got to talk to my family on Christmas!! My third time Skyping home! It was so wonderful. I love my family sooo much! Christmas is really such a great time of year. Even if I was away from home I still felt their love for me and we also spent time with some awesome members who made us feel like we were at home :) We also got to watch Big Hero 6 and Inside Out which both came out after I left, so that was fun to watch! They were the best!!

The rest of the week was super slow, especially after Christmas... so Saturday evening we were going to see this member that lived about 30 minutes out of Effingham just out of this tiny town called Greenup. We were following our GPS and it decided to take us down this backroad. The last few days it has been raining nonstop and the road eventually started turning muddy and really rough. The map showed that the guy was just a mile or so ahead, and we were also scared we would get stuck if we stopped the car to turn around... so we kept going. The road got worse and worse and eventually we got stuck in this hole in the ground that had been caused by some flooding from the nearby creek. We tried and tired but eventually realized that it was useless and we would need to call a tow truck. A member came and took us to the missionaries' apartment in Charleston (the closest area) and we have been with them since then. Yesterday a tow truck tired to go get it for us but got stuck in the mud on the way into the road we were stuck on... (this is not a joke) and so hopefully tomorrow if the rains stops we will be able to get it out.

It has been a pretty unfortunate weekend, but it should all go back to normal soon. We feel so stupid and have definitely learned our lesson!! Charleston does not have a car so we had to walk 45 minutes through the rain to get to the library with them this morning. Not the funnest! Also this email ended up being longer than I thought lol :)

Soo it has been a bittersweet week! Next week should be better. And the week after that should be even better because the holidays will officially end and people will be more available. Yay!

I love you all! Pray for us and our car! Lesson learned this week: NEVER ignore spiritual promptings! It's not worth it!

Love, Elder Hayes

Monday, December 21, 2015

Week 69 - Everyone needs it, and we have it (Donna's Baptism!)

First things first,

This time of year is seriously the greatest. I still can't believe it's my second Christmas out here!! I love it! :)

So it was a week full of ups and downs. The holidays are pretty bittersweet for missionaries because people are more receptive, but also more busy... we still did alright though!

I guess the biggest news is that Donna got baptized and confirmed this weekend!! And guess who she asked to baptize her? Me!! My first time actually getting to baptize someone! I was a little nervous at first but it was a super cool and spiritual experience. I am so grateful for the priesthood and all that is made possible because of it! Another cool thing is that my white pants fit pretty tight when I tried them on 16 months ago but they now fit pretty comfortably, so I've definitely shed some pounds. Cool!

My favorite part about being a missionary is just seeing how much the gospel blesses others. The change is real! Everyone needs it, and we have it. This mission doesn't baptize nearly as much as other missions due, but I think it's honestly made me appreciate them so much more when they do happen. However I also know that there are plenty of other people who I have affected and been able to help even if they didn't choose to join the church. It has been wonderful :)

So although this week was somewhat slow, lots of cool stuff happened. I am super excited for Christmas!! Thank you everyone for the love and support. Here's my address if you don't have it [better to send it late than never ;) ]

404 W Edgar Ave Apt 1
Effingham, IL 62401

You're the best!!

Love, Elder Hayes

Monday, December 14, 2015

Week 68 - My testimony on prayer

Hey everyone!! We are killing it over here! Donna is planning on getting baptized this Saturday. We are super excited for her! We weren't sure at first how much she understood but she definitely seems to grasp it now even if she doesn't talk too much. She is sticking to her decision despite her sister being against it. We pray it doesn't cause contention in the home (they live together)!! Things are looking good overall though. Pray for Donna so nothing stops her!!

The highlight of the week was probably our zone conference. It was great! They really emphasized working with the ward councils in our areas to help members be as involved as possible. We're really trying to apply it as best as we can! As a mission we are also all reading the Book of Mormon together and ending right before the next General Conference. We did it last year and we all loved it so we're doing it again! I am so excited :)

Kennedy (pretty sure I've talked about him before) is doing awesome!! He definitely has his ups an downs but recently he has been extremely enthusiastic about everything and is just great! We are so happy for him. A lot of the issues he had in the past are being resolved and once he takes care of his smoking problem he should be ready for baptism. It's amazing seeing how much he has changed since we first met him. He constantly tells us how grateful he is for us but we always try to emphasize that it's not us at all, but God who made all of this possible for him. He's great!

Pretty cool week overall. During fast and testimony meeting (which we had this last Sunday) I got up and bore my testimony on prayer. Throughout the week I've been trying to make my prayers more meaningful and really trying to be more in tune so that I can receive the revelation I need to help my investigators and the missionaries in my district. It works, I'm telling ya!!

I love you all! Check out christmas.mormon.org if you haven't already. I'm sure you have though :)

Love, Elder Hayes

Photo 1: studying with elder christiansen
Photo 2: throwback time!! this was taken over one year ago!! picking apples at a member's house! #tbt

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Week 67 - It's not about us at all

Thanksgiving week was slow but this week we're picking it back up again! Yipee! We were able to find a few new people to teach and have lots of great quality lessons with our investigators. We also had a stake conference over the weekend and were also able to view the First Presidency Christmas Devotional, which I loved of course.

Elder Bednar's son is actually the second counselor in the Champaign IL stake presidency, so we got to hear from him and a bunch of other people over the weekend. It was​ all really great!! We even had a couple investigators come along :) It felt like all the messages shared were meant specifically for them and for us. I love when that happens!!

So our investigator, Donna, who is hopefully getting baptized on the 19th is having some struggles. She really wants to be baptized and comes to church every Sunday, but her sister (who lives with her) is very against her joining the Church. We were teaching Donna yesterday and her sister was loudly and rudely insulting Mormons and her sister's decision from the other room. We do have to give some props to Donna though because she's still sticking to her decision :) Please pray for Donna!!

This was the first week of a new six-week transfer cycle and Elder Christiansen and I are staying together in Effingham! We are both pretty happy about that. Things are going really well here. This time of year is so wonderful because everyone is just most open and willing to learn more about Christ. We all get a little homesick at times but I know it's worth it :) Our focus should be to make this the best Christmas someone else has ever had! It's not about us at all :)
I love all of you!

Love, Elder Hayes

Photo: christmas photoshoot at the famous effingham cross!

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