Sunday, August 14, 2016

Week 102 - It really doesn't feel like two years

Well... this is it!

It sounds so cliche, but... it really doesn't feel like two years. But anyway, let me tell ya about my great week :)

Samantha is doing fantastic!! Of course :) She is so excited for her baptism this Saturday. Elder Dial will be the one doing it, which is super excited because on his mission so far it's always been his companion that does it. But now he gets to get in the water :) So happy for Samantha!!

On Wednesday I had the amazing opportunity to go to the temple! I seriously can't get enough of that place. It was so awesome to see a few of my good friends and last companions there :) Every time I get to attend the temple I learn new things and things become more clear to me. I feel the Spirit more strongly every time!! It was the best day ever!!! I know it's the House of the Lord :)

On Thursday we got to pick up a mini missionary! The stake is doing this thing where youth 16-17 can go on a "mini mission", which is where they spend three days being a missionary with two other full-time missionaries!! So we got Noah, a 16-year-old kid from Decatur, which is like 45 minutes from Springfield. He is so cool! We had so much fun together. At first I thought it would just be a burden, but we really had a great experience and it was just awesome to be with him.

On Saturday we had some pretty good lessons. We taught a lady named Tia the Plan of Salvation, and Noah did a great job contributing to it! Afterwards he commented on how cool it was for him to help teach her, because everyone he associates with already knows about it! It was brand new to Tia, but still made sense to her :) It was great!

We also saw the Akpulonus again, and they ended up getting waaay off topic, lol. We tried our best to bring it back, but by then we were basically out of time. They're super cool though, I love them :) I could see them progressing some day, it might just take a while...

After church on Sunday we saw Pam Weaver, a less-active lady, and her granddaughter Ray, who is investigating! She is 13, but hasn't really been brought up going to church or anything. We shared the Plan of Salvation with them, and had to teach very simply. It was a great lesson though! Pam wants to come back, but every time we invite her to chuch she says she isn't ready yet. But after we spent some time teaching and testifying about Jesus Christ and the Atonement, she told us, "You know, I'm really feeling it right now. Maybe I am ready for church! To think he went through all of that... just for me!" WHAT!!! It was so cool! The Spirit was so strong. We are making progress!!! :)

It's been an amazing week full of so many miracles. This last week is looking to be just as incredible! I have absolutely loved my mission. I have learned so much and am eternally grateful for the experiences I have had, for the friendships I have made, and for the lives I have helped change.

I know that Jesus Christ is my Savior, that He lived and died for me. He is the only way we can live with our families forever! I know He used Joseph Smith to restore the fullness of the gospel to the earth and that the Book of Mormon is the word of God. I know that for some reason, God needed me here in the Midwest... and although it's definitely not what I would have picked (LOL), after being her two years, I wouldn't want it any other way. I love it here :) Thank you everyone who has supported me these last couple years!! I have truly appreciated every email, letter, package, and prayer :) I love you all so much!!

See ya soon!

Love, Elder Hayes

Photo 1: at the temple! me with elder cheney!!
Photo 2: me with elder christiansen!!
Photo 3: me with elder lazaro!!
Photo 4: us with samantha!!! she's getting baptized!!!
Photo 5: accordion!!!
Photo 6: accordion!!! pt. 2
Photo 7: noah!!!!
Photo 8: noah!!!! pt. 2
Photo 9: temple trip!!!!!!!

Monday, August 1, 2016

Week 101 - The power of prayer and fasting

Yet another fantastic week here in good ol' Springfield. Samantha is doing SO good, like it is unreal how perfectly this is happening. Hope I don't jinx anything by saying that...

We had a couple awesome lessons with her last week. We were worried about the commandments lessons because that's usually when concerns come up, but when we taught her the Word of Wisdom, she accepted it and doesn't have a problem with it!! The Spirit was so strong the entire time. Lucretia's parents were there and both bore powerful testimony of how they had been blessed by following a prophet of God. Lucretia is the member Samantha moved in with, if you forgot... :) She is sooo excited for August 13th to be baptized!!

We were also able to meet with the Akpulonus again! They are so funny oh my gosh. Netty, the husband, just kills me!! Haha :) We shared the Plan of Salvation with them, and he told us that he actually already believed in a preexistence and that the Fall was necessary. However, he said his understanding of those things didn't come from the Book of Mormon, but from the Bible and his own reasoning... oh well! Hahaha it was actually a great visit though. We testified throughout the entire thing and they seemed to really learn something!

On Sunday Samantha came to church again and so did Desiree!! She is a super nice black lady who came a couple weeks ago. She just loves it! There is actually lots of potential with her too. There are so many great things happening here!!!

I am seriously just shocked. Ever since I have been in Springfield, I have been praying that I would be able to see at least one more person be baptized. Just one! If possible, that is. I'd be fine it didn't happen, but I had been praying that if it's possible... to please let it happen! I was honestly doubting whether anything would happen, but then we met Samantha, and one thing led to another :) Amazing!! The power of prayer and fasting!!!

I know the gospel is true and that the Plan of Salvation is real. I love being one of the Lord's missionaries and look forward to the next two weeks I'll have to do it :) Love you all!!

Love, Elder Hayes

Photo 1: the Akpulonus!!
Photo 2: us with the Uhe family! Coolest recent converts ever!!

Monday, July 25, 2016

Week 100 - Wow!

Week 100.... wow!!

It was a great week :) We are seeing so many miracles, it is amazing!! Biggest one would have to be someone we started teaching named Samantha.

Samantha recently moved in with a less-active member named Lucretia. Lucretia's parents are both active and in the same ward! They all went up to Nauvoo for a Saturday and Samantha had the best experience and was really interested in learning more about what we're all about! They then came to church that Sunday AND the next Sunday! So we just had to talk to them!! We ended up setting up a time to come meet with them, and she loved it and said she wanted to be baptized. WHAT!!

It gets even better :) Then we met with her AGAIN a few days later and taught part of the Plan of Salvation and she had read and prayed and felt that what we were teaching was true. We then decided she was ready and invited her to be baptized... on AUGUST 13THAnd she said yes!!!

She was at church again yesterday and is doing so awesome. I have been praying for a miracle like this and am so grateful for it! Please pray for Samantha so that nothing comes up last minute! She seems to be super excited and even told everyone in Relief Society that it was happening... so it better! :)

We also got to meet with Courtney again! If you don't remember, we were teaching her a few weeks ago. She is really solid too for the most part. We asked her if she remembered what we had been teaching her, and she recalled perfectly the entire Restoration AND Plan of Salvation perfectly! It was very impressive to be honest. People never seem to remember but she understood everything great!! Her having to work on Sunday is really her only hold-back currently.

On Saturday we went with a member to go help Samantha and Lucretia with a big pile of trash they had in their yard they needed to burn. We poured gas all over it and then I was entrusted with the task of lighting it. The gas lit way faster than I thought and I jumped back like WHOA!! Hahaha it was pretty funny. Then that night I realized it totally signed my eyebrows! No joke!! Nothing crazy but the top of my eyebrows were kind of blond-looking lol. You really can't tell unless I point it out though.

Crazy week! Lots of awesome stuff happening. Thank you everyone for all the support! Please please pray for me and for Samantha! She is great!! :) I know God answers prayers and that this is His work. Love you all!

Love, Elder Hayes

Photo #1: us with sister king! she is coming back to church now!!! she's so awesome!!!!! :)
Photo #2: Me with my comp, and then us walking dramatically in the ghetto!!!

Week 99 - D&C 43:15

This week has been so awesome!! It has been raining on and off all week. It'll pour one day, then the next day it'll be sunny and SUPER humid. Then it'll rain again. Kind of fun!

On Tuesday we had an awesome meeting where the Zone Leaders trained us on preparing to teach during our morning studies! It helped me out a ton because I feel like I do get a lot of my studies but they don't prepare me for the day as much as they could. They shared this scripture:

"...Ye are not sent forth to be taught, but to teach the children of men the things which I have put into your hands by the power of my Spirit" (D&C 43:15)

We were invited to study not to be taught, but to teach! In other words, to base our studies on the people we'll be teaching instead of what WE want to know. It was a good meeting!

Wednesday we had a super good lesson with a cool older black lady named Desiree! We found her sitting out on her porch a couple weeks ago and have gotten to teach her twice so far. Then she got a ride to church on Sunday and loved it!! It was so awesome! Recently it's been hard to get people to church, so it was a real blessing to see her there.

I'm always worried for investigators at church when people start talking about things that they haven't been taught yet that might be confusing or not make sense, but I've realized that they usually don't mind it because they still feel the Spirit and what they DO understand really helps them out. So great!! :)

Another miracle we've seen is a less-active member named Lucretia here in the ward recently had a friend of hers move in with her named Samantha. Long story short, Lucretia went with her family to Nauvoo and Samantha got to go to and had a great experience! She isn't a member, but really felt the Spirit there and wants to learn more! She's already been to church twice and seems to really like it too. We're going to start teaching her this week! Ahhh!!! So excited! :D

It's been great! Things have been good here, but it's about to get even better. I love it so much! I know this work is true!! Love you all!

Love, Elder Hayes

Photo 1: cuttin it close!! zero miles to empty.... we rolled into the gas station just in time lol
Photo 2: elder dial and i with the brother nunez and his daughter waleska!

Week 98 - Hard to believe it's coming to an end

​Hey everyone!! Hard to believe it's already been another week!

This week definitely had its ups and downs! We were blessed with a few new people to teach, but sadly everyone else we had been teaching had to reschedule or cancel, so that kind of bummed us out a little bit... :( Not a big deal though! We have felt recently that while finding people to talk to isn't a problem here, we need to focus on not just finding people who will talk to us, but people who will act! It's a bit tougher... haha :)

Things are great here though! One cool lesson we had was with the Akpulonu family. I've talked about them before, but they're from Nigeria and are pretty much the coolest. They went to church on Father's Day, and all the talks talked all about the priesthood, which they had lots of questions about. They believe we can all have the priesthood just by believing in Jesus Christ. We aren't sure how to address some of their concerns... but they are definitely sincere and want to find out for themselves! So that's great :)

On Sunday we were surprised to see two less-active members we've been working with come again! It was their second time making it back. They both came a few weeks ago and don't know each other, but both just happened to make it again at the same time. So that was definitely a tender mercy. Elder Dial and I also had the fun opportunity to teach a class of 13 year old boys about covenants, so that was fun! Kids are super funny hahaha. It feels like it was just yesterday that I was 13!!

Sacrament Meeting was great too! We heard from a Brother Inostroza, who told us about how when he was first taught by missionaries in Chile, he couldn't understand their English since they were both new and didn't speak very well, haha! But he then went on to say that although he couldn't understand everything, he felt something that day and that is why he is here today. It was a really good talk and it made me think about what my goal is when I teach people. Of course I want them to understand, but more important than that is creating an environment in which they can feel the Spirit! It was a great Sunday :)

I love being here! Hard to believe it's coming to an end, but I am SO grateful for the chance I have to serve these people at this point in my life. I know the restored gospel of Jesus Christ is true and that I am here for a reason! Love you all!!

Love, Elder Hayes

Photo 1: dragon street art!!
Photo 2: fourth of july!!
Photo 3: fourth of july!! pt. 2
Photo 4: so cool!!!!!!!!

Monday, July 11, 2016

Week 97 - Jesus Christ lives and this is His Church

It's been quite the week! We're emailing now because the libraries were closed yesterday. It's been wild!! Good news: it's a new transfer and Elder Dial and I are both staying in Springfield! Sooo I will be finishing my mission here! Woohoo!!! We are both super excited. It's going to be so great!

It's been pretty good recently. The coolest thing that happened was probably on Sunday. We had a few people who told us they would be at church, however when we tried to check with them the morning of, most of them told us something came up so we were pretty bummed out and didn't really expect anyone to show up. Then suddenly our phone buzzed about 20 minutes into sacrament meeting and it was Jean! He is a guy we're teaching from the Congo. He told us he was on his way!! So Elder Dial and I went out into the foyer to wait for him and he made it! He was a half hour late, but he still made it. We were pretty happy about that :)

Courtney is doing good too. Sadly, she got called in to work last minute (of course) on Sunday and couldn't make it :( So since she still hasn't made it to a sacrament meeting, her baptism date will need to be postponed. Hopefully it still happens, though!

Lots of missionaries in our district are changing so it will be fun to see some new faces. One of them will be a brand new missionary, so that will be interesting!! It feels like just yesterday that was me. I can't believe time has flown so fast!

I don't think I've mentioned it before, but people out here get really creative with their names. Like... REALLY creative. We met a lady the other day who told us her name was "tuh-keeria" and then spelled it for us. She told is it was Spanish or something. It was then when I realized that her name is a Spanish word for a taco restaurant. TAQUERIA. I about died. I don't think she knows what it means... hahaha I thought that was super funny.

Nothing huge happened on the Fourth of July. We played pool at someone's house with some other elders and then watched some fireworks outside our apartment. It was a good day! I am having a blast here. We are working with some great people who I really hope I get to see be baptized either while I'm here or down the road. They have great potential! Jesus Christ lives and this is His church! Love you all!

Love, Elder Hayes

Photo: MURICA!!!!

(i had so many more photos but i definitely forgot my camera today. so next week you'll get a TON)

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Week 96 - Please pray for Courtney!

Sooo it's been another awesome week! And I am so glad I get to say that about nearly every week!! :)

This week we were able to set a baptism date with a girl named Courtney!! July 23! I guess not so much a girl... she's like 30? I feel like that's not old enough to call her a lady. But anyway, we met her outside her apartment building in the parking lot! We have taught her three times so far and she meant to be at church this Sunday but of course, had an emergency come up last minute :( But she has already gotten her work to give her all Sundays off! So she is actually super solid.

She has had some rough experiences in the past, so she told us at first that she usually doesn't trust men. But when she first met us, she said she felt something telling her that we were trustworthy and to listen to them! And so as we've taught her, she has commented on how good she feels as we teach her and read from the Book of Mormon with her and is basically really excited to try it out! Next Sunday she will be at church! She could really use prayers though, because it always seems like things come up that get in the way. We are sooo excited for her!! Please pray for Courtney!

We also met with Kalilu again this week. Kalilu is the coolest guy ever, but sadly we might not get to meet with him for a while. We had a fantastic lesson where we read 2 Nephi 2 with him and talked about the Fall and about opposition. He was amazed at how well the Book of Mormon expounded on principles contained in the Bible and at how well they complemented each other! It was amazing to see his eyes light up as he learned. However, Sunday morning, he texted us and said that he loved our doctrine and really wanted to come to church, but that his sister (who he is staying with) wouldn't let him for some reason. Kind of a weird situation... so we were pretty sad about that but hopefully in the future he will get to keep learning and one day enter the waters of baptism!

We have seen lots of miracles this week!! Sunday was sad because nobody made it to church, but we quickly got over it and have set some great plans to continue finding and hopefully setting baptism dates with our current investigators!

Recently I have been studying the gospels and I just love reading about the life of Jesus Christ! I absolutely love reading the Book of Mormon, but reading it alongside the New Testament makes it so much better. It motivates me to want to be more like Him and to live as He did!!

Thank you everyone for everything you do for me!! Love you!

In completely unrelated news, I have learned how to solve the Rubik's Cube and my record is 49 seconds. So you could say I'm pretty proud of that :)

Love, Elder Hayes

Photo 1: Taken literally five minutes ago. so sorry for the lack of photos!! I need to take more!!
Photos 2 & 3: Visiting the tomb of Abraham Lincoln last week! Not the greatest photos, but it wasn't me who took them so...... :)

Monday, June 20, 2016

Week 95 - Jesus Christ lives and this is His work!

WOW!!! Normally, really good weeks are guaranteed to be super slow, but this week was somehow even MORE busy than last week!! We are sooo blessed!

It all started on WednesdayWednesday we had a day filled with appointments. There was literally nothing else, just appointment after appointment! So usually you look at a day and it's pretty safe to assume that at least half will fall through or cancel or something. But out of the seven appointments, only ONE didn't work out! SO we were teaching nonstop and it was honestly exhausting! Haha but it was amazing.

We found two really cool people! One is Jean (yes, as in Jean Valjean) and he is from the Congo and speaks French! He is very humble and says he never turns anyone way who is teaching about the Savior. We got to teach him a couple times this week and he is very intrigued by the Book of Mormon and really wants to find out for himself if it's true.

Then there's Kalilu! He is from Sierra Leone and during our first lesson with him, he actually mentioned how he had a Mormon friend back home who assured him that missionaries would find him in the US! And we happened to walk by his apartment while he was outside :) After we shared the Restoration with him, he said (and I quote), "My heart tells me that everything you have taught me is true". WHAT!! We were like is this real, lol :) He is really cool and meant to come to church this Sunday but had a small emergency last minute. But we are really excited to see if he is willing to work towards baptism!

That same night (this is still Wednesday) we had a lesson with a less-active member named Pam! She was baptized about 20 years ago and hadn't been in the last 8 or so years. We knew nothing about her! But she really wants to come back now and has a granddaughter living with her who she wants us to teach too!

I won't detail everything, but Thursday and Friday were just as eventful! Then the coolest miracle of the week...

We got to start teaching the Akpulonu family again! Netty, the dad, had been in Nigeria for a month, but he is back and we got to meet with them! We invited them to church, and he said, "No promises..." but then we show up on Sunday and what do we see? The whole family sitting there on the back row!! They have a 13 year old and a 1 year old, and the youngest one is the cutest guy ever and was making everyone smile as he walked around the chapel during Sacrament Meeting. Haha!! But yeah they seemed to enjoy it! So we really hope they have a desire to come again.

It has been so wonderful here! These people have so much potential and I really hope we get to see them progress. Jesus Christ lives and this is His work!

Love, Elder Hayes

(photos to come next week!! promise!!!)

Monday, June 13, 2016

More Pictures!

 The lawn we mowed a couple weeks ago! (before)


Hanging out on the roof

Hanging out on the roof Part 2

Taco Bell freezes!! because it's freaking HOT!!!

I LOVE following the Spirit!

This week has been the best!! Get your reading muscles ready!!!

Monday evening was great, which set the tone for the rest of the week :) We were able to find two new people named Nicole and Brenna. They are roommates and we had a great lesson with them! We had found Nicole originally over a month ago out in the country while trying to find someone else's house. She was outside another house with some friends and we got her number and had been trying to set something up since, and we were finally about to this week! It was just a huge tender mercy because we were literally in the middle nowhere, like the last place you would expect to run into somebody outside!! We had a great lesson and they really want to come to church. Couldn't this week, but they are planning on it this coming Sunday. Woohoo!!

Tuesday was great because we had exchanges with the Zone Leaders! I was with an Elder Robinson, and we had so much fun! It was a great day. One cool thing that happened was we were parking around the corner from this potential we wanted to try, when I saw this lady sitting out on her porch a few houses down. I told Elder Robinson, "Alright, let's go try this guy then on the way back we'll talk to that lady" so we did, but on the way back to the car we realized she had gone inside! My first thought was, "Oh well, too bad" but then I had this sudden impression that said, "Just knock on the door!"

We knock on the door, and she answers and after we introduce ourselves she says, "Oh, I know exactly who you are!" And we're like, "Um, what! How!" and she then tells us how she used to go to our church!! And we have no idea who she is, she's just some random lady! We ask, "Wait, were you baptized and everything?" to which she replies, "Oh yeah, I got baptized and even did baptisms for the dead!" WHAT! Turns out she is already on our ward roster, but we didn't have a current address! But we happened to run into her!! I LOVE following the Spirit!!

Thursday we had a Zone Conference!! It was SO good and since President Morgan is actually leaving in a few weeks, it was our last time to see him. Him and Sister Morgan have been the greatest, I love them so much! I'm excited to have a new mission president for like a month and a half, hehe :)

Friday and Saturday were WILD! We were helping a member do some roofing on a house he's working on. It took forever but it was actually really fun! But I also learned I never want to be a roofer, bahaha. Our legs were sooo sore!!

Sunday, we had no investigators at church BUT we had two less-active members we've been working with come for the first time in forever! One is named Andy, and he served a mission and everything but hadn't been in like 20 years. And he had a great time!! And the other is Ann, and she left after Sacrament but HEY it's a start!

Sorry this is so long! It's just been great. I LOVE this area!! We are doing great!!

Love, Elder Hayes

Photo 1: zone conference!! me and elder peterson (who was in my last district!)
Photos 2 and 3: crepe night at the GC's!!! the GC's are a French family in the ward and they are the best!! GC is short for Giraud-Carrier!

(more photos on the way!)

Monday, June 6, 2016

Week 93 - Tevin was his name

​Soo this week was... something! Lots of appointments fell through, which made for a slower week sadly :( We were a little bit discouraged but it ended up getting a little better near the end.

It was Wednesday and we were a little frustrated at the lack of success we had been having so far. We decided to go try this lady who we had met a week before who didn't seem super solid, but who lived close to us and on the way home... so we tried her anyway! She was not home, but her 22 year old grandson was! Tevin was his name, and he let us right in! We shared a brief message about our purpose as missionaries and the power of the Book of Mormon.

We set a return appointment with him for Friday, and Elder Dial and I were both expecting him to flake out and be a no-show. But nope, he was there and ready for us!! Totally caught us off guard. We had been praying pretty hard for people to keep their appointments, and so Tevin really brightened our week :) It was a very good lesson! Elder Dial and I both commented on how strong the Spirit was afterwards.

Sunday was probably the best day of the week. No investigators came to church, but it we just had really good church meetings! Our Ward Mission Leader is also the Gospel Principles teacher, and he gave a great lesson on repentance and overcoming weaknesses! It was awesome because a returning member who we have been working with was there, and it seemed like it was just for her! She even commented on how Satan had put so many excuses in her head that morning, but that she ignored them all and came anyway... and how glad she was that she did :) It was cool!

Then that evening we taught a couple other less-active members. One of them is named Andy and I can't remember if I've mentioned him, but he grew up in the Church and is actually the nephew of Bonnie L. Oscarson, which is pretty crazy! He is super nice though.  He even served a mission and everything, but after getting depression and questioning lots of things, he has not been active in a couple decades and isn't sure what he believes anymore. He said he would come to church next Sunday though! It has been forever since he's gone, so it will be super cool to see what he thinks of it.

So overall, rougher week, but we learned a lot from it. This week's looking like it will be phenomenal! I'm so excited! I know this is the Lord's church and that He lives today!!

Love, Elder Hayes

Week 92 - Service softens hearts!

It's been a fun first week with Elder Dial! He is a super funny guy and is pretty easy to get along with. It's also interesting being co-district leader because it lets us kind of share the load. It's different, but also nice :)

We had another great meeting with Messan on Thursday. He is very sincere and loves learning and it seems he wants to be baptized! The only thing really holding him back is that the rest of his family is still in Togo, and he wants to consult with them first. Ideally, he would like it to be a family matter, but the distance and the circumstances make that difficult :( We invited him to pray and fast about what he should do. We aren't sure what else we can do. We'll be thinking hard about how to help him!

Later in the week was also met with Brother Nunez again, and he is doing awesome. He is returning to activity and has scheduled a time to meet with the Bishop to start getting his Patriarchal blessing!! It has been so cool to see him come back. It is sad that his wife won't let us continue teaching his daughter, but oh well... maybe some day!

On Friday we were walking down a street to go see someone when we pass this house with probably the worst lawn I have ever seen... like the grass was three feet tall and there were a bunch of weeds in it that could pass as small trees. No joke. So it was pretty rough looking, but we felt a prompting to go ask her if we could help her out. We knock on the door, and this lady answers and the conversation goes as follows:

"Are you Jehovah's Witnesses?"
"Latter-day Saints?"
"Yep, that's us!"
"Oh, well it doesn't matter. You know you're deceived, don't you?"

Hahaha so yeah that was fun. But we just ignore the question and ask if we can do yard work for her. She asks how much we charge, and when we tell her we'll do it for free as a service project, she stops talking for a second and her eyes start tearing up. She was completely shocked and was astounded that anyone would volunteer to do it!! She said she had been looking for people to help but that no one was really willing and that the city was going to fine her if she didn't get it cut somehow. Plus she is pretty disabled, so it's hard for her to do too much.

We ended up doing her lawn on Saturday with a couple members. We only had one small lawn mower, and so it took a while... hahaha it was quite the endeavor! It was pretty fun though. The lady was super grateful and even said we could teach her sometime! Service softens hearts!!

Being a missionary is great! I love serving the Lord! Jesus lives, and is His church! I love you all!! :)

Love, Elder Hayes

Photo 1: Brother Nunez, Waleska, and me!!
Photo 2: locking the apartment with elder dial!!
Photo 3: driving!!!

Photo 4: driving!!! pt. 2

Monday, May 23, 2016

Week 91 - I know God is mindful of all His children.

​Wow, week 91 already... yikes!

We got transfer calls on Saturday and I am staying in Springfield! Elder Soutas will be leaving and I'm getting Elder Dial, who I do not know, but people say he's a super cool guy and that we'll get along great. I'm excited for it! We will also be co-district leaders, which will be interesting. I've been district leader for a while, but this time we will both be district leaders at the same time over the same district. Should be fun!!

It's been a great last week with Elder Soutas. I have learned a lot from him! The area is doing really well! We found a bunch of cool new people to teach. One cool thing that happened is we went to this lady's house with a member for an appointment, but she ended up not being there. We tried to visit a less-active member who lived next door, but he didn't answer either... but as we were walking back to our car, some people who were outside their house across the street called out and said we could go talk to them! It was super unexpected. They were all super cool and we taught them and answered some questions they had right then and there! We talked for a while and it was awesome and we set appointments with them to talk some more! They want to come to church and are really looking for a church with a good program for children... we are excited for it!! :)

I don't think I've mentioned him yet, but we are also teaching a man named Messan who is from Togo, a French-speaking country in Western Africa! He is the coolest guy ever and actually met with missionaries in Togo too. He has come to church before, but it has always been in the other ward that meets in the morning, because of his work later in the afternoon. However, this Sunday he came to our ward for the first time with a French family that has been fellowshipping him! It turned out he also somehow knew another French-speaking member from working at one of the hospitals here. What are the odds!

I know God is mindful of all his children and that I am here for a very specific reason. I'm excited to give it my all these last few months and to see how our investigators progress this week :) I know this is true! I love all of you!!

Love, Elder Hayes

Photo 1: cool picture of jesus i drew!
Photo 2: the district!!
Photo 3: cool picture i took while looking into another elder's sunglasses!!!

Week 90 - I really love seeing how happy the Gospel makes others.

I have loved this past week!! We were soo busy and had so many cool experiences! I really don't know where to begin. First of all, Spring and Summer here are super pretty! Everything is just so green and alive and since there's so much more moisture in the air than out West, more things grow I guess. So that's nice :)

On Tuesday we had a super powerful with a less-active member named Ann! She moved into the ward a year ago but has not attended since then. She is super nice and told us about how in the past she would be active and then less-active and kind of go back and forth a lot, but that whenever the missionaries showed up at her doorstep she knew it was time for her to go back. Super cool :)

She told us that she felt inadequate a lot of times because the standards were a lot for her to live up to. We taught her about repentance and the Sacrament, and how we go to church not because we are perfect, but so we can one day become perfect. The Spirit was really strong. She told us she'd be at church but ended up not showing up :( We're sure she just feels awkward not knowing very many members yet. We'll keep working with her!

The next day we were walking down the street and talked to a lady named Brittany who was waiting at a bus stop with her two kids. We didn't have a ton of time to talk, but we exchanged info and set an appointment for the next day. She accepted the message and agreed to read from the Book of Mormon, and we actually got to meet with her again just two days later! Both were very good lessons and she even accepted an invitation to be baptized once she knows it's true for herself. She grew up Catholic but wants to recommit herself to Christ and learn more about what baptism is actually for. We are so blessed!!

On Thursday we were walking by an apartment building near where we live when we see this Middle-Eastern-looking lady sitting outside on her deck/balcony reading something. It was kind of awkward because she was on the second story, but we ended up talking to her and she actually invited us inside to meet her husband! Their names are Ali and Rima and are both from Syria. They're the nicest people ever and even invited us over for dinner the next day! They are very Muslim, but want to learn more about what separates us from Christian denominations :)

It's been a great week. I really love seeing how happy the gospel makes others. The change is real! I know Jesus Christ lives and that we have a loving Father in Heaven who is aware of our struggles and stands ever ready to lend a helping hand to those who seek Him.

Love, Elder Hayes

Photo: elder soutas and i at the abraham lincoln museum in springfield!!

Week 89 - Mother's Day is the best!

Mother's Day was the best!!! I love getting to talk to my family! I seriously have no idea what I did to deserve such an amazing family. I'm so grateful for the Plan of Salvation. I don't know what I'd do without the knowledge that families are forever and that death is not the end :)

It's been a fantastic week! We have seen so many miracles here. We found so many new people to teach this week. We have been working really hard and have definitely seen God's hand in the work! What we've been doing recently is trying to use all of the resources we have. We have found a lot of people by street contacting, but we are trying to also incorporate members more so we're not just doing one thing. So far it's been working really well!

There are so many members in the ward who we don't know and so we've been visiting them whenever we're near! There have been a few times where we have visited someone's home thinking they're less-active (since we don't know them) but finding out they do go to church every week, they just sit in the back or something. Pretty funny! But it's been super cool trying to get them excited about missionary work.

We are teaching some great people. This week we found a family of six that still adheres to the Law of Moses, which is pretty interesting. No animal sacrifice or anything, but they still have all these customs that might make it hard for them to receive the truth. We'll see how it goes, though!

Waleska, an 8 (almost 9) year old we are teaching, is doing good too. She is just a little confused because her father is a member but her mom is Catholic, and so she isn't sure what she wants to do. She isn't sure if she wants to be baptized because of what her mom might think. The last thing we want to do is cause contention within the family, so we aren't quite sure what we can do. Definitely pray for the Nunez family, though! They could really use it :)

I've said it so many times, but I'll say it again... I love serving others and teaching them the restored gospel! It's really such a unique opportunity I don't want to take for granted. I love the Savior and I love this work. I know it's real! I love you!!

Love, Elder Hayes

(photos to come next week! promise!)
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