Monday, February 29, 2016

Week 79 - Does Jenny live here?

What a week! We had some pretty awesome experiences and also some pretty crazy experiences. I will start with the crazy one just to get it out of the way... hehe :)

It was Saturday, and we wanted to visit this less-active named Jenny. We go to the address and find that it is out in the country at the end of a long, muddy driveway. We park and have walked about half way down the driveway when we hear someone call out, "There's no trespassin' here, partner!" I say, "We're looking for Jenny!" to which he replies, "You're lookin' for a butt-whoopin if you don't get off my property!" (plus a few swear words) Elder Cheney and I look at each other and start walking back towards our car. As we walk, I call out, "Does Jenny live here?" That's when we hear him yell, "That's it!"

An angry middle-aged man walks out from behind his house and starts speed-walking/stomping towards us. On his face is the most menacing and threatening expression I have ever seen on anyone. His fists are clenched, and it is apparent that his intention is to do something to us. Elder Cheney and I nervously keep walking, but he isn't slowing down. His eyes are locked on me and as he comes up to me he says, "Looks like you'll be the first one..." I stop walking, put my arms up in surrender, and apologize profusely, the whole time praying in my head and asking God to protect us. I am literally expecting him to punch or strangle me or something. We both stand there staring at each other when Elder Cheney calls from behind me, "We're leaving" to which he says, "Then keep walking."

We start walking to the car, and as we are leaving the driveway he calls out from behind us and says, "Guys, I'm sorry. Just write down in the good ol' book not to come back looking for Jenny! Alright? Have a nice day." and then walks back to his yard. I honestly can't remember the last time I ever felt that scared! You definitely had to be there to understand what it was like. Good story, though! ;)

Sorry if I included too much detail there... haha! Good things happened this week too! We also got to have a great lesson with Roy, our downstairs neighbor who just moved here from South Carolina. He was super solid! He told us that he had promised his dad he would find a church in Effingham, and a few days after he had moved in, we knock on his door to introduce ourselves. The church came to him!! He said he would be baptized and then came to church on Sunday and seemed to really like it. We are so excited for him! We are meeting with him this coming Saturday and will be trying to set a baptism date with him. Pray for Roy!!

It's also funny because he is black, and there are very few black people in Effingham. It doesn't bother him or anything, but he did mention that it was different from South Carolina. The branch did a great job at making him feel welcome, though.

We really are so blessed. I know that God answers prayers. He protected Elder Cheney and I on Saturday and has been rewarding us for our efforts throughout the week. I know that God is our loving Father in Heaven and that he cares about us and loves us with a perfect love we cannot comprehend. I love being a missionary and all I get to learn every single day. I also love all the fun adventures I get to have :) It was a fun week!!

Love, Elder Hayes

Photo 1: about to drive to service!!
Photo 2: braving a harsh winter storm!!

Monday, February 22, 2016

Week 78 - I had the privilege of baptizing Brian!

It's a new transfer! I am staying in Effingham to finish training Elder Cheney. This next transfer will be a seven week transfer instead of the usual six weeks, so we'll get an extra week together in the area. Fun fun!!

The weather has been amazing recently, a few days ago it got to like 75!! We were loving it!! It's getting chilly again but it definitely looks like Spring is around the corner :) I hate wearing thermals so I'm glad that weather is most likely gone now.

Highlight of the week was definitely Brian's baptism!! I had the privilege of baptizing him, although Elder Cheney also helped because he is a bigger guy and we didn't want him to fall :) We ended up having to do it twice because he didn't go all the way under. He was pretty nervous about it because of his health and balance problems, but it all worked out! It was a great service!! :) We are so blessed.

A few weeks ago we taught a part-member couple, Samantha and Clint, who came to church the next day but missed the next two Sundays. We met with them this last Saturday and had a great lesson with them! They said that they used to fight a lot but that since we met with them and they went to church they've been praying together and haven't fought once. Super cool! They came to church and Samantha (the one investigating) said that they weren't missing another Sunday. Woohoo!! They seem committed :) Only holdup is that they're not married at the moment, but baby steps...

Recently something I've been struggling with is just being positive. We've been working on finding new people so much recently and I just find myself getting pretty annoyed with everyone we talk to. Like maybe not verbally but afterwards I'm just like, "OH my gosh I am done with this street" haha it's not that bad but it is something I want to work on. I'm trying to learn to develop greater love for the people I'm serving, because I know that that's the only way we'll get through to them :)

Things are good! I love Effingham and all the wonderful people who live here. Thank you everyone for the love and support :) You are amazing!!

Love, Elder Hayes

Photo 1: me with brian and elder cheney at brian's baptism!
Photo 2 : the world's largest rocking chair (casey, il)
Photo 3: me ringing the world's largest windchime (also casey, il)

Monday, February 15, 2016

Week 77 - I love the temple so much

It's been a pretty crazy week! Like last week, it had some really great moments but also a few sad moments. Overall though it was pretty solid and despite the bad weather, it's been a good seven days :)

We won't be able to teach the Rays for a while because the mom got kicked out of the house by the husband and she is no longer there the kids (for now) so that was super sad to hear. I see so much potential in them and can only continue praying for them so that in the future when things settle down and their mom gets to be with them that future missionaries will harvest the seeds we planted :) It's sad but it's life!!

Something cool that happened was that a few weeks ago somebody moved into the apartment directly below ours. However since everything got moved in we haven't seen a car outside or any lights on so it seemed like his stuff was there but the guy hadn't moved into the apartment yet. Two days ago in the late afternoon we saw his lights were on and decided to knock and introduce ourselves as the neighbors! He is a super nice black guy from South Carolina. He said his family would be coming up too in a few weeks and that we could teach him this coming Saturday! I see lots of potential with it. How cool would it be to teach and baptize a family that lives next door?? Updates to come next week :)

Brian is set to be baptized this Saturday!! It is going to be so great! It's been awesome to be able to see the gospel work in his life. He's found a lot of comfort in knowing that he'll see his son again, who recently passed away. We are so blessed!!

We found quite a few new people this week too. We had a lesson scheduled with the Angel family and they had forgotten about it and were about to head out. Maria told us they were going to her brother's house just a couple blocks down the road, and said we could follow them there and teach all of them! His name is Adan and his wife is named Diana. We got to share a brief message with all of them and will get to teach them again this week. Woohoo!

Lots of good things are happening honestly. It's easy to get down on ourselves when things don't work out perfectly, but we are still staying positive and enjoying the blessings God is giving us :)

I know Christ is at the head of this Church and that the Book of Mormon is another testament of Him!! I got to go to the temple again this week and it was such a wonderful experience. I love the temple so much. Please don't take it for granted, especially since most of you live so close to one!! Love you all!

Love, Elder Hayes

Photos: pics at the St Louis temple!!

Monday, February 8, 2016

Week 76 - Fasting is wonderful

This week has had it's fair share of both miracles and disappointments. We were able to find a couple new people to teach, had some great lessons and maintained a positive attitude through it all :)
One cool thing that happened is that we decided to try and get in contact with less-actives whose addresses and/or phone numbers we don't have by asking members about them. One less-active we wanted to see, Kyle, is actually another active member's twin brother. This member, Kayla, told us where he lived and that he was pretty sketchy and basically lived a pretty wild life, lol :) We decided to stop by anyway though!

He was pretty nice and we could definitely tell that he had been out of the church for a while... we had a couple appointments with him scheduled, but none of them ended up going through. Then on Sunday out of the blue, he walked into the chapel with Kayla! He was the last guy we expected to see there!! Apparently he had mentioned to Kayla that he had work off on Sunday and she was like, "Great, then come to church!" and he was like "uuuuhhhhh" like trying to come up with an excuse but then though, "Hm, well the missionaries have been trying to stop by..." and so he just decided to come! I guess the last time he had been "active" was like when he was in young mens. Hopefully he'll start making changes and come back fully to the church! :)

The sad part of the week was that nobody made it to church :( The Rays promised us that they would be making it but then for some unknown reason didn't come. They cancelled the lesson we had that afternoon due to something coming up, but we don't know why they missed church :( We were super bummed! And no one else came either! That had us a down for a little bit, but we got over it pretty quick :) We did our part by inviting them, after all!

Something else that helped with the week is on Fast Sunday, I decided to make my fast more specific than usual. I usually make it pretty general and fast for several different things (like any other prayer) but this time I dedicated my fast completely to the Ray family. It was cool because any time I felt a little hungry my thoughts went directly to them and I was reminded about why I was doing it!

Fasting is wonderful and I am so grateful for the opportunity I had to do it. I definitely take it for granted sometimes! I love being a missionary and have honestly enjoyed the last week, despite the small disappointments :)
Love, Elder Hayes

Photo: me with my boy!! taken just this morning!!

Monday, February 1, 2016

Week 75 - A week full of miracles

LOTS of miracles this week!! It has been such a great last few days. The weather has been amazing and so has the work!
So we have been teaching these two girls named Lana (10) and Nadine (16). Their mom, Sarah, grew up in the church in Hawaii but hasn't been active since she's lived here in Illinois (which was a while back). Pretty sure I've mentioned them before, but just a little refresher :) We set a baptism date with them for March 5th! They have not been able to make it to church yet but we really emphasized the importance of it and they seem excited to really commit this time. Please pray for the Ray family!! They are so great and the gospel would make the biggest difference in their lives :)

Something else that happened is we were teaching this less-active member when we started talking about her son (who is also a member) who had just moved out with his fiancee a couple months ago. We had been given the address and were planning on helping them, but for some reason or another it was cancelled! But we still had the address! It clicked in my mind that we could totally find where they lived and teach them. We taught them Saturday night and his fiancee, Samantha, was there and said she would read, pray, come to church, AND be baptized! Then the next day they were at church!! It was SO awesome!!

The last few weeks had been good but we were a little down on ourselves because it seemed like our investigators, weren't progressing as much as we wanted them to. But we have seen plenty of miracles this week! I am so grateful for the Holy Ghost and for the promptings he gives us! It has made all the difference while I've been here in Effingham and throughout my mission as a whole. I love it so much!!

It's been a great week and next week should be just as good, if not better! I love you all!!

Love, Elder Hayes

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