Monday, March 28, 2016

Week 83 - I love Easter!!

Hey everyone! So the last seven days have been interesting. We have been counting contacts recently as a zone, which means every time we invite someone to learn more or give them a card or something, we make note of it. Each week we try to break our previous high score and it's been awesome! We have been talking to everyone!! So we definitely felt like we were fulfilling our purpose as missionaries. Unfortunately, we didn't get to teach very many lessons, but we did set a lot of appointments for this coming week, so it's looking like nex​t week will be a lot better.

Although it's been unusually slow here recently, we still aren't too discouraged because we still come home tired at the end of the day knowing that we did all we could do. Of course we can always do better and are always looking for ways to improve, but we are determined to not let the poor decisions of others affect our demeanor :)

I love Easter!! It has been great to get to share the new #Hallelujah video with everyone. Holidays are such great opportunities to do missionary work. This couple named Daniel and Tamela allowed us to share it with them yesterday. They are super cool and nice but Daniel didn't seem super interested. However, once we showed the video, he asked a couple questions about the Book of Mormon, which led into a brief discussion on what it is and how it can strengthen their faith! It was pretty cool. It wasn't a very long visit, but it was still cool because he might be a little more open to meeting in the next couple of weeks now. Woohoo!

I don't know if I've mentioned him in the past, but for the past few months we've been meeting with a man named Ben, who is a Pentecostal pastor. He is the nicest guy ever and his family is super cool too, but on Monday we met with him and agreed to disagree. He is really sincere and wants to know what is true, but is just so involved with his church and already has so many opinions that we felt we weren't really going anywhere. He was cool about it and ended up inviting us to his church during the evening on Easter... so we went! It was completely different from our church services, let me tell ya... haha it was pretty fun though. Everyone was super welcoming! There was lots of loud singing and preaching and speaking in tongues and hand clapping. It was a different experience, but I definitely appreciated their enthusiasm and sincerity :) Good times!!

It's been a good week! We were able to talk to a lot of people each day and were able to see lots of small miracles. I know Jesus Christ lives today and that because he rose on the third day, we too can live again with our families for eternity :)

Love, Elder Hayes

Photo: Elder Cheney, Ben, and me!!

Monday, March 21, 2016

Week 82 - We must continue to labor diligently

Not sure why, but it seems like every time we have a killer week, the next week always ends up being... well, not so killer. I don't know what happens! It was quite a bit slower than last week, but we still saw some small miracles.

Something we started doing is every night as we plan for the next day, we reflect on the day and try to pick at least one miracle we saw that day. Some days it's easy, but then other days we really have to think about it, haha... It's really helped, though! It's a blessing to look for those small tender mercies throughout the day. Helps make things a bit more bearable :)

The most shocking part of the week happened Saturday. We went to go teach Kennedy and had this awesome lesson planned to help prepare him even more for his baptism on the 26th. He then proceeded to tell us about all the things he had read on the Internet about Joseph Smith and temples and the Book of Mormon and how he no longer believed any of it to be true. For the last week he had been completely immersing himself in anti-Mormon material.

I have been teaching Kennedy since I first got to Effingham five months ago. I have seen such a dramatic difference in his life as he has applied the gospel, felt the Spirit, came to church, and read from the Book of Mormon. Not one week ago, he was telling us how excited he was for his baptism. He would always text us things like, "I'm holding on to the rod and I'm almost at the tree!" and "This really is the restored church of Jesus Christ!" Like super positive stuff.

It was absolutely devastating to see him forget about all of that so quickly. He told us he loved us and was eternally grateful for all we had done for him, but that he now disagreed with Joseph Smith and the Church's teachings. All we could really do was express our love for him and bear testimony. Maybe some day in the future he will come back, but for now all we can do is pray for him.

That really but a damper on the whole week, but besides that we worked extra hard and have really been enjoying using the new #Hallelujah Easter initiative as a finding approach. We are focusing on trying to talk to everyone so we can get as many people to watch the video as possible!

This morning I read Moroni 9, and verse 6 really seemed to apply to this week:

And now, my beloved son, notwithstanding their hardness, let us labor diligently; for if we should cease to labor, we should be brought under condemnation; for we have a labor to perform whilst in this tabernacle of clay, that we may conquer the enemy of all righteousness, and rest our souls in the kingdom of God.

Notwithstanding the hardness of a lot of the people we talk to, we must continue to labor diligently because it is what we have been called to do! I know that the Book of Mormon is the word of God and love the opportunity I have to invite others to read from it and find out for themselves. It's a true book!

Love, Elder Hayes

Week 81 - We are being showered with blessings over here

So many miracles this week!! Where to begin...

Tuesday we had a zone conference in Springfield, IL and it was great! The whole focus was on repentance. It kind of reiterated what had been shared with us during a worldwide broadcast we had a couple months ago I may have mentioned when it happened? Anyway, apparently repentance is skipped/looked over too often when teaching so we are all trying to reemphasize its importance before baptism and also working on showing our investigators how to do it, not just telling them about it. It was a great day!!

Wednesday we had a great lesson with Kennedy, who is still working towards a baptism date of March 26th. Fingers crossed!! He had some doubts about whether he was ready or not but it ended up working out and we were able to resolve the concerns he expressed. He really needs prayers though, we are hoping his date will go through!

Friday night we were planning for the next day and as we thought about what to do all day, I suddenly felt very unmotivated and kind of pessimistic. Like overall I am a pretty positive person but every once in a while (especially recently) I will feel like that. Pretty much all we had to do was knock doors and I was just not feeling it, lol. However we decided to follow the advice of some other elders in the district and ask God what streets we should work on. We prayed and picked a few streets we felt seemed alright and I went to bed kind of dreading the next day.

To my surprise, Saturday ended up being one of the best days of the week! We were tracting in the morning and on the fourth door we knocked on, this couple let us right in and we taught them and invited them to church the next day. They didn't make it, but it was still a great lesson and a very appreciated blessing that set the tone for the rest of the day :) It was a very humbling experience and it strengthened my testimony of prayer. I love prayer! It works!!

Sunday we were able to teach this cool lady named Mayra from the Dominican Republic. We taught in mixed English and Spanish so Elder Cheney and the member we were with could contribute. It went really well and she wants to come to church next Sunday :)

We are being showered with blessings over here. I love being here and love all the people we are teaching. I love all of you! Have a good one :)

Love, Elder Hayes

Photos 1 & 2: My dad served his mission in Bolivia, and I can now say that I have too!!
Photo 3: This is Bolivia, IL. There are literally like four houses lol
Photo 4: My go-to meal!! eggs + veggies + queso fresco + mesquite smoked turkey + avocado + valentina sauce = mmmmmmm!!!

Monday, March 7, 2016

Week 80 - I know God is aware of all His children

Sooo this week was a bit slower than usual. It was interesting, because while we had some really great moments, the rest of the time was just kind of blegh. Not bad at all, though!

It seems like we are doing all we can, yet we are still struggling to find a whole lot of people. Last week we did okay, but this week wasn't so successful. However, we did set a few appointments for next week that have some potential, so this next week might be better! Woohoo! We also have a zone conference tomorrow which I am super excited about. Zone conferences are the best because you get to meet with lots of missionaries for a day and learn so much and have a great time. Super cool! I'll tell you about it in a week :)

The highlight was our meeting with Roy. He didn't make it to church, but we met with him later that day. If you don't remember, he is the black guy from South Carolina who lives below us. He told us that he had not read anything yet, but after we talked about why we invite him to do so and the blessings it will bring, he committed to do so before our next visit. Yay!

We were also able to set a baptism date with him for April 9th, the weekend after conference! He is excited to work towards that goal. The only issues are that he drinks vodka and coffee, so who knows how easy it will be for him to give those up... besides that though he believes that him moving into our same apartment building was meant to be and he says he isn't about to ignore a sign from God. He is a really humble and awesome guy!

We also set a baptism date with Kennedy for March 26th! We've been meeting with him since I first got to Effingham and he has had his fair share of ups and downs. Right now, the only thing holding him back would be his Word of Wisdom issues. He has quit tobacco, but is working on weaning​ off his vaporizer. We hope he's able to quit by then!

While the week did seem slower, we still saw a lot of miracles. I know God is aware of all His children, even if sometimes they forget about Him. I love this gospel and love seeing how much it blesses others! The change is real! This church is true.

Love, Elder Hayes

Photo: Bowling!!!

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