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!)

Saturday, May 7, 2016

Week 88 - It's been a week of miracles

​Hey everyone, so it's been a week of miracles with a few disappointments sprinkled throughout. It's been great overall, though.

Good news: Brother Nunez and Waleska (his daughter) we're teaching came to church and loved it! He comes fairly regularly now and Waleska loves Primary :) She even knows a few of the songs! We are so happy for them. We still aren't sure when she will get to be baptized because her mom still isn't for it :(

We taught Peggy a couple times last week too. She really wants to be a part of our church because she said she felt so much more welcome there than at her other church! She's even read a little from the Book of Mormon too. The sad part is that she lives with some other family members, and they called us the other day asking us to stop meeting with her and to no longer contact her at all. It was super sad because she wants to come to church and keep learning, but we can't go against her family :( All we can really do is pray for her and hope that some day in the future her family will soften their hearts.

We were having trouble finding people to teach this week, but Sunday night at like 8:30 we decided to try this guy we had met earlier that week named Francisco. Since it was late, we weren't expecting to get to really teach him, but he let us right in and we shared a brief message with him about families and the Book of Mormon. He is from Mexico and we will be meeting with him (and hopefully his family) later this week! Such a miracle! :) It was a very nice ending to our week.

All the missionaries in my district are doing great. I love being a district leader and getting to serve them and help them out :) Our next district meeting is on Cinco de Mayo, so we will be singing the opening and closing hymns in Spanish. I try to keep things interesting, hehe :)

I love the people here! This next week should be another great one. It is unreal how fast time flies. I've loved my mission and am exciting for the great things that will happen the next few weeks :) I love you all!!

Love, Elder Hayes
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