Monday, April 27, 2015

Is that a Football?

Well, this week was a dream.  I don't know, once again, how it ended soo fast. The weeks and days just get faster and faster. I can't even believe it.
Last Monday, just after emailing we went and played some basketball. I have never really been that good of a ball player, but I love it so much so I always play and have a great ol time. This week for some reason I was on fire, just making ever shot I took.  That doesn't really have that much to do with my story, I just wanted y'all to know that I did good, haha. Well this one time, I was playing defense and I don't know what happened, but Elder Banner, a little tiny twig guy, hit me in the eye with his elbow that is as sharp as Cutco (trust me, I would know since I worked as a cutco salesman for 3 days) and made my eyebrow rip open and start to pour blood. It was awesome. 7 stitches later it was still awesome. It looked so gnarley.  On Tuesday my eye was swollen shut. It was so funny. I wish I had my cord to send you a picture of it, but it's lost in the apartment somewhere, so I'll just show y'all in a few weeks.  It was so crazy though. In all honesty I think it helped the missionary work out cause everyone listened to us cause they wanted to hear the story about what happened haha. Earlier today elder Checketts pulled out the stitches with fingernail clippers, it was awesome.  One little 4 year old kid was staring at my stitches on like Thursday and just says "is that a football?". I laughed so hard.
On a more spiritual note, though, let me tell y'all about Ivonne. Ivonne has been meeting with missionary for about a year. She is 18 and way cool. She reads and prays and comes to church and everything, she just hasn't recognized an answer and she's scared her catholic family will disown her.  On Friday's weekly planning we said a special prayer to help us know what we could teach her to make her ready. I had the distinct impression to teach all about the Celestial Kingdom.  So we did. It was a KILLER LESSON.  SO GOOD. The spirit guided everything so much. At the end of the lesson I extended a bap date invitation for May 2 and she agreed!  Then we decided to do a fast, us and her, so that she would feel ready and that her parents would have soften hearts. So we fasted that day and the next day we went over and it her opening prayer she thanked God for finally giving her an answer.  IT WAS AMAZING!!  Ivonne is finally getting baptized this Saturday. I am so pumped. She told her parents and they weren't happy, but they didn't disown her either!  We taught her about how her light will grow and shine and eventually she will be able to help them accept the Gospel as well. Ah man, God is good. I know that He answers prayers and really does want to bless us and help us out. So that's that.  Pray that Ivonne's parents will be more submissive and that everything will go well!
For dinner on Saturday we got invited to one of the guys in the branches birthday party. It was a dream.  Mexicans have this way that they all goes like this:
  • Banda (that is a type of Mexican music) blasting
  • BBQ
  • Beans
  • A billion people
  • Everyone is related somehow
  • Usually there is beer too :(
This time there wasn't beer though cause they were all active members of the church, haha. It was SO MUCH FUN!  I love the Mexican culture so much.  Dad told me, as his advice before my mission, to love the culture and let me tell you, I succeeded in that. I hope there are Mexican hangouts in Provo that will let me join it, haha.
Anyway, I love y'all so much! Have a good week and don't get stitches in your eye!
Don't forget to pray and to smile!
Elder Porter 

Monday, April 20, 2015

The Wrestle

First off in this email I feel the need to explain to y'all some mission lingo.  I don't know if you have ever heard it before so I will teach you as if you only have 4 years of age (sorry I sounded like an idiot when I said that, I just read Winston's letter and he always makes me lose a few IQ points).
When a missionary first starts his mission he is "born" in an area and his trainer is his "dad".  At the end of the mission and you think about home you are "trunky", hopefully y'all already knew that.  If a missionary is disobedient he is "apostate" and if something is against the rules it is "un-legit".  Lastly, and perhaps the most important one for this email, when a missionary finishes his mission he "dies" and his last companions "killed him". I believe you are ready for the rest of this email.

I'm gonna die in Hobbs!  We got our transfer calls and the Lord has called me to finish it out in Hobbs, that isn't the exciting news, though. Both Elder Whitesides and Bradshaw are leaving me, which isn't the exciting part either, and I'm getting....Elder HEAPS!! Do y'all remember Elder Heaps?  I served with him in Odessa exactly one year ago. I love the kid so much. He's easily one of my favorite companions ever.  It almost never happens that you get to serve with one of your old companions again OR that you serve in one of your old areas again and I'm doing BOTH!!  Yay.  I will still be in a trio. Our other companion's name is Elder Farley.  Now, y'all know that my title on my mission has basically been "babysitter"  (sorry, that's another lingo I forgot to mention. "Babysitter" means that you have an apostate companion or you have a companion that is struggling a lot with his mission and you need to help him out)  most of my companion since I left Hobbs last year have had troubles with their mission and President and God assigned me to serve with them to help out a lot.  I used to be so bugged by it, I always would dream of having a hard working, experienced, and obedient companion, but that just hasn't happened.   This transfer it hit me though that it is SUCH a huge sign of trust from both President Heap and also from God.  They are trusting another person's mission, which means the salvation of many souls, to me for 6 weeks.  Babysitting changed from a chore to an honor.  Well.  Elder Farley has been having a rough go on his mission. I  don't know any details, but I do know that my assignment for these next 6 weeks is to "save this boy". As soon as the AP told me that it all just clicked to an even deeper level.  I remember that when I was set apart as a missionary the first time President Hughes said that the mission president would trust me after a short time to take on sensitive or fragile assignments. I have seen that.  He also talked a lot about how he feels one of the purposes on his mission was to bless the life of one of his companions. I think if I look back on it I feel that way too. I think the whole timing thing with me not being able to come out, then getting a call anyway, then going home, then coming back after just one transfer, was so I could serve with who I have served with, not as much as so I could teach certain people in my areas. I feel like God has used me as a tool mostly for my companions.  That's not to say that I am the perfect companion at all, I'm sure a few of them have had problems for sure, but I know that I have some God given gifts that has helped me connect with my companions and help them make the changes they need to in their lives and in their missionary work.  Sorry this paragraph is a little crazy...I got most of that revelation as I was writing it, haha. Anyway.  I am pumped out of my mind for the next 6 weeks of my life and the last 6 weeks of my mission.

We also went to the Temple this week.  It was gnarly. We went with Josh Gandy, the recent convert from Lovington I told y'all about a few weeks ago. I met a guy there at the temple who is a professor at Texas Tech.  He knows Dad cause he used to work at BYU, but I forgot his name, sorry!  Anyway, we had a nice little chat and he taught me how to be a student again.  Pretty much he just told me to keep doing all my missionary stuff minus proselyting. It was sweet. I like the Temple, and I love Josh, and I like talking to random guys.

You know, that is about it.  I was gonna write y'all about Enos 1 and his "wrestle" that he has with God and then compare it to some of the things our investigators have been doing recently, but I ran out of time and ganas.  Sorry!!  SO anyway. Just know that the church is true and our investigators are progressing.

I love y'all a bazillion.  Have a really good and happy week!

Elder Porter

Monday, April 13, 2015

Glade Wars

This weeks was a really good week.  Every week is a really good week.  Life is really great as a missionary! 

We had exchanges go down this week.  It was gnarly.  Elder Bradshaw and I  stayed in Hobbs Spanish and Elder Checketts, our DL came with us for a day.  It was SO FUN.  Easily the most fun and funniest exchange of my whole life.  Elder Checketts goes home with me, so we are both pretty advancada in the mission, he was an AP for like 7 months or something like that, so he is a killer missionary and a way hard worker.  It was so fun just to go hard and do it well, ya know?  Right now he is training a missionary, Elder Banner.  Elder Banner is easily the most prepared kid I have ever met.  He works so hard. I would never guess that it is only his second transfer if it weren't for how skinny his cheeks are (because all missionaries get bigger cheeks).  They work real hard together, but Checketts wanted a break of sorts, to where he could talk about home and discuss plans for after the mission without making his greeny feel trunky.  That's why he came with us!  As I had previously stated, we went so hard, but had so much fun.  That is how missionary work should always be!!!  Sorry that paragraph was all misconstrued...Just know that it was fun.

For the past few weeks we have been doing service at Salvation Army for a few hours each week.  It has been a blast.  We do pretty much anything, from sort food, to building boxes, to mopping floors, to playing on fork lifts.  It is always a good time.  This week the lady who is in charge of it (who loves us to death) asked us if we could meet her at some random bakery here in town. We met her there and our job was to go through the bakery and find all the bread that was about to expire and then chuck it into her van.  I don't know if y'all have ever just chucked a loaf of bread as hard as you can before...but I would suggest it.  There is no explanation that I can tell, but it is way more fun to throw than a ball. Anyway, we spent about an hour and filled up her van so much that the shocks began to compress, it was a whole lot of bread! Then we went and helped her unload it all back at the Salvation Army building and this time we chucked it at each other.  If you haven't been hit in the face with hot dog buns...I plead with so now. At the end of the day she gave us a box of food!  We told her "no ma'am, we can't take this" and then she said some Mexican profanities and made us take it, so we were grateful!  She even had thrown in a few bags of Fruit Smileys, those walmart brand fruit snacks!! I was and am a happy camper:)

Back in the day, when I was 17ish I was assigned several times to take the sacrament to various viejos in the ward. At the time I thought of it as somewhat of a chore, but as I pondered back on it this past week I realized that it was a huge blessing.  Even then I always loved to take it to Brother Cole, a man in the ward who was real close to death and couldn't come to church.  He made sacrament a special thing.  Each time we would bring the bread and water he would ask us to start of with a prayer, then he would ask us to bear our testimony or to tell him about what we learned at church that day, or to share our favorite scripture, or something like that, and then when he took the sacrament he would always put it in his mouth and stop and close his eyes and just think for a second.  Some of the strongest times I have felt the spirit has been in the Cole's living room.  I never really understood why it was such a big deal to him, or why he asked us to do those things, but I sure know that it helped my understanding of the importance of the Sacrament grow and it kinda built a foundation for me that I could build upon.

This Saturday I was thinking about the Sacrament and about what I could do to make it a more spiritual experience for me.  I studied it out that day and on Sunday and I had some really neat personal realizations of things I can do to make it more special but also a little bit more about the meaning and significance of it.  I realized that when I prepare the sacrament I am preparing the means by which people can renew their covenants and become clean again. I realized that when I pass the Sacrament I am giving them that opportunity to repent and be clean, that is cool.  I realized that "nadie viene al Padre sino por mi" (sorry I don't know what that scripture says exactly in English), but also that no one can come to the Son but by the Sacrament and no one could come to the Sacrament but by me (if I were the one to prepare or pass it).  I though that was neat.  On Sunday I was blessed because they asked me if I would bless.  As I read the prayer my heart was filled with the Spirit and I felt like a really truly was making steps towards God, renewing and repromising. The Church is so true!  I know that the Sacrament is so important.  I know that as we take the sacrament worthily, and do our best to keep our covenants each week, to remember Christ always and to take His name as our own, we will never be beat by the adversary.  We will always have the strength necessary to do good and to stay good.

I love y'all a lot!  HAve a good week.  Be safe.  Read your scriptures.  SMILE!
Elder Porter

Monday, April 6, 2015

Black Box

This week we had a Zone Conference up in Lubbock.  It was a really really good one.  Pretty much ever meeting that Preident Heap participates in is really good. That guy is a powy how (that's just how you say Power House in shortened words...duh). He started his instruction by saying "Alright Elders and Sisters, ask me...what do you want to know" and then for the next hour he just answered our questions about the Gospel.  It was so powerful!  He sure knows his scriptures. One of the APs gave a really really good instruction as well. He taught about how to teach powerfully, something I am always looking to improve. He talked specifically about using short power statements to explain each point of the Restoration in 3 or 4 sentences each.  He stressed the importance of knowing the docterin so well that we can explain it simply, just like my boy Hyrum Smith talks about in PMG. It was a killer lesson and we have already seen a sweet change in our teaching, at least I have.  We also had a guy from the mission department in Salt Lake come up to talk to us.  He was specifically in charge of the Church's fleet of cars. They installed what we call "The Black Box" in each of our cars.  It monitors our speed, acceleration, turning, stops, seatbelts, and pretty much everthing else. It is the most annoying thing ever.  Whenever you have a violation it yells at you and you get a mark on your record.  I don't really get any marks except for speeding.  It is so frustrating when you're driving on a real wide, country road with no one on it in either direction going 25 miles per hour cause you have a stupid machine that will rip your face off if you go any faster. I mean, come on!!  You should be allowed to go at least like 80 on those roads!!  Am I right, or what!?!?  Nah, don't worry, y'all.  I don't actually get too many violations.  I certainly have slowed down a lot since they installed it, but it's whatever.  Still a good Zone Conference.

On Saturday we did some way fun service and cut down a tree. Do y'all remember Hector and Denise I told y'all about last year? They are the ones that Martin and I baptized, well it turns out that this whole time their next door neighbor was a member of the English ward and had been talking to them for forever about the Church! Good for her! Anyway, she is a really old lady and cant do much, so Hector and us cut down her tree for her. We got there at 6 in the morning on Saturday, so we could have time to finish and then go watch conference.  Hector had a great idea to just tie a rope to the top and the other part of the rope to his truck and then drive away to break off a few of the pesky branches right away. So we got it all hooked up and stuff and he drove off with his truck and....The ENTIRE tree fell to the ground hahah. It was so awesome. It was just a really really dry tree, I guess, cause it just crashed hard. Y me So we just chopped it up on the ground and moved it into a trailer.  It ended up being a lot easier than we had intended.  Easily one of my favorite service projects I have done in my mission!

Holy crap y'all, HOW WAS GENERAL CONFERENCE?!!? I thought it was so good.  I don't really have a favorite talk, at least not that I remember, because every talk was so good and inspired. I went with the question of "what things can I do at home to help me remember and apply all these good lesson I have learned on my mission and to be able to continue to grow into the man God needs me to be".  God sure answered my prayer because in almost every talk I was touched by the spirit and I learned something I can do to remember and grow.  It was so good. I love conference. I always get one of the warmest feelings ever whenever Thomas S Monson speaks.  I really do know that that man is called of God.

Also, Easter is the best time to be a missionary ever. It is so neat to be able to testify of Christ and his Atonement and life and stuff every day, but it is especially cool to testify of that stuff on Easter. Church is true.

Anyway, I love y'all a whole lot! Have a good and happy week!
Elder Porter  

About Me

Elder Caleb Porter is currently serving in the Texas, Lubbock Mission. Read his letters and see his pictures here!