Happy New Year!

December 30, 2013

Hello Fellow New Year's Resoluters,
This past week was a little slow, since everyone decided to take a vacation. So visited and revisited members that were still here, and visited those we didn't usually see. Good thing they all like us.

Skyping with my family was awesome!!! This one made me a little more homesick than the first one. Probably because I am coming up on my year mark (11 month mark exactly today!!). I wish I had more time than around the 45 minutes that I got. "I didn't go on a mission to skype with my family, though!" :) Christmas on the mission, was great.  Next year, the Holidays will be even better, because at that point I would only have a month left on my mission, and will want to squeeze as much out of it as I can! That is going to come very quickly.

The highlight of our week was probably our lessons with Jesse. We reviewed the baptismal interview questions with him, and he is pretty much set. We haven't taught him everything yet, so there were some things he didn't know about, but he is very open and ready to learn. The only thing stopping the baptism: marriage. I hope they figure it out. Til then, we will just keep teaching and strengthening!

Today was yet another mission conference!
 Elder Kent F. Richards of the 2nd Quorum of the 70 was coming through town to visit family, and he asked President Van Cott if he could meet the missionaries. So he did! To summarize what we learned: Teaching simply, and to their understanding, so the Spirit can easily bare witness to them. That, and don't be a marshmallow hammer.

I love you all, and thanks for all the Christmas cards! I loved hearing from so many of you.  Keep the letters coming! :)


Elder Summerhays  

Family and Friends, Happy New Year to you all!
I want to thank all of you that sent cards, letters and packages to Caleb.  Sadly, our family gift to him was lost in the mail (still yet to be found) but because of all the love he received from you he didn't even miss it until we asked about it during the wonderful 40 min. we had him in our living room via Skype.  I know your letters and prayers truly sustain him and I hope you are blessed for your efforts.   With Love.

Merry Christmas!

December 23, 2013

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Hello Festive Fellows,
I have an important announcement to make. After trying one right after the other, I have to say that Five Guys has better burgers than In-and-Out. Five Guys is still my favorite burger.

Anyway, it's been a good week this week. Some fun things have happened. I shall recount an even that happened, but I was not conscious enough to witness it.  Ah hem. The other morning at about 3:00am, Elder Bushman heard a knock on the door. He woke up Elder Taylor to go with him to check it out. Right as Elder Bushman left his room to the living room, he saw a figure walking back out of our apartment towards the door. She stopped, looked at him, then booked it outside with her friend screaming "What!  Some one *expletive* lives here? !". Elder Taylor locked the door, and they both went to bed. Nothing was stolen or moved. Crazy.

It's been hard to meet with people this week, since everyone is out of town for the holidays! We did have a few good lessons with investigators, though. Jesse said he believes in everything!  We just need to make sure that he understands, and eventually gets married to his girlfriend.  Second time in a row coming to church, hopefully next week he will stay the full three hours!
Now that I think about it, Sunday was probably the best day of the week (surprise, surprise). We had three of our investigators at church today, and despite us thinking no one was going to be at church, it was packed! We didn't set up enough chairs in the overflow. Sure, people are out of town, but others are visiting from out of town. So yeah, a whole bunch of people. We ended the day with good lessons to members, and a wonderful dinner.

I wanted to highly recommend Elder Holland’s talk, "Safety in the Soul".   I had a really good spiritual experience reading it.

The message that we have been leaving with members this week has been about blessing Jesus Christ this Christmas. Without all the filler talk, we challenged members to write down a gift that they will give to Christ. It can be reading your scriptures 15 minutes a day, or finding a friend to bring to church. On the back of the December Ensign, Elder Ballard is quoted saying (from the Oct 2013 Conf.) "We are simply asking all members to pray, knowing that if every member, young and old, will reach out to just “one”between now and Christmas, millions will feel the love of the Lord Jesus Christ. And what a wonderful gift to the Savior." It can be anything! We had them put it in an envelope, and put it under the tree. When you "give" that gift, whatever it may be, it will mean a lot more, as it is a gift to the Savior. It's not a goal that you will make and forget about. Since it is going to the Savior, it is going to be the best. The Little Drummer Boy did not give much, but what he did give, it was his best, and it was worth more than the"gold that perisheth". I know the Spirit of CHRISTmas will be better remembered and understood if everyone were to do this. And no, this is not a replacement for a New Year's resolutions. Still do those. :)
I hope everyone has a Merry Christmas! Thanks to everyone who has so far sent me Christmas cards and such!
Love you all!
 Elder Summerhays

P.S. Something we discovered: most generic Christmas cards, at least with an outside setting, have two cardnals in them, and they are usually red and yellowish-orange. We have found about five cards that have followed this pattern.
No idea what it means. Still cool.

A Precious Experience

December 9, 2013

This week has been crazy! I am not sure where to start. Good thing I have my journal, so I can just start at the first entry. :) Oh, and two of our lights in our apartment are broken, so I wrote in my journal partially by candle light (thanks mom!)
There was nothing too noteworthy at the start of the week. We had to catch up Isaac (Precious's son) so he would be ready for the baptism interview. We had Paul, his dad, teach the Law of Chastity to him. They were so mean!  It was hilarious!
Then we had a good lesson with John, a new investigator. He is an interesting fellow. Not much to say other than he is pretty interested.

The next day was insane although it started out normal. We have a new investigator named Jesse. We were looking for another less active guy that we had been working with.  He wasn't home, though his mom's boyfriend was. So we asked him if we could teach him, and he said ‘Yes’! It was a good first lesson (he is on date for baptism for Feb. 8th. Now we just need to help the rest of the family get active!).

We then went to the church building where the baptismal interviews for Precious and her kids were to take place, three days before the service. The kids were the first to go, and everything was fine. While they were going on, I was showing off my piano and magic skills, which was kind of fun. Then it was Precious's turn for her interview. Long story short, and without giving too much detail, the baptism almost didn't happen. Actually, for a day or two, it wasn't happening. Through misunderstandings and such, people were offended, depressed, and tried. I had to talk to President VanCott a number of times, trying to figure things out. Satan had done his best to prevent this baptism. Our whole apartment and Paul fasted the next day, hoping and praying for the best. Even with biking in the cold and stressing, it probably was the easiest, most dedicated fast I have ever done.

We felt like we should make brownies for Precious, in hopes to cheer her up. It was the first time EVER in my life, and probably Elder Weaver's life too, that we did not lick the whisk or scrape the bowl for a snack. We just washed it out with hot water. Making brownies while fasting is pretty hard, but we did it! Then, using a spaghetti strainer (my idea) we put powdered sugar on it. It worked. We missed them at the Christmas party, but we learned that things were cooling off, and that the baptism was now a possibility. The whole time we were acting as if it was going to happen regardless of the situation. People kept asking us about them, and we would talk normal as if nothing was wrong. Our hope was pretty strong. The next day, we delivered the brownies, ding-dong-ditch style. We later learned that a) Brownies are her favorite, and that she ate three immediately, and b) Pres. Miskin, a counselor to Pres. VanCott, was able to convince Paul to convince Precious to let him talk to her, something that she did not want to do, which was talk about anything related to the situation. He talked with her the morning of the baptism. Right after, we spoke with Pres. Miskin and eventually Paul, both of which pretty much said there were tears everywhere, strong Spirit, and that the baptism was a go. 
I'm not sure how many people were at the baptism, but a rough count in my head tells me it was around 50 or so. There were family and friends from everywhere. The talks were amazing! The ordinance was performed flawlessly (though Paul started out backwards, raising his left hand and such. It was funny). It was such a great relief to everyone that knew what had happened. It was an amazing lesson for me in faith and patience. 
Later that night, I invited Pres. VanCott to go with us to a lesson, and he blew my mind. The man is an amazing teacher. He gave me a lot of ideas. We tried to squeeze where we were getting transferred to out of him early, but he wouldn't budge. :)

So, parents, you will love what I did yesterday! I helped an awesome couple in the ward set up a fake tree, identical to our old fake tree. We listened to Bing Crosby on a record player. And, as a cherry on top, I suggested it and we did it, we did a time lapse of us setting it up. It was awesome. Nostoglia ensued. The Christmas Devotional was wonderful. Elder Nelson's talk was pretty cool! I loved it.

Today, we learned what's going on with transfers. Much to my surprise, I am staying in Redlands for at least another six weeks, and I will be training another missionary!!!! I was positive that I was going to leave, but God had other plans for me.  I am super happy that I get to stay in this ward and area. I love it here! The price I pay is training, and I accept. 

I am loving the work. I have learned so much!  D&C 90:24 is our mission scripture, and now it makes total sense to me. 
Search diligently, pray always, and be believing, and all things shall work together for your good, if ye walk uprightly and remember the covenant wherewith ye have covenanted one with another.
Keep up the holiday cheer, and if you want to send me Christmas gifts, please mail them to the mission office instead of directly to me. It's safer. :)
Love,  Elder Summerhays

December 2, 2013

Hello Dear Offspring of God,
This week has been slower than others, but not slow. Thanksgiving took a toll on our work slightly, but we are back on track! Thanksgiving was great. I will pay for it  next week. Lots o' food!  I had TWO! Thanksgiving dinners, since a family had a late one on Friday

My companion and I helped out with a food drive for the poor before Thanksgiving. We sorted boxes, expired jelly, and made sure every box had some gravy, among other things. It was fun. We may help Family Services again with Christmas. Later that day, after a wonderful dinner all our evening appointments fell through and we were at a loss of what to do. We prayed, traveled, prayed, and traveled some more. E. Weaver felt inspired to knock on a door, so we did. No one answered. We are going back another time. It was brutal, just trying to figure out what to do. Eventually we biked to a park, and sat on a bench. I was about to make a phone call, when a stranger came out of no where and attacked us!!! Just kidding, a stranger did approach us and asked our names and thanked us  for the work that we do. We talked to him were able to teach him the greater part of the Restoration. He is moving to Redlands to get away from his druggy friends. No immediate potential, but we have his number, and will contact him in the future. If we had just given up and gone home, we wouldn't have been able to be in the right place at the right time. We wouldn't have been able to give him a Book of Mormon, and to plant a seed. God tests our faith. It's sometimes super hard, but worth it in the end. I just hate waiting. I must learn more patience!!!!! :)
In our ward, there was this elderly that we never met, but have been trying to for a couple weeks. We talked to her on the phone a couple times, trying to figure out a time to meet. We finally do set up a time. We go there, no answer. We were disappointed. We learned a few days later that SHE DIED!!! Sadly, the police found her in her house, dead. This is the third elderly lady in our ward that has passed away in the past month. One we were happy we knew, the other was like this situation: we never got to met her despite our efforts to visit a few times without success, then dead. So yeah, I am being a little more careful with visiting older women in the ward. 

The highlight of the week was sacrament meeting. We had three less actives show up to church, one of which is on his way to returning to church. Both Precious and Paul bore their testimonies on the journey they have been on, and how the gospel has changed their lives. Both cried. I cried. It was awesome. I saw a tear on one of our less actives that is returning to church, so I know something hit him.( Either the Spirit, or dust in his eye). It was great. I am super excited for the baptism of Precious and her children this weekend.

I love the gospel. The mission takes a little extra effort than normal life, and sometimes it gets super hard. Christ didn't say it would be easy. He said it would be worth it. 

Keep on studying the scriptures and being good Christians!

Elder Summerhays

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