Monday, August 26, 2013

First week with my Trainee! August 26, 2013

Whats up everybody?! Interesting week over here in Florida. First week with my trainee, Elder M. He's cool, and he's 18. Finally gettin those young ones our here!! I think we will do great together. Right now we don't have much going on though. Our investigators aren't really progressing.. we really need to find some more. But we got a new rule: no more knocking doors. In this area in the past, thats how all the investigators/recent converts were found. Now we really have to rely on the members for referrals. I mean, its a great idea and all.. but we haven't gotten a referral for quite some time. I guess we don't have their trust quite yet?? Past few days we tried going to the members house's that live in our side of the area, using the ward directory. Most of the addresses are completely wrong. Some members aren't even in the list. One guy apparently lives at McDonald's... No wonder some of the people go less active here hahah and the home teaching is a little disappointing. The highest i saw was 53%. But that's what we've been trying to do is see our members, teach them, and ask for referrals.  We basically tell them that no one is going to get baptized unless they give them to us. Sounds a bit harsh (maybe?) but its true! They are missionaries too, not just those of us with a black badge. The ZL's told us to try and see the members we have at least once a month.. For them that might be hard because they have a solid amount of members but we can do that in literally 2-3 days haha so i hope the members don't get too annoyed when we're coming over multiple times a week asking for a referral! We really just need the branch more involved in missionary work and we will be solid.
Anyways, not too much to write about this week.  This week will be better though! The church is trueeee!!!! :)

_Elder Jacob James

Pic: I had no pictures to send that were cool so i quickly took this mid-way through writing this email haha i put a band-aid because sometimes i scratch it and it bleeds. 


Sunday, August 25, 2013

cuttin them stitches! August 19, 2013

Hey Everyone!
It was a pretty good week. Didn't part the red sea or anything, but we had miracles nevertheless. Since all the investigators we have are youth, they were all busy doing their summer homework that they procrastinated. We still had some solid lessons though!
My arm and my toe are healing fine.. I was told that after 7-10 days I could get the stitches removed. So 7 days passed, Thursday, and I went to the hospital and told the lady I was there to get them removed. She said they didn't do that there... I was like, well, the lady who sewed my arm and toe said that I could come back here and they would remove them. she just kept shaking her head and said nope, you need to go to your physician or whatever. Then I told her my physician guy is in Arizona and she wagged that head back and forth again. Everything I told her, she denied, even if it was plainly obvious... it was quite comical. Some other lady told me some directions to find a place where I could get them removed. So we left. Couldn't find the place (she told us to go left on a one-way street that only went right, based off her directions hahah) so we were like whatever lets go home. And then it hit me: If I can cut my own hair, I can cut my own stitches! Its the type of logic my father taught me :) So we went to the English elders home and got some sterile scissors (we sprayed them with some.. stuff), bandages, gloves, and I just cut away. It didn't feel too good. It wasn't until I was half-way done with my arm that I realized that wasn't a very good idea because the wound started to open a little bit.. it wasn't done healing hahaha but I just took the rest off anyways. The next day we got a call from the mission doctor. the conversation went a bit like this:
"Hey Elder James its Brother Y, just calling so we can figure out where you are going to go to get those stitches removed."
"Oh, Hi! Actually I already had them taken out..."
"...Oh where did you go to get that done?"
"Well you see its actually a long story.. I ended up taking them out myself."
"Elderrrr James....... Not a good idea."
Hahaha I felt sooo dumb!!! I hope that man never gets to see my face haha. 

Anyways, some other exciting news! We got transfer calls Saturday!!! it was another stressful time. We received our call and basically he told Elder D he was training and that he was leaving the area. This transfer, he didn't tell anyone where they were going. (We are still super confused about that, because some people have to drive 4-5 hours and we don't know how we will get to our areas if we don't even know where we are going). Then, after he was done talking to Elder D, the call ended. I was soooo bummed out because apparently some people were "disqualified" to train or to be leaders, so those who weren't training or leaders were in that category... :( BUT!!! 10 minutes later he called again!! and told me i would be training!!!! hahaha I'm so nervous but so excited. I hope i do a good job. Its going to be an interesting next 2 transfers. Oh, by the way, this next transfer is only 4 weeks. 
Also, thanks everyone for the birthday wishes!! I feel.. the same haha but today we should be having a little party thingy for p-day and I'm going to try and play sports with my arm and toe. I think if I wrap it tight, it'll be good to go. thanks for everything, I loved the letters :) and I love you so much!! hope you have an awesome week. The church is true!!!!

-Elder Jacob James

Pic: cuttin them stitches!! 

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Countin Da Blessings August 12, 2013

OHH BOY!! crazy week!!!!!!!! countin da blessings
so much has happened but i will just keep it a brief as possible. we had mission conference last Tuesday and it was great. found out a bunch of stuff about the mission and what's going on. learned that our mission was leading the US in hospital visits or something. i thought that was so dumb.. ohh, the irony that would follow shortly after!! anyways, next day we went on exchanges. had one of the best days ever. right now we have 5 people that want to be baptized, we just have to keep teaching them and set a baptism date with them :) soo. Thursday morning, we were still on exchanges. our apartment only has 1 bathroom. in the shower, there is a hand rail opposite of the shower head where towels are supposed to go. instead, the past elders put a big mirror so they could shave in the shower. the mirror is quite heavy and needs to be moved with some force! anyways, I'm showering and i finish. i open the curtains, and the next thing i know, there is glass all over the floor, with my left foot bleeding. then i looked at my arm and saw it wasn't looking to well. "oh no..." i said hahaha and realized i needed help, seeing how the door was locked and if i passed out right there, i would fall into the glass pile. however, being naked, i somehow pulled my shorts on and opened the door. the English elder saw my arm and said he would call an ambulance. some other things happened, though i wont say.. nothing weird, its just things we don't really talk about in the church. i rested on the couch and put a towel over the arm. i asked "hey elder.... wanna take a picture?" hahaha i know, I'm weird but i knew that someone would want pics. then i asked him for a blessing. he gave me one and i immediately felt at ease. moments later, we hear the ambulance outside the door so i went over and opened it, and proceeded to lay on the stretcher. it seemed insanely bright outside!! they carried me into the ambulance and started taking my vitals and asking "so what drugs are you currently on?" and "how much were you drinking?" geeze.. none. i don't drink or do drugs. "are you sure? this is weird." and said yes, and asked what the problem was. they said usually peoples heart beat rate increases in a traumatic situation like that, but mine was way down in the 40's. Not quite sure if that was a natural thing that happened, or a direct result from the blessing, but i felt perfectly fine as a laid in the ambulance. we actually had a nice conversation. so, i got to the hospital. my companion couldn't come because he didn't have a drivers license.. so i was alone. eventually, my actual companion and them arrived after making 30 calls to members. (members, for the love of everything, help the missionaries.) they got to watch the entire surgery. i must've gotten about 40-50 shots to numb the arm. it just wouldn't numb in a few places, so i told her to forget about it and just stitch me up. she cleaned it all up. it was SWEET, when she opened up the flap of skin, you could see the muscles and stuff. yum yum. turns our she was only an intern and the other guy was only a student.. her hands were so shaky!! and when she cut the loose skin a was super nervous haha. so, 15 stitches to the arm, and 3 to the toe. got out of the hospital and went to lunch, then tried to teach people. haha so I'm doing pretty good now.. sort of. 
anyways. that's a good story for you guys this week. I mean, there is something each week and this seemed pretty legit. now i can say I've survived getting our car totaled, and Satan trying to kill me with a big mirror. yay mission stories!! this is all just a fat blessing, so its whatever; i will always serve Him!  i love you all, have a great week! :)
-Elder James

pic: my arm. don't look if you are easily.. whatever that word is?

Goose Egg Week! May 6, 2013

Hello everyone,
another week has gone by and guess what!?..... we had another goose egg week. no one in our district found a new investigator, with the exception of the sisters. We knocked doors for 3.5 hours on Friday, had zero success. didn't even get a return appointment :( however, we did have a great time while doing work. one story was quite hilarious, and has earned a spot in my "quote book" for my mission. Elder E and I, after knocking 3 neighborhoods, found an apartment complex and started knocking. Due to knocking during dead hours (2-6pm) no one answered, except for one lady. She was black, and roughly 50 years old or so. Said she was a 7th Day Adventist. We offered her service as our door approach, but after declining our offer she explained how she hasn't been doing very well physically, and has been in the hospital for a few things. We told her we held the priesthood authority of God, and we could give her a blessing if she desired. She thankfully accepted, and let us in. We explained the blessing and everything, and proceeded. E anointed, and then I started the blessing. about half way through the blessing, she lifts up her hands and starts saying things like "oh yes. Yes Jesus yes. Thank you Lord, oh thank you!" I was a bit thrown off, and tried my best to continue through the blessing, but she kept praising. Soo, I ended the blessing when I felt prompted to end it, and took my hands of her head. She still had her eyes closed, with her hands up, saying things. Then she stood up, (facing away from us) with her hands STILL up, and still rambling on... "Oh Lord I thank you. Help me Jesus, help me. And as she raises her hands higher, raising her voice she boldly states: --Ohhhh I've been bleedin' out'a my rectum for two days, Jesus! Then the blood just STOPPED!"-- At this point I turned to elder E and couldn't help but laugh a bit hahah and I felt soo bad for laughing but it was so funny! It seems that things like this happen so frequently here. This, and the man "speaking in tongues" could be the two funniest things so far. Anyways, story goes on, we left her with our number, and referred her to the English elders. Yay.
Another highlight. Elder E and I were driving around while it was pouring rain. We drove everywhere, and never felt a need to stop. I kept driving and driving, until I felt that we should pull over. Elder E questioned me, stating that there was no Hispanic people down the whole entire street. I assured him there was at least 1 Hispanic, and we were there to find him or her. So, we started knocking.. No success (apparently people don't want the Saviors Peace and Blessing...) and the people said that there were no Hispanics on the street. I was pretty discouraged. I thought for sure there was 1 Hispanic! So we started walking back to the car, and E said "told you." I didn't think much of it, but I pointed to the house we parked in front of. "We are knocking that door. your turn." So we marched up to the door, and the closer we got, the more I realized this house wasn't where a Hispanic would be living.. Very discouraged :/ a tall white man in his 50's answered the door. We offered to leave the Savior's peace and blessing upon his home. He denied it, and told us he used to be Mormon, left the church 3 years ago and asked for his records to be removed. We asked why he left, and he said it wasn't because of the church, it was just that he was the only Mormon in the home, and the rest were Catholics, and he felt alone whenever he would go to the church. I was not satisfied by this answer he gave us, and tried to listen for the words I should say. He kept talking about him and the church. I asked if he had a testimony of the book of Mormon. He never said yes; he said "well I've read the book of Mormon about 3 times or so for seminary." This was a big hint as to what he was lacking. Without that foundation of a testimony of the book of Mormon, people will surely fall away with time. After his explaining of a few other things, there was a silence for about 5 seconds or so, and I felt to ask about his personal relationship with our Heavenly Father. "Did you ever talk to your father in heaven about this?" He stood, with no more excuses. There was an awkward silence, so I began to testify about the power and reality of prayer, and the book of Mormon. I left him with two things to do: read the book of Mormon again, and to pray. Two simple and fundamental things. I promised him blessings in the name of our Savior, and told him that I knew he had felt the holy ghost before in his life, and that we weren't sent to his door by accident; but that we were representative of Jesus Christ who were sent to invite him back into the fold of God. Again there was a silence, as he had nothing to say. Elder E and I looked at one another, and knew it was time to go. We shook this mans hand, and walked back out into the rain, back to the car. It turns out that there wasn't a single Hispanic on the entire street, but we weren't there for that; we were there for a lost sheep. It doesn't matter what culture or race, we are all sons and daughters of god, and all need to hear the same gospel. This was a humbling experience for both Elder E and I, and surely the highlight of our rather non-successful week. But we had success in other ways.
Hopefully this week will be better. Being exactly obedient can bring the miracles we're looking for, its just a matter of doing all those small things that are so difficult.
Anyways! Happy late Cinco De Mayo! We did missionary work to celebrate. I'm looking forward to mothers day :) Hope you all have a great week.
Elder Jacob James :)
Picture: It was Elder E birthday on Wednesday. This is my district plus 2 others :)
Left to Right: (Top) Me, W, not in district, not in district, E, R, J, G, (Bottom) Hermana P, F, N.

July 1: We Bought the Pizza :O

Best week ever!! Well, sort of. We have been super blessed, found a couple new people to teach and had some spiritual lessons. Pretty awesome! But anyways, lets start with Monday. It was just a regular Monday.. nothing really happened. I took my bike back to Wal-Mart though, so that was good. While there, we ran into a member who was going to feed us Wednesday. She said she didn't want to cook and told us to bring food. We laughed and just left... So Tuesday comes around. Found a new investigator, though the rest of the day was normal. Then Wednesday comes. Not the best day. taught a couple peeps. They liked it. Then, we went to the dinner that was planned, with the member that works at Wal-Mart. We got there, and her husband opened the door and let us in. turns out, she didn't cook anything, and was like "so are you going to buy pizza or what?" WOW.... So i had to buy pizza for us and for them, AND we had to go pick it up, after the member made us drive 10 miles the wrong way after i told him i knew where the pizza place was located.. This goes to all members of the church: missionaries are broke. they budget their miles on their cars very strictly.  Anyways, Thursday. Awesome day!! 2 member present lessons, 2 other lessons, and 3 new investigators. Friday was slow. But it was good. In the afternoon we had a lunch scheduled with a member that we've never been to because we didn't have a car and she lives kinda far.. We tried calling her numerous times, through calls, voicemails, and texts to try and get her address figured out. We got a little "lost" and somehow ended up next to LEGOLAND!! but we didn't go in or anything. Shortly afterwards, we found her place. We knocked on her door and she opened up and was super surprised to see us. she said she didn't cook anything and said "you should've confirmed the appointment.".... But she was the one who signed up to feed us that day and time, and we tried contacting her so many times. Our ward roster information is all messed up, almost all the address's are messed up, and we only have about 6 of the members numbers. And they never answer their phones. Later that Friday we watched a movie at the church for movie night. Maybe 12 people showed up, 7 being from one family. We watched Joseph Smith Prophet of the Restoration. It was in English though hahaha soo... yeaah, it didn't have subtitles either. Our bad on that. But hey, it was spiritual regardless of the language. I loved it! Saturday the only highlight was contacting a referral. He gladly accepted the Book of Mormon and was like "yeah i will start reading it right away!" and was super positive! First time I've ever seen someone so happy to receive a B.o.M. We will be meeting him this week. And yesterday, Sunday, was pretty funny. After church, a member called after us while we were leaving. He said there was food in the fridge if we wanted to eat it. Of course we accepted but were a little hesitant because we didn't know who's food it was. They said it was okay though, and that he asked the Bishop of the English ward and he said it was okay. So Elder R. and I, with the Hermana's, just ate the food and took some of the leftovers to our apartments. Later that day, Elder R. and I got a call while we were with an investigator from the English elders. They said "Hey can you guys give us a ride to the church? the relief society left us a bunch of food in the fridge and we want to go pick it up!" hahaha i felt kinda bad but whatever!! it was awkward pretending that we didn't know what happened to the food.. they immediately blamed the Spanish branch, "dumb Spanish branch, always screwing things up." Shut up English elders. haha!
This next Wednesday we get to have a "meet the president" with the new mission president. President C., from Utah i think. This is our last week this transfer, so Its going to be interesting to see what will happen. I really don't want to leave this place! I hope i stay, but its not up to me of course. But yeah that was my week here in Haines City! And a ton of rain and thunderstorms every day. Hope you are doing great, I love you!! :)

Elder Jacob James