Sunday, October 27, 2013

I got bit by a dog!! It was a full-grown alpha male.. Chihuahua Oct 21, 2013

Hey everyone!
Pretty solid week but I'm a little short on time. We meet with an investigator, who at this point i believe is the only "progressing" one we have, but we've taught her almost everything. we told her that she could be baptized soon and she was super excited! We told her she would've been baptized last month and she asked what happened.. We told her she has to come to church twice before she can be baptized. And that's the big issue is getting her to church. But she's still really positive about it all! 
Um lets see.. so we went to an investigators house Sunday night. the mom told us that on Saturday early in the morning she had to go outside the house for something. When she opened the front door, there was a man in a mask pointing a gun at her, and she quickly tried to shut the door but the man stopped it, and forced it open. She was screaming and at that point, her husband came in, as well as the 2 daughters. They warned the robber that they had called the police and he fled. She went on to tell us how her neighbor behind her had been robbed like 2 weeks before. And how not too long ago, just down the street, a guy got beaten and then shot and killed for no reason. About a month ago, some members got robbed too, and had about $3000 worth of stuff taken. And this is where we do our work... We get warned all the time, and occasionally even asked if we want to buy drugs.. But we are still alive. Oh and did I mention that this area (manatee county) is 3rd in the nation for human trafficking? Something like that. 
Oh and i got bit by a dog!! It was a full-grown alpha male.. Chihuahua. 
Gotta bounce; have a great week!!
-Elder James

here is a picture of me with some ears. 

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Busy week! Oct. 14, 2013

Dont have a lot of time right now.  We did a lot of street contacting. Lots of interesting people! I wish you guys could see the people we contact hahaha its super funny!  Its great!  Anyways, im still alive and doing well. No injuries but i almost got hit 3 times or so on bikes? Thats always exciting. And a drunk guy demanded me to give him my bike. Uh no. He tried to explain how Christ taught that principle, so I asked him to give me his truck. That shut him up! Got to love it!  Haha but i love you guys!! 
Here is a lil pic of me and the guitar.. We're starting to play guitar. I think my wife will appreciate it one day. 
-Elder James

CONFERENCE was GREAT! Oct. 7, 2013

SO here are some highlights of this past week. 
Monday: we went to a museum for p-day last Monday. it was really dumb. bunch of nude paintings >:[ i was so upset and i got my companion and i to just hurry through the entire museum. As we sat and waiting, some lady worker came up to us and started talking to us about the museum. then she started asking us questions about who we were and why we were there. then we spoke a little about our church and missionaries. two other elders then came, and spoke with us. then we left, because we wanted to go spend our p-day somewhere else, so we left the rest of the zone there. 
Then Wednesday came around; district meeting. during the meeting, the English sisters brought something up. they said that on Monday, there was a lady that was giving a tour of the museum and was saying things that they overheard. she was saying to the people she was giving the tour to, "see those guys dressed up in white shirts and ties, and those girls in the skirts? those are missionaries for the church of Jesus Christ of latter-day saints. they leave there families and friends for 2 years to go preach the gospel to people. They are some of the happiest people i've ever seen!.." when the sisters shared this with us i asked them "wait.. was it an older lady with a black shirt on?" and they replied yes. That was the same lady that my comp and i and the other 2 elders spoke with!! Turns out she went and told the people in the museum about us. pretty awesome! :) always be a good example because you dont know who's watching.  
Wednesday: so nothing major here.. but the night before during nightly planning, i felt that we should visit a recent convert (who is also less active...) at 6:00pm. i fought the feeling because she had told us already that she wouldnt be able to see us because she was busy and stuff. but i finally wrote it down in my planner that we would go by her house at 6, even though she said she would be busy all day. So Wednesday we went through all of our plans. They all fell through... which is normal. but i was speeding in the car to get to the recent converts house, and got a lot of speeding violations from the cars monitor. it was 6:05 and we showed up to the apartment. there was no cars :( i was so disappointed... so i started turning the car around. Then, she actually walked out of the door and saw us! I was like "Hey!... Hey come here!" hahaha and she was like "uh i thought i told you i was going to be busy." and i just told her "yeaaah well.. we were just in the area so we thought we would try," which wasnt really true... hahah. She said she was just going to her neighbors house to get some eggs or something random. she told us about ALL the things that were keeping her busy and we listened to what she had to say. Finally we were able to get to the topic of general conference and gave her all the information about it. We told her how much she is missed and just how we are her friends and stuff. I know you are probably like "uh so what elder J..." but let me tell you that the Lord puts us in the right places at the right times for reasons that we sometimes dont understand. Im not sure anything ever came from this incident, but im happy because i know we did what the Lord wanted. 
OHHH!!! Yeah!! sooo Wednesday afternoon elder M and i had nothing to do so i told him we were going on an adventure... we went west on this street until it came to an end. it led us to a bunch of docks and water and stuff like that.. you know, the ocean or whatever? The sight was really cool. it was in a residential area so it wasnt like a beach or anything. but i told him i wanted a picture so we got outta the car. i noticed two signs that said "no trespassing," but i justified ,"Oh i just want a picture, thats all!" and walked my way onto the dock. The dock was SUPER old and creaked every step. it didnt have any rails or anything, it was just old wood that was somehow held together. I walked out and elder M followed and was taking careful steps. i told him "elder come on, its fine. nothings going to happen." we got some cool pictures, and a sweet video of some small sharks and some manatees. i was happy :) so i started walking back to the car, but midway through the dock i noticed a blue crab which caught my eye. i was awestruck... such a cool little animal. hahah! so i leaned over the dock a bit, and then over to the opposite side where i thought it went. just then, the dock just collapsed under my feet and the words "ohhh crapp" slowly came outta my mouth as i descended into the water!!! i actually landed on my feet and quickly ran out of the water. i turned around to see my companion.. He was still on standing on the dock on the ONE plank of wood that didnt break!!! i was like ARE YOU SERIOUS?!!! i managed to get a picture of him and hopefully i can send it. I was laughing and at the same time so upset with myself. It made me think of how we have these signs that tell us not to go somewhere or do something, but we selfishly go anyways and bad things happen. Kinda like commandments.. like keeping the sabbath day holy. Yet we justify ourselves and say "i just want to buy this," or something. Since when has sin been justified?
Friday: another similar story. we were on exchanges and Elder B was in my area with me. i told him we were going to eat at a fast food place outside. so we did and as i was sitting waiting for him to join me, i saw a car with a flat tire go through the intersection. i picked up my food and walked up to B and said "take your food, lets go." he was like "why?" and i told him someone needed our help. So we ran across the street and surely enough, the car i saw was behind a little market with a destroyed tire. the driver wasnt in the vehicle so we just waited awkwardly.. she came and i spoke with her. she said she had help on the way already and didnt need anything.. soo we just left her with a pass along card with our name and number. I was slightly disappointed but.. you never know, she could've went on our website and watched conference or something?! 
Saturday and Sunday: CONFERENCE!! it was great :) i hope you all enjoyed it as much as i did. Last week a member told me of a situation she had. she was struggling with some feelings that she had for someone, and she didnt want to feel that way.. i didnt know what to say, but i told her that giving service to that person will always help. I knew she might not have been satisfied with that answer so i told her to fast and pray, and that during conference someone will say something that will specifically answer her prayer. Last night she sent me a text and said "thank you." and when i asked what she meant, she didnt respond (or we didnt get the text...). but i knew that she had actually gotten her answer and was expressing her thanks. Im so glad for conference. i wish more people would've watched it.. I was so sad... we invited so many people but no one came :( its okay though. 
I hope you are all doing well. sorry this is really long. i just wanna share my storries with you guys. i love you all. 
-Elder Jacob James

Family blessings! Sept. 30, 2013

hey. check out this week.
-Wednesday: got a call in the morning from a member who lives in the sisters area. he's been less active for 3 years, didnt ever want missionaries over. someone in his family needed a blessing so he called us. told us to come over at 7pm even though he wouldnt be there, so we did. his wife answered and they actually had 3 kids. we spoke with his wife, she told us it was her mom that needed the blessing. she wasnt feeling too well.. so we gave a blessing, which was awesome. after, we just talked for about 10 minutes or so to the wife and she told us the reason for being less active but they want to start coming back. she said the missionaries could come by whenever, and they would like that. turns out the oldest child is turning 8 years old in October and needs to be baptized. the sisters are going to start going to their home and inviting them back to church and stuff so im excited for that! 
      Afterwards, we didnt know what to do.. i felt like we should see an investigator that lives across town for some reason, so we biked over there. they lived in the ghetto, and we've been warned about being shot in that area but whatever. when we got there, E was outside on the porch like usual but she didnt seem happy at all. i asked whats wrong but she just said she was fine. i told her "you cant lie to us, i know something is wrong. what happened?" and she started crying and told us the problem. in short: her mom got really upset, started yelling at her, fell down and started having a seizure. the son, M, picked her up and E called 911 but the mom told her not to and kept yelling at her. she left, but mom chased after her and told her to come back so she did.. then mom just got in the car and left, and E had been outside ever since. she had been gone for hours. once she got done explaining everything, we had no idea what to say. this family has been seriously struggling, and is super dysfunctional. what could we say?.. i prayed in my heart for the Lords help, and it came. The first thing i did was make a phone call to her mom. she didnt answer, but i just left a voicemail. i cant really remember what i said, but i hope that it made some sort of difference. then we shared a message to E and M about family, responsibilities, love, and the Savior. I told them how the Lord guided us to their home and that it was no accident that we came when we did. this was maybe the 2nd time we had both of their attention fully. They listened, and it touched them. The spirit was so key to that whole circumstance!
       That night, i called the sisters to inform them about the less active we gave the blessing to. i asked them about some things and then they told me something SO COOL! so they have an investigator thats really progressing and stuff. they had a good lesson with her and she said "you know im so much happier now that im starting to go to church and read and pray. sometimes i dont understand what i read but i just pray about it and it makes more sense. but it all really started when those 2 guys came over and gave me a blessing. I felt the spirit so strongly then.. and i knew everything would be alright" That was the blessing that elder W and i went to go do!!!! Elder W didnt know what was going on (English missionary) but he felt the spirit there as well. It was so awesome to see the Lord used us to help out like that! 
-Thursday: we had zone conference and elder T from the 70 came and talked with us. it was super cool, and he's a great speaker! Learned a lot :) right after conference we went on exchanges with the zone leaders and i stayed in the area. All the plans fell through but we just street contacted and talked with everyone we could find. we got 1 super positive lady, who we had to like chase down. we were biking away from an intersection and Elder W was like "hey i saw a lady jogging down the road, should we turn around and go talk to her?" i said sure and we did, but she was past the intersection already so we chased after her and stopped and talked to her.  it was reaaalllyy awkward at first hahah but as we shared a brief lesson about the restoration she was very interested. I remember talking about the book of mormon and Joseph Smith, and the spirit was sooo strong! it was ridiculous!! when i stopped speaking we all 3 just kinda stood there in silence on the sidewalk and Elder W said "did you feel that spirit as he testified of the book of Mormon?" and she nodded her head, smiled and said "it feels great, very peaceful and... i dont really know how to describe it." it was so awesome, and she said she would read the book of Mormon! So excited to teach her :)
Saturday- around 7:30pm we were back over in E neighborhood. their family wasnt home, so we biked around for a while. i got tired and stopped, turned to my companion and said "Elder you got that greenie fire, so im following you now" and he was like "okay well... there is one street we havent tried yet so i guess we can go over there?" i was skeptical but agreed so we went. there was 1 family outside, a man with his wife and a baby. Elder M stopped and said "hola!" and that was it.. silence. hahah so i started talking with him and he was pretty cool. we taught him about the book of Mormon and our message and he seemed to like it. he said hes catholic but not very "catholic" if that makes sense. he told us we could come by whenever we want and he would listen! so we are excited to go back and teach him more. 
      Then we left, and it was late so we were headed home on the bikes. we saw 2 kids so we spoke with them. they were teens but were interested. we taught a brief lesson 1, gave them both a book of mormon, and got their info. they were way positive and wanted to know if we had a prophet today! We gave one of them over to the English elders but the other was Hispanic and such so he's ours haha. 
      THEN, about 50 yards after, we ran into another man who was in a hurry. i stopped and said "hey you have a moment?" he said "no i gotta go over here, then back to the hospital." i asked him what was wrong and he said his "girl" was in the hospital. so i asked if she would want a blessing and he said "uh i guess. yeah." so he gave us her room number and we went to go see her haha. by this time it was like 9:20pm or so. We got there and spoke with the lady, her name was brandy. OH MY.. she had quite the story fellas!! got into drugs, husband left her, had no money, went into jail 2 days after surgery, found out she has cancer and hepatitis.. it was so sad.. but we gave her a blessing and she spirit was super strong. we assured her the Lord loves her and is perfectly aware of all of her problems. She just wanted someone to come visit her because she literally has no one. We gave her to the English elders but hopefully they can help her! 
Soooooo... i guess you could say we had a pretty good week?! our numbers were horrible, almost all 0's hahahah but it was such an awesome week! I love doing this so much.. I know that Christ lives, and that the worth of every soul is great in His eyes. I love you all. Have a wonderful week! :)
-Elder Jacob James

Time is going by so quickly! Sept. 23, 2013

Its Monday already! Man time goes by so quickly!
We had a pretty good week. Lots of interesting things happened. We've been focusing a lot on teaching the recent converts, less actives, and part-member families. We went over to a recent converts house and decided to watch a sweet video. He actually fell asleep during the video.. after it ended, i was like "so what did you think about that?" and he didnt respond so i leaned over and saw that he was asleep and i just started laughing, though extremely disappointed because i was excited to share that video with him. We also have been working with another recent convert, who is very less active but has been coming to church the past 3 weeks! her brother, R, isnt a member but we've started teaching him as well. she's 17, and R is maybe 14. anyways, we were teaching about the Restoration of the gospel.. i turned towards my companion and noticed he was sweating quite a bit. he asked "uhh can i use your bathroom?" and they said yeah. The bathroom was literally right next to the couch they were sitting on, and the walls arent very thick. i continued with the lesson, and it was pretty spiritual until my companion lets one rip while he's taking care of business. the teens just started laughing and i just smiled and said "well.. it happens" hahaha it was so awkward :) yay for awkward moments. 
Anyways, i had to give a talk in sacrament meeting.  it was fun, but i didnt really know i had to give a talk until we got to church. Guess we should always be prepared, right? Spanish is coming along slowly.. i actually forgot how to say the word "room" which was sorta embarrassing. 
Another thing is that last week i was assigned to be district leader. Its been pretty good so far, there are 10 missionaries in my district including my comp and i. Im pretty excited to help out the district! As soon as i thought training a new missionary was a big responsibility, the Lord gives me this.. haha I hope i can learn what he wants me to learn!
Overall, everything is going great! But im getting tired of my comp getting mail like every day and i never get any >:( hahahah but its funny so i can manage. I love you guys so much. I hope you can see the Lord's hand in your life's, and how He's helping you. He's real, and He lives, and I know it. 
-Elder Jacob James

Pic: so this is way late but.. happy birthday to myself and C, a member. I will try to take cool pictures this week to send you :) vehile! Sept. 16, 2013

Hey everyone!
Good week here. We werent able to visit with any investigators but.. still was good! We've been working with members, or at least trying to. We tried visiting some less actives. It was a funny/sad experience. We knocked on the door and a teenager let us in. We talked with him a little and his older brother was in the house, as well as his dad. It was kinda awkward since none of us had ever met before, you know? so we got talking. then the kid was like "oh by the way, im atheist" then his brother walked by and said "im muslim." uhhhh what?? hahahah and the "dad" wasnt actually the dad, just some guy living there and he was like "im christain, life sucks and im not interested." it was soo awkward after that. we thought they were members!! apparently the only person in the household who is a member was the actual dad, who hasnt been heard from in a long while and basically isnt a member anymore. Lovely. that was a nice surprise. 
We have a new rule as well. We can only eat at members houses once, and when we do, we have to show them the video "hastening the work of salvation." We cant come back until they have a referral for us. However, the exceptions are part member families, less active families, and families that have a referral at the dinner for us. So.... looks like we wont have any investigators until the members give them to us. I told that to our mission leader Sunday.. he didnt really like that statement too much. :/ but hey, its true! 
Oh we got chewed out again Saturday. it was interesting. Apparently, our assistant ward mission leaders wife's sister's daughter's boyfriend was at church and we didnt really know, so she got mad at us and was like "wow. shame on you elders. shame on you." I didnt really know what to say. i felt bad and all, but the girlfriend, or her sister, or the wife, (or just anybody for goodness sake), could have easily told us about the nonmember boyfriend. Missionaries dont just "know" those types of things. We also got told we werent doing our job by some other youth members because we dont greet everyone that walks into the chapel on Sunday's. uh maybe thats because the branch president gave us the responsibility to organize the sacrament and assign people to bless and pass it. I literally asked 4 different deacons who just said "uhh im not worthy to pass." I was so upset and just said "look, if you arent worthy to bless or pass the sacrament, you arent worthy to take it." Then a lot of the members that were there had to leave because they had work. are you kidding me?... Its really frustrating.  Then in the next class, it was awkward again, because the teacher (the same one who chastised us haha) went around the class and asked all the kids "so which commandment is the hardest one for you and why?" Me and my comp just looked at each other and didnt know what to think.. I mean, its great that she's trying her best, but thats simply not a question you ask. One of the kids totally threw his brother under the bus and was like "he cheats all the time and is very dishonest!" right in front of everyone. it just never is a good class.. i feel bad, especially now since i've heard about 5 or 6 false doctrines in the class. i dont want to stand up and be like "hold on, let me clarify what was just said" because i dont want to hurt anyones feelings. Church was still good though. Us missionaries had to sing a special number which wasnt too bad.. the sisters picked one that i really dislike singing if investigators are there. and its literally one of the highest pitched hymns sooo yeah it wasnt too good sounding. haha oh well. it was awesome seeing a less active member that we've been working with there in sacrament, but they left afterwards.. progress though!
Another thing! We had transfers. Im staying with my trainee here in Bradenton. Another 6 weeks! Almost at my year mark, which is kind of weird. thats about all though. love you guys!!
-Elder James

We see some really cool vehicles here. 

Yikes..our awesome members need our help! Sept. 3, 2013

Hey everyone! P-day was moved to today due to the holiday.
I don't even know what to say about this week. It was pretty good! We taught a lot of solid lessons but.. investigators aren't progressing still. sad. but we've been really focusing on the members a lot. this past Sunday was very interesting. First, it being fast Sunday and all, sacrament was pretty good. Mostly everyone wasn't even fasting though, and never has in their lives, so they don't understand why we even fast.. The next class, with the youth, was not good. Basically a girl punched a boy in the face and walked out swearing all because he accidentally threw a small piece of paper and hit her with it. Yikes.. And in that class, the teacher taught 3 false doctrines :( Ahhh i don't even know what to say.. Next day we taught a member, and they didn't know the plan of salvation, or what the atonement is. and they've been a member all their life!! I was so shocked. And just... disappointed :(  its so hard to get them excited about the gospel. We talked with a teenager about the 2nd coming of Christ, and how excited we are about it, and they just didn't seem to care at all about it. I felt so empty that they weren't excited about it at all.  Without being able to knock on doors anymore, and only relying on the members for referrals, its really helped me see that we have to help these members out a bunch. They don't seem to realize what they have and how blessed they really are. 
We did get a chance to teach morning seminary though. We got special permission to go, and had to wake up at 5:30 and bike to the church, 30 minutes away. So humid in the mornings!! haha but it was pretty fun, but a lot of the students were really distracted and kinda rude.. It was great though! We taught them about missionary work and how they can be missionaries already. After we left, some homeless(?) lady on the street stopped us and basically shared her 2 cents on what she thinks about our religion, specifically Adam and Eve, and yeaaah.. it was really rude, and she was verbally attacking us hahaha but whatever, it was a good experience. 
Um what else.... I cant really think right now. I always forget what i wanted to write you guys! Oh, I'm almost at my year mark!!! isn't that WEIRD!? It doesn't seem like I've been out that long. 
I guess that's all for this week. Sorry it isn't too great, i just cant remember everything. Hope you are doing great, i love you!!!
-Elder Jacob James

Pic: Elder M and I just chillin. I'm trying not to laugh.. I will send some good ones next week!! :)