Still Training

Late email this week!

This week was awesome. It was the last week of the transfer, so we're going to have to say goodbye to many great missionaries in our District and Zone. However, we're also getting 4 new missionaries straight from the MTC to our Zone, including the South Side Elders. So, my trainee and I will share the ward with Elder Owens and his incoming trainee. We're pretty pumped.

The people that we're teaching are progressing really well! We've stopped teaching a couple of them and are focusing on those who are really ready to progress. We taught Marbeny today, which was awesome. She is really ready to be baptized. We went throught the interview questions and everything. She has a couple of minor things that she wants resolved before she gets baptized, but it should be within the next few weeks. We're going back over to resolve those on Wednesday and she wants us to try to teach her husband on Sunday. That's pretty awesome.

Luz brought herself to church and took herself home. We're going to go over with her friend from the ward and teach her this week and try to see how she feels about baptism as well.

This week was pretty interesting. On Sunday we were walking down a busy street when a guy with his window rolled down and shades on started yelling to us. We couldn't figure out what he was saying, but he sounded kind of irrational, so we just kept walking as he turned onto the side street that we were about to cross and into the neighborhood a little bit. He put his hazards on, parked halfway into someone's driveway, and left his car running and front door open as he ran over to us. We quickly realized that the gentleman was absolutely sloshed. Drunk as a skunk (sidenote we were chased by a large mangy skunk this week through the city), he came up to us and started talking about why we were wasting our time trying to preach. He asked us to tell him something about Jesus. He spoke Spanish, but almost punched me when I tried to speak Spanish. He started asking us about politics and ranting about how bad the world would be without President Trump. We told him we were politically neutral as missionaries. Eventually he shifted into praising us and offered to buy us food and a drink nearby. We politely declined. We were on our way to get some awesome tamales from a member anyway. Currently eating said tamales as I write. He congratulated us for our service and told us to never let anyone dissuade us from what we were doing and left. Interesting guy.

I got a new phone, so I can finally take people's numbers down without waiting like 5 years for stuff to load, so I'm pretty psyched about that.

We've been contacting people with a poster about the prodigal son. That's this week's spiritual thought. Heavenly Father loves us. He waits for us with open arms even when we go off course. All we have to do is correct course back to Him.

Here's a great scripture about it:
3 Nephi 9:

13 O all ye that are spared because ye were more righteous than they, will ye not now return unto me, and repent of your sins, and be converted, that I may heal you?

14 Yea, verily I say unto you, if ye will come unto me ye shall have eternal life. Behold, mine arm of mercy is extended towards you, and whosoever will come, him will I receive; and blessed are those who come unto me.

I know that we all have things that we're going through that we need healing with. Just like we all go through physical wounds, we also go through spiritual and emotional wounds. Christ has power to help us to have healing. We just have to get ourselves closer to him. Sometimes people get hurt and scared and worry about meeting with us. Sometimes we ask, "Do you think you'll find more peace moving towards God?" They always say yes and realize that at the end of the day, that's how we can find true, fulfilling, lasting happiness for eternity.

Have an amazing week everyone!

IMG_36311.jpg

Conference, 56 Tacos, and Balling

Happy Monday everybody!

I hope you all had a great weekend and a great Conference! I absolutely loved it.

This was a pretty awesome week for us! Luz came to conference and loved it, and we went and watched it at Marbeny's house. (We thought it was Marlene but apparently it's Marbeny and she's just never said anything until we gave her a blessing when she showed us her full name on her mail.) Anyway, she loved it too.

We found a really cool lady named Luisa, and we're really thankful to Heavenly Father for that! She let us in while we were knocking doors and it was the first time that Elder Kelsey had been let into a house while door knocking. It was coincidentally also probably the last door we were going to knock before watching Conference on Sunday morning.

We had a District P-day today where we went and got $1 a piece tacos. I was the first to order. I ordered 9 tacos. No regrets. 3 other Elders then also ordered 9 tacos. We had 8 missionaries and we ended up ordering 56 tacos total which was pretty awesome. We played basketball and chair soccer afterwards which was awesome. Elder Kelsey is pretty good at basketball so it was fun to see him drop some threes on people. It was also great to see my former companion (Elder Rasband, who's great at basketball as well) play him, even though Elder Rasband was playing on a recently sprained ankle.

We've got some appointments tonight which should be pretty awesome. Missionary work is super awesome.

Love you all! Have a great week!

Elder Reyes

One Year Left D:

This week has been pretty awesome. We had a ton of different appointments which was pretty fun. Not a whole lot of new stuff to report, but we met some interesting people. A couple of people came to church this week! They are:

20190729_210747.jpg

1. Luis - An awesome Peruvian guy who used to be a surgeon. He's an older gentleman who had been going to church in Peru for like 25 years but was never baptized. He told us that he's already taken the lessons 2 or 3 times and he just wants to be baptized now. We're going to review the lessons and set a date pretty soon.

2. Elvis - Yes, like Presley. He's an awesome Dominican man who we've never even had to ask to come to church. He comes by himself because he likes it. We did a lesson with him in his friend who's a member's house and he had a great time. He came to church again this week.

One funny thing that happened this week was that a group of older Hispanic guys stopped us. One of them said, "Your guys' boss is smart, putting you in pairs of one Hispanic and one Gringo like this." It was hilarious spending 5 minutes just trying to convince this guy that I'm not a native Hispanic. He didn't believe me and was like "No. You have a Hispanic accent, not like gringos and you have a Spanish last name."

He was not convinced. I tried really hard. It was a great confidence booster. We made some Lomo Saltado this week which was real good too.

We met a blind Colombian man who was awesome and super happy and wanted to learn. He lives a block outside of our area, so we had to give him to the other missionaries, but are super excited for him.

We're super excited and preparing for Elder Renlund to come this Friday and Saturday. We're going to have a great time.

We taught some great lessons this week, but not a whole lot of new people. We're still teaching Marlene, Luz, and trying to meet with the Mendozas. I'll include pics from the view from Marlene's apartment because it's awesome and a couple of other photos.

Hope you all have a great week!


20190811_165620.jpg

Union City

Hey everyone! Great week!

I'm here in my new area of Union City. This place is amazing. It's almost completely Hispanic and is super densely populated. In fact, it's the second most densely populated city in the entire United States behind Guttenberg (which is a few blocks North of us). You can Google that. New York City is #6. The diversity is awesome. We've got EVERY country from the Hispanic world. Lots of Cubans and Venezuelans here, which I haven't had before. Very fun. People keep asking me what country I'm from. I ask them to guess, and so far I've gotten Chile, Mexico, Colombia, and Argentina, which is basically just all the whiter people.

Elder Mortenson is awesome! We have a great view of the NYC skyline from the edge of our area (we cover Weehawken), and we've got an amazing ward. They are absolutely great at fellowshipping and go out of their way to help the people that we bring. This week, a person that we brought disappeared after Sacrament Meeting and we were like "Darn, they must have run away." They had been taken by the members and brought to Relief Society. Golden. In second hour, all of the members just bore powerful testimony to everyone. It was beautiful.

The food here is amazing too. 7 dollars for a Lomo Saltado, soup, and Inca Kola combo. Yum.

Here are some people we're teaching:

Anabel: Came to church this week! We met her on Saturday and she came on Sunday. Super cool Mexican lady. She wants to learn English so we're splitting it half and half with the Gospel.

The Mendoza Family: Ecuadorian family. They're super nice and want to feed us so bad. The missionaries hadn't visited them for a while, but we went in and they're awesome. They've got a family member in Utah and were talking about moving there. Lot's of potential, but we just need to have more effective lessons, so we're setting expectations up front. Shout out to Elder Harris for helping us to keep the lesson short.

Elvis: Dominican guy who wears all Lacoste. Not sure if it's real. There's an older man who lives with him who went on a rant last time they visited and got a sword out and started swinging it around and saying that he was slaying Catholic priests and that we're the only true church. He's not a member and we have no idea who he is, but it's hilarious.

Luis: Peruvian man who had been involved in the Church for 25 years but has never been baptized. Asked us to be baptized. We asked him about all the different requirements and he was like "Of course I'll do all of that." Total baller.

Don't have a lot of time, but this weeks spiritual thought is on forgiveness. There was a great talk in Sacrament Meeting about it and how repentance isn't complete without forgiveness. Forgiving takes weight off and helps us to love those around us more. Let's try to forgive someone this week, whatever it is that they did to offend us.

Cool News: We're going to have an All-Mission Conference in August with 1 or more General Authorities which will be pretty cool. Stay tuned for updates!

That's it chicos!

Love,

Elder Reyes

Goodbye Motown

Hi everyone! Happy Monday!

This week was awesome. Transfers are tomorrow, and I'm being transferred to Union City! I'm super excited, but it's definitely been hard saying goodbye to all the amazing people that I met here.

We had a really prosperous week! We went over to help do some spackling for a member's ceiling, and were able to teach Diego and Andrea about the Gospel! They had a lot of questions and were super awesome about it. They came to church this week.

Felipe also finally came to church! He called us on Monday night super excited about the fact that he had gotten the time off and he came this week and seemed to really like it! It was hard saying goodbye to him after almost 6 months of teaching him.

We went and said goodbye to Jenny today. She brought her friend Rita over to learn about the Gospel and learn English. Rita was very interested in both, and Jenny is super elect. She got us commemorative Chick-fil-A and brought her kids in to say a prayer with us. She said she'd love to have us at their family's house in Ecuador should we ever end up down that way. We may have to take her up on that.

It's really weird to picture leaving Morristown and not being with Elder Rasband since we've been working together for 4 and a half months. We pretty much finish each other's sandwiches at this point. He's a great guy, and we're going to have a lot of fun hanging out after the mission. I'm just super used to going day-to-day here in Morristown so a change of surroundings is going to be crazy.

I've learned a lot here. I've learned how to trust in the Spirit more. I've learned to work harder, and that I've still got pretty of room to go. I've especially learned a lot about faith and obedience.

I had a hard time understanding faith before. I could define it. I could quote scriptures about it. I could tell you about it's importance and the power that it has. However, I feel as though this transfer, the concept of faith has really clicked for me, especially with obedience. I was told that never actually got around to explaining that, so here you go:

It is said that faith is belief. That is true. However, faith is true belief. It is said that faith is action. I think that is true also, in that true belief leads to action. Let me illustrate that briefly:

Imagine I'm sitting at home with a friend.

I tell my friend that there's enough money to change their life up for grabs on the front porch outside. First come first sirve, no strings attached.

I ask if they believe me. They say you do.

I would say that they're lying. Why? Because they're still sitting there talking to me. The answer is in their actions.

If they truly believed that the money was out there, they would be sprinting out the door to go grab it. Perhaps they don't believe that the money is there. Perhaps they believe that it's not enough to truly help them. Perhaps they believe that someone else will get it first. Whatever the case is, they don't believe that going out to find it is worth their time. They lack faith in my statement. They don't truly believe it, no matter what they tell me with words.

The same is true with God's promised blessings and his commandments. When we hear the commandments and promised blessings (reading your scriptures will bring you significant blessings), we can say that we believe that. However, if we're not reading our scriptures, we say with our actions that we don't believe it's worth our time. If we truly believed that the blessings were real, and significant enough to impact our lives, we would be doing it.

I urge us all to think about what things we say we have faith in, and then analyze if our actions say the same. I bear testimony that the blessings connected to the commandments are real, and they are significant. I share my testimony of that in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.

I love you all and hope you have a great week!

See you in Union City!

Chiltepe Peppers

This week was pretty slow.

Felipe finally read like 4 chapters in the Book of Mormon after we gave him a loving push last time on exchange with Elder Holly. Elder Holly told me today that he thought Felipe was a member, and that's why he was going so strongly on him about his responsibilities and needing to be an example for his family. In any case, it worked, and Felipe had a lot of great questions and was marking scriptures that he liked.

The Fourth of July was great. We sang a lot of the patriotic songs in the hymn book, ate some amazing Guatemalan food with the Morales family, and went with them to see the fireworks that night.

They had some pretty spicy salsa made from chiltepe peppers that they told us we shouldn't eat. So we ate it. Then, a couple of them ate peppers raw, and were sweating. They told us these peppers were hotter than habaneros (according to Wikipedia they can be) and that they made a gringo Elder throw up before, and that we shouldn't touch them. So of course we each ate one. I'll try to send video home of that. Yesterday when we went over for a meal appointment we ate more, and I wrote my name with the stems to prove that I'm a 100% certified chapin (Guatemalan). They were pretty impressed with us.

An interesting scripture I read was about the plainness of the truth. In 2 Nephi 33:5. He talks about how when we speak plainness, it might be hard at first, but after a little bit it's actually more beneficial. Sometimes loving someone means lovingly correcting them. It may be strong at first, but like the sting of the chiltepe peppers it will subside and they'll be grateful for the experience.

Love y'all!

20190707_205402.jpg

Fireflies/Luciernagas

Short update:

We've talked to a couple of cool people this week. It's been pretty crazy now that we cover both the Spanish Branch and the English Ward. It's been a good excuse to knock more hood areas because we get to teach everyone we come in contact to instead of having to refer the English speakers to the other missionaries.

Some cool people we talked to this week:

Walmer: Jenny's second oldest son. He's super golden. We met him and taught him on Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday back to back to back. He's already reading and marking up his Book of Mormon and asking us a lot of different questions. He's college age and school is starting up this week so we're hoping to be able to squeeze in his schedule.

Gerald: Not a member. He's already read the Book of Mormon 3 times and just finished D&C and loved it. He says he knows it's true and wants to be baptized and his family to be baptized but they make up a large part of their current church and feel guilty leaving it.

Miriam: From Holland. Super nice. Meeting her this week.

Fun thing this week:

I saw fireflies for the first time and my brain broke. I just sat there staring at them. I thought people had some really elaborate lawn decorations or something and Elder Rasband was just laughing and asking me if I was okay. Fireflies are pretty awesome.

Spiritual thought is about forgiveness. We've been helping members be closer to their families and each other and one of the biggest things is just forgiving others and giving them a chance to have had changed. Forgiving others takes a weight off of ourselves as well.

Hope you're all well!

Elder Reyes

9 Months Out & Already Wishing for More Time

Interesting week this week! 

This is going to be a quick update because we actually have 3 appointments during our preparation day time. Update: just kidding, they juked.

People that we're teaching:

Ana and Giancarlo (her son): 

We came for our appointment and they weren't home. So, we decided to stop by a member family who lives across the street. That turned out to be great because we haven't been able to get an appointment with that family in a while and they were both home. We taught a 20 minute lesson and then went back to Ana's house. She had gotten back, and even though Giancarlo was sleeping. It actually worked out really well because we were able to talk about her concerns more openly without her son there.

Kike (pronounced Kee-kay):

Really wants to turn his life around. Sent us a text asking for help, but keeps kicking our appointment down the road. I think it's because he feels a little bit embarrassed by the things he's going through. He's a super sweet guy, and isn't much older than I am. He genuinely wants to be happier, but just needs a bit of help. We've got an appointment set for 5 today, so I'll get an update on that. Please keep praying for him. 

Update: He moved to 8pm then rescheduled to tomorrow. Again. If he thinks he's going to get rid of us by just rescheduling over and over then he's going to have to keep doing it for a while. 

Felipe: 

We were honestly planning on dropping him, because he seems to be progressing very very slowly. However, our last appointment with him was pretty good. At the beginning, there was a little bit of disagreement about the Plan of Salvation. Felipe said he doesn't believe that anyone can become perfect like God or Christ. There are actually some great scriptures that speak fairly explicitly about that in the Bible, so we took him through them and he was pretty accepting of it. He says he knows he needs to be baptized, but we can't get him to church because he works on Sundays. We committed him to try to get the two hours on Sunday morning off and come to church, but he didn't come. We're not exactly sure how to help him, but we're going to teach him about the commandments next so that he at least has a straightforward understanding that he's breaking one.

Dilena and her son (whose name we thought was Christian but it's actually Gelson?):

Weren't able to meet with them this week.

Jason: 

He had some questions on baptism, so we did a quick lesson with him focused on that. 

Our week: 

Monday:

Taught Jason about baptism.

Tuesday:

Got a call from some missionaries in Inglewood telling us that they'd volunteered us to move a member who was coming into our area. Turns out they're not actually in our area, nor in the English ward, but they were super nice so we had fun getting a refrigerator into the third floor of a storage unit complex.

Got juked by a guy, so we knocked next door on the door of a former named Charlie. I've heard he's super cool, but he hasn't responded at all and didn't answer the door.

Wednesday:

Kike moved his appointment and our member appointment moved, so we went by Felipe because Kike lives in the same house. We taught Felipe a pretty good lesson on his porch. It was kind of funny, because as we were teaching him a lesson, a large group of Jehovah's Witnesses slowly walked by canvasing the area that we were in. They saw us teaching Felipe on the porch and skipped the house. 

Thursday: 

Super fun day! The member who usually teaches English Class and his son were out of town, and asked if we could cover the class. However, we also had an appointment with an inactive member who we've been working with. In order to balance them both, we ended up going on splits. I went with the new senior couple in our area, Elder and Sister Harbertson, to English Class. Elder Rasband went with President Hess to go teach the member (it was his turn as I taught the last lesson on exchanges). It was really fun! I led English class and we practiced conversation and pronunciation.  Elder Rasband had a lot of fun taking President Hess to teach. President speaks French, but is learning Spanish, so he was bearing his testimony and sharing some scriptures. We took a group picture at the end of the night (photo cred to our neighbor's dad). 

Friday:

During his brief exchange with Elder Rasband, President Hess talked about the fact that he'd like us to be doing more work with Facebook to find people for the whole mission. So, on Friday we just sat down and started trying to find people who were interested on Facebook for most of the day. We've got a better grip on things now: we usually knock doors for a while and then take a break to answer Facebook messages. 

We had a couple of appointments juke, but were able to teach Ana and Giancarlo as well as the member family that we had wanted to pass by. I was feeling pretty good, because after Ana didn't answer the first time, I felt impressed to go by that member family even though it was a weird time of the day. I'm glad I've got a companion who backs me up when I feel like I'm getting revelation, because we were going to leave when I was like "Should we stop by X family?" He said if I was feeling it that we should do it even though he was hesitant. I had had a few promptings earlier in the week that seemed to not turn out, so I was honestly starting to get discouraged. They commented after the lesson that we came at a "super lucky time" because they're rarely ever home at the same time before late as they both work two jobs. Then we got the bonus afterwards of being able to teach Ana because we went back. Trust promptings even if they seem not to turn out. It's for a reason. 

Saturday: 

Some of the things that the mission office used weren't working. The APs called me to see if I could fix it. I ended up going into the code and managing to get things in order. 

We did some good knocking and some more Facebook contacting. 

We had a lesson with this lady named Yenni. She was pretty hesitant to let us in. She talked about how she loved the Bible and already reads it. I asked her if she was cool if we came and read the Bible with her. She agreed. We found out that the previous missionaries apparently made it sound like we don't believe in the Bible. I clarified that we very much do believe in the Bible, and we backed it up by teaching the lesson from the Bible. She was pretty recepetive. It ended up being like a 2 hour lesson (not recommended), because first question I asked her was "Who is God to you?" and she told us a 35-40 minute long summary of her life story centered around different spiritual moments in her life. Not sure if she's got enough interest to have us back, but it was definitely good to clear up her confusion and we taught a lot of principles.  

We met a really cool Jamaican guy named Winston. We talked to him for a bit and he said he'd take a Book of Mormon. He said that the reason that Usain Bolt is so fast is because he had a diet of good old Jamaican yellow yams. We felt bad because at the end we wanted a picture with him because he was so cool, but after we took the picture he assured us that he was an American citizen. We felt horrible that he thought we were immigration or something trying to take picture for records or something, and reassured him that we were missionaries. 

 Sunday:

We had a man who's not a member give a talk in Sacrament meeting. The husband of the Relief Society President isn't a member, but was asked anyway to speak. We were pretty interested to see how it was going to go because he comes to church almost every week, but we haven't been able to go over there and teach them and missionaries haven't really had a lot of success teaching him in the past. Also because he had trained to be a Catholic Priest, and this was the first talk he was going to give in our church. It was really good! His family brought 3 different non-member friends to come see and they really enjoyed themselves. 

He had a 10 second moment of silence at the beginning of his talk for Memorial Day in remembrance of all of those who gave their lives for our freedom. He then gave a talk on how to better show our love for Jesus Christ, citing the story of Jesus and Lazarus and expounding on it. He tied it back into Memorial Day at the end. He talked about reading the Book of Mormon and the Bible. At the very end of it he just said "Que Dios les bendiga!" (God bless you all!) and walked off to his seat. It was pretty fun. 

That night we were supposed to have a bunch of different member appointments for our 2 hour power. However, pretty much all of them canceled or juked last minute so we just did a bunch of member stop-bys. At the last one, I felt like we should go to a certain member and we stopped by. A man answered the door and said she didn't live there. We were walking back to the car when I saw a man on the porch of a nearby house. I did a double take and then ran over to the house and up the porch steps while Elder Rasband internally questioned my sanity for a moment. I asked his name and he said it was Charlie. It was the Charlie from before that hadn't answered his door! 

We had a great conversation with him and his friend Vicente. Vicente is an older gentleman who knew a lot of Biblical verses, and then revealed that he doesn't know how to read. Charlie had a bunch of questions about the fact that we have a living prophet, which was explained by previous missionaries. Vicente stopped me talking about it by putting his hand on my knee and looking me in the eyes very seriously (which he did several times throughout the course of the conversation in regard to various topics). He said "I don't believe in prophets. Only in Jesus Christ. He is light and life, and there is none other than Him." I tried to explain that there are tons of prophets in the Bible. The Bible was written by prophets. As I explained, he placed his hand on my knee again and looked me in the eyes very seriously again, and explained again that he didn't believe in any prophets. One of my favorite exchanges of the conversation followed:

I asked him if he knew who Moses was. He said he did. I told him that was awesome! I asked him who Moses was to him. He gave me a blank stare for a long moment. 

"A prophet." 

The conversation went great. Elder Rasband powerfully explained authority and the need for it. Frequently, Vicente would put his hand on my knee to stop the conversation and ask us a question that he had. For example, "I'm going to ask you a question I have, and I want you to listen to it, and then answer it: We need to be baptized in order to receive salvation from sin. Yes or no?" 

We would answer: "Yes, we believe that baptism is an important step in the Gospel of Jesus Christ." 

Then he would give us a short round of applause of agreement before again grabbing my knee for another clarification question:

"Are you Jehovah's Witnesses?'

"No."

"Oh, good, I thought this whole time that you were Jehovah's Witnesses," etc.

By the end, Elder Rasband was talking to Charlie, and I was talking to Vicente. They were both very impressed. Vicente wanted to know where are church was. He asked if we baptize again, and I told him that we do and let him know that if he would like to be baptized, we were happy to help him get there. He said that he felt that one has to prepare first, and I told him that our job as missionaries was to help people do just that. He said that his father had died in the Gospel and that he hoped to be able to accept it himself.  Meanwhile, Charlie was so impressed while talking to Elder Rasband that he invited us over again to "talk for 3 or 4 hours and eat pupusas." 

Anyway,  that's a summary of our week! We're excited for the coming week and working hard. I've been learning a lot this transfer that a lot of times, promptings only come when they really need to and we're left do to our best for the rest of the time. We always pray for guidance, of course. However as I've been more confident in myself, in doing what I think is right and following promptings when I get them (instead of trying to wait for a prompting for everything), I've seen more miracles. 

In essence, the Spirit is less like a GPS--which tells you directly step-by-step what turn to take or when to keep going straight to get to where you want to go--and more like road signs--which you have to look for while you're driving, leave it up to you to follow them, and are usually only found where they're needed or where there's potential danger ahead. When we see them, it's obviously very important that we follow their directions exactly to get where you want to go and avoid problems. 

If you're worried that you're not getting promptings when you're doing everything you're supposed to to get them, it may be that God trusts you to handle this part of the drive by yourself based on the knowledge you've already been given. Like Elder Bednar said: "Quit worrying about it!" Just "be a good boy or a good girl" and do the things you need to in order to be able to vigilantly watch for direction that comes. Then, have the faith that He'll give you that direction you need to get where you want to go. 

That's my spiritual thought for this week. In the name of Jesus Christ, amen.

I love you all! Talk to you next week!

Elder Kai Reyes

Small Weekly Email

I've had a really good week! Things are picking up a little bit. We picked up a few new people this week that I'm excited about. One was Kike (Key-kay) who is a boss and just a super sweet guy who wants to change his life. He was waiting at the door for us to arrive and was all smiles telling us about how he feels so much better praying every night. The other is Ana and her son Giancarlo who had a baptismal date before and are referrals from the Relief Society President. 

Elder Rasband and I still click really well and we both work really hard. We got a new Senior Couple in our branch which will be awesome. They're super nice. They're going to be working in the office so we'll probably go train them in some different things there this week. 

The weather has been pretty great here which is nice. People are a lot more friendly when it's sunny outside. It's also much easier to contacting when everyone's out and about. 

I went on exchange again this week with our Zone Leader Elder Kim, who's dying (going home) at the next transfer. It was pretty fun. Two little kids wanted to help us knock doors and hand out pass-along cards while we were knocking their street. They were showing us different peoples' houses and knocking the doors. They were running up to people and handing them cards. It was hot outside and towards the end they disappeared and reappeared with Otter Pops for us. 

We had a member who told us that because of our lesson and advice to her, she's going to get her patriarchal blessing, which was super cool. 

All the members loved my bag too which was awesome.

Doing lots of member work, had interviews with President Hess, so that was good.

We were feeling pretty bummed last night because we finally were able to make contact with this less active who was a super strong member before and fellowshipped like 25 people, most of whom are also members now. He basically said he knows he's going to come back some day but just distanced himself from the church. He said he still has a testimony of everything and doesn't really have a reason for leaving. He said that he's not coming back right now though. He doesn't even want us to visit him. He's a young guy, and it was super sad. He said the only thing wrong that he's doing is not coming to church.

Were gonna keep working on him.

20190515_163443.jpg
20190513_144646.jpg
20190513_144609.jpg

Transfer Time

Good afternoon everyone! I hope you're all getting through your Monday pretty well!

This week was pretty fun. We ate spicy ramen, stood up President Hess at a lesson, and finished this transfer working hard. The transfer call was on Saturday night and we're both staying in the area and are super excited. We got super psyched and were high-fiving when we found out. This transfer is going to be super awesome. 

We're finally almost done with all of the Facebook stuff that we were doing so we have more time to focus on the branch and finding new people, which is honestly awesome. I've grown a lot this transfer and can't wait for another. I've finally started to get the hang of setting goals and being accountable. I've been setting much better goals, and I've been seeing a lot more motivation when I have my goals right in front of me and I take time to measure how I did at the end of the day. I've made several spreadsheets to keep track of how well I'm doing in all my different goals. 

One thing that's interesting this coming transfer is that our district will now just be Spanish missionaries because the First Presidency wants to try to group languages for districts. That means our District Councils will be in all Spanish and I'll have to do training and conduct the meeting in Spanish now. 

We've got some cool people that we're working with. We found this guy named Edgar who went to school with the Branch President. He told us he was Catholic, and then summarized his beliefs—which were all very different than Catholic beliefs—and asked us which church was true, so I think he could use some guidance in his life right now. He has a really great knowledge of the Bible and loves reading from it. We blew his mind by showing him that there are books that are mentioned in the Bible that aren't contained in it (Jasher, Iddo, Nathan, etc.). We've got an appointment with him tonight. It seems like he's got a lot of promise. 

We're still working with the Acosta family, but they totally juked us yesterday. That was unfortunate because President Hess wanted to come to an appointment with us and we told him that they'd be super solid. Then we got the text from her like 15 minutes before he was set to meet us at their house. We sent him a text to tell him not to come and went back to what we were doing, then realized as he called us that the text never sent. So he was basically just chilling out in front of their house waiting for us, which was super embarrassing. We're probably going to bring him cookies or something.

We had to take Felipe off of his baptismal date because even though he's finally reading, he doesn't super understand what we're teaching him and we want him to fully understand what he's doing. 

Today we had a great time going through different historical sites from the Revolutionary war. I'll put some pics on. 

Spiritual thought this week is about the Plan of Salvation, which is a lesson we've taught a few times this week. It clicks with so many people. If God is our Loving Heavenly Father it makes sense that he'd want us to be happy and help lead us to happiness. We've been showing a lot of people the video "Earthly Father, Heavenly Father". It's been cool to watch the dads connect the fact that God loves us like they love their kids. My invitation is that if you ever feel that God isn't there or doesn't love you, to kneel and ask him. I promise that you'll feel of that love. 

I leave that promise in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.

I love you all! Hope you're doing well!

Another Quick Update

This week was pretty great! It was awesome to have people so focused on Christ with Easter. We had a lot of fun this week in making some trainings about how to use Facebook to talk to people as missionaries, as well as contacting people in fun new ways.

One of the companionships in our district challenged us to sing with 3 people that we contacted, so we did! We sang Jesus Es Mi Luz with a man who we contacted who turned out to be a less active member of the church. The missionary who taught him most passed away fairly recently, and so when we let him pick the hymn, he chose that one because he used to sing it with her. It was a really amazing moment to sing the hymn together with this man and see how many memories it brought back for him as he sang the words. 

We had another contact where we sang Asombro Me Da (I Stand All Amazed). We had seen him around before and just walked up and asked him if he wanted to sing a hymn with us. He was totally down and it was hilarious because there were a ton of other people by us, and he wasn't exactly sure what was happening, but he felt the Spirit and gave us his phone number and address to come visit him. 

We've also got another challenge currently out from another companionship that is to get someone we're contacting to do a push-up with us and talk about Faith. It's honestly been refreshing to have some variety.

We're still teaching Felipe, though he's not showing a ton of progress (though he finally did read). We're also teaching the Claros-Acosta family and the Canterero family.

That's pretty much it for this one! Spiritual thought this week is about Easter. We have a lot of people who talk about how much faith in Christ they have, but then balk at doing the things that they need to do because they feel like it will be to hard. I just bear my testimony that if Christ could overcome death, then he has power to overcome the challenges that we face everyday in our progression towards God.

Love you all!

Elder Kai Reyes

Quick Update

Time just keeps going faster and faster. I feel like I'm going to be home before I know it, so I've been working hard. 

Quick update on some of the people that we're teaching that y'all can pray for:

The Claros-Acosta family: super cool! We taught them an official lesson this week and they were pretty psyched. They want us back on Sunday.

Felipe: One of his family members is in the hospital right now, so we're mostly trying to support him.

5759931181001.jpg

Juana: Came to Conference and loved it! She thought it was super beautiful and has basically been defending us to her anti coworkers.

We're trying to do more work with the members and show our love for them more. We're really good at calling people to repentance. Right now we're trying to help them feel how we're doing it because we love them. We're bringing some cookies to some of the members right now. 

Conference was awesome! Lots of talks about preparing for more persecution which was interesting to me. The quote about not being able to survive spiritually without the constant companionship of the Holy Ghost was brought up like 4 times. 

Spiritual thought this week is about the Book of Mormon. We've been reading a bunch of different scriptures to people highlighting all of the Books that are referenced in the Bible that aren't included in it. If you want references to those scriptures, please let me know! After gaining a testimony of Christ, a testimony of the Book of Mormon is really the way to know that this is Christ's church. We talk with so many people who are confused and have no idea which church is right, but aren't willing to read it and find the clarity within. They identify that what they're currently doing isn't bringing them direction in their lives, but aren't willing to try something different. If they want different results, they need to make a change in their lives. Even with members sometimes it's the same. I'm so grateful for this guide that we have. 

Every now and then, we can totally pray and try to renew our testimony or ask for a renewed witness from God of it. I highly recommend it even if things are going well! It's like changing the oil in your car. Even if it's running well right now, it just ensures that everything is flows even more smoothly. 

We were also really psyched about the new temples in Honduras and Chile! We have a lot of Hondurans here, and it's great to see how excited they are about their families being able to go!

That's the quick update! Hope everyone has a great week!

Included below: This great tiny park where it is legally prohibited to play anything but baseball.

Baseball Field_Moment.jpg
Baseball Field_Moment2.jpg

Motown Chapter 2

Hi everyone! Happy April Fools!

The last couple weeks have been great! We've been working really hard and trying to clean out our records and getting our District and Zone hyped up.

My new companion, Elder Rasband (Answer to your question: yes, his grandpa's cousin), is awesome. He loves golfing, shooting, and is a really powerful teacher. He's from Alpine Utah. He's pretty straightforward and great at focusing on priorities instead of dancing around issues. We're doing a lot of good work.   

This week we had a lot of passing by people who had been taught by missionaries before and trying to filter out who was interested and who wasn't from the people that we were teaching. We've cut a lot of people out. 

We found a couple of awesome families this week though! We're super excited because they seem very prepared and also cook really good baleadas. 

I also contacted a guy in Russian this week. He and his friend are from Ukraine and we got his friend's contact info and gave him a Ukrainian Book of Mormon! 

We're really excited for Conference this week! We're going to try to get some people to watch it with us!

We went mini-golfing today and it was super fun! Elder Rasband loves golf so we dressed up in our golf gear and went out, but their course was pretty muddy so we went for some mini-golf instead. I'm terrible at golfing, but not bad at mini-golf, so I had a ton of fun and actually pulled out a W. 

Other than that, I'm doing really well! I'm gearing up for this week when we're going to start finding more people really hard. I'm really psyched to work. 

Big email next week post-conference!

Have a great week! 

20190401_131753.jpg
20190401_122852.jpg

The Bieb Room

Hello all!

This week had some fun crazy highlights and some awesome miracles!

This week we had exchanges with the English Elders. I was in the English area with Elder Lacanienta while Elder Taggart and Elder Winters had some cool miracles in our area.

Elder Lacanienta told me that I met all the weirdest people that they know. I can't tell if he was excited about that or apologetic. I had a great time.

We got a call from a less active member for "help moving a table," so we went over to his house after lunch. His walls (and ceilings) are plastered with posters of Justin Bieber, Michael Jackson, Justin Timberlake, Seinfield, and hundreds of other celebrities. He has the pictures of all of the missionaries who have been to his house up as well. He has a specific room affectionately called the "Bieb Room" with even more Bieber memorabilia including cardboard cutouts and signed Jerseys. Turns out he needed help moving the table so that he could put a ladder in its place. This was because he had just acquired a glorious new poster of Justin Bieber, and wanted to mount it to the ceiling of said "Bieb Room". He was struggling, and a rather short fellow, so he insisted that yours truly do the honors. So, I struggled for like 20 minutes trying to tack a poster of Justin Bieber to this man's ceiling. I will attach pictures. He gave me a signed picture of himself as a child. 

received_610752909352509.jpeg
20190306_154655.jpg
received_562327464253026.jpeg

We had an amazing miracle while on exchange. We had been knocking gringo doors all day which was pretty discouraging. We had a loose appointment at the end of the night and when we got there he had juked. Another guy answered the door and told us he wasn't interested and couldn't receive us anyway because he was eating dinner with his family. We asked if he knew anyone else that might be interested in our message, and he pointed out a couple of houses. We went to the first one and knocked it. A guy came out and said that he couldn't listen to our message right now because he was just sitting down with his family for dinner. We were persistent, and bore testimony about the importance of our message and how it could help his family and help him find more happiness. He thought for a moment and said:

"Well... are you hungry?" 

We said, "Absolutely!" 

So we went in and taught his family (his wife spoke Spanish and had recently seen 17 Miracles and loved it). 

As we left, he walked us to the door and told us "I feel like God has been speaking to me a lot recently. He says 'no' a lot when I'm messing up, but he also says 'go help this person' or 'go do that'. It's been very humbling." 

I asked him "I have a question. Did he tell you to let us in?"

He thought for a moment and then nodded, "I know he did."

It was a miracle for me.  

We also had a District P-day today which was awesome! We went bowling and got Peruvian food which was awesome!

Other fun things:

We saw a really unsubtle, over-complicated drug deal yesterday.

Elder Taggart accidentally knocked the nose off of a porcelain garden gnome, and then had to explain it to the Latino whose house it was (he doesn't speak Spanish).

We found some really cool people this week:

Margot (pronounced MarGOAT):

Elder Winters and Elder Taggart found this lady who practically wants to baptize herself right now. She was asking them about a lot of different doctrinal topics. Do you do baptisms? Yes we do! Do you pay tithing? Yes we do! Do you keep the commandments? Yes we do!

Sergio:

Sergio called us out of the blue and said that he wants help in having more light in his life. Apparently the last Elders taught him twice, and then he told them that he wasn't very interested. He told us that he is willing to do whatever he needs to feel more peace and less darkness in his life and that he thought of the past Elders as soon as he started going through hard times because he knew they were real messengers of God. He said he knows that we can help him and that we're angels sent from God to help him in this time of his life, and he wants to get closer to God. He also told us that he needs our help, because he just got a new tattoo that he feels really bad about getting and wants our help finding a place that he can get it laser removed because he doesn't speak English very well. He seems very humble and very repentant right now, and I just want to help him feel better.

Cristian: Came to church again! 

Today's spiritual thought is about miracles. The miracles that we've seen this week have been really great, especially during the hard times of lots and lots of rejections. We've been trying some different finding approaches too which is fun. 

I promise that miracles still happen. Satan tends to attack us right before they happen, so a lot of the time they come right after we push through when things seem super hard or we feel really bad. If you're having a really bad morning, it's probably because something really incredible is about to happen.

I bear that as my testimony as something that I've learned out here from a lot of experience, in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.

See you all next week! 

Elder Kai Reyes

received_1251289651685921 (1).jpeg

Repentance

Hi everyone! Follow me on Instagram @kaickreyes. It'll be in Spanish, but you can keep up with what I'm doing (end of advertisement).

The last few weeks have flown by and I feel like there haven't been too many stand-out things that happened, but we've definitely been seeing miracles every day, big and small. A lot of them have just been in getting put in just the right place and the right time to help someone who needed it, or contacting someone and having them have prior experience with our message and wanting to know more. 

This week was good! I got to bear my testimony to some people we're teaching during fast and testimony meeting on Sunday.

Some people we're teaching:

Eduar and Delmi - They've been doing super great. They've come to church a few times and loved the "Come Follow Me" curriculum so far in Sunday School. Their kids love church and the other kids there.

Felipe - He's the one whose son's dog attacked Elder Winters. We went back over this week and the dog came down the stairs and tried to attack Elder Winters again. Luckily, this time he was prepared and fended the dog off with his back for a moment until it could be restrained. We're still both a little jumpy around dogs. 

Cristian - Despite strongly not believing in God the first time that we talked to him, he's come to church more than pretty much anyone else. He didn't come this week, but has been in touch with us and had some good conversations with the members last week about some doubts.

This week's email is titled repentance for a couple reasons. The first is because I've been terrible at emailing and I'm repenting of that. That means that I'm going to stop being terrible at emailing and do better in the future. 

Second: that's literally how easy repentance is. It's taking something that you can do better and changing it. It's better to prioritize the big things so that you can be a better person faster, but if we're doing that every day, we're getting closer to being perfect like Christ, and that's what this Gospel is about.

I had some thoughts about pride during my studies this week. I realized that pride isn't just believing oneself to be better than another, but is believing that we don't have any room to grow. It is believing that we are already as good as we need to be, and we don't need to improve at all. That's not to say that we're not already a good person, or doing good things, but just that if we believe that we've already fulfilled our potential then we're robbing ourselves of the improvement that we could have through learning and growing even more. Pride is believing that we either cannot or do not need to repent any longer. That can easily stop us in God's plan of becoming better and better until we can be like Him. It is also saying that we don't need the Atonement of Christ in our lives, because he atoned in order to enable usto repent and change. 

I've learned and grown so much throughout my life and my mission. If I had just said in elementary school that I didn't need anymore knowledge, or any more maturity, I'd be missing out on a lot of things that I have right now. 

I encourage all of us, whether it's something big or small, to pick something that we can improve on tomorrow and follow through. If we're doing that every day, then we're getting closer and closer to our Savior.

That's my testimony, and I share that in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.

I'll do better next week, and hopefully have some better stories, but for this week, enjoy these pictures attached pictures of the Rainbow Unicorn Face Masks that Elder Winters and I did to unwind one night. And also the fairy lights he set up. We lifted too though to keep it macho. :)

¡Hasta pronto!


20190302_214833.jpg

Big Dogs

Quick update this week! 

20190218_164207.jpg

It honestly flew by, and

I don't even remember half of it. However, we've been having a great time. Elder Winters and I have been working hard trying to get our Gospel-oriented chatbot up for our Facebook page, searching for Spanish-speakers to teach around this area, and have also been tasked with finding a venue for (the chapel doesn't work) and starting an English class here in Morristown. 

It was great to be able to Skype the family today and talk to them about everything I'm doing. Everyone has been so supportive

Some of the people we're teaching:

Jose: Jose is the most animated person I've ever met. He speaks super enthusiastically always, and is super duper excited about everything especially about God. We could use some prayers for him for getting some more time to meet with us because he's been a little bit flaky despite loving everything we're teaching him and being good friends with us.

Eduar and Yohana: An amazing couple who hadn't been super interested before, but I finally met them this week and they were very attentive and told us that they wanted to come to church. They did, and they and their family really enjoyed it. 

Elgar: We thought Elgar blocked us, but we passed by and he was super excited to see us. His number had been changed because his sister owned the phone plan, but he immediate gave us a new one and wanted us to teach him more, which was great.

Felipe: Felipe keeps bringing up the things that we're about to teach him moments before we start doing it. He told us that he feels like he has a lot of studying to do. We had a great lesson with him yesterday.

IMG_0188.JPG

Crazy Story:

During Felipe's lesson, we heard loud barking coming from the stairs and thundering steps coming down. Felipe's little poodle hid, and Felipe's son's Pit Bull came down the stairs and started charging us. He stopped for a moment, and suddenly jumped on Elder Winters and bit his arm before they could pull him off. Elder Winters is fine, he's just got little bit of a torn shirt and some bite marks on his arm (see pictures). In fact, the lesson went so well that as we were walking back to the car he turned to me and said "Well, that was almost too easy!" I then reminded him that he had just been bit by a large dog. He's a great sport.

Spiritual Thought: 

This week's spiritual thought comes from 2 Nephi 2:27. Basically we've been talking a lot about how everything is fairly black and white. We're responsible for ourselves and our own learning. We've been talking a lot to people about how it's great that they talk big talk, but they have to actually do what they're saying they're going to do to have it mean anything. I love how simple and clear the Gospel can be. 

I hope you're all well! I'll have a longer update next week after our Half Mission Conference for sure!