Monday, December 29, 2014

Hey, Guess What? It was my Birthday!

That's right folks! No more teenage Elder Rogers. It's all about the 20's now!
Whelp, it was one gooood week. We went about teaching people about the true meaning of Christmas right up until the day itself. On Christmas Eve we went to our Branch President's house for tamales (he says it's a Hispanic Christmas tradition). After dinner we read Luke 2 with his family. That was a good old fashioned Christmas Eve. The Hispanics call it "Noche Buena," and it's more of a celebration that Christmas day. They make a lot of food on the 24th that they stay up all night eating. They talk, and have a party right up until midnight, when they open up all of their presents! I don't know when Santa comes, since they're up ll night on Christmas Eve. I still just went to bed at the normal time, even though I'm what Elder Smith calls a "Hispanic speaking missionary."

OH! Transfer news! I almost forgot. Elder Smith will be moving on, "spreading his wings," as President told me. He was told by the Assistants to put his bags on the east side of the building at Transfer Meeting, which means he won't be serving in Grand Junction. There's a slew of possibilities, but we're guessing he's going to Carbondale and Aspen. He was also called as a district leader! I'm going to quedar here in San Juan and get a different companion. They are also combining the Montrose South Zone and the Montrose North Zone into the "Montrose Zone." That's the way it was when I entered the mission. They are having to shut down quite a few areas in the next couple of transfers because there are many more missionaries going than coming. Tomorrow, we will say goodbye to about 14 missionaries and hello to about 3. I think it's a similar ratio next transfer as well. Anyway, the zones combining will likely mean a big change for my district! There's the news!

On Christmas Eve we made some cookies and caroled to our investigators. On Christmas day we had a good district meeting and then caroled to some of the Delta Elders' investigators. We shared a short Christmas message with whoever would let us in, and that night I Skyped home! The next day everyone was in a post-Christmas slump. I was just trying to get everyone pumped because it was Birthday Eve!! The next morning, I woke up and got out of bed to say my morning prayer. As I was praying, I heard Elder Smith in the other room start playing the cello he rented. I was thinking, "What the heck is he doing playing the cello at 6:30?!" And then I realized he was playing "Happy Birthday!" That was pretty nifty. I got some candy and balloons from the Sisters in the Branch, and some great presents from home. That night, we went over to the Moreno family's house for a lesson. They had baked me a cake!
They lit the 20 candles on it, sang "Feliz Cumpleaños a Ti," and let me blow them out. Then we ate cake! They also gave me five new ties as a present! That day I said "Happy Birthday" to a few people. They'd get confused and say "Happy Birthday?" And I'd say "Thank you!" Being 20 is a lot like being 19 so far. I'll let you know if I notice any changes!

We didn't get to see too many people this week. That was a bit of a bummer, but it was still good. We had some good lessons with the Morenos. In our last one (on my Birthday), they had a lot of questions. They were basically comparing the Lord's Church with the Catholic Church on a lot of particular points and differences. At first, I would just answer their question and try to move on with the lesson. But more and more and more questions kept coming up. I finally just said (in essence), "Okay, look. You have like a billion and a half questions about a thousand different things; but really you only have one question: Was Joseph Smith really  a prophet of God? If he was, you don't have to wonder why someone as young as me could hold the priesthood. You don't have to wonder if holy water is really holy, if your baptism was valid, or if you should give up smoking or witchcraft. If Joseph Smith was a prophet of God, you don't have to come to us with every little question you have. You will have your answer. If he was a prophet, then the Church the Savior established through him is truly the Church of Jesus Christ. Thomas S. Monson is a prophet today, the successor to Joseph Smith, holding the same priesthood power and the same keys of authority. They Church of which he is President is the only true and living Church on the face of the earth and it's organization is according to the will of God. That's why we ask you to read the Book of Mormon. If the Book of Mormon is true, it was translated by the power of God by a prophet of God. You need to read it, and you need to pray about it. That's the only way you'll get the answers to your billions of questions."

And now I, Elder Rogers, do not write all the words of that conversation or lesson, which were many, but behold, to be short in writing; it came to pass that the Morenos knew that they must read and pray about the Book of Mormon. And what is more, they knew the reason they must do so. And an account of their conversion shall be given hereafter. And I make an end of speaking concerning these things.

The work goes on into a new year! 2014 was great, and I'm looking to 2015 to be even better! Lots of changes, lots of new adventures! May the Lord bless and prosper you all in your righteous endeavors! I love you!


Elder Rogers

A Thought from Mom:  "It was meant to be that life would be a challenge. To suffer some anxiety, some depression, even some failure is normal. If you have a good, miserable day once in a while--or several in a row--stand steady and face them. Things will straighten out. There is great purpose in our struggle in life."  ~Elder Boyd K. Packer

Monday, December 22, 2014

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas!

I'm Dreaming of a White Christmas! Outside our apartment.
Once again! Happy Christmas salutations; I hope this email finds you well and warm and cheerful.
It's been a good week. We didn't teach a ton, but you win some, you lose some I suppose. We taught two lessons this week to the Moreno family. I don't know if I've told you about them before. They're a family who's been investigating the Church on and off for years. When we taught them for the first time, they had a million questions about many different things. We told them to pick 2 (two) questions (parenthesis for emphasis) that they wanted us to answer in our next visit. Based on their questions, we taught them about the pre-mortal life and the Word of Wisdom. Then we showed them the importance of reading and praying about the Book of Mormon to find out if these things were really true. Everything that we taught, we took from modern revelation. In order to accept the answers we gave them, they have to know that Joseph Smith was a true prophet. So they need to read the Book of Mormon and pray about it. Once they know it's true, they have to decide if they think God would reveal a true book of scripture through a false prophet (and they told us they don't believe He would). So now they just need to FOLLOW THROUGH with their commitment to read and pray about the Book of Mormon!!

We had our Celebración Navideña with the Branch. It was great! Two investigating families of ours (including the Morenos), and one investigating family of the Sisters'showed up. We had a great Christmas dinner, followed by an African Nativity play put on by the Primary. The only reason it was African is because a lot of the kids were wearing tiger, lion, or giraffe suits instead of donkeys and oxen, etc. They must have just been short on costumes... Following that, we had musical numbers from the different auxiliaries in the Branch, including from the missionaries! That morning, Elder Smith and I had gone to the church and figured out a great medley of "I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day" and "Feliz Navidad!" It was just nifty. He played the cello, I played the piano, and the Sisters sang, and also played the piano with me (I didn't have time to really practice, so one of the Sisters played the left hand for me).

Transfers is coming up next week (the week following Christmas this time, not preceding, thank goodness)! In our interviews, President Murdock told us that he's probably going to keep me here and transfer Elder Smith out. But we'll see. The things he says before hard are rarely the things that end up happening. I'll let you know!

Sunday was just... blech. I was suuuper sick. I was sneezing and blowing my nose all throughout church, and then I went home and slept. Actually, I rested, because I couldn't really fall asleep. Oh! And also, that morning our apartment flooded and we found out that our plumbing has stopped working. We had to go over to another companionship's apartment to get ready. The carpet is still soaked. They haven't gotten anyone in to take care of it yet. This morning we went over to the church to shower (yeah, there are showers in the church). That was a first! I don't know for sure, but we might end up having to do that for the next few days. So! I was sick and our apartment was wet. I also couldn't go to the bathroom whenever I felt like it. Don't take that blessing for granted. I'm still not feeling 100% better, but our Branch President is a doctor, and he can hook me up if I need anything special.

Don't pity me though! Just giving you an update on my week. I'm sure I'll feel better soon and our apartment will be dry. We're just looking forward to great things! The work goes on and this is the most wonderful time of the year! That helps a lot. I can't imagine how bad it would be if all of these things were happening and it wasn't Christmas time. Christmas just brightens everything up! Remember the true meaning of Christmas. It's a good, better, best season. Good: get presents and have fun with family. Better: give presents and have fun with family. Best: remember and share the true meaning of the celebration: 

And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour,which is Christ the Lord. . . . And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men. (Luke 2: 10-14)

I know that Jesus Christ was born to be our Savior. I know He fulfilled His mission in mortality, and that He lives! That's the Gospel. Now go share the Gift!

Merry Christmas!


Elder Rogers


Monday, December 15, 2014

The Big Gulps, huh?

This Monday, we had a great start to the week! We saw Pablo and Gloria right after dinner and taught them about the importance of baptism. We explained the principles of entrance into the Celestial Kingdom, being cleansed from sin, and baptism by the proper authority. They seemed to understand well! We presented to them the baptismal date of January 10th. They didn't give us a definite answer. They still have to make the effort to come to church before we can really set a solid baptism date, but things are looking up! Gloria is much more involved now, for one thing.

That night we also finally got into a home we had been trying to get in since about the time I got here to Montrose. I think Elder smith taught the family once or twice before I arrived. We were able to get in and show the Moreno family the "He is the Gift" video and extend an invitation to hear the message of the Restoration. They told us we could come back for dinner and a lesson on Friday night!​ We had some great homemade tacos and a very scattered lesson. During dinner, the TV was on, the kids were running everywhere and playing with cats and crying. We didn't know how we were going to be able to teach a lesson. But after the meal, we pulled some stools into the living room and everyone got quite. They sent the younger kids into another room so that the five adults that were there could focus on our message. We had told them that we were going to answer their questions about the Plan of Salvation regarding the three degrees of glory. We did so pretty effectively using Paul's letters to the Corinthians. I think they were satisfied in that regard; but they had a ton of other questions! Questions just started flying left and right at us, and there was no way we could possibly answer them all in one sitting. So finally I said, "Okay. Why don't you talk about it and choose two questions you want to have answered?" They chose two. Based on the two questions they chose, next time we visit we're going to teach about the pre-mortal existence and the word of wisdom. We also found out that the women in the family dabble in witchcraft, so we'll have to help them quit that for sure.

On Tuesday we had a luncheon with the other zone here in Montrose and President and Sister Murdock! We had taco salad, a nice missionary Christmas movie, and karaoke. Elder Smith and I also got to have our interviews with President Murdock for the transfer. It was a good day! That night we had a lesson with Allan again, and it didn't go so well. He basically told us that he's not willing to do anything we ask him to (read the scriptures, pray, come to church, etc.), and that he feels like we're over at his house every day and it bugs him. We feel like we kind of have to drop him for the time being, with the hopes that he can be picked back up again and taught by the missionaries when he's ready and willing to progress, to make and keep commitments.

One of our investigators, Beatriz, who hadn't been progressing for a while, recently told us that she was going to make coming to church a priority. That is awesome! That is just about the only thing that has been holding her back from baptism for months. She worked on Sundays, and never made a real effort to get time off to go to church. We told her we were very excited to see her at church and asked if we could come by for a lesson the night before. When we showed up Saturday night, she told us she was doing very poorly. She had been crying. The night before she had gotten a letter in the mail that informed her that she and her oldest son were going to be deported to Mexico. I didn't understand a lot of the legal vocabulary, but I think it's supposed to happen in the next thirty days. The biggest complication is that she is a single mother and has an eight-year-old son who is a U.S. citizen. She won't be able to bring him with her because his father is also a U.S. citizen. I don't know a lot of the logistics, but hopefully everything will turn out alright.

Other than that, we've been finding quite a few new families to teach! It's been awesome! In my whole mission I've never found so many traditional families as I have in this area. Now we just have to help them understand our purpose, so that they will be willing to change their lives for the Gospel!
Making Gingerbread Cookies with some members

Mom asked a few questions about my Spanish.

Are you fluent? That depends on your definition of fluent. If we're talking about the gospel, I think I'm pretty fluent. Talking about other things, I'm not too bad.

Are you able to understand native speakers yet? For the most part, yes! There are a few people who speak oddly, and I don't catch most of what their saying. But I usually walk away from a lesson or a conversation realizing that I was in tune and involved the whole time! Definitely a huge blessing.

The work moves forward and Christmas draws nigh! Remember this Christmas not only the birth of our Savior, but also His life, ministry and Atonement. I love this Christmas season! May you all have a great one! I love you!


Elder Rogers


Monday, December 8, 2014

He is the Gift!


It's been a good week. We've been using the Christmas initiative from the Church a ton! We have been told to use it as our main finding tool. We try to share the video with everyone that we meet. That frustrating thing is that a lot of the people in the places we go finding don't have internet to be able to see it. But an Elder in our district was able to copy it to a flash drive for us to bring around! And still, like 9 in 10 people don't have a computer or anywhere for us to hook it up. So we went and burned the video to a DVD off of the flash drive! It played perfectly on the computer where we copied it. And then we took it home, and it didn't work in our DVD player. It was black and white and jumpy. Sooooo, we still have not wherewith to show the video to about 90% of the people we meet. BUT! The APs are supposed to be getting us a DVD that works soon, and then we can bring around a portable DVD player to be able to show EVERYONE!

On Tuesday, we were able to go and see Pablo and Gloria. We got to their house at about 7pm to teach them. But they were distracted by some kind of rent re-application they were filling out. They asked us to translate it for them. So we did! That took about an hour. After that we asked about their reading of the Book of Mormon. They said they hadn't had time to read, so we read Alma 32 with them and explained the parable of the word and the seed. They seemed to understand it well. Tonight we have a lesson plan to set a date for baptism with them. We can't find a member who's able to come with us, though! Pray that it will work out, please!

We've been working a lot with a less-active member named Allan recently. He's fourteen years old, and he was baptized about four years ago with his brothers. His parents aren't members of the Church, and all of his brothers are completely inactive. It's a really hard situation for him. We had a plan to teach him about the Restoration of the gospel, but ended up teaching about the fall of Adam and the role of prophets because of his questions. The next time we went back to teach the Restoration, we ended up talking about eternal families and living the gospel at home, because of his questions. He likes to crack a lot of jokes or brush serious questions off with sarcasm, but I think there's a lot that's getting through to him. He always tells us he doesn't want to go on a mission or get married. For some reason (it must have been something we said, or he was joking-- either way) he told us he wants to serve a mission now. After we talked for a while about the reasons and blessings of marriage in the temple and raising a family in the gospel, I tried to commit him to prepare for marriage in the temple. He said no. We talked a little more, and he still said no. Finally, I asked if after his mission he would consider marriage in the temple, he said, "Sure, why not?" That's some improvement! I know he has some sincerity in his heart because he asks questions directly to us, like "Do you really want to get married in the temple? Why? How do you know these things are true?" and so on. He can really have a good life if he lives up to his covenants, or he can follow the example of his brothers (which is not a good example...). We'll keep working with him!

We tracted into a lady this week named Nora. We shared the Christmas video with her and then shared a short message. She started talking about how she had met with the sister missionaries before, and how she always seems to have contact with the Church wherever she goes. She said, "Yeah, I have your book here in the house, and I read it whenever I can. I really like what you teach, but my husband is Catholic and doesn't like anything that's not the Catholic Church." It's really sad, but I'm sure the Lord will work something out for her to be able to enjoy all of the blessings of the Restored Gospel!

On Sunday, Alejandro and Chelsey's new baby daughter was blessed. Also, Alejandro received the Aaronic Priesthood! It was a great day for him that, because in both the second and third hour of church we talked about the roles and responsibilities of the different offices of the priesthood. Also, many people bore their testimonies about the restored priesthood and their gratitude for the blessings they receive from it.

This week from Monday at 6pm to Sunday at 9pm Elder Smith and I had an English fast. We spoke only in Spanish except to those who didn't speak it (and a few other exceptions). It was a good growing experience! Elder Smith improved a lot, I think. I didn't think the same for myself, but he said I improved too. Either way, it was a neat opportunity!

The Church is true! I love Christmas, and I love my Savior! Go forth and share the gift! I love you all, and wish you a very happy second week of December!

Elder Rogers

P.S. I loved the First Presidency Christmas Devotional! If you missed it, go look it up and watch it! Definitely worth while.

​P.P.S.  We marched in a parade this week! I think it's called the Parade of Lights, or something. We had a big float that said "HE IS THE GIFT." We walked beside it and said Merry Christmas to a lot of people, handed out lots of Share the Gifts cards, and had a merry old time! Parades are fun.​

Monday, December 1, 2014

Él es la Dádiva