Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Ralph the Rabbit

Hello there people of earth.

Yo. What up. Don't know what to put here ever. So.

I have started just starring experiences in my journal that I want to share in my email, so from now on my emails might look rather scattered.

On Monday, we met with the Carranza's again, and it was amazing. You might remember that I said that they are a less-active and part-member family, and we weren't able to talk to the parents at all last week. Well on Monday, Brother Carranza was there waiting for us, and was super excited to see us. He told a bunch of different crazy experiences that he has had that have basically led him to not wanting to drink ever again, be a good example to his family, and live with them forever! As you could imagine, we were very excited about this, and having been working with them quite a bit this week. What is amazing to me is that Brother Carranza still is determined even through the struggles he's had. Since he decided to come back to the Church, his landlord told him that he was selling the trailer they are living in and they need to move by the 5th of September, and on Friday night he had to take his wife into the hospital for a very bad sore throat and didn't get out until 4 in the morning. Unfortunately that meant that they weren't able to go to the Idaho Falls Visitors' Center or to church on Sunday with us, but he still is determined.

We have also been able to work with Bryan a bit more. He has been accepting more and more, but is still trying to receive an answer about baptism. We have tried to stop by the past three nights, but he hasn't been there, so we are going to try again so that we can take him on a church tour and hopefully help him understand more how to receive an answer, and see if he has had any experiences about it.

We were able to eat dinner with members this week, and it was fantastic. It is so nice to be in members' homes and teach them a little and help them with missionary work. We have had a great time eating with both many native Idahoans and some members from the Spanish Branch! We had some amazing posole last night.

Being in Idaho has its perks. One of them being eating with members, but also everyone is pretty nice to you, and a lot of times we get meals for free. We went to Pizza Pie Cafe last week, and the cashier saw us, went to the back to talk to his manager, then came back and just gave us our cups and said it was taken care of. We've had a few experiences like that, and it's really uplifting and awesome.

On Thursday, we had exchanges and our district leader Elder Garcia just came with the two of us because he's in a trio, and it was pretty awesome. It was great to be working with another missionary and learning from his as well. In the morning for exercise time, we were tossing a frisbee, and then Elder Garcia saw some of the rabbits that live in our backyard area. Entonces, for exercise time we decided instead to catch rabbits! It was quite enjoyable. Yes, quite. We caught a rather large one with gray spots and decided to henceforth declare his name as Ralph. Ralph the Rabbit (hence the subject). Hence.

On Friday after we tried to take Bryan/Brian (I don't know) on the church tour, we weren't having great luck. We decided to go to another trailer court, but not many people wanted to talk to us there either. We tried to contact a guy that a WML (ward mission leader) knocked on to gather information on the area, but he wasn't home, and nobody else was there/didn't really want to listen to our message. But we kept going on and checked on an older woman named Kitty who is a member and lives in the park (we'll talk more about her later) and she told us that she was doing well, but we should knock on the neighbor's door. He's a less-active and might listen to you guys if you go over there she said. So we did. And he talked to us, but "didn't want to be preached to" and was set in his ways of smoking and beer. We asked for some water and he gave us some gatorade which was great, but we could tell he didn't really want to listen to us and wanted to get back to his movie, so we gave him our number on the back of a pass-along card, and left. Thought nothing of it. But later that night after planning, he called us! He asked us to give him the bishop's phone number so he could set up an appointment with him! It was really great because we hadn't had much success that day, and that really made it all feel worth it.

Okay, so Kitty. On Saturday afternoon we decided to go do some service for her by pulling weeds and such. She is in her 60's or so, wears big glasses, has two dogs and a cat, has dentures, and is a bit "off," but she is hilarious. As soon as we started talking to her on Friday, the first thing she said was (in her distinct a little elderly voice) "yeah I've been alright, a bit depressed. I've just had this bad experience with this guy. I still have my chastity and everything, but it was bad." And proceeds to tell us about the man she has been writing who is currently in prison for not the best things ever! Quite interesting indeed. But we helped her with her yard and had a good time talking and sharing a scripture.

My Sunday was as good as ever. We were able to go to the branch for Sacrament Meeting and Sunday School, which was cool. When we got there, one of the members came up and said "I'm looking for a translator for today's meetings..." I immediately stared at my companion and thankfully he took the opportunity to translate the Branch from Spanish to English for the Spanish-speaking member's families that didn't speak Spanish. Glad I dodged that bullet! But they'll probably ask me next time, so who knows what will happen. But the rest of my Sunday was pretty good. Especially the Lyman 2nd Ward's Elders Quorum lesson about the importance of marriage and family. It was super applicable to my life at this moment. Another cool experience we had on Sunday was being able to meet with the Cook family. Their son Kaden comes out with us almost every Sunday night, and we had been asked by their ward mission leader to share something related to missionary work that they could share in the 5th Sunday lesson about Missionary Work next Sunday. So we talked to them about missionary work and helped them role play some experiences and shared a passage of Preach My Gospel with them. They were an awesome family and it was just fun to interact with them and help them.

Lastly, I want to talk about the Sacrament. Elder Palacios and I also had the opportunity to prepare the Sacrament for the Branch yesterday. We got to the back room, and saw that the water trays were covered in water spots and didn't look that great. We both decided to clean them and washed them off with some water and paper towels. There were still spots, and so we grabbed a scrubber that happened to be in there and started using some soap on it. I went over it kind of quickly, and there were still a couple spots, but I thought it was good and put it on the tray. Immediately Elder Palacios grabbed it and scrubbed harder until you couldn't see a single spot. It was an incredible learning experience for me, as I have come to truly appreciate the Sacrament, but saw that I could still learn more from others' experiences. As I have learned more about the importance of keeping the Sabbath Day Holy, and started inviting people to come to church, I have gained a greater understanding of the Sacrament. This ordinance is a literal renewal of the covenants we have made with God. Every week we have the opportunity to remember those covenants, and recommit ourselves to live more like Christ. It is also a time of sacred reflection; where we can look back at the week, realize the things that we could have done better, and supplicate for the Lord's help to allow us to overcome those things in the next week. I cherish this time, and invite you all to more fully use these consecrated 10 or 15 minutes (or 4 if you're in a Spanish branch of 70) to deeply consider how to become mas como Cristo cada dia.

I love you all and hope the best for you all. The Lord knows you and appreciates all efforts you put in to become better.

Peace n blessings

Elder Grondel


1-3. Our district!

4. Ralph and I at the close of the hunt.

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Greetings from South Rexburg

Well hello...

Fancy meeting you here.

Anyway, what is up las personas de este lista de email? This week was pretty interesting. I'm in Idaho! Crazy. Don't really know how to feel.

Let's start with my last few days at the MTC. They were great. I really did love the MTC and my district and my teachers. It was an amazing experience and I learned a ton. We had a lot of final things before we left that helped us prepare for the mission field, and they were all great. On the Saturday before I left, Hermano Rasmussen had Elder Phillips help him in doing the object lesson of the Atonement with the candy, and Elder Phillips having to do push-ups and stuff. I would explain more, but I don't have a ton of time, and I think it's better if you either read the story online, or experience it yourself. Needless to say, it was a really special and I learned a lot about how I constantly want to partake of the Atonement and become better. It was awesome.

For our last Sunday at the MTC, my entire district and I sang an arrangment of "La luz de la verdad" (Hark All Ye Nations in English) and it was really fun, and I think it turned out pretty well. Hermano Rasmussen helped us arrange it and did a good job at that. We had a good Sunday, and I enjoyed being with my district for the last time.

The next day, Elder Davis and I sent off the rest of our district. And it was weird. And hard. I didn't like it. It was just us two the whole day and felt lonely. The cafeteria was like a cemetery without all of us there together. When our first teacher came, we just kind of hung out with him and talked to him about missions and life and all that and it was great. When Hermana Martinez came in, we watched some mormon.org videos in Spanish for comprehension, and then actually ended up going to TRC to see if there was someone that we could teach. We found a man named Marco, who has Polio, and talked to him for a while. He wanted to know how we can know when the Holy Ghost communicates with us, and I was able to bear testimony about how each person is different, and needs to find out for themselves what works for them. I testify that this is true. If you haven't before, do it tonight. If you sincerely search the scriptures, and pray with the intent of wanting to know how the Holy Ghost communicates with you, and have faith, then you will know. I want each of you to figure exactly how to do that by yourselves, but I know that you can.

Tuesday I left the MTC, and took two trains and a long walk to a 40-passenger plane for a 51-minute flight from terminal to terminal. In the airport I got to eat Cafe Rio and Jamba Juice (#blessed). When we got there we met our mission president, his wife, and the AP's The rest of the day was filled with different introductory seminars, a nice dinner, presentations, and then staying at a member's home. It was so great to be able to be in an actually house again. The next day we left Pocatello, and got on the "transfer train" to my area!

I am currently serving in the Rigby Spanish II area with Elder Palacios! He is from Texas, is around 5'8" and a good guy. The area we are in actually just got redivided a transfer before, so we are spending a lot of time finding and working with members and less-actives because our area is huge and we're still wrapping our heads around it. We cover the entire Rexburg South Stake in English and Spanish, the Ririe Stake in Spanish, and then also are the missionaries for the Spanish branch in Rigby. It's quite the project. Most of the people we talk to speak English, but I've still been able to use Spanish every once in a while with some of the parental Spanish generation.

Some cool/funny experiences:

On Wednesday we met with a family named the Carranza's. The parents are less-active, and some of the kids are baptized, but we are working with a kid named Leonardo who hasn't been baptized. He loves to read the scriptures and talk with us, so we have hope for him. He has a 19-year-old brother with slight autism, so while we are teaching outside, every time a car passes by, he says "God bless you, amen!" It's pretty sweet.

The next day we had like a conference with the Mission President and AP's for all trainers and trainees, and I played the opening hymn. I played it awfully and it was great.

On Friday we met with one of the Ward Mission Leaders and had lunch, and he said, "you know, as my wife and I research more and more about healthy foods, I find that the healthiest foods are the ones that taste the blah-iest. Like, I don't remember deciding that in the premortal life."

Later that day, we went to a trailer court and tracted a little, and then started talking to some kids. Eventually a kid named Bryan came home. He and his brother have both met with the missionaries before, but nothing has happened. We played soccer with him and bunch of other kids, and said that we would play if we could share a scripture afterwards. We played and my team won (naturally) (just kidding, pride is bad, can't have it to have the spirit (shoutout to son of jen)), but then all the kids left, except for Bryan. He stayed, and we know that he thinks we have things that are right in our church, and he wants to join. So we shared 3 Nephi 11:33, and invited him to be baptized! He said that he would if he got an answer from the Holy Ghost, and that he was going to talk to his cousin, because she is an active member, and so we are praying for him! It was a good experience.

Friday, we went to a technically less-active members home. He is in a power wheelchair, and so they have the Sacrament taken to them on Sundays, and she stays home with him. We showed up in service clothes, and were actually able to help them pull weeds for about an hour. While we were, Sister Niederer said "sometimes while doing this, I just wanna slap Eve. If she hadn't given Adam that stupid apple, none of us would be doing this." Hilarious.

Now I want to talk about my Sunday. Sunday was amazing. It was fantastic to be back in a normal family ward again. Taking the Sacrament is always special, but it meant a lot this week. We spent most of the day going to ward councils and ward mission leader correlation meetings and things, but I loved going to all three hours of church, and being with members that really appreciate what you're doing. It was a good pick-me-up. However, during gospel principles we started talking about the Holy Ghost and different things, and this week has just been kind of hard for me, so I began having doubts, and wondering. But I said a prayer and had faith. That night, we were looking for a Spanish family's home in a trailer court, and went to this woman's door and asked her if she knew where they were. It ended up that they had moved, but we decided to talk to her a bit. She was in her 50's, and began talking about her life. She was baptized when she was 16, but left the church, and that definitely made a big difference in her life. She was married 5 times, and had a bad relationship with her daughter, and things just weren't going well. She told us about how she reads the Bible all the time still, and that she has been praying every day to know how to take away her pain and be happy. It was funny, she was talking about how she was praying and praying and keeping faith that she'd get an answer, but that she wanted to answer right now. And we were the answer. I know that we were led to her last night. We were going to go a different way, but we saw her open door and went up. We talked to her and had a good conversation about her life, and how the Church will help, and I know that it will. The Spirit that I felt while testifying of the truths that she once learned casted away any doubts that I had that day. That experience was as much for her, as it was to help me. God will always answer our prayers, we need not doubt. He is there beside us every step of the way, helping us, sending subtle whisperings her and there, leading us to what we need. As I have relied on him, I have found that everything that I worry about disappears, and I invite you to do the same. Everyday try to partake of the Atonement more fully, and I know you will see a difference.

I love you all and am praying for you.

Elder Grondel

Brother Ostler! (Awesome teacher in our zone)

Elder Davis and I with our calls and reassignments

A log cabin in Idaho

Random house.  Basically what Idaho is like,  a ton of farmers with huge fields and horses and stuff.

Tried to recreate Doug's "field is white" picture, didn't work too well, but whatever.

A hugely tall truck at a house we stopped by

Thursday, August 6, 2015

It's almost time for ArgentIdaho?

Well hello there everybody,

This week has been quite the culmination of a significant amount of different experiences for me. Let's start at the beginning.

First, on Friday, I received my travel plans! Leaving for Argentina this Monday, flying with everyone in my district to Buenos Aires, taking a bus to Neuquén, all awesome and great. Super excited. The rest of the weekend we learned a lot of Spanish, and had some awesome talks with our teachers and such, it was all amazing.

On Sunday, Elder Johnson and I got called to be the new zone leaders! (for a week) which was exciting, but the whole day I felt like I needed to be a better example of a stellar missionary and such to my zone. In testimony meeting I shared a section from a talk by Tad R. Callister that Lauren gave me, entitled "Being a Consecrated Missionary." It was a great quote and many people said that it helped them with different things they've being dealing with themselves, which was super great. I also got to see some good friends on temple walks, and had a pretty good fast Sunday.

We've been learning a lot of Subjunctive tense in Spanish this week, which is fun. We also got to Skype with a Spanish member, and teach her on Monday, which is cool.

At our Tuesday Night Devotional this week, we had the privilege of hearing from President Russel M. Nelson! He is an inspiring man with a ton of insights for us. The power he has is amazing, and we could feel it as soon as he walked in, and continued to sing the prelude hymns with him. It was a fantastic experience. He talked about God's goals for missionary work, and how we continue to complete them, even though the means of doing them may have changed (i.e. iPads, Skype, etc). My favorite part was when he said "You are not here to be a salesman. You embarked on this journey to bring yourself closer to Christ." I love that quote. We come on missions to help bring others to the light of the gospel yes, but the main reason we are here is to ourselves become more like Christ. As we do so, we will turn outward more often, and we will help all of God's children, because those are things that Christ does. This has inspired me in my missionary efforts, and made me desire to everyday look for the opportunities ser mas como Cristo.

Yesterday, our district had the opportunity to host the new missionaries that come in on Wednesday afternoons, and it was really awesome. It was fun to help these missionaries feel more comfortable, and to get them situated so that they would be ready to go. It was really nice to ensure them that it'll all be okay, because I've been in their shoes before. It was a neat experience. As zone leaders, Elder Johnson and I and the Sister Training leaders also got to welcome our new district last night, which was great. We had a good time, and I actually met one of the Elders at BYU! He's Elder Clark, and he lived on my friends' Harrison and Derek's floor. It'll be awesome to be able to work with him over the next couple of days.

At this point, most of you are probably wondering what the heck my subject title means. Well yesterday afternoon, Elder Davis and I found out that our visas have not been processed yet, and we will be serving temporary assignments! So I have been reassigned to the Pocatello Idaho mission until my visas comes! Now I know what some of you are thinking. Is this not the exact same mission that you would jokingly wish many a friend that they went to, and use almost as a scapegoat of the mission lottery? Why yes. That would be correct. The exact mission I would almost poke fun at, is the mission where I will be serving for a temporary assignment. In case you have not figured out in your life yet, the Lord has an extremely good sense of humor. But in actuality, I am excited for this opportunity. At the moment, I am conflicted because I want to go to Argentina; that is the place I have been called, and that is the place I've been dreaming of since I got my call, but the Lord has called me to go to Idaho. There's something I need to do, or someone I need to save in that mission, and I am going to try my hardest everyday to figure that out and serve the Lord. From what I understand, there is usually not ever a problem with visas for Argentina, and this complication is because of some of the paperwork, or the FBI clearance, but I know that this is not the real reason. The Lord saw my progress while in the MTC, and realized that He needed me somewhere else. I don't know what, I don't know how, and I don't know when, but I know that I need to do something in Idaho. I will update you all as soon as I find out what that is.

As I reflect over the past five weeks on my last P-day in the MTC, it is impossible to deny that the Lord has in all things that I have done. The amount of Spanish I've been able to learn, my wonderful companion who's my best friend, my district full of life-long amigos, and amazing experiences with my teachers, investigators, and branch presidency, I know that I made the Lord's decision when I decided to serve a mission, and when I decided to go. The Lord has a plan for each and every one of us. Sometimes He won't tell you what it is till five days before, but I promise you He has a plan. I encourage all of you to talk to Him tonight. Pray and ask what His will is for you. For a while, I used to ask the Lord to make me the best district/zone leader I could be, but it wasn't until I asked Him to help me do HIS will, and be HIS zone leader, that I saw a difference in what I was doing. He's there. He's your Father. He loves you, and wants to hear from you. Please, ask Him what He wants you to do, I know that if you do you will much happier in your own life, and be able to become more like Him and His Son, Jesus the Christ.

I love you all, and hope the best for each of you!

Elder Grondel

1. Elder Johnson and I with the classic map picture

2. Elder Smith-Driggs!

3. Another temple picture

4. It was chilly and overcast enough to wear a sweater this week, and Elder Christensen and I decided to oblige in that.