Friday, November 1, 2013

[10/28/2013] Week 33: Hallowe'en

Martin Fambly!

This week was meh. We only taught like two lessons to investigators. And we taught a good amount of lessons to less-active members, including Nalina. In fact, our lesson with her this week went much better than the last. It wasn't as awkward and we learned a lot about her knowledge of the gospel. We covered bits and pieces of almost all the lessons, but spent a good amount of time on the temple and eternal marriage. Basically, there's a lot she needs to learn (or re-learn). She didn't even know that we don't drink coffee or tea! She's a very sweet lady and she loves her children a lot. I think she wants to do what's right, but we need to help her gain a testimony of the Book of Mormon so that she has motivation to progress. At the end of the lesson she made us promise to bring pictures of the pumpkins we carved last Monday and compare them to the jack o' lanterns on her front porch.

On Wednesday, we had another one of those custom district meetings where I seek revelation on what to teach and then teach it. I decided that we would read through a talk out of the Washington Everett Mission missionary guide called, "Create Success" by Elder Ballard and discuss it. The talk is about being a "creator of circumstances" (rather than a "creature" of such) and being the kind of missionary who doesn't make excuses for a lack of productivity in a certain area. It went really well, I think, because we're all in areas where we could make excuses. But if you just put your nose to the grindstone and do your part, the Lord will do His and bless you with opportunities to teach and fulfill your purpose as a missionary.

Awesome Pumpkin - The Invisible Man
From Wednesday night to Thursday night, we conducted exchanges and I spent the day on bike in Thomas Lake with Elder Black.  It was ok. Not a whole lot of awesomeness. But! We did tract into the lady whose husband started the infamous Gold Creek Community Church, which is rumored to be responsible for a lot of anti-Mormon notions in the area. It was kind of intense, but she was actually super nice and warm. When Elder Black asked a keen question, "Why did the Bible end?", she turned cold, kicked us in the stomach, and slammed the door in our face. Just kidding, but she responded with a pleasant, "You don't want to get into questions with me." That was probably wise. Bashing is never the way to go, and I could tell Elder Black was itchin' for it.

Friday ended up being practically everything but proselyting. We had weekly planning, lunch with our bishop, interviews with President Bonham, dinner with Giovanni, and then the ward Halloween party. But here's the good news! Tami, the super solid investigator who dropped us and whom we haven't seen in over two months, was at the party! It was really good to see her, and she's just as sweet and genuine as ever. Then! We saw her raking leaves yesterday, so we stopped to help her, had a great conversation about all kinds of things, ranging from family to missionary service to the way the world is going. Anyway, she invited us over for dinner on the 18th, which is likely to be my last evening in the area. Sweet!

On Saturday, we spent most of the day helping a few of the Eastmont sisters' investigators move. It's what we do best. Haha. Well, the cool part was when we went to eat lunch after that, we stopped at Burger King and while waiting on our food, a random guy named Ray approached us, having read my nametag, and started asking about our message. (We were even in service clothes, mind you!) He proceeded to tell us about how the Bible has been translated too many times and "if you want to stand on solid ground", you've gotta study Greek and read from this or that version of the Bible which came from the Vatican or something or other. So the missionary in me could not help but tell him all about the Book of Mormon, which was only translated once and helps clarify the Bible and testifies of Jesus Christ, but a lot of those comments were brushed aside as he taught us about "conciliation" versus "reconciliation" in the Bible and the difference between "justification" and "salvation". Then he left us with his number, so we could "chat more over a cup of coffee". Tee-hee. Unfortunately, he lives up in Lake Stevens, so we'll have to get the other elders on that.

We dropped by the Christies' on Saturday night, and found Conrad and Kaylin there! I'm so spoiled to be able to keep in touch with them after having been transferred away from Shoultes. But guess what! Kaylin gave birth to Conrad Jr. last Monday and they're all doing just dandy. If you remember, in our first lesson with them, Kaylin was running in and out to the bathroom and back for the whole hour. Now she's a mother of two!

Jack O'Lantern
As I noted earlier, Tiffany and Tia were at chuch, and the ward did a super awesome job in helping welcome and teach them. In Gospel Principles, Tiffany opened up the class by asking about how each new prophet is called, and that initiated an awesome discussion led by Brother Noll on the organization of the entire Church down to wards and even Beehive presidencies. Everyone else in the class participated heavily in helping Tiffany learn and understand while Elder O'Rullian and I sat and watched quietly. That is a sign of an awesome ward. After third hour, Tia came and demanded we show her the font in which she will be baptized. Unfortunately, the other ward was getting ready to start a class in the room the font doors are in, so we couldn't show her. Guess she'll just have to come to the baptism of Brother Fifita's daughter this Saturday. Oh well! ;)

We knocked on the Copenhavers' door on Sunday morning again this week, but they were sick, so we should definitely see them next week. Jeff Schmidt was also at church and was sure to talk to us about an appointment this week before he headed out. Things are picking up in the area! I'm lichen it!

It sounds like things are going well for y'all back at the homestead. For the record, Dad, I'm working out too! Erry mornin'! I don't eat as healthy though. I tell you, home cooking, imposed seconds, and dessert every night really takes a toll. But I've gotten pretty good at refusing seconds. Pretty rough, huh Brandon?

I love the news about Margo too. I was never first chair in middle school! That dang Caitlin Havins always beat me out. Margo is amazing! Keep it up!

I love y'all! Keep praying for me. Your pleas are greatly felt and appreciated!


Elder Martin

Attached are pictures of my awesome jack o' lantern!

[10/21/2013] Week 32: Dog Fight

Hey, howdy!

This week has been so awesome. It's the first time in my whole mission that my companion and I have hit the mission's Standards of Excellence.

On Monday, we helped Brother Smith (super cool less-active) move a hot tub he bought on the fly from his garage out onto his back deck. He invited us along with three or four other brothers from the ward to tackle the feat. Impressively, we used plywood and short lengths of wide PVC to jury-rig a sort of conveyor belt out to the back yard. When it was finally in place, Brother Smith cried out, "A cooked goose for everyone!" Funny guy!

Afterwards, we had arranged for the Copenhavers (PMF with twin UBC's) to join the Fairbanks for Family Home Evening. So we went to go remind them (yes, they had forgotten) and suprisingly, Sister Copenhaver got out of bed, got ready, loaded her rowdy sons into the car, and followed us to the Fairbanks'. FHE was a blast! We had a quick, fun, interactive lesson on avoiding Satan's lies and staying on the Lord's side, and then we played the paper bag game and had ice cream. It was all really good for helping Sister Copenhaver get comfortable with getting back into the swing of things. In fact, she and three of her sons were at church yesterday! For the first time!

On Wednesday, we had the privilege of hearing from Elder Paul V. Johnson of the Seventy. There was a big focus on enduring challenges and afflictions as a missionary as well as creating synergy between members and missionaries in order to hasten the Work. It was good and inspiring. I think the main feeling I got was: when adversarial temptations to slack off set in, fight back! Do work! Vex the adversary by doing the Lord's work. Maybe that makes more sense in my head, but it sure helps!

You may remember my mention of a man named Sam that we street contacted a month or so back. Well, we saw him again this week. He's read something like a quarter of the Book of Mormon already and is keeping an open mind. He had really good questions about how we're different and what our purpose is, so I testified boldly of the Plan of Salvation and families (Spirit told me to!) and invited him to pray sincerely. It was awesome. He asked us to "keep dropping by".

Thursday was an AWESOME day. The morning was a little slow, but in following promptings of the Spirit, we caught John on his way out the door to work and set up an appointment for Friday. On Thursday, we had four different teaching appointments set up, and they ALL went through! It was so great. Our lesson with Nalina (less-active widow) was ok. But something was amiss. The Spirit just wasn't quite there, and I'm not sure why. She didn't pay great attention, but answered questions with sincere-ish words that lacked the feeling. She committed to church, but didn't show.

Our lesson with Johnathan (13-year-old newer investigator) was better. It sounds like he really does want to learn from us in English, rather than from the Spanish sisters. As soon as we left his house and went to Giovanni's house, his mom, Maria, came knocking on the door looking for Giovanni. "Perros!" she cried, one hand "eating" the other (she doesn't speak much English). She was telling us that their two pitbulls, Yoda and Diamond, were fighting again and she needed help, but Giovanni was in the shower. Elder O'Rullian and I ran over to help, but watched helplessly as the two dogs tore each other apart, swinging clenched jaws back and forth as though the opponent's ear or paw were another rubber chew toy. The carnage continued, smearing blood all over the living room. Eventually, I called for a trashy blanket, wrapped the volatile, furry mass up in it, and maneuvered them out onto the back porch. We closed the sliding glass door on the pups, and they continued to hash it out. We looked on in helpless horror. Then Giovanni burst through the front door. Rumor had it among Johnathan and his family, Giovanni was the only one who knew how to break the fight up. He marched straight to the back porch, grabbed an old high-top shoe from the deck railing, and commenced whacking the dogs in the face, commanding them to stop. In seconds, they were apart and whimpering, humbled. Though both were covered in a coat of red, the fight was over. This man was a master.

In. Tents.

Our lesson with Tia went very well. We taught the Gospel of Jesus Christ (faith, repentance, baptism, receiving the gift of the Holy Ghost, and enduring to the end) with a focus on the baptismal covenant. She had written down some of her own questions about how the baptism works, which was cool. Dennis and Tiffany, her parents, were both present, and the former was extremely helpful and supportive during the lesson, as was Brother Noll, our ward mission leader. Tia is now on-date for November 23rd!

Finally, our lesson with Jeff Schmidt was awesome. He approached us on Sunday (having attended church alone) and told us he wanted to start meeting up again, as the past couple of weeks have been rough for him. Of course, we squeezed him in! During the lesson, at Brother Noll's house, we learned that Jeff's primary concerns are with baptism and authority and with "dark spots in the Church's history" (i.e. polygamy, Mountain Meadow Massacre, etc). He believes the Book of Mormon is true and loves the Church, but he's just not all the way there. In fact, he described himself as being "ninety percent there." He doesn't want to jump in without knowing it's right. Brother and Sister Noll were super awesome in helping resolve concerns, and Elder O'Rullian threw it do
wn, saying he needs the spiritual witness of the Book of Mormon -- not just "Smith couldn't have done it any other way than having been commanded of God." So he's close. We'll definitely have to seek revelation there.

Friday was also awesome. We started by teaching Gilda the second half of the Plan of Salvation at Bishop Prete's home. When we taught her about the Spirit World and the missionary work that goes on there, she was brought to tears, saying, "It's so clear. It makes sense! I'm sorry I'm crying. It's just so clear to me!" When we taught about the three kingdoms, Gilda exclaimed, "That why it says in the Bible, 'In my Father's house are many casas!" What a tender experience for everyone in the room!

Our lesson with John Nguyen actually went through. We sat with him on the porch and delivered a 15-minute Restoration lesson. It was short, packed, and powerful. I sure hope it pierced his heart. He seemed to have been reflecting upon what we said as we said it. He re-committed to read the Book of Mormon and pray. After John, we stopped at Brother Lothyan's house  (less-active) and shared a message from Ether 6 about God's light. Then he offered the closing prayer and broke down crying as he did so, giving thanks to Heavenly Father for the Light of the World.

As I mentioned, the Copenhavers were at church yesterday, which is a first. The ward did awesome in supporting them and making them feel welcome. Jeff Schmidt was also in attendance. Tia and her family didn't make it, unfortunately, and neither did anyone else that we taught this week. That's ok. There's another Sunday up 'n' coming!

That's about it for this week. There are other details and things, but overall, it was a fantastic week that reminded both Elder O'Rullian and me why being a missionary is so dang incredible.

I love y'all!

Elder Martin

[10/14/2013] Week 31: Finding in the Fog


This week is kind of a blur. It was the first week of the transfer, so things are a little different, but I'm still with Elder O'Rullian, so not too bad.

Everett District 3
The new elder in Thomas Lake is Elder Payne, who has been out for about three months. That means that Elder Black is now the senior companion! I think this is really cool, because it's just the motivation he needs to finish his mission out strong. So far they have done really well. I mentioned the new contacts thing last week. Well, Thomas Lake has repeatedly been the highest-contacting area in the zone over the past week. They really are doing well together from

what I can tell, and together they have found three new investigators already. In Thomas Lake, that is unheard of. I'm so happy for them right now.

Me and Elder Larson
Elder Larson was transferred to Arlington (just north of Marysville, where I was born) and is now in a nice, warm car for the winter. He's in a better place. :p

On Tuesday night, Elder O'Rullian's dad called our cell phone. It was sort of surreal, but really, Elder O'Rullian has been struggling a lot with missing home lately and staying focused on the work. He set up an interview with President Bonham on Wednesday evening and they talked through a lot of things. He really loves to teach and things like that, but he pretty much hates finding. And it's odd, because I've recently just developed this growing enthusiasm for finding as I described in my last email. We're gonna try and mix things up soon so that it's less discouraging for him. I need to figure out how to get him out of this slump and back to thinking about the work, but it's hard when there isn't a ton of teaching going on. Though, it has definitely picked up since I first got here.

On Wednesday, we hit 24 contacts - our personal record - and were the high for the night. Apparently, our whole zone has been catching the excitement because on Saturday, the zone contacted 202 total, setting a record for the mission, with a high of 51 in the YSA ward. Sheesh!

We visited the Copenhavers on Saturday night and committed them to church. They didn't show. I just don't know what else to do! Gah!

On Thursday night, we taught Tia the second half of the Plan of Salvation with Dennis, her dad (who is no longer a member of the Church) there. It was really cool to see how supportive he is of helping her make progress and eventually be baptized. All Tia wanted to talk about at first was her baptism! It was really interesting because when we started talking about the three kingdoms of glory, Tia had a lot of questions about homosexuality. Mind you, she's 9. But she has a cousin Kat, who just married her fiancee', Veronica. She's really close to Kat and wants her to be happy forever just like we can be. She wondered why God commands us to stay away from homosexuality, but then He also wants us to be happy. With lots of help from Dennis, we were able to explain that Heavenly Fathers knows how we can be the most happy and He has given us that knowledge through the Plan of Salvation and documents like The Family: A Proclamation to the World.

Just some good ol' fall-time street-contacting.
From my experience in this area, I've gotten really good at teaching children. It's kind of interesting.

On Friday, I spent the day in Mukilteo with the zone leaders. That was a blast and a day-long adventure. We started by tracting around a bit near the apartment, and ended up running into Elder Turley's very first convert, Brittany, whom he had lost touch with. Turns out they live in the same apartment complex! A little more relatively successful contacting and then lunch. After lunch, we took the bikes out (it was good to be back in the saddle again!). We really didn't get far down the road before we spotted [ta-da!] an unplanned service opportunity, for which we had prayed just minutes prior. A young man named Randy and his young family were moving out of a camper and into their very own place - their first apartment! We helped him move stuff in and talked meanwhile of his life story and of religious subjects. While we waited on him to get some things in order, he invited us to "feel free to take a look around and check it out!" He was so proud of this little place that he had acquired for his family.  He's a super humble and down-to-earth guy who's just trying to do right in raising his family. Talk about prepared! They invited us back for pizza and a message that evening. They had a lesson the next day and went to church yesterday! It was awesome.

In the evening, we tracted some large houses right on Mukilteo Beach and met an older Arab man, named Jasminder Door. This conversation went something like this: "Hey, we're the missionaries from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints!" "Where's your temple?" "Uh, it's in Bellevue, near Seattle." "The one I can go in?" "Oh! No, that one's right here in Everett." "What time will you pick me up?" "Oh, wow. Uh, church starts at 11:30, so we can be here at 11:00!" "How long will I be there?" "The full service is about three hours." "And you'll drive me back here after" "You got it!" "Ok, I will see you then." Needless to say, we were blown away. I haven't heard from the Mukilteo elders whether or not he ended up attending.

We got to teach Mateo, Giovanni's son, a few times this week by surprise and he even made it to church with his dad yesterday. Hopefully, he'll be back next weekend.

Our lesson with John on Wednesday fell through, as he was not home. Hm. We'll keep trying.

I think that's about it for this week.

I'm sorry to hear about Seth. That's rough. I always knew that Caleb kid was trouble. :p Hopefully, Seth will recover quickly. I will pray for him. That kid just doesn't get a break.

That's pretty cool that Brandon and Deborah are still talking and stuff. And that he's still being an awesome missionary.

Drive to the library this morning. It was SO foggy!
I'm doing well with the weather up here. It's coolin' down, but it's not freezing yet. And we've been spoiled this past week with a couple clear days, which means INCREDIBLE weather. I mean, just the most amazing fall days you

can imagine. Oh, Washington.

Leanne is in Collierville for another transfer, which means six months in her first area. That's a third of her mission! Keep sending her love. She really appreciates it.

Can I get James Thornock's most recent known address? I've got a letter for him, but I'm not sure where to send it because I think he may only work in California for the summer. Judging by the baptism pictures I got from Brother Herrera, he's home in Houston for a little while.

Attached are pictures of the bro's of Everett District #3 and another of Elder Larson and me at transfers.

I love y'all!

Elder Martin

[10/08/2013] Week 30: Power!

Dear la familia,

Sorry for the untimely response. Our library was closed yesterday for renovations or something, so we're emailing today.

The eye appointment went well. Dr. O'Malley said essentially that for now, I'm fine, but he wants to check up on me again in a year. That is, of course, unless something crazy goes down and I need to be seen right away. He did see the latticing that Dr. Hovis mentioned, and told me that it's seen in about 6-7% of the population, so it's not terribly rare, but still something to take note of. He attributed the odd phenomenon that I saw during ward council to random optic nerve firing just as one might experience a shooting pain in the arm though nothing is wrong.

I am really grateful for this week. District meeting on Wednesday was on finding. More specifically, it was on talking with everyone and extending an invitation to everyone to act. At the end, we rolled out this new daily goal for every companionship in the mission: contact 15 new people each day and invite them to do something. Simple, right? Well, it's actually sort of difficult, especially for me. I don't fancy tracting. But the way I saw it, you either make this goal important to you, and you go with it, or you don't. So I did. I have been making a more concerted effort to take pure finding activities seriously and faithfully. And let me tell you, it rocked my world! Now I'm excited to tract or street contact or whatever in order to reach our goal. I have this added push to talk with everyone which melts away the apprehension. Elder O'Rullian have now started setting aside about an hour or so every day to do pure finding activities. We call this our Daily Shenanigans!

One thing Elder Ballard said directly to the full-time missionaries was along the lines of, "If you want to teach more, talk with everyone." I guess that's a little obvious, but having come from an Apostle and not just the mission president, it was pretty motivating. So, we got right out after the session ended to conduct our Daily Shenanigans. In just about 30 minutes, which was all we had, we contacted 15 people! It was awesome! So many people were just outside doing yard work or whatever. At one point, I was very subtly prompted to knock on a random door we walked past, so we did. Jacob, a 14-year-old, answered, spoke with us for a bit, and accepted a copy of the Book of Mormon. On the final stretch of road back to our car, we had 13 contacts. With a prayer in my heart and faith that Heavenly Father would help us reach our goal, we walked confidently back. Four or so houses from our car, we heard the voices of two people conversing float down from a balcony far above. Boom! Reached our goal and went on our way!

On Wednesday, we taught a lady named Gilda, who joined the Church a loong time ago shortly after moving here from Costa Rica. She was inactive for quite a while until Elder Brockbank (now home in Provo) knocked on her door several months ago. She hadn't been to church literally "because [she knew] not where to find it". With some conversing, we found that she joined the Church originally because she liked the people and the warm feeling she got when she went. But that was about the depth of her testimony at the time, which is fine. But now she's preparing to receive her patriarchal blessing at the end of this month, so she wants to develop her spiritual conviction of the gospel. Thus, she's retaking the lessons from Elder O'Rullian and I. We taught her the first lesson a few weeks ago, and instead of moving to the second lesson right away, we felt inspired to read with her out of the Book of Mormon first. We started with the first chapter, doing round robin reading. In the middle of a verse, she lost composure and started crying, saying, "I don't know why I am crying. I just asked Heavenly Father in my heart to help me learn." It was so awesome!

We had a short lesson with John, the wealthy man, so he's now a new investigator. It went alright, but he didn't have a lot of time. I sense that his interest is cooling off, and he has other priorities. We have another appointment with him tomorrow, so we'll see how things go. We just need to figure out what about the restored Church is going to incite him to action.

If you remember the Arab family I mentioned before, we also went back there and gave the father a copy of The Family: A Proclamation to the World, as suggested by President Bonham. That was sort of nerve-wracking because, well, he had asked us not to come back. Regardless, he was still just as gracious as the first time we met and sincerely thanked us for the document, as well as for "running around in the cold, doing 'this'".

We saw the Copenhaver family on Sunday following the afternoon session of Conference and taught Josh and Justin (twin unbaptized children) about baptism. They agreed to be baptized on November 23 and understand this will mean steady church attendance and scripture study. Sister Copenhaver understands this will require a lot of help on her end.

Transfers are today. Both Elder O'Rullian and I are staying here in Seattle Hill. Elder Larson (of Thomas Lake, one of the areas in my district) is leaving, however, as he has been called to be a district leader elsewhere! Yay! He can really use this opportunity to grow. He's definitely the leader type.

Speaking of Elder Larson, we went jousting for p-day last week. Yes, jousting. Elder Larson is the one in the suit of armor, and his companion, Elder Black, is the other one in the [sort-of] suit of more box-like armor. Elder O'Rullian and I decided to go golfing instead of make armor out of cardboard, so our protection consisted of pillows, bike helmets, and duct tape. Our trusty steeds were roller carts (often found beneath the giant industrial trash cans used in most church buildings) powered by our companions. The lances consisted of a PVC pipe, a Nerf football, and more duct tape. We had a blast.

I think that's about all for this week. 'Twas a good one. Elder O'Rullian and I are definitely excited to work together for another transfer. Should be good!

Thanks for y'all's comments and stories and whatnot. Mom, your political comments make me chuckle. It's weird to hear about that since we're so out of touch with news and stuff. I did hear about the government shutdown a few times. Whatever, man. :p I'm glad Brandon's doing well. I still pray for y'all, especially Seth and Christian and Margo. A testimony is so important! And I'm grateful that y'all are setting an example of member-missionary work in the ward at home. Keep it up!


Elder Martin

[9/30/2013] Week 29: Chipped Tooth


This week went so fast! We were pretty busy all week long. That's the way it oughtta be! A lot of this week consisted of service. Lots of service. Mainly helping people move. But hey, what are the Mormons for? Just kidding. We gave quite a few blessings this week too. That is what the Mormons are for.

On Monday night, we visited the Smiths again (young, less-active family headed by a return missionary). Their kids especially love having the missionaries over, but once they were in bed, we got down to business. We talked a lot more about why they don't make it to church, and how we can help them get back into that habit. While we works often and she has family functions on most weekends, one thing they fear is being over-committed to callings and whatnot once they reactivate. We committed Sister Smith to come to church on Sunday whether or not her husband was working. She wasn't in attendance yesterday. Any tips?

Semi-related side note: at the Smiths on Monday night, I sneezed wrong and ended up chipping my front left tooth a little. Talk about a freak accident. I'm devastated. Just kidding.

On Wednesday, district meeting went really well. It's very clear that the more time and effort I put into preparing for district meetings, the better they go and the more I can tell I am influencing the other missionaries in my district. Sometimes, it's tempting to try and wing it a bit, but that's when no one participates and it's like pulling teeth to keep the clock from ticking backwards.

On Thursday, we spearheaded the whole open chapel tour thing that was mentioned in the worldwide broadcast on June 23rd of this year. Our stake center was open from 12-8 and we stood watch in case people wanted to come check it out. We actually did give a few tours to a few nonmembers. I'm thinking these chapel tours will be a really good tactic, because this way we're allowing the prepared people to sift themselves from the rest by coming to us. It also really helped me brush up on my church tour skills. The last time I gave a tour was in Marysville with Elder Benedict! And that was a tour through the plan of salvation! In preparation for this event, I was given the assignment of organizing the church tour shift schedule. I had to have a certain amount missionaries present at the building from 12-8. But I had to work around missionaries' appointments as well as uphold rules from the white handbook like having at least three males when females are present, vice versa, and having a priesthood holder in the building at all times. Let me tell you, that brought me right back to my supervisor days.

On Thursday evening, we made our way to the home of Justin Canales, a less-active  we had briefly chatted with a few times. Well, this time was different. We spent two hours talking to Justin and learning about him and his whole life story. Turns out, he's a super cool guy. Also turns out, he was married in the Temple and "did the whole Mormon thing." And "for 10 years, it worked." But for one reason or another, they were divorced and his life has been a shambles ever since. What's interesting is how willing people are to open up to and share information with missionaries. It started, I think, with "how did you find the Church" -- he was introduced through his less-active, then-girlfriend, soon-to-be-wife -- (that's a lot of hyphens!) and he talked on that for a long time. At one point, I asked, "do you believe the Book of Mormon is true?" and he went through another 20 or 30 minutes of life story without pause. He said the Joseph Smith story really hooked him. "Here was an average Joe [no pun intended] just like [Justin], with a really great question." Justin kept returning to the idea that he just doesn't "fit" into the Mormon church. Every man in the Church is a doctor or a lawyer or whatever and is well-to-do. Justin has a degree, but doesn't use it and he rents a basement from his weird coworker's mom. He ex-wife now lives elsewhere with their children and her new, "successful" husband. Over and over, he compared himself to other people, and didn't even realize it. At points, Justin was yelling and losing his composure. There is a lot of pain and hurt in this guy's heart. And anger. Not at us as the missionaries that stood before him, but at the course his life has taken, and ultimately, at God. If there is a God. He sincerely wants to believe there is a God and that Jesus is the Savior, but he doesn't want that belief to stem from fear. He wants to know it because that's what's right. With Justin, it's going to be a long, slow process. But after Thursday night, Elder O'Rullian feel and intense connection with him. Interestingly enough, after hearing our recap of Thursday evening, our bishop does too. And they haven't even met. Justin desperately needs the gospel back in his life, and we're going to help him out with just that.

Yesterday, the Lord blessed with three investigators at sacrament meeting! Mateo was there with his dad, Giovanni, and Tiffany and Tia attended in the Shoultes ward for a baby blessing. Our ward was super focused on missionary work, as that was what we were encouraged to fast for. There was definitely an outpouring of the missionary spirit. It's really exciting to see everyone get pumped about missionary work. Soon the referrals will be a-flowing! As I closed my fast yesterday, I received a confirmation that the bishop knows what he's talking about, as he is entitled to revelation for the members and missionary work in his ward. So it's important for us as missionaries to work hard to help him achieve his vision for the Seattle Hill ward.

We also visited Garrett, a man Elder Gasser and I contacted on exchanges a few weeks ago, yesterday. He told us he's already read a fourth of the Book of Mormon! But he insists he won't have any questions until he is done reading it... Haha.

I think that's about all for this week. We're already on week 6 of the transfer now. That's insane! I don't know where the time goes. I may or may not get transferred, but I'll keep y'all updated! Elder O'Rullian doesn't want me to get transferred at all because he struggled with his last companion, and well, like I've said, we are really great friends. He also misses home a lot. Like a lot. So that's been pretty hard for him, too.

Mom, I am sharing Dad's conversion story at district meeting this week. If you wanna go ahead and send it real soon, I might be able to come back later today and print it out.

Seth, when I read that blip about the chore app in Dad's email, I laughed right out loud in the library. So dang funny. That sounds just like you. I miss you, bud!


Elder Martin

P.S. I saw Matt the Cat Guy again randomly. He asked me to email him the pictures Elder Julius took of us. Haha!

The picture attached is of me in a cool Russian hat that belongs to Brother Paskett, who took us golfing again last week. This was just hours before I chipped my tooth...