Monday, August 25, 2014

[8/25/2014] Week 77: Feeling the Spirit

Hey, hey!

It was a fulfilling, diligent week.

The best miracle of the week! We asked the Mukilteo sisters where in their area we could tract for them, so they prayed and felt inspired to send us to Park Avenue--the same street I tracted nearly a year ago with Elder Turley on exchange (if you remember, it's where we found Jasminder). Park Avenue is lined with large and beautiful homes that overlook the Puget Sound. Mostly, people were nice, but uninterested. We moved patiently from door to door, and progressively, the houses grew bigger and the views more breathtaking. About halfway up the hill upon which Park Avenue is situated, we met a hardened old atheist named Don who would pop in and out of his house as he unloaded the trunk of his Jaguar and would talk to us during the brief stints of time that he was outside. He demanded of us the physical locations of heaven and hell; if we could answer him that, he would "come back to religion". We really tried "going to heaven", as President Donaldson of The District 2 would say, for an inspired question, but eventually, he stopped popping out. So we moved on. We came to an off-shooting driveway that led to one house right near us and to another house, which was at the top of the hill, out of sight and was prefaced by "Beware of Dog" signs. At the first house was Jamie, who was kind, but uninterested and informed us that the next house was "a long jog" up the hill, and "they probably aren't home anyway." Of course, we went ('twas indeed a long jog), it was a spectacular view of the Sound and the Mukilteo ferries, we knocked, and we were met by Mark, a kind humble, meek, and warm gentleman in his early 40's with a tired look in his eyes. We talked with Mark for probably 30 or 40 minutes and learned quite a bit. When asked what his faith in Jesus Christ is like, he responded admittedly and wistfully, "I would say it's lukewarm." He discussed with us his experience with past churches, and we discussed with him our purpose as missionaries. We asked inspired questions and both parties seemed content with the long stretches of silence that punctuated each thoughtful statement or question during which the Spirit so clearly worked with his heart. The air was clear, the sky was blue, it was evening time, the water in distance was calm, the ferries lumbered by sleepily, the wind blew gently. When asked what makes him truly happy, he at first jokingly responded that he would "be truly happy when [he was] finally done with [his] Master's degree." Then, with impressive love and warmth, he described watching West Wing on Netflix in the downstairs room with his wife and taking turns picking at the show and laughing together. It was a tender truth from deep within his soul that he shared with us. This is exactly why I love being a missionary.

The Eames' (Jake and Mariah)
We invited Mark to meet with the sisters in the Mukilteo ward, and he agreed. I think he recognized the power and truth in what we young people proclaim to all the world, and I think that once he starts meeting with them, his life will be greatly impacted for the better, and he'll be able to serve others and impact them for the better. If you were curious, we didn't so much as hear a bark from any dog!

This was certainly one of my favorite moments from my mission.

Elder Christian Martin
I can't believe Christian is gone-ski. Once again, I'm not the only Elder Martin in the field! I know he'll do an incredible job. He's always been just stellar!

Thanks for your love and hard work and prayers and everything else!

Pix: Enrique and the Eames' (Jake and Mariah), all of which are headed back to Provo this week. So sad!

Elder Martin

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

[8/18/2014] Week 76: Risks of the Truth

This was a long one.

Me on the ferry. Again...
Zone meeting was probably my favorite part of the week. I always love seeking inspiration and inviting other missionaries -- who don't typically get opportunities to instruct -- to give instruction at zone meeting. After zone meeting, we went with the Mukilteo elders out to South Whidbey Island to help find potentials -- something we do about once a transfer to remind the sisters there that they're not forgotten. We met up briefly at Dairy Queen to talk with the sisters about where they felt inspired to send us in their area. This time, however, Sister Ah-Chong requested that we all pray together for opportunities to find and teach. The street that Elder Haupu and I tracted was not enormous, but we ended up spending about two and a half hours there because nearly everyone was home! What a miracle! We found several promising potentials for the sisters and even kept a detailed tracting record so they could follow up with others who had said to "come back". Isn't it neat what happens when you and those with whom you work receive and follow inspiration?

Tim and Robert, a couple of guys who served in the Fresno
mission together and moved into our ward for work.
Swell fellas.
We met a few interesting people on Saturday. One talked with us about government conspiracies and his experience meeting a "nephilim" and another spent quite a while talking with us about our beliefs before telling us we needed to read the Bible more (which, admittedly, is true). It is true that I question the things that I believe and preach frequently. But I find it difficult to compromise my values and my testimony based on experiences that I have with unique and misguided teenagers or angry born-again Christian folks. These people, though children of God and striving to do what is right, are imperfect. Why prioritize their doctrines over that which I have received from God? As I partook of the sacrament yesterday, I was reminded that I do what I do because I know it is completely right and I know it is eternally true and I know it will bring to anyone who participates the peace and refuge from the burdens of mortality they sincerely seek. We had the opportunity yesterday to give several blessings, one of which was to a member of the ward who was wrestling with the decision to talk with the bishop about some mistakes he had made. I'll just say I love the Atonement and I love the priesthood.

Alayna Hudson, who reports for the Paris mission on the
same day as Christian. However, she'll be speaking French.
Amid all of the happenings of this week, we did find two new investigators, but it turns out one lives in Marysville, so we handed him off. As well, our investigator Bonnie is doing fine. She raised a ton of concerns about how she doesn't believe in God and how answers to her prayers are actually self-produced and not divine. Then we invited her to pray at the end of our lesson, and she talked with Heavenly Father about her real concerns. She knows Heavenly Father is there because she feels Him, but she is afraid of upsetting her parents, who are stout Buddhists in Korea. After her prayer, we confirmed that this is the root of her concern, and that the other worries she brought up are ploys to avoid the main issue she faces. That is, that her parents will disown her and bring her back to Korea if she is baptized.

Christian--last hugs with Mom and Margo
I can't believe Christian reports this week. Well, Elder Martin, officially. I miss that guy!

I love y'all!

Elder Martin

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

[8/11/2014] Week 75: Are We Not All Beggars?

Austin Goodwin, a super cool hippie in the
ward, who drives and cherishes his
Volkswagen Karmann Ghia
I ran out of time (you'll shortly discover why), so here is my letter to President, recycled:
"This week, we found Bonnie. She was invited to church by her friend, Taylor, and she loved it! Since last Sunday, she has attended Ward Home Evening, the ward's Summer Blowout activity, and the mission Cottage Meeting. We taught her the Restoration before the Blowout activity and she loved it! She was raised a Buddhist in Korea, but is here in Washington to further her education and has, as a result, had the opportunity to broaden her spiritual horizons! After praying and asking Heavenly Father for truth, she described feeling "more peaceful than when [she goes] to Buddhist temple". She feels strongly that God led her to us, and is excited by the prospect of being baptized for the remission of her sins, but expressed concern, saying, "I might have to do it in secret because if my family learns that I am a Mormon, they will expel me [from the family].

"I had the privilege of spending a day with Elder Christensen in Silver Lake YSA this week. You'll read more details on the exchange form, but I really admire the sincerity of his teaching and testifying. There is some real power in that missionary.
Enrique Castro, a super cool member of the ward.
"Well, I was side-tracked just now for about twenty minutes by a man who walked into the family history center looking to borrow fifty dollars to get to Eugene, Oregon by bus. I called the transient bishop, though I was pretty sure he is only able to help baptized members of the Church, and Bishop Burton affirmed that. He asked if he could borrow the money from us (Elder Haupu and I and about four other missionaries), to which we responded that we couldn't, for our money is from sacred tithing funds. He asked for a ride to the bus station in North Everett, but we told him we couldn't help him there either for insurance purposes. It was tough, because I wanted to help, but I felt like we really couldn't do anything. We did inform him of job training through Deseret Industries down in Shoreline, but he wasn't interested in that. How do you suggest missionaries handle this type of situation?"
I did receive letters from Dad, Seth, and even Sister Thornock, but I did not receive a package. But now you've got my hopes up!

I can't believe Margo is fourteen now! Happy birthday, Marg-Schmarg! Now you can go to dances. But you still can't dance with anyone. Seth will see to it that the boys don't even think about it.

Monday, August 4, 2014

[8/4/2014] Week 74: Sticking to Plan

Hey! Wow, since that companionship inventory last week, things have been much, much better. Communication is occurring much more "openly and frequently" (MHB, p. 30), and our unity has become powerful.

We tracted so much this week. And, actually, it was quite fruitful. The only [not-so-] bad news is that everyone solid we found was for the family ward! So we were basically full-time finders for the zone this week. But hey, we were as committed as could be!

I'm way stoked that Christian was endowed [in the Temple] this week. I would like to hear his thoughts on the experience, so he should email me! Man, 16 days!

My sister, Margo
Wow, Margo is so grown! Remember, no dating till you're 30.

I've been learning a lot from Elder Haupu about sticking firmly to plans you make, especially according to the Spirit. So we did that on Saturday, and witnessed a small miracle when we went to contact a less-active at his home. As we peaked the final hill on our bikes at exactly 11:30am, a young man by the name of Anthony came up the other side of the hill on foot, headed to work at Subway. We greeted and asked if we could walk with him. He agreed heartily, so we embarked. What ensued was a long conversation about his experience with religion, his dark past, his current trajectory, and his dreams and aspirations to do great things. When we parted ways, we grabbed his contact info and will see him again soon! If we had not been exact with our plans, and had we not been riding bikes, we would not have contacted Anthony! Blessings!

Well, I love y'all!

Until next time:
They traded our gold 2013 Corolla (cleverly named the Golden Calf)
for a 2013 Ford Fusion. We call her Onti (Alma 11:6,13).

Elder Cole Martin