Wednesday, November 25, 2015

november 23, 2015 letter

Dear Family:
So this has been quite the adventurous week! This week mainly consisted of Zone Conferences. Zone Conferences is when several zones get together and the president and his wife and Elder Joly and I are able to teach them and to role play with them certain aspects of missionary work we feel the Lord wants us to work on. In these zone conferences we focused on the Sabbath day, service, pulling down the powers of heaven through faith and prayer and such, talking to everyone, and making a plan for those who are on date to be baptized to help them reach their goal. The one that I specifically taught was about making a plan for our investigators when they have set a firm baptismal date. There is a lot of good doctrine taught on it in chapter 12 of Preach My Gospel. But before I talked about that, I actually read them part of a letter that mom had sent me - this is what i read to them:

"We went to church, and the topic for the week was ministering to others, and one of the speakers used the scripture I had sent to you a week or two ago about "if you've done it unto one of the least of these, my brethren, you've done it unto me", and I thought, "how interesting that I'm hearing this exact scripture again."  I have learned that one of the ways Heavenly Father seems to teach me is through repetition. 
I was sitting there in church with the Pisters, who were literal strangers to me not long ago.  The one and only connection I had with them was that they were kind to my son.  They didn't do anything miraculous, like save your life or pay for your mission or anything, but they welcomed you into their home, they fed you, they helped you, and they took care of you when I couldn't.  And because of that, I loved them before I ever met them, and they are welcome here. I will give them a place to stay, feed them, give them a place to have a party, pack lunches for them. Really, I would do anything for them, and why? Why do I have so much love in my heart for them? Not because I owe them, or want something from them, but plain and simply because they were kind to my son. So, if you change the scripture slightly to say "children" instead of "brethren", it takes on a whole new meaning for me. "If you've done it unto one of the least of these, my children, you've done it unto me". "Children" is just so much more personal and emotional to me, I guess. And it's been that way with all of you.  In fact, I'd much rather have someone hurt me than hurt my child. I've always said that the one sure way into my heart is to be kind to my children, and if I, an imperfect human being, love my children that much, how much more must it hold true for our Heavenly Father? I love you with my whole heart, but that doesn't begin to hold a candle to the love our Father has for us. And if the Pisters, or anyone else, can inspire such gratitude from me just through their kindness to my child, wouldn't Heavenly Father feel the same way? So, truly, how we treat our Father's children is how He will feel we are treating Him."

I felt that it went along well with what president taught on service and that we need to help our fellow brethren in any way we can. Every one seemed to really enjoy it, and Sister Samuelian later told me that my mom is such a good writer. Speaking of which, apparently you had sent them a poem about tithing? She has had that on her fireplace mantel since you sent it to her, and I remember her telling me about that months and months ago, but it never really clicked in my head that I should mention it to you. But I looked the last time I was in their home, and sure enough there it was! 

I would have to say that more than teaching at zone conference my favorite thing was riding up to zone conference. One of the drives is about 3 hours and we didn't want to take another car with us, so we got to be with President and Sister Samuelian for 3 hours.  We had the opportunity to just talk to them and learn more about them and ask them all kinds of doctrinal questions we had about the church. It was definitely one of the highlights of my mission. I wish every misisonary could experience that, being able to be with their president for such an extended period of time. It just made him so much more real and lovable and I realized just how funny he is. They actually really remind me of mom and dad. A lot of the same personality traits and everything. But we spent a lot of time with them and my love for them has grown even more!

We had some amazing spiritual lessons this week, as we actually found some time to teach people. Each lesson was so personalized just for them, and even though many times we didn't even have time to prepare very much for the lesson, the Lord helped guided us through. There was one lesson with a less-active lady who didn't want to come back to church because she didn't like one of the leaders, specifically the branch president, and wouldn't come back because of that. But as we taught her, the spirit testified that, that was just an excuse to allow herself to feel okay about not going to church. We read with her The Family a Proclamation to the World and explained how she needed to help raise her kids with a belief in Jesus Christ and be that example to them. You could see the inspiration just churning in her head, and she realized what she was doing was wrong. We then taught her about the atonement and that no matter what she had done, she could come back to the open arms of the Savior. We gave her a blessing at the end and she began to weep. It was an amazing experience. We were also able to give a blessing to another less-active lady with back problems and see her start to feel better soon after.

I've had some really amazing personal revelation lately, that kind of ties everything together in my life and in my mission. There are probably some things I will share when I get home about exactly why I am here and how the atonement saved my life.
I love you all and I testify that the atonement is real and that the priesthood power truly has been restored.
Happy Thanksgiving to all of you!
 Elder Romney.

A party at the Spanish branch

There is Mom's poem in the mission home
Elder Romney and Elder Joly at Zone Conference
Doing a skit demonstration on how to properly back up a car

Teaching in zone conference

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

november 16, 2015 letter

 Dear Family:
I definitely don't have enough time to write everything that I would like to about all that happened this week, because this week was by far the busiest week of my mission! The first couple of days we weren't even able to proselytize in our area because we were so busy, but later on we were able to get out a little bit more and find some people to teach, so that was good. I wish I could write all of the events that happened this week, but there was just too much going on!  We were in a meeting with president and then in another with the office staff for several hours today and it took up most of our day and I still had to get a haircut and other Pday things, too! 

This week it was so so much fun to get to know all of the missionaries. We were in charge of picking up and dropping off all of the missionaries that were coming and going.  The only really stressful part that I have had so far being an AP was having to keep up with president while I was following three other cars and a van and then GPS didn't even give right directions, so it was a little hectic. I actually really enjoy the fast pace here and the hard tasks that are placed before me, but just like dad, sometimes i get a little ancy on the road! But it was pretty exciting! Transfer week is ridiculously busy and it's a lot of fun. On Thursday we had to help all of the missionaries get their new companions and then we had to drive some around the state to get them to their areas. We had to take one to Salem and when we got there ,the car that they had, had a flat tire, so we had to help them fix that, only to find out that the car was dead. And then some really awesome Relief Society ladies gave us some food to eat and so we sang for them (: 

Right now I live in a three floor apartment with 6 other elders, so 8 in total. 4 of them are only staying here right now because they are waiting for their apartments to open, so it is pretty crowded, but a lot of fun! This month will be really busy... we have Zone Conferences which are different then ZTM because it's with several combined zones in Bend, Forest Grove, and in Lebanon that we have to go to and help teach. Then we have Thanksgiving, and then interviews and then MLC and then we have the Christmas Concerts which are in three different places again, and interviews with president again and then we have Christmas! So this next month is going to be really busy and I'm super excited! 

I am also excited to keep helping this branch turn into a ward. There are a ton more Hispanics here then there were in Lebanon and they are so ready for the gospel; we just need to find them. This week for zone conference we will be teaching about opening our mouths to everyone, Sabbath day observance, drawing on the powers of heaven, service, and working through members to find people to teach. I will specifically be talking about working with members, so that will be fun, and then I will help the missionaries role play what it's like to invite members to do things like invite their friends to church. 

I testify that this church is true, and it continues to bring me the most peace in my life. I love this work, and I love to see others grow and see their testimonies be strengthened! 
Elder Romney (:

The elders whose tire popped! The new elder is off to the right (:

Awesome exchange with one of the elders in my apt.

These are the 8 elders that live in our apt.

An investigator didn't show up at the church. Sad day 😢

Last day in Lebanon (PS I gave him that shirt. Feeling super special right now.)
Our district

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

november 9, 2015 letter

Dear Family:
So this was a very eventful week! This week has been a really tough one. I haven't been feeling very well or eating very well this past week or so, and with no sunlight for the past 3 weeks, it was kind of getting to me! It had gotten to the point, that when I was on an exchange with one of the elders, I was actually feeling a little down. In the end, I love those moments because they bring me to my knees in more humble and sincere supplication to my Heavenly Father. It has been tough because we haven't seen much success so far in this little branch and only 8 people in the entire branch came on Sunday, so I had just been getting down on myself. On the exchange, there was almost nothing to do in the area, and I had to take over because the other Elder was brand new. So we walked in the pouring rain for four hours, and the shoes I was wearing had  a hole in them and they were soaked. haha As much of a pitty party it sounds like, I was grateful for it (: haha. We actually saw a lot of success with people who are less active. We were able to go in and share a message with them and invite them to church. Of the three that committed, one actually came. 

I got the call while I was on the exchange that I would be going to the Newburg Spanish Branch as an AP with Elder Joly. We will be the first completely Spanish-speaking AP companionship and we will be white-washing into the Spanish branch in Newburg. It's technically called the Dayton Spanish branch. They got approval a while ago to become a ward, so we are going help them do that!  This will with the 3rd time that I have white-washed an area, and now I am doing it being an AP, so that will be an even greater weight on my shoulders!  But I love it, and I'm grateful for this opportunity.  I think you know who Elder Joly is, he came in a transfer after me and was trained by Elder Ashcraft too. I was with Elder Solano and Elder Ashcraft left me to go train Elder Joly, so when they had to do zone leader stuff, they would send Elder Joly and me out knocking doors. So it was the two of us, only being out just a few months, trying to knock doors. He is from Alta and is a ballroom dancer there. He is a lot of fun to be around, and is a very positive person. I am excited to be with him. 

At this time, i feel more than ever, the need and desire to consecrate myself, and lean on my Heavenly Father. I know He has great plans for me, and through obedience and faith I can find what those plans are. I would appreciate lots of prayers, and any ideas to help in dealing with not having much sunlight.

Thanks for all that you do for me. I am reading in 3 Nephi right now, and more and more i can see the relevance and application that the Book of Mormon has to us today. I am grateful for those inspired writings to lead and guide us in these, the last days. Please keep me in your prayers that we will be able to find people to teach and help this branch become a ward. Also, that I can become a true disciple of Jesus Christ, not only with my actions, but with my heart. 
I love you all! 
Love, Elder Romney (:

Family Home Evening is always enjoyable

Family Home Evening is always enjoyable

At the trailer park where we've been teaching
Thankfully, Brian's jacket works great in the rain :)

100% Oregon humidity!

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

november 2, 2015 letter

 Dear family:
So this week was a week full of meetings and not very many appointments. It was a little disheartening, but it was a week learning how to grow! We faced quite a few bumps throughout the week in the zone. So we spent a lot of time worrying about how we can support the zone and what we can do to help our missionaries.
We also went on two exchanges, one with the AP's and one with Elder Heywood and Elder Halaeuah. The exchange was really awesome with Elder Heywood. I've come to really enjoy being in his company and feeling his drive and desire for the work. You can tell that he will make an impact on those he meets. We were able to talk to quite a few people and enter into a couple of their homes and testify of the atonement to them.
One of the meetings this week is called ZLC (zone leadership council), and it was a really spiritual experience. It is a meeting with all of the leadership in our zone being the stl's and the district leaders. I was able to share two messages during the meeting. The first one was in Helaman 9: 2 "Behold, now we will know of a surety whether this man be a prophet and God hath commanded him to prophesy such marvelous things unto us. Behold, we do not believe that he hath; yea, we do not believe that he is a prophet; nevertheless, if this thing which he has said concerning the chief judge be true, that he be dead, then will we believe that the other words which he has spoken are true."
And this is the commentary that I had written in my notebook during my studies earlier this week:
"We do that so often with our faith... "Oh, if this be true, I'll know of a surety". Reading this, being a third party, looking at it from the outside, we think, holy cow stupid, of course he is a prophet! I'm sure the angels, who are our third party are saying, holy cow stupid, of course he is preparing people for you to baptize. But we keep looking for a sign, basing our faith off of something physical. How much more blessed we would be if we didn't need a sign for our faith. Just like when Christ appeared as a resurrected being and one of the apostles touched his side, and said, now I know of a surety that thou art the Christ, and Christ said to him, more blessed is he that receiveth by the spirit."
The other message I gave was from a talk I had read earlier this week, from the 2011 October general conference about teaching after the manner of the spirit.
"Many years ago I was with my companion at the missionary training center when I heard the voice of a child say, “Grandma, are those real missionaries?” I turned to see a young girl holding her grandmother’s hand and pointing at me and my companion. I smiled, extended my hand, looked her square in the eye, and said, “Hello, I am Elder Richardson, and we are real missionaries.” Her face beamed as she looked at me, thrilled that she was in the company of genuine missionaries.
      I walked away from that experience with renewed dedication. I wanted to be the type of missionary that the Savior, my family, and this young girl expected me to be. For the next two years, I worked hard to look like, think like, act like, and especially to teach like a real missionary.
      Upon my return home, it became increasingly apparent that even though I had left my mission, my mission didn’t leave me. In fact, even after all these years, I still feel that my mission was the best two years for my life. One unexpected carryover from my mission was that young girl’s voice. Only now I was hearing in my mind, “Grandma, is that a real priesthood holder?” “Grandma, is that a real husband or a real father?” or “Grandma, is that a real member of the Church?”
I want nothing more than to be a real missionary and to serve the Lord and one day become a real father and a real husband. We could all feel the Spirit so strong in the room and we all asked ourselves, are we real missionaries? And so I extend the question to all of you, are you a real Latter-Day Saint?
I was able to pass the sacrament this week, since we always have to either bless or pass each week, and being able to extend my arm and help someone partake of the emblems of the atonement filled my heart, and it gave me a renewed desire to serve Him. It was a tough week with all of our investigators, but through all of His little tender mercies, I can feel the hand of God in my life. 
One particular one was on Sunday morning. We went to all of our investigators houses to invite them to church and not a single one answered. We were treading in mud in our suits and it was wet and cold and frustrating. I wanted nothing more than to just go back to the apartment and do our studies and go to church, but we felt a distinct impression to go and find someone to talk to before church started. We stopped and prayed that we could at least find someone to bring with us. Just then we found a group of four men walking on the street and we went to go talk to them. Two of them obviously wanted nothing to do with us and when we tried to stop and talk to them, they just kept walking, but there were two of the guys who actually seemed interested and we got their contact information. It was a literal separating of the wheat from the chafe, the open hearted from the spiritually deaf, the sheep from the goats. God still does show miracles. The angels around us were probably saying, come on, are you stupid? Of course He is preparing people for you!
This week I come with a broken heart and a willingness to follow my Savior to the ends of........well, my 'area'  haha. I love you all and I testify that we can be real Latter Day Saints and that miracles truly do happen, we just have to have faith! In the name of Jesus Christ, amen.
I love you all!
Elder Romney (:

One more picture of last week's pumpkin zone activity