Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Called to Be Your(best)self

6 Missionaries having a good time
This week was highly entertaining.  One of the funnest weeks I've had
my entire mission so far.  We got to meet some crazies, teach some
crazy lessons, and go to a crazy party, all while keeping our focus on
the work!

The Quincenera (the party)
The Quincenera (the girl)

I'll start with the Party :)
This week our branch threw a Quincenera! (The Giant Party when a girl
turns 15)  They really are all they're cracked up to be.  It'd
probably have been a lot more fun if we had the opportunity to
dance... but  it was still crazy fun.  There was easily over 200
people there with a 3-1 Non-Member to Member ratio so we had a WHOLE
lot of work to do.  It was definitely the busiest, most fun, Branch
Party we've ever had.  The Quincenera (also the title for the girl
turning 15) was named Maria and she could not have been happier.  She
was smiling ear to ear the whole night.  The most fun thing we've been
to in a while.  The Quincenera was also a Taquisa which is just a
mixture of Taco and Quincenera so that means there was TONS of tacos
made of beef, and chicken, and pork, and.... wait for it... tounge!
That suprised me about how good it was.  Tasted just like Roast.  I
highly suggest it.
The tounges :)

A couple of weeks ago, President Weston introduced to us a new,
easier, more natural way to do a door approach.  We've even started
teaching to our members so they can try it on their friends and I
wanted to teach it to you as well.  Its 5 easy steps: Find, Validate,
Introduce, Testify, Invite

FIND a common truth.
       After talking with them about the normal stuff (how many kids
do you have, where are you from, etc) Find something in common that
their religion has or believes that we do to.  For example, if they
believe that Bible is important, HEY!  so do we!

        Say HEY!  so do we!  We Believe the Bible to be the word of
God as well.  Easy, right?

INTRODUCE a new Truth.
       We also believe that because God loves ALL of his children,
he's given us another testament of His Son Jesus Christ written by
prophets in the ancient American continent called the Book of

TESTIFY of that
        Talk about how that new restored truth has blessed your life.
Talk about why you love it, what blessings you've seen come from it,
and how it can bless the lives of the people you're talking to.

        Extend an invitation.  Invite them to a Family Home Evening or
to meet with the Missionaries or to read the Book of Mormon or to come
to church or to... you get the idea.

I know that this works.  We've tried it on every door approach and
during every lesson and it's amazing how natural it feels.  You're
just confirming what people already know and giving them more.  One
thing I've learned this week is that people think they know it all,
until you give them more, and then they want what they don't have yet.
 We've gotten into so many new doors and have so many people that
said, "well I'm busy right now, but can you come back tomorrow at
(insert time here)?"    I invite you to try it out for yourselves.

Last big thing I learned this week is that we were called to be
missionaries we also received another calling: to be ourselves.  Not
just to be ourselves as in the recently graduated High School
teenagers that we were but we are called to be our BEST selves.  These
people need US.  Our personalities, our experiences, our dumb jokes,
our testimonies.  They don't want some Robot Missionary.  The
missionaries that are focused on their purpose and on who they
represent but are still themselves and know how to have fun are the
missionaries who have more success and are remembered.   If you're not
having fun, you're doing it wrong.  Good lesson I learned in my first
week in the MTC that was super clear this week.

I love you all.  Thanks for your love and support. You're the greatest
support I could ask for.

Lots of Love,
Elder Zack

Monday, March 17, 2014

Sometimes Knocking Doors Pays Off.

Happy St Patrick's Day!
Hey there!  This week's been a week of laughs, learning, and stupid
Elder Paddock Moments :)  But first off, Happy Saint Patrick's day!
Elder Juan celbrated it today with our fancy new socks and some
fantastic green ties, and a whole lot of Lucky Charms.  (Thanks for
all of those by the way :) )

We're really starting to make progress with Jose!  Everytime we've
invited him to be baptised he always says, "I don't know enough yet to
commit myself to anything."  We've grown tired of this answer over the
past 3 months that we've taught him, so last night we decided to read
all of Alma 32 with him, which talks about the importance of Faith.
When we read verse 21, which says,
"And now as I said concerning faith--faith is not to have a perfect
knowledge of things; therefore if ye have faith ye hope for things
which are not seen, which are true."
He just kind of sat back and thought.  Over the rest of the chapter,
Elder Juan and I made sure to go back and touch on that thought over
and over again so we made sure he understood.  At the end of the
lesson, we again extended the invitation to show his faith in Jesus
Christ by following His example by being baptized by someone who holds
the authority of the Priesthood of God.    This time his answer was,
"Well what do I have to do?"
Words can't really explain how happy I was to hear that.  When all we
said was "You need to come to Church."  He said, "That's it? "
"That's it." We said.  Great things are happening for this man, he
just doesn't recognize it sometimes.

As for the stupid Elder Paddock Moment of the week:
We've been meeting with a crazy, old, less-active couple who have been
going though a hard time.  We promised them that if they read their
Book of Mormon everyday that God will bless them with the Strength
they need, which is true.   Elder Paddock, wanting to give them a
little extra help, decided to open his mouth and what he meant to say
was "We can come by every now and then and read with you,  if you'd
like."  But what he actually said was, "We can come by EVERY DAY and
read with you, if you'd like."    Either my Spanish got confused or my
words were changed by the Spirit, I don't know.  What I do know is now
we're meeting with the craziest, old, Spanish, less-active couple that
I've ever met EVERY DAY.  Wish us luck.
Us and Tia
The highlight of my week was yesterday and it taught me a really big
lesson that I needed to learn.  Yesterday we heard that the 1st Ward
was going to have a baptism so Elder Juan and I decided to go and
watch and try to bring some investigators (none of whom showed up...).
 When we walked in to the Relief Society room where it was going to
start and saw who it was, I immediately recognized the lady being
baptized!  Her name is Tia and we knocked on her door my very first
transfer on a freezing December night!  We were the missionaries who
found her!    I went up to her afterwards and said, "I don't know if
you remember us, but we're the missionaries who knocked on your door."
and she said," I do remember you, and if it hadn't been for you, I
probably wouldn't be here today."  That taught me a big lesson.
Lately I've been bummed because tracting, or knocking doors, hardly
ever works.  Rarely, if ever, do we find a solid investigator by
knocking, but every now and then you find someone (whether its for us
or the English Missionaries) thats been prepared by the Lord to accept
the invitation to hear the Gospel when someone knocks on their door.
I'm eternally grateful that we were guided by the Spirit to knock on
Tia's door that night.  I felt such joy watching her be baptized and
I'm so happy the Lord allowed us to be a part of her conversion.    I
can only imagine how I'll feel when one of our Investigators whom
we've been teaching gets baptized..
I love this work.  I know its real.  I know the Church of Jesus Christ
of Latter-Day Saints is Christ's true church, and I say this in the
name of Jesus Christ. Amen.
The gorgeous Iowan sunset from a few days ago

I love you.  Thank you for your love and support.  You're the best
family an Elder could ask for.

Lots of love,
Elder Zack

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

"Happy Birthday..." and other fun stuff :)

Picture from Sis Weston's FB of Sioux City Zone Conference earlier in March.
 Elder Zack is the 12th from the left in the back row.
This week was awesome!  We met with more people than we have in a long time.  Everyday we had an awesome lesson with someone and our investigators are coming closer and closer to Christ.  This week, the big thing  I was reminded about was just how much our branch loves us because.... 
Friday was Elder Juan's Birthday!   He turned 22 so for my present to him I sang him a mixture of Taylor Swift and the Birthday song to him ALL DAY.  I'm sure he loved that :) I also got him a shirt but the singing was obviously the better gift.    Everywhere we went everyone was giving us food.  We went to a members house, they gave us food.  We went to another members house, they gave us MORE food PLUS cake.  and then we went to an investigators house and they gave us MORE food PLUS 2 cakes and then the next day the branch president threw a surprise birthday party and we got MORE food PLUS more cakes.   No wonder we're getting fat.   Anyways his birthday was great.  He was smiling all day and said it was the best birthday he's ever had.  
Elder Juan with his cake

Elder Juan after we shoved his face in his cake :)

Elder Juan with his presents from my family

As for updates our investigators....
Martha is as great as ever.  Progressing so fast and loving everything we tell her.  She loves how it all makes sense and the pieces fit together.  The Gospel is simply beautiful and beautifully simple, just the way it should be.

Jose is doing awesome.  He was so excited to come to church this week, saying that he was going to get off work early and come prepared with questions and expectations for answers.... but then his brothers car broke down with the food in a town 45 minutes away and he had to go get him.  But Emma, his wife, came to church!  and all three hours!    

Norberto is... fun.  This week we taught him the law of Chastity, which anytime you teach it is kind of awkward but when you teach it to a guy who's moral compass is a little eschew and has a past with lots of problems, its about 3 times as awkward.  But we're done with that lesson now, so hopefully we won't need to cover it again!

Anyways there's our 3 main guys.  Everyone else is fairly new so there's not a whole lot to report about for this week.  

Yesterday we had the awesome opportunity to hear from the Winter Quarters Temple President who came and gave a fireside to our branch. President Okiishi talked all about the temple and seeing God's hand in our lives.  The whole time I was just thinking about the blessing I had growing up only 5 minutes from the temple.  Omaha (where the Winter Quarters temple is ) is an hour and 45 minutes away.  That's way too far for me.  I loved being able to go there whenever I wanted and just think.  Everything would always be so much clearer when I left.  I've been wanting a Temple trip pretty bad this week.  I miss the temple.  
Anyways the fireside was awesome!  You could feel his love for the Temple and for the Missionary work, since he was a convert himself.  He's one of the nicest people I've ever met, so I couldn't help but get a picture with him.  We're hoping to go see him soon, since we've got a pretty good size group of people in our branch all preparing to go through the temple and since we re-activated a few of them, we get to go too!  Sadly the trip isn't until next transfer so who knows if we'll still be here or not.   I hope so!
Me and President Okiishi

Thats all for this week!  I love you!  Thanks for the package this week!  Elder Juan like his gift :)  

Lots of love,
Elder Paddock

PS I realized I have zero pictures of any of my friends.  If you could send me some of those, that'd be great :)

Monday, March 3, 2014

Snow, snow, and more snow.

Hey there!  First off I want to share a funny story.  Well really, its kind of a sad story but I was laughing pretty hard.  When the new missionaries came in from Mexico last transfer they brought me 6 letters that people had sent me that got to Mexico after I came back to the States.  I couldn't help but laugh.  Some of them were even sent after I had left Mexico.  The part that really made me smile was the letter from my family!      If I didn't respond to some letter you sent, don't think I hate you, you just send letters to the wrong country :)
Late letters :)

This week was great!  Zone Conference is one of my favorite meetings that we have as missionaries.  We all come together to learn from our Mission President and our other leaders.... and in this case Elder Juan and I as well.  Our training went pretty well!  We were able to train about receiving revelation through Prayer.  I was crazy nervous since I'd just finished being trained and now I had to stand in front of a large group of missionaries who've been out a heck of a lot longer than me and teach them about how to do a specific principle of missionary work (in this case helping our investigators recognize their answers to prayers).  Luckily I wasn't alone and Elder Juan and I were able to get our point across and people told us they learned things that they're going to go try, so that's good!  Secretly I kind of enjoyed training.  Being able to study a specific topic all week and then teach what I'd learned was kind of fun.  Don't tell anyone though because I'd be happy to not have to do it again for a while.   

Snow Day
As for the subject title, Saturday dumped down snow on us.  It snowed from at least before 6:30 AM (when we woke up) to 6 PM when we went to dinner.   It snowed so much that our mission leaders grounded our cars, meaning that it was too dangerous to drive.  But since we're missionaries, and this work never ceases, we walked all day in the 3+ feet of snow and the negative temperatures.  It was highly entertaining walking with Elder Juan.  The whole time we just pushed each other into the snow banks and threw snowballs at each other.  Walking in that much snow for the whole day sure does make you tired though.  I'm not a fan of snow.  I highly prefer the St George winters.   On the bright side, people were more willing to talk to us since we were crazy enough to walk through the blizzard to knock on their door!  

Quick update on some of our investigators:
Hector- still knows the Book of Mormon is true.  Loves the Plan of Salvation
Norberto- Came to church!!  and he loved it!!  He sat in every class soaking it up and participating!  We're seeing good things from him coming up soon, he just needs to stop smoking!
Jose- Has read the whole Book of Mormon!  He told us he knows its true!  He just has lots of little dumb questions that get in the way but we're hammering them out and working with him some more!
We found a book about medicine from fruits in one of
 members' houseand look who it was dedicated to!  

The work's going good, I'm loving being a missionary, these people make me happy and there's no where else I'd rather be.  I love you so much!  
Have a great week!

Lots of love,
Elder Zack