Tuesday, April 29, 2014

The Day I'd Hoped Wouldn't Come.

It came.  I'd lasted 6 months.  I was doing so good.  I was laying
low, not trying to draw to much attention to myself, but then Saturday
night the phone rang.  It was Presidente Lagunas
"Elder, I know its kind of late, but can you and your companion speak
in church tomorrow?"
In my head I was thinking "Dangit!  We were lasting so long!" but what
came out of my mouth was, "Yes President, we'd love to.  Thank you for
the opportunity."
Elder Shipley spoke on the Authority of the Priesthood and I spoke on
the Keys of the Priesthood.  Elder Shipley did great!  His Spanish is
really coming along!  There was only a few parts in his talk where I
had no idea what he was trying to say.  I did fine too I guess.  I got
up, said some stuff, sat down again.  You know, the basics.
Presidente said we did exactly what he was hoping for.  (The talks
were based off of Elder Dallin H Oaks talk from the Priesthood session
this year. I highly suggest reading it.)

This week was kind of an interesting week.  To start the
interesting-ness off, Elder Shipley and I tracted into two JW
Missionaries who quickly raced us into their house and began to try to
preach to us.  Some of what they were saying was correct doctrine!
But most of it was skewed just a bit.  Lets put it this way.  The full
Gospel of Jesus Christ is like a mirror.  Shiny, whole, and perfect.
After the deaths of Jesus Christ and his Apostles, the mirror fell.
And what happens to a mirror when it falls?  It shatters.  Then lots
of other churches came about and said "ooh I like this piece.  I'm
going to go start my church over here."  and another and another and
another.  Hence, why there's so many churches.  The JW's had a few
pieces.  But as we began to teach them rather than them talking at us,
I could tell that they were feeling the Spirit.  He was testifying of
everything we said and for a solid 2 minutes they had nothing to come
at us with.  The lesson wasn't very effective and they probably burned
the Book of Mormon we "accidently" left on their table but it was
still a pretty neat experience.

Elder Blanck & I

Zack & his cousin. Jake Litster, at Payson Lakes July 2013.
Also this week we did exchanges with the 2nd ward missionaries Elder
French and Elder Blanck. (Part of Elder Shipley's District Leader
responsibilities is to do exchanges with the other Elders in the
District and I get to just be along for the ride as the District
Leader Assistant (not a real term but that's what he calls me.))  I
got to take Elder Blanck with me into our area and do some
teaching/tracting with him.  He reminds me so much of Jake Litster
that its crazy.  The way he talks, laughs, acts, and even looks remind
me of Jake.  It was like I was companions with my cousin for the day!
We went to Dairy Queen to kind of end our exchange and right when we
walked in, this BIG guy with a GIANT walking stick came up and said,
"Elders, buy yourself something to eat and sit with me." and then
handed us 6 bucks!  He introduced himself as Joe and we started
talking to him and I said, "Have you talked with missionaries like us
before?"  He said,"Sure have!  Back in '64 when I got baptized!"
Elder Blanck and I were stunned and quickly started asking him
questions.  He spent some time over in Greece for a while with a
Mormon buddy over there, and when he got back to the US in San
Fransisco, he decided to learn about the church.  He was baptized 2
weeks later.  Now he's super less active and said he was looking for
something that was missing.  We promised him that if he came to church
this week that he would find the peace that he was looking for in his
He showed up at church yesterday for all 3 hours.
The craziest part of that is that the REAL reason (Elder Blanck still
doesn't know this) that we went to Dairy Queen was because I really
had to pee. After we were done talking to Joe, I didn't have to pee
anymore.  I guess the Lord just works in mysterious ways, right?

Some other really cool stuff happened this week that I wish I had time
to write about.... but I don't.  Its in my Journal though so remind me
to tell you later (like when I get home or on Mother's Day).   Sorry!
Love you and I can't wait to see you on Mother's Day!

Lots of Love,
Elder Zack

PS The ZL's apparently think its funny to hide live snakes in our
apartment....  Thats true friendship right there.   Not.
The Snake named Samson

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

An Easter Week to Remember

6 Months
This week was amazing!  There was so many memorable things that happened this week that helped my testimony grow and my desire to serve better and harder increase.  I loved every part of it but there's 3 specific parts of the week that I want to share with you:

April 16, 2014: My 6-Month Mark!
I didn't even realize it.  The day went by just like any other day until we got home and Elder Shipley looked at my calender and said, "Sooo 6 months already, huh?"  I was shocked.  So just to follow along with the mainstream Missionary tradition, we celebrated my 6 months by
burning a tie.  These past 6 months have literally flown and I can't believe I've already been gone that long.  It feels like just yesterday that you guys dropped me off at the airport and I took off on this journey.  Its crazy that I'm already a 1/4 of the way done.  I really don't want it to end.  It really helped me to have more of a desire to help.  I feel that as every milestone in the mission goes by, for me, the desire to serve more, do more, work more grows and I
feel myself becoming a more effective tool in the Lord's hands.

April 18th, 2014:  The Greatest Lesson We've Had Yet
Thursday night, a member from the English 2nd Ward that speaks Spanish
called us and said she'd been hanging out with one of our
Investigators who just happened to be a good friend of hers and that
the Investigator REALLY wanted to go to the church and have a church
tour and see the Baptism Font.  She didn't tell us until the end of
the phone call that her friend was Martha!  We quickly set up an
appointment forFriday to go to the church.  The Church tour was
amazing.  We went around and showed her the classes, all the pictures,
and especially the Baptism Font and the Chapel.  Before we entered the
Chapel we said to her, "Ok before we go into the Chapel, we want you
to put a lot of attention into the way you feel as you enter."  When
she entered, she sat down and looked like she had just taken a deep
breath of fresh air.  She just sat there, letting the Spirit testify
of the truthfulness of the things we'd taught her.  She looked at me
and said, "I feel like I want to say a prayer." So I invited her to do
that, inviting her to pray about if this is the true church, and if
she should be baptized.   She did just that and what I liked most
about her prayer is that she didn't just open up her eyes after she
said, "amen." but she stayed with her eyes closed, waiting for an
answer.  Answers don't always come super fast.  They come on the
Lord's time, not ours, so she just sat waiting quietly.  Elder Shipley
and I just sat waiting for her. When she opened her eyes, she had the
biggest smile on her face and just nodded.  We quickly re-extended the
invitation to be baptized to which she full-heartedly agreed.  We've
had her set for the 10th of May but they have to come to church 3
times first and she had to work this Sunday so we'll have to change it
BUT she called us Sunday morning and she said she told her boss she
can no longer work Sundays so that she can have a day set apart of the
Lord.  She's so great and I'm so happy for her.

Us and Yolima

Last one
April 19th-20th, 2014: Our First Branch Baptism
No, it wasn't one of our investigators.  Not yet.  It was one of the
Hermanas awesome investigators (and now recent convert) named Yolima.
She's a niece of one of the members that feeds us all the time, so
we've all had experience working with her.  She's got a fiery
testimony and knows that this is true without a doubt.  Elder Harrison
and I were lucky to be chosen to Baptize and Confirm her.  On Saturday
morning, Elder Harrison and her walked down into the font to baptize
her and on Sunday Morning (Easter Morning) I had the great opportunity
to confirm her a member of the true church of Jesus Christ.  It was an
amazing experience and I'm grateful that she chose me to be a part of
it.  I was nervous as crazy because I don't like being in front of
lots of people (Converts are confirmed during Sacrament Meeting) and
so my hand was shaking a bit but as soon as my hand touched her head
and the blessing began, the shaking stopped and the words flowed out.
I love the Priesthood.  I love being worthy enough to be a holder of
this sacred power from God.  I'm thankful for the example of my dad
being a worthy priesthood holder who has been there to help me
whenever I need him.  I'm thankful that it can be used to bless the
lives of others, and I'm thankful I was able to excercise it this week
to confirm Yolima and give her the Gift of the Holy Ghost.

I love you all.  Thank you for your love and support.

Lots of Love,
Elder Zack
My goof of a companion: Elder Shipley.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Joy Beyond Words

Elder Pulver (ZL) and I at the temple.
Sadly everyone left before we could get a group picture at the temple :/
This week was a really good learning experience.  We had a lot of good
lessons both as appointments and just by ourselves where Elder Shipley
has taught me a lot, both about missionary work and myself.
I don't have a lot to talk about because I really don't know how to
put the feelings I've had throughout the week into words.  So let me
just tell you about some of the people we've worked with throughout
the week that have made this week so great.

First off, my companion, Elder Shipley.  The kid's Spanish is pretty
rough, and he knows it.  Friday he just became really quiet all of a
sudden and when I asked him what's up, he just opened up to me and
told me all about how he's been fighting with anger and jealousy
because I only have 6 months in the mission and he has 11 and how I'm
the one teaching him.  He was more mad at himself if anything and was
having a really hard time with that.  We talked for a while about the
ways that I can help him and the ways that we can work better together
and now he's improving so well.  Everyday I'm more impressed with how
good his Spanish is getting.  Its still got a ways to go but I'm glad
he's willing to keep learning from me while I learn from him.  It sems
that as I teach him Spanish, he's teaching me lots of Christ-like
attributes like Patience, Charity, and Humility.  A lot of the time I
feel like I'm learning more from him than he is from me.

Second person of the week, Hector.  Hector is the 16 year old we found
a while ago that had already obtained a testimony of the Book of
Mormon.  The problem was that he got a new job and doesn't know if
he'll be working the next day in Sioux City or in Carthage, Illinois
(which he pronounces Car-tah-hey).  We FINALLY were able to find him
at home one night and sat down and talked to him.  He told us about
how he wants to come to church to see how it is and to learn more.  At
the end of the lesson, he even said the prayer!  and it wasn't a
memorized prayer!  He asked for help that his boss wouldn't make him
work on Sunday and that he could come to Church.  It was great!  He
still wasn't able to come this week because he got sick or something
but he's progressing and that's awesome!  I left that appointment
smiling ear to ear.

Hermana Flores and I
Third person is named Hermana Rosa Flores.  She's kind of like my
Mexican Grandma.  Everytime we go over to her house she says, "Did you
eat already?  Do you need anything?"  and when I told her what I had
for dinner was a giant bowl of Fruity Pebbles she just looked at me
and said, "Thats not food."  and then cooked us a giant plate of food.
 I like her a lot.  PLUS This week she came with us to visit Martha
(who's doing great by the way) and now the two of them are like best
friends!  It was great!

Lastly, we've got 6 people actually.  This week Hermano Rafael Flores,
The Ramirez family, Hermana Silvia, Hermana Monica, and Hermana Vilma
all went through the Temple to recieve their Endowments!  We were
lucky enough to be able to go with them since we were able to help
them get to this day since a few of them were less active and ALL of
them are converts.  The session brought me so much joy that I can't
even explain it to you.  Seeing all of them in the Celestial Room at
the end just made me so happy and I've been smiling ever since
everytime I think about it.  That's the goal, isn't it?  To be able to
see all these people that we love in the Celestial Kingdom some day?
It brought me so much joy seeing these people that I've come to know
and love over the past 5 months here in Sioux City make sacred
promises with God and take that next step towards Eternal Life.   I
really do love these people and I hope I stay here for a while longer.

Thats all I got this week.  I love you!  Thanks for being the best
family support a missionary could have!

Lots of Love,
Elder Zack

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Changes and Inspiration

Sioux City Elders
Sioux City Spanish District 3rd Transfer in a row

 HOOOOOOLLLY COW there was some huge changes this week!   I honestly
didn't see half of what came coming.
Like I prefaced last week, we had Transfers this week.  Lots of
changes happened to Sioux City and sadly, Elder Juan and I were split.
  Elder Juan went off to Lexington, Nebraska to be in a "Zebra" (1
spanish, 1 english missionary).    He wasn't too excited about that.
Elder Cabezas and Hermana Scott both went to Omaha, Nebraska.  And all
the English companionships in Sioux City got changed as well!  Lots of

Last picture with Elder Juan (He was freezing)
Elder Shipley and I

In other news: I'm staying in Sioux City!  I was so happy to hear
that!  I love these people here sooo much and I'm excited to continue
to work with them and with my new companion!
Speaking of my new companion.... My new companion is Elder Jason K
Shipley!  He's from Kaysville, UT.  He's 6'4" and has been out for
almost a year.  He'll hit his year mark this transfer.  He actually
came from the Zebra out in Lexington so his Spanish is.... pretty
rough.  He's had his whole mission out there so far, actually.  Its
definitely different than being with Elder Juan because Elder Shipley
only understands about 50% BUT he's got the biggest desire to learn
and get better so that'll help him a lot.  The first thing he asked me
is if we can talk in Spanish almost all the time.  That was my biggest
worry with getting a new companion is that I would get a companion who
didn't want to speak Spanish with me (Missionaries like that exist),
but I lucked out.  I'm just trying to help him with his Spanish one
principle at a time.  The kid's a giant but he's got a heart of gold
so I'm really excited to work with him.  I know that both of us will
learn a lot from this companionship.

In other news, I loved Conference!  While I understand like 92% of
what people are saying in Spanish, I still learn better in English so
I was pretty happy that we were able to watch it in English while we
had the other room hooked up in Spanish.   Watching General Conference
on a mission is sooooo much different.  With every talk, instead of
looking for ways in which I can improve my life, I was looking for
ways I can help our investigators.  With every talk I found myself
thinking, "Man I wish (insert investigators name) was here to hear
this!"  (Only Norberto from our investigators was able to come but he
loved what he heard!)

I just want to extend my invitation to all of you on top of the
invitations that were given by the Apostles and the Prophet.   This
missionary work is really the work of the members and the missionaries
are here to help.  I invite all of you, like Elder L Tom Perry said,
to get a Preach My Gospel book and read it!  Its literally the guide
to missionary work and we study it everyday out here.  Then as you
read, share the things you're reading not only with each other, but
with the friends and family you have that aren't members.  This
message that we share is unique.  This message that we share is full
of love, hope, and eternal happiness that NO other message has.    I
promise you that as you reach out in love and share this message that
the Lord will strengthen your personal testimony beyond that which you
can imagine.  I promise you that as you help those around you come to
know that these things you know are true, that you'll find joy that is
incomprehensible.    I testify of this because I've seen it every
single day out here for the past 6 months.  Missionary work is a work
of love and work of happiness and as you serve those you love, you'll
receive more joy than you can know.  (2 Nephi 26:23-28)

I love you all and I hope you have a great week!

Lots of love,
Elder Zack

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

She Said Yes!!!

The "Mexicans" (the group I came in with from Mexico City)

Hey there!  Once again, a very busy week for the Sioux City 3rd
Spanish Branch #2 Elders (that's quite the title, right?).  We had a
lot to do this week.  Lots of people to visit, lots of meetings to go
to, and lots of cool experiences.  Over all, a pretty great week.
Here's a few of the highlights:
Spanish Conference

Spanish Conference!
Easily my favorite meeting that we have here in NOM.  Every  other
transfer, all the Spanish missionaries meet up in Omaha to receive
inspiration, trainings, and overall just have a good time and its all
in Spanish.  There's only 30 us so its not too big.  Lots has
definitely changed since my first Spanish conference.  I understood
everything this time and was able to communicate my own thoughts and
participate more as well.  I'm definitely happy to be a part of this
group.  Spanish missionaries are so much more fun.  I'd be happy to be
companions with any one of them.
Sister Weston took this pic of 2 happy
 missionaries at the Spanish Conference.
This week with Martha, we decided it would be a fantastic idea to talk
about Baptism over again.  Let me tell you a little more about Martha
than you may already know.  She's easily one of my favorite
investigators because she loves us so much.  She also already has a
SUPER strong testimony of the truthfulness of the things we teach her
and even defends them against her super Catholic uncle who came to
stay the week with her!  Cool, right?  So this week we went into our
lesson and were talking about what her deepest desire really is and
while she was talking a scripture came to my mind that I'd read in
Personal Study that morning.  Its in Mosiah 18:8-10 and says:

 8 And it came to pass that he said unto them: Behold, here are the
waters of Mormon (for thus were they called) and now, as ye are
desirous to come into the fold of God, and to be called his people,
and are willing to bear one another's burdens, that they may be light;
 9 Yea, and are willing to mourn with those that mourn; yea, and
comfort those that stand in need of comfort, and to stand as witnesses
of God at all times and in all things, and in all places that ye may
be in, even until death, that ye may be redeemed of God, and be
numbered with those of the first resurrection, that ye may have
eternal life--
 10 Now I say unto you, if this be the desire of your hearts, what
have you against being baptized in the name of the Lord, as a witness
before him that ye have entered into a covenant with him, that ye will
serve him and keep his commandments, that he may pour out his Spirit
more abundantly upon you?

She read that and just sat thinking for a moment and then I asked,
"Martha, will you follow the example of Jesus Christ by being baptised
by someone who holds the authority of the Priesthood of God?"
and SHE SAID YES!!!   We've got her scheduled for the 26th of April
and we couldn't be more excited.

So here in the NOM, when a companionship has no Zeros in their key
indicators (except in the Baptism and Referrals categories) they're
known as a Star Companionship.  Its cheezy but we like it.  This week,
since Elder Juan and I were able to schedule Martha with a baptism
date and since we also had an investigator attend Sacrament Meeting,
all we needed to be a cheezy Star Companionship was a New
Investigator.  We had no idea where we going to find him.  We set it
as a goal, prayed for help and guidance and then went to go try all
the Potential New Investigators that we had in our planners.  NONE OF
THEM WERE HOME.... So as we were driving to go try one more, a little
girl ran out in the middle of the street.  I slammed on the brakes
while a woman ran out and grabbed the girl.  With the car stopped we
rolled down the window to talk to them and realized it was one of our
members!  She said, "Elders come in!" so we parked the car and walked
inside her less-active sister's house to visit them.  When we walked
in, we saw a man we didn't know who said, "Oh good.  If we're going to
talk, I'm going to put my burrito away."  Hispanics NEVER put their
burrito away unless its serious so we knew it was going to be good.
We started to talk to him and he brought up tons of questions that he
has like "Why are there so many churches? " "What happens when I die?"
and other questions that we have the answers to!  He was so excited!
We taught him a little, set up a return appointment, said a prayer and
went home for the night.  Do you know what that means?!  Yes, Elder
Juan and I are the cheezy Star Companionship for the week.  Boo yah.
"Transfer Prophecies" AKA Two Elders bored in Weekly Planning
Thats really all for the news this week.  In other news, Transfers are
this week and Elder Juan are pretty confident we're getting split.  I
think I'll be staying in Sioux City but we have no idea until Thursday

I love you! Hope you had a great week!

Lots of love,
Elder Zack

PS Drawing Lehi's dream on a tiny whiteboard for the old less actives
that we read with may have made things more confusing for them... but
it was super fun for me!

"Lehi's Dream"??