Tuesday, November 22, 2011

A good day to spead the gospel

Things have been going really well for Christopher in Buffalo.  In fact they have been going so good that Christopher and his companion recently had some baptisms.  This is the kind of thing that really makes a mission worth it.  But then there is more to that story.  Not only did they have some baptisms, but on top of that, one of the people that was recently baptized even did a little missionary work of their own.  So now Christopher and his companion are teaching a friend who is also really excited about the message that these missionaries bring. That is one of the exciting things about a mission.  You never really know where the Lord is going to lead you next.

A couple of weeks ago Christopher told us a really funny story about his companion.  The story starts out when a member of their Ward decided to take the missionaries to a local Denny's restaurant.  Being missionaries and always looking for the most food for their money, everybody ordered the all-you-can-eat pancake meal for $4.  All except for Christopher's companion.  Since it was dinner time, Christopher's companion decided that he wanted a burger instead.  That is, up until the time when the Ward member challenged the missionaries to a pancake eating contest.  Being missionaries and also being 20-something year old young men, a pancake eating contest was right up their alley.  At this point a little trash talking ensued as to who could actually eat the most pancakes, with the Ward member telling everyone at the table that they had this one in the bag.  Christopher's companion chimed in claiming that he could not only eat the most pancakes but he could do it on top of also finishing off the burger and fries that he had already ordered.  With that claim, the gauntlet had been thrown down and the contest began.  After a few orders of pancakes most of the Elders had already thrown in the towel, all except for Christopher's companion and the Ward member.  They both went back and forth eating more than the other up to the point of around eleven pancakes each.  By this time the Elder was really toughing it out and was having a rough time not only keeping the pancakes down that he had already eaten, but also struggling with each additional bite.  The Ward member finally called it quits after eleven pancakes. Just to be able to say that he had won the contest, Christopher's companion choked down a half of a pancake more.  So the ultimate winner was Christopher's companion at a burger, fries and eleven and one half pancakes.  Oh, did I mention that the Ward member was a Sister.  Christopher also mentioned that this good sister probably could have eaten more but she didn't want to bruise any egos at this point.  Especially since this good missionary really gave it all had for this contest.  I think they are all just glad that this Elder didn't give it all back up (if you know what I mean). 

Oh by the way, if you thought that the last story was funny, Christopher told us a great story about a hidden letter and a call to the mission president.  It was hilarious!  But to get the full story, you will have to come and see us in person.  OK, you can call us too.  I'm telling you, it's worth your time. :-)

Transfers came and went and Christopher is still in Buffalo.  But not with the same companion.  His previous companion was transferred to another area and Christopher told us that he is really excited about working with his new companion.  In fact in Christopher's most recent letter home, he told us about some of the work that he and his companion have been doing.  He said that in just the last week they have taught a lot of lessons, set some baptismal dates and found eight new investigators.  Christopher said that he is really excited about everything that is going one right now.

Then there are those days when things just don't quite work out the way that you would like.  Christopher told us about one day when he and his companion were out following up on some of the people that they had been teaching and the appointments that they had set up for the day.  Well, as the day wore on and most of their appointments had fallen through, they decided to check in on one of the appointments that they had set up for a little later in the afternoon.  When they arrived at the house and knocked on the door, they heard a woman's voice yelling back "who is it?".  The Elders responded with "its the missionaries".  Then she said, "you told me you'd be here at 2, it don't look like no 2 right now. I'm still sleeping, don't bother coming back!".  Well that's just how some days go as a missionary.  When the days are good, they can be great.  When they are not so good, well... those days can still be memorable.  Then there is always tomorrow.

Here is a picture that Christopher sent home recently.  Another one of those great and memorable days.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Being a productive missionary

It's been a few weeks since our last blog entry.  Since then transfers for Christopher have come and gone and Christopher is still in Buffalo.  That is a good thing because Christopher really likes it in Buffalo, all except for the fact that the weather is starting to turn very cold.  He and his companion are doing great there and working with a lot of good people.  Of course there are always the struggles with some of the people that they are teaching.  Things don't always workout they way that he would like them to sometimes.  But overall Christopher is doing well and progressing in many ways.  During conference one of the speakers talked about missionary work and made a comment about the old phrase "a mission is the best two years of my life".  But instead of saying that, he modified the phrase to say that his mission was the "best two years for my life".  The way he stated it by just changing one little word, really brought it home for Christopher.  He mentioned this a few weeks ago and said that he could really relate to what this conference speaker was saying.  Christopher feels exactly the same way.

Christopher has really been working on ways to be more productive as a missionary.  A few weeks ago he wrote home and told us about how he took out a huge map of Buffalo and started mapping out where all the members of the Church live.  He figured that it would be a good idea to visit these members, find out more about them and ask them if they knew their neighbors.  Then he and his companion would do some tracting in these areas and hopefully be able to find some new investigators.  Christopher told us how spending a little time up front to plan out where they were going to tract has really saved them a lot of time and allowed them to do a lot more missionary work.  All of their hard work must be paying off because Christopher told us that he and his companion have a few baptisms coming up around the first part of November. 

We hear a lot from the Church leaders how missionary work which involves working with the members of Church in the area is much more productive than just tracting alone.  Christopher talked a little bit about this in one of his recent letters.  He also talked about how there are so many people in his area that they meet everyday who could be such great members of the Church if they were just willing to listen. 
"You do everything you can, but people have to have a desire to change and help themselves.  "Progress" just isn't a desire for so many people that we talk to.  Just goes to show why member missionary work is sooooo vital! The people we need, the ones who will contribute and help build the kingdom are the hardest to find and talk to. They are the ones at work all day or at home with their families or driving by.... and worse of all, they're the ones who think they don't need what we have. If only everyone knew what we dorky kids in short sleeved white shirts had to offer them. I'm so grateful that I get to be here and have found out what it is that Christ has to offer me!"
This last week Christopher was able to return to Batavia for a mission conference.  If you remember, Batavia was the first area in which Christopher served.  Batavia basically sits right in the middle of the Rochester New York mission so many times it is a convenient place to hold a conference.  Being in the middle of the mission, most of the missionaries can get there without having to travel long distances.  Anyway, after the meeting Christopher was able to visit with someone who he had been teaching while he was serving in Batavia.  Christopher told us that this person has progressed a lot in their life and has made a lot of very positive changes.  He is hoping that someday they will be able to take the next step and be baptized a member of the Church.  He knows that they are ready, it is just a matter of taking the next step.  Meeting and getting to know people like this where the teachings of the Church has made a big difference in their lives, even though they have yet to be baptized, really make Christopher happy to be serving as a missionary.  The great thing about being on a mission is that he is able to share the gospel everyday and help others make the same kinds of changes.