Friday, May 30, 2014

"Living the the Best Mission in the History of Life" - 5/27/2014

This last week was really good one. My companion and I have been keeping busy and working hard. Last Wednesday we taught our investigator (R) the Gospel of Jesus Christ and he really enjoyed that lesson. He is doing well and we are meeting with him again this week and he has a baptismal date for next month. (Yes he is Dad to the recently baptized 8-year old we taught.)

On Saturday we had a ward activity and it had a great turn out. There was dinner and dessert, then a show. There were some little skits and dances performed. The missionaries did a funny little sketch at a doctor's office about removing the bad things and putting in good things instead. It was a fun performance. The Young Women and Primary also did fun little performances. Some people also did some traditional dances (machete fights included). Yes there was a dance where it is supposed to be a sword fight. It was fun to see, yes they were real and yes you could occasional se sparks fly from them. It was a great ward activity and everyone really liked it. 

Sunday was C's confirmation and I did the confirmation (en espaƱol). I was so happy for him and it was a great moment for C. It was a great day. 
My companion and I also went to the Stake Coordination meeting on Sunday and the meeting went really well with how to improve the ward's efforts and reach the stake goals. It also had a big push and built excitement over missionary work in the area. I was glad that we were invited to attend.

We did go mountain biking Monday morning and the trail wasn't super hard or technical. It was fun and you still had to be careful of all the tree roots (tree roots go out, not down here because of all the rain). It was nice to ride down by the creek and it helped me figure out what I need to work on for my bike to get it fine-tuned. I'm still living the dream out here in the best mission in the history of life. 
I hope that you had a fun time down in Orange County this last week. I hope that it was really fun and you enjoyed it. It's been a good week for me. On Sunday I confirmed my recent convert, C a member of the Church during Sacrament Meeting. Monday our roommates and my companionship all bought Maryland Socks that we saw at a store. It's the exciting thing of the apartment right now. It was a great experience and it wasn't too nerve racking to do the confirmation in Spanish. I hope that you have a good coming week.


Elder Braden Dahl

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

My 1st Convert Baptism-Letter 5-19-2014

Dear Mom,
It has been a great week out here. Monday and Tuesday were basically my former companion packing all the time. We met with C. (our investigator with a baptismal date) on Monday and Tuesday and had a great lesson with him and we finished all the lessons that he needed.

Wednesday my former companion did some frantic, last minute packing and then we dropped off his things at a member's home where he and his parents were staying. His parents saw him and they briefly did their welcome reunion and then we went off to the Visitor’s Center. We got there a little early and I visited with some of the other Elders there. Then I met my new companion who is from Layton, UT and only has two transfers left on his mission. He also was in this same area about a year ago, so some members remember him. It's different dynamics now here, but it's still good. They say you learn a ton from your "greenie-breaker" because they open up what the rest of the mission looks like.

Thursday we visited some less-active members throughout the day and they got to know my new companion. Then we went to the Chapel with C. so he could have his baptismal interview. President L. (First Counselor in the Mission Presidency) gave the interview but came late because he had to take his grandson to the hospital because the grandson broke his arm. The interview went great and C. passed!

It was a rainy most of the week but Friday was the worst of it.  Apparently there was flooding in some areas so missionaries couldn't leave the apartment until 11:00 am. My new companion and another Elder (my new roommate) went to their leadership training meeting while I went with my other roommate (Elder J.) visiting some of my less-actives, and some of his less-actives. We tried to stop at a few potential investigator's homes but they weren't there. When our companions came back we had dinner and then visited some more less-active members.

Saturday my companion and I had breakfast at C's home and we reviewed over everything and then briefly taught the fifth lesson in Preach My Gospel. The lesson went really well and it was great to see all the changes in C's life since I first met him. We also had a mission training with Elder Ballard. Sunday was C's baptism. It was a great week and super fun. C is the one that was in California for a while.  My former companion left early this morning  to go home with his parents so he might be back in Utah by now or at least on the way.

P.S. I was going to get Zyrtec but I really haven't had any allergies since Tuesday so I've been alright.

Dear Dad,
My new companion is from Layton, Utah and only has two transfers left on his mission. He is the youngest of three (he has a brother and a sister). He served in Spanish Germantown about a year ago so some people still remember him. He's more laid back and very big into sports. He really likes soccer and mountain biking and wants to go mountain biking next week. He is definitely different than my last companion and he does things differently just like every person does. It is taking some getting used to but it is opening my eyes more to what the mission is like for the companionship.

We seem to be getting along well and we haven't had any issues so far. He a pretty chill guy and a lot of Elders really like him. I like him and am trying to get to know him better. I don't have any complaints and the more I get to know him the more I like him. It's just getting used to a new companion, especially when you are in the same area and nothing else has changed. It's a good change though. I am learning a lot from him.

This week has been really amazing. I received my new companion on Wednesday and we've had a busy week since then.

On Saturday we had a Mission Training meeting with all of our mission plus the Maryland Baltimore and Washington DC South missions as well.  We had Elder Gerrard, I believe an Area Seventy speak to us briefly and conduct the meeting. He spoke on the importance of members and missionaries working together and the importance of being sensitive to the promptings of the Holy Ghost. Elder Chi Hong (Sam) Wong of the First Quorum of the Seventy then spoke also on the importance of members and missionaries working together in unity and perfect harmony to help bring others to Christ and to be touched by the Holy Ghost. He also spoke of catching the wave of missionary work. He said that missionaries are the wave and members are the surfers waiting for the wave. Missionaries need to teach members how to catch and ride a wave so it is an enjoyable experience and not an unpleasant wipe out. Elder L. Whitney Clayton of the Presidency of the Seventy then addressed us.  Elder Clayton spoke about "hearing Him" and the things we need to do so we can hear Christ. He pointed out that others can "hear Him" when they listen to the missionaries but missionaries also need to be doing things such as keeping the commandments, having no contention, edifying one another, and the list went on. The last speaker was Elder Ballard of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. He talked about getting more baptisms and what we need to do to have that happen. He made sure that we knew that "to the rescue" of less-active members was very important and we need to continue in that, but he said that shouldn't lower or effect the number of baptisms. It was a very powerful talk and then he allowed about ten missionaries to come up and ask specific questions about how to get more baptisms or help the less-actives. 

After Elder Ballard spoke he changed the plans and had all three missions break off so the mission presidents could talk to all their missionaries at once because that very rarely happens. (I almost forgot that other missions don't all meet every six weeks at a transfer meeting like I am blessed to do.) We broke off and our Mission President just reiterated the key things that we said and bore his testimony. We then broke up and went back to our areas to get back to work.

On Sunday it was C's baptism. We confirmed everything at Sacrament Meeting. We ate lunch at the "A" home with the A's, my former companion and his parents, Hno D, and Sister O.  My (new/current) companion and I left early to go fill the font and get the baptism all ready. We had everything ready and everyone coming and we took a few photos before the baptism. The program was great and Hno F. A. and Hno J. G. gave wonderful talks where the Holy Spirit was extremely powerful. My previous companion baptized C.  My current companion and I were the witnesses to the baptism.

A member wrote down the exact time C. was baptized and showed it to me. He wrote May 18th, 2014 at 5:49 pm (my time-EST). After the baptism was almost a dinner party for C's baptism and my former companion’s goodbye.  My (current) companion and I stayed for a bit but we had to go to the Visitor’s Center for a "Why I Believe."

It was so amazing to have my first official baptism in the mission. I was so excited and happy for C. I can't wait for our other progressing investigator to be baptized hopefully this next month. It was a little stressful this week but it all worked out and was amazing.

P.S. Tell Brother #2 happy belated birthday and tell Brother #3 Happy Birthday.  I hope they got my cards, if not they'll arrive shortly.

Dear Brother #1,
I'm glad to hear that you went to the temple this week. I'm sure it was a great experience. Just keep hanging in there with school.  You are almost done with the school year and you've got finals coming up.

That's really cool that M.H. wants to go to church. Invite him to every activity as well. Make sure that you introduce him to the missionaries as well. Be a good friend to him because that's what makes things more comfortable. Don't shove the gospel down his throat but do share with him what the church has to offer. You never know who is ready for the gospel. There were two do-not-contacts in the ward when I first came that are now trying to reactivate and are coming to church and church activities as often as possible. In fact, the baptism I had yesterday, was a man who I was told was the ride to church for a recent convert and he'll come to church so he can bring the recent convert home but he doesn't want to be taught or become a member.  He was happy the way he was. Now he is baptized and going to be confirmed next week a member of the church. I'm not saying anything will happen but anything is possible.

I'm glad you got to go and see another choral performance. It sounded fun. I'm glad NHS has been going well for you but I have no idea who any of those people are who are the new officers. I hope you have a great week and everything goes well for you.

Love,  Elder Braden Dahl

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Happy Tuesday 5-13-2014

It was so nice to be able to talk to you and all of the family yesterday. I'm sure it was one of the shortest hours of your life. Today was really good. We woke up at 3:30am to go to DC. We went andtook sunrise pictures at the Lincoln Memorial and had some fun doing that. We slowly made it back towards the Washington Monument to try and get tickets for the monument today. It's the first time in three years it has been open. We got to the line at about 7am and we were about 50th in line. The ticket booth was suppose to open at 8:30 but they started handing out tickets just after 8am. Tours started at 1pm and my companion and I got tickets for 2pm. 

We then walked around outside of the National Mall for a while and even passed by the White House and Ford's Theater. At 10am we went to the National Archives and saw some historical documents including one of the original 4 copies of the Magna Carta, the Emancipation Proclamation, The Declaration of Independence, The Constitution, and the Bill of Rights. It was amazing to see these great historical documents. We also stopped by the Natural History Museum and saw the Insect and Egyptian Exhibits. We also went to the Rex Room where the museum is working on cataloging, photographing, and putting together the T-Rex skeleton they just received. They should be done by 2019. Afterwards, we went to the Art Museum and saw some works done by many artists including Vincent Van Gough and Pablo Picasso. 

We went back to the Washington Monument and waited a little until 2pm and then we went right up. The view was amazing and it is so beautiful up there. You can even faintly see the temple from one of the windows up there. It was really cool for my companion and I being the first missionaries up there in 3 years. They also had the original aluminum tip for the Monument and lightning protection rods that were on the monument for some years. As you head down the elevator, the glass in the elevator clears and you can see some of the commemorative stones that were placed in the monument. Some are from states, cities, organizations like the Free Masons, even one from the ancient city of Alexandria in Egypt. It was an amazing experience to be up there. I took lots of pictures so don't worry about there being no photographic evidence.
View from the top of the Washington Monument (Photo Credit: Andy Feliciotti)
Also we taught our investigator last night and had a great lesson with him. It was great and we have a return appointment for today.
Love,Elder Braden Dahl

Friday, May 9, 2014

New Shoes 5-5-2014

I added you as a Skype contact and we can use our iPads for Skype since no one has told us otherwise. We are allowed to call or Skype home for 1 hour. So I probably will use the iPad to Skype you. It will be wherever my companion and I have Wi-Fi. Maybe the church, a member's home, our leasing center. We haven't decided where yet.  Only using California aka Pacific (Daylight) Time. I am planning on calling you at 5pm your time. I hope that works and make sure everyone is ready. My ward is from 8am-11am and we usually make it out of the building by 11:30am.

Zone Conference was on Wednesday and it was really good. All the messages were great and it helped us all refocus in on missionary work. All the Elders also learned how to properly shave with a variety of materials. We also learned how to get the "soft as a baby's butt shave" by one of the Senior Missionaries who was a professional barber and later a Yale professor. It was really interesting and he shaved President Cooke as the example a little with a straight razor just to show off but mostly with his six blade professional razor he had. Let me say he wasn't joking with the soft as a baby's butt that was a ridiculously close shave. You wouldn't know that President had facial hair ever in his life and didn't shave for 2 days. It is a long process that takes 10 minutes if your good and know what your doing. (The missionaries that have completely adopted the shaving process say it takes them closer to 30 minutes). I'm not doing exactly what he did because of time restraint but I've adopted a lot of his techniques and my shave is significantly closer, just not quite the "baby's butt."

This week has been really good. Last Monday my roommate (J) and I went ice skating for P-day for about an hour and forty minutes. It was fun and I learned to skate again so I could move around the rink. It was a fun activity and I enjoyed it. We also drove around Seneca State Park. It was very pretty and today we are going there again for the zone activity for games and a barbecue. My companion and I were able to meet with our investigator with a baptismal date a lot this week. The one is still going and will hopefully be baptized this month as planned. The other progressing investigator we have is doing phenomenal. Our first lesson with just him he said that he decided to read the Book of Mormon but wasn't too far in it. He only started from the title page and got to 2nd Nephi. Needless to say, my companion and I were shocked how far he had read. He already has a testimony of the Book of Mormon and he his going great. He works a lot so we can't visit very often but we are planning to give a baptismal date this week.

Make sure to give my two oldest brothers my congratulations on their amazing accomplishments. Tell my youngest brother that I hope he is feeling better. There were a lot of people sick this week in my area and even more people with bad allergies. I hope you have a great week and that everyone does well.

P.S. I hope you had fun looking at all the photos I took from my SD card package and understood all the little descriptions.

So on Saturday a Hermano called us and wanted to meet up with us because he had already spoken to my companion about buying him some new shoes for when his parents come to pick him up. We met up with him and then went to DSW where my companion was looking for some shoes. Then he came up to me and said which ones do you like? I tried to brush it off saying I was fine. However, he later again came up to me and he insisted. All the shoes were nice but I decided I'd look in the lower price range because I'm not leaving soon and I have 2 functioning pairs of shoes.

I found two modest shoe options I liked the style of, a Rockport Brand and a Nunn Bush-recommended by my companion. I tried them both on and the Nunn Bush were super comfortable and I think that was the first time in my life I had nothing to complain about in a shoe (you know my pickiness). The Rockports were alright but I didn't quite like the fit, they were tight on both sides. Plus the Nunn Bushes cost less than the Rockports.

So this Hermano bought me the Kore by Nunn Bush. They are a dress shoe but are lightweight, slip resistant, designed for walking, and very comfortable. They have a nice sole with a good tread but they do have a gel pouch on the inside sole, I'll probably wear it for a while then change it out before the inside sole wears down and then the gel pops. Then this Hermano took us out to ice cream at Cold Stone. This Hermano is such an awesome guy.

I'm glad to hear that you had a great Stake Conference. I'm also happy to hear that the ward is doing well in the hastening of the work. I hope you had fun taking all your photos, just remember not to overwork yourself on them.

I also emailed Mom that I am planning on calling you 5pm your time (8pm my time). We will be able to talk for 1 hour. I already am Skype friends with Mom for the upstairs computer. If you need it for another computer just add my user to your contacts and send me a message. I can check my email and Facebook all week if you need to give me any updates.

Today was zone activity and we went to Seneca State Park and played capture the flag for a while which was really fun. We then ate burgers and chips for lunch. Afterwards we hung out and I was in a group where we played the game Scum. It's very similar to the Great Dalmuti where you are trying to get rid of all of your cards; the lowest players have to give their best cards to the highest players. The only main difference is that there is an equal amount of high and low cards and the higher numbers have the higher values. It was a fun day to hang out with the zone and play some games and have a barbecue.

This coming week is all the end of the transfer things. It is crazy too see how fast the transfers fly by here. This Wednesday we have the temple trip. I'm really looking forward to being able to go to the temple again. I believe my companion has his departing dinner this Friday, so I'll hang out with another companionship. Saturday we find out if we are staying or leaving our areas (don't worry there is an overwhelming amount of odds that I will stay in Germantown for this next transfer it's a 99.99% chance). The following Tuesday is when we find out the new companionships are announced, so there is still some time before you find out who I'll be with. This week has been really good and I've been loving it out here. I hope you have a great week.

Brother #2,
I hope you have been doing well. I heard you are doing fantastic in school! That is so great; keep up all that hard work. You may not realize it now, but all those good grades, completed assignments, and hard work will really pay off. It will really help you get into a good college that will help you earn more money for a job you like and on top of that you could get a scholarship where they give you money for being smart and working hard in school. I'm super proud of you that you graduated from your IEP. Keep up the great work. I can't wait to talk to you on Sunday.

Brother #3,
I hope you have been doing well. I hope you are doing well in school, keep working hard even though the school year is getting close to being done. I hope you do well on your States and Capitals test and keep studying for it. I can't wait to talk to you on Sunday.

Brother #4,
I hope you are feeling better and doing well. It's certainly no fun being sick. I heard you got a couple new fish and a frog. I hope you are enjoying all your new pets. I heard you want some more pets though. It's always fun having some pets but they are a big responsibility. I also heard that you liked the photos of the bird on my shoulder. Did you know that I ate all of my lunch with that bird on my shoulder? I had that bird on me for almost half an hour. The little bird kept peeping and talking into my ear. It was fun and sometimes you could make out a word that the bird was saying. I can't wait to talk to you on Sunday.


Elder Braden Dahl