Missionary Jake – Part 6 of 10

This is part six of a ten part series chronicling Jake’s Mission. It is told mostly in his own words using excerpts from his letters and photographs sent home.

August 2007

Oakland Temple statue of Jesus Christ
This week we didn’t have any baptisms, but we found a lot of families to teach. My companion is learning all of the words that they use differently here. He is a native Spanish speaker—I have to correct some of his Spanish :). Transfers today. I am going to the Zone Valle Dorado. It is the best zone in the mission. There are 12 zones in the mission and Valle Dorado baptizes about 1/4 of the total baptisms. I still haven’t met my companion and I don’t know in what part I’ll be so I will let you know next week.

Yes, we are baptizing stakes. This month we are going to baptize even more. I am just going to tell you this for right now, but this past week I was assigned District Leader. It is exciting to be in charge of other missionaries and have to teach them how to work! The mission is great. [Dad], I appreciate your small letters that don’t distract me too much but also don’t leave me out in the cold. Feel free to write more if you would like.

[Dad] please include God in every important decision that you have to make about your health. That is what Joseph Smith did. If you do that every time you have a doubt, if are sufficiently humble, God will give you the answer “abundantemente y sin reproche” (James 1:5). He will never tell you to do or take something that will do you harm instead of good. If I can ask one thing of you it is to always do this. Ask Him if you can trust Him, ask Him if you should consult Him in this. He will give you the truth, ETERNAL truth, that will “greatly enlarge the soul without guile”.

Everyday I teach the principle of “Ask and ye shall receive”, but I myself always forget to apply it. I try and demand answers from people, sometimes getting frustrated with them. But they cannot make my decisions and give me answers that I have to look for myself. Ask God for every little answer that you want. He will give it “without reproach”. He never will say “But you did not do x or y”. If you ask for bread He gives you bread.

[Dad] please let me know what you think of this principle, and if you were able to apply it successfully in this week. Please excuse the Spanish. It is difficult to keep it from sneaking in :).

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My Faith continued

Yesterday I posted the first part of My Faith. Here is the conclusion:

“Which Church Is Right?“ quoted Bible verses and was methodical and logical in its presentation. It was the first time that I’d thought of a church that way, though I didn’t have any real feeling about it. The prophet’s testimony was different. A paragraph that stood out was:

It caused me serious reflection then, and often has since, how very strange it was that an obscure boy, of a little over fourteen years of age, and one, too, who was doomed to the necessity of obtaining a scanty maintenance by his daily labor, should be thought a character of sufficient importance to attract the attention of the great ones of the most popular sects of the day, and in a manner to create in them a spirit of the most bitter persecution and reviling. But strange or not, so it was, and it was often the cause of great sorrow to myself. (Joseph Smith—History 23)

I thought it strange too, and identified with Joseph.

Another paragraph:

During the space of time which intervened between the time I had the vision and the year eighteen hundred and twenty-three—having been forbidden to join any of the religious sects of the day, and being of very tender years, and persecuted by those who ought to have been my friends and to have treated me kindly, and if they supposed me to be deluded to have endeavored in a proper and affectionate manner to have reclaimed me—I was left to all kinds of temptations; and, mingling with all kinds of society, I frequently fell into many foolish errors, and displayed the weakness of youth, and the foibles of human nature; which, I am sorry to say, led me into divers temptations, offensive in the sight of God. In making this confession, no one need suppose me guilty of any great or malignant sins. A disposition to commit such was never in my nature. But I was guilty of levity, and sometimes associated with jovial company, etc., not consistent with that character which ought to be maintained by one who was called of God as I had been. But this will not seem very strange to any one who recollects my youth, and is acquainted with my native cheery temperament. (Joseph Smith—History 28)

I was impressed that Joseph would admit to “foolish errors”. To me, someone telling a lie would not say this so openly.

I now know that being impressed by these two paragraphs was the Spirit acting upon me. After over thirty years the deep convincing that I felt is still with me.
Elder Vance Burton (left) and Elder David R. Wilson (right) at my baptism

I wrote to the Bishop of the Macclesfield Ward and asked him about the Church and that I wanted to know more. He replied to my letter, inviting me to travel to Macclesfield and meet with the missionaries. I did so, and recall one memory from our first meeting. I was being taught the first discussion and my mind wandered. When I was a child my mother used to say in a kindly way that “I was off wool gathering” when I didn’t pay attention. The missionaries asked me a question about what was being taught and from then on I was attentive. After the first discussion the missionaries told me that there were missionaries in Crewe and that I would be taught by them.

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Ordination

Today Daniel was ordained an elder. This was done by those with priesthood authority to lay their hands on his head and receive this ordinance. Present and pictured in the photograph are (left to right, top to bottom) Derek, Paul, Steven, Brian, Sarah, Jill, Rick (Rickety), and Daniel. Brian is a Stake High Counselor and a dear friend who was present as the Stake representative. I was voice for the ordinance. To have the authority to perform this act of laying on of hands, male members of the Church must receive this authority by the laying on of hands from a priesthood holder who has the proper authority. This has been passed down in the Church from the Apostles Peter, James and John, who received their authority from Christ. These Apostles then visited Joseph Smith as angelic messengers and gave him the proper priesthood authority. From Joseph Smith the priesthood has been passed down in an unbroken line from Christ. Having the authority of the priesthood is different from having the power to use that priesthood:

All of us who hold the priesthood have the authority to act for the Lord, but the effectiveness of our authority—or if you please, the power that comes through that authority—depends on the pattern of our lives; it depends on our righteousness (H. Burke Peterson, “Priesthood—Authority and Power,” Ensign, May 1976, 32).

Daniel has now transitioned from the Aaronic priesthood to the Melchizedek priesthood as he continues his preparation for his mission to Mongolia. The only sad thing in all of this is that there are now no Aaronic priesthood in the house to boss around.

Missionary Paul – Part 9 of 10

This is part nine of a ten part series chronicling Paul’s Mission. It is told mostly in his own words using excerpts from his letters and photographs sent home.

The Prophet Joseph Smith
Photo credit Travis S.

January 2006

I spoke in church yesterday about agency. [Dad], you looked thin in the wedding pictures. The CD pictures were nice. Elder Checketts from Texas is my new companion, we stayed in the office but moved to the Oakland 6th Spanish ward. They must have messed up the paper work for the doctor visit. Sister Bauman sent me to the doctor to have them look at the ring worm on my arm. Don’t pay the bill yet, I’ll talk to her today and get it figured out and maybe have her give you a call.

They paid the doctor bill. The powerball is working well. Four other missionaries have them now but no one has beat my record yet. The pictures came through fine and download really fast at the office. We are on a cable modem. We go to a Spanish ward now. There is probably about 200 members that come. I’ll write you an essay on office work but maybe not until I get transfered out of the office. We stay really busy. This week we are going to see the new Joseph Smith movie during zone conference. It should be fun.

I sent a big shipment back to the salt lake distribution center of surplus supplies that we had. We got a pallet from Safeway and stacked 25 boxes on it and wrapped it up. We have a baptism set up for Ivan Quintanilla for the 29th. It should be good. Beranice Martinez got baptized last Saturday so we drove out to Concord to see it.

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Missionary Paul – Part 7 of 10

The Book of Mormon.
This is part seven of a ten part series chronicling Paul’s Mission. It is told mostly in his own words using excerpts from his letters and photographs sent home.

August 2005

There are about 110 to 200 people that come every week to the branch here. They all are Spanish speaking although some of the kids don’t speak Spanish very well. Si me amáis, guardad mis mandamientos.

You might want to consider picking up the institute Book of Mormon manual. I like it. Today we had a big barbecue and ate all of the food left over from the stake’s youth conference. The library’s Internet is hardly working today. It took the whole hour to look at the pictures. The pictures normally download quickly, but we had to use the computers later in the day when they run very slowly.

I am getting transferred to concord. It will probably be faster to wait until next week for my address than to send them to the mission home but it’s up to you. Dad’s [conversion] story came though. I spoke yesterday in church about missionary work—twenty minutes. Send me some socks, not the green striped ones they don’t last. The ones with the gold toe are good.

September 2005

If someone asks for my address you are supposed to give them the mission home address so they don’t send mail to my old apartments. Have Steven send the camera TV cable with the socks if you could. Tell Jake C that they have been holding all the mail because of transfers so if he was expecting a reply from a letter he might have sent I still haven’t got it. My new companion is Elder Bodily from Pittsburg Pennsylvania. My room mates are Elders De Olivera and Gionet from Brazil and New Brunswick so I am learning a little Portuguese and French.

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Missionary Paul – Part 3 of 10

This is part three of a ten part series chronicling Paul’s Mission. It is told mostly in his own words using excerpts from his letters and photographs sent home.

October 2004

The building I am in has fourteen apartments in it I think. We live in the basement. Out the window we look into a hill which ramps up to the car dealership behind which you can’t really see because the hill is steep and tall. The Hilltop english ward is the exact same chapel as the rock gardens with a different color scheme. Our apartment is in the Hilltop Bay View complex. These computers are really locked down tight! Sarah’s email has a little bit of news for Mom. Tell her to get well.

The Malara family has three more weeks until their baptismal date. We taught them a third discussion yesterday. The Dad is really neat because he somehow managed to learn everything correctly from the Bible and already knows all of the doctrine. Usually if you run into someone that knows the Bible they fight every point and nothing gets accomplished. He is working on changing around his work schedule so he can come to church.

[Sarah,] what is happening at your work? Mom said you were working full time. Have you moved out of the grunt work yet? How is your new computer working? School started didn’t it? What classes are you taking? Do you have one more year left after this one? Ok, talk to you later.

I am well. The apartment locks the packages in a closet and puts the key in your locked mail box. My indoor soccer shoes are in there right? Put in my allen wrenches, the two sets that fold up into a metal handle if you can find them. The missionary work is good. This past week we had a big party in the Centro de Estacas, I think it is called the Inter-Stake Center in English, where all of the Spanish wards and branches in the mission came. There was a lot of food and a dance after. It was good, the Malara family came and my Colombian bike racer friend came with his two teenagers that are not members. Photo of Paul with little girl

Tomorrow, Tuesday, we are going back to the ISC (interstake center) to watch the BYU ballroom dancing company. The Malara family is coming again and hopefully William the Peruvian will come too. The Colombian former professional bike racer is fun. His name is Don Carlos Vargas, a recent convert and 50 years old. My companion and I went on a bike ride with him. 48 miles with a 7 mile uphill at the end to the top of a mountain. It was tiring. I couldn’t keep up with Don Carlos but I came in a couple of minutes behind him, the first missionary to ever make it up the mountain at the end. Our branch president, President Gomez, as well as another member named Walter are the only ones from Chile. There are not very many people here from the countries that are well off like Chile and Argentina. Most of the members are from Mexico and El Salvador.

It drizzled for a couple of days, not too much rain. For Christmas send me those laptop speakers that Steven has with a power adapter and will run them and the cd player. If someone has an old one that will be perfect. I think Daniel has one that he might want to sell. If not there is one here for 12 dollars, nothing fancy, it only has to play the Book of Mormon cds. Also if you can find the Hymns in Spanish that would be really neat.

I can usually understand people pretty well if I focus. Like this Spanish guy who is talking to his friend sitting next to me using the computer. When I read I understand a lot. I’m not too bad at reading out loud, however, I don’t speak very well. Those pictures sound interesting, how did your camera work out? It has been good. We are currently teaching the Malara family and committed all three of them to baptism yesterday. We are also teaching William, Miguel, Eduardo, Jarbaf and Ayuso. I buy a little bit of food like bread milk and cereal but we usually have dinner with a member so I don’t need much. There is a Food Max across the highway that is close. I usually buy my cereal, bread, and milk from Costco. You just missed the letter I sent to Jake C, I’ll have to him to go to YSA next time. I’ll write it in my planner.

This week it was a little cold in the chapel when we got there. I didn’t think much of it and went to Sunday school. A few minutes later my companion called me out and we went to the heater room. He says to me, We’ve got to get the some heat in that chapel before everyone leaves. The chapel was 57 degrees. I tinkered with the thermostat computer for a while until I figured out that everything was good to go on that end. I felt the vents and they were cold. I felt the pipes going into the heater and they were cold as well. We followed the pipes into the boiler room and the temperature gauges read 60 degrees, no hot water. I tinkered with the boiler a bit and got the pump motor to start humming but not turning. I pulled out my pen and jammed in in the shaft to start it turning and it fires up. I cut the heat to the rest of the building and had the chapel up to 68 degrees before sacrament meeting. It was good.

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