Elder Jaron Hoani King: These past ten days have been miraculous. Statistically Elder Bennett and I have 1 baptismal date, and only about 6 true investigators... But as Elder Holland quotes in this past general conference: in Christianity, where there is more joy in Heaven over one sinner who repents than over 99 and 9 just persons; God must not be overly concerned with percentages. Elder Bennett is a spectacular companion. Last week President Clark gave us an amazing training on Amulek, and how BECAUSE Alma "dined with less-actives" he was able to have an amazing team-up. (I apologize for all the missionary lingo, it is just the only way to express these things.) And then at church on Sunday we had three investigators attend! They weren't there because of anything we did, but President and Sister Kimball were leaving on their mission to Mozambique, and they have been such wonderful missionaries that everyone wanted to come out and here them speak. The Astle's (our ward mission leader) little girl Haley loves to say that "Elder King is harmless" (she is 8 and so cute! I am sure you have a picture of her because she was baptized at the same time as her brother Steven) ANYWAY I was reading in Alma 18:22 and it describes Ammon... yes, THAT Ammon as being "wise yet harmless." At first I thought it wasn't a good thing, but I realize we really do all have our own personalities. I can't believe I have gotten this far without telling you the biggest news:
JAMES BOUGHT A RING! James and Dustie will be married soon, and we are super excited. I know God answers prayers. I know that He sent His Only Begotten to Earth because He loves YOU. I love you, and I'm so proud to call you my friends.
I'm serving in California. Right? Just checking. Last Tuesday Elder Dea and I went to help one of our members move "some bamboo." We both had no idea what that meant, but we changed in to service clothes and headed off to help. We ended up loading the biggest load of wood I have ever seen into the back of this truck, and it was bamboo! We had a bunch of fun and laughed the whole time just saying how crazy the whole experience was. It is super foggy in the mornings now and actually super cold. It feels way good, but Elder Dea hates the cold. Elder Dea knows how much I love talking to random people, so he told me about a referral we received on an exchange, so I called her up. Remember that all I knew was the woman's name okay? I called and all I here is "I'm not going to wait all day, do you want yo ten dolla or what?" No "hello," no "this is ____." She just kept going off about how I needed to go get my "ten dolla." Finally I told her "Ma'am, I would love ten dollars, but I am a missionary." There was silence for at least 10 solid seconds. She apologized a bunch, and said she needed a few days before we came over. I love this area so much. Our members are some of the best people in the entire world. We're working right now on finding new investigators, and one of the biggest themes we've been studying in the mission is that we all have a unique background. At church we heard, "God didn't send us here to blend in" (I think it is a Lindsay Sterling quote). But it is so true! We are here to make a difference! Let's make it. I love ya. I got the call on Saturday to serve as a trainer here in Oakdale. Elder Dea is one of my absolute favorite missionaries. He makes this work so much fun. He loves his mission and as a result everyone loves him. He is going to be so so missed here in Oakdale, but the Lord knows what He is doing. This is His work, and it can only be done His way. We love our family out here. Oakdale is amazing!
Elder Jaron Hoani King: Elder Dea and I had a lot of fun Saturday night singing in our ward talent show. Elder Dea wanted to sing the song Testify ("Kiss the Girl" from the Little Mermaid, but missionary style) so we got up there and sang. Our ward is so wonderful. There were a bunch of non-members who came out, and the W. even got their friend to come sing! He is as cowboy as it gets so all I could think about was dad as he was singing about chaps, boots, and hats. Friday we went up to Sonora for an interview and we were again stunned by how beautiful it all is. Brett was interviewed, and baptized yesterday. 1st ward also had three baptisms Saturday night, and all three of them are doing so wonderful! A family we are working with super close is Jackie and Jared. They live out in the sticks, but want to move in to town soon. Their little girl M. is 1 so she is obviously super cute. Jared was raised in the church, and Jackie took some lessons before they moved off to Illinois. Luckily, they're back and we are going out to see them tonight. It gets dark now at about 5.30 so the night time can get really interesting out in the country. Elder Dea REALLY doesn't like dark, so we had some fun last night when we got out of the car in the middle of nowhere (Elder Dea kept saying "I swear this is in a scene from Texas Chainsaw Massacre). There was a locked gate so we didn't do much more than just yell a couple times and hope someone heard. There was a horse behind us, and it made us jump about 40 feet in the air. My companion and I will be playing some sports today with the youth, then the primary kids because they are all out school. Love ya! Have a great veteran's day!
Elder Jaron Hoani King:It has been so weird because it is actually getting super cold! Okay, it's not that cold because it's only in the 50s, but it is cold when you get so used to biking around in triple digits. Oakdale got a bunch of rain this last weekend and it was so much fun! We spent Halloween with the Black family and we played Would You Rather? Everyone in Oakdale has been going crazy with the Giants winning the series, but I hear it really was a fun series and especially a great game 7. Elder Dea and I got used to running when it was dark outside, so now it is weird because we run and we can actually see people. Church was amazing, as always, and it was all about covenants. Sister Baxter made a really cool comment in gospel principles about how this is a church of doing. Our Church isn't one you just sit down and listen to someone, but it is active. That is (I'm sure) a huge reason we always invite people to do things. They need us to invite them to be active in their faith. We didn't have anyone at church, so we will make the rounds today inviting them back. Our new investigating family is amazing! The Salario's were a new move in who Elder Moss and I contacted on our last exchange. We went straight back to Preach My Gospel and asked a former investigator who they knew who was recently moved in. Come to find out, the Salario family knows a bunch of members, and we started teaching yesterday with our Bishop's son. We love it here, and the font room is all dried up! Our recent convert, who lives in the Sacramento mission, needs the new member lessons, so we called the elders up there, and they are going to go visit her. It means a lot to see that we really do belong to One Church. His Church. Jesus Christ established His Kingdom in 1830 with 6 official members. Joseph Smith is a prophet. Thomas S. Monson leads and guides this Church just as Moses and Abraham led and guided Christ's saints in times before. This work can't do anything but make you smile. We're going to go play jenga with a member before we're back to the proselyting schedule, but please let me know how I can help you. I love ya!
Elder Dea and I joke every single day about all the crazy things that happen in Oakdale. We always say, "now just imagine if we didn't have the best ward in the world." Our ward is chalked full of the best people I know. This last week I went on an exchange with Elder Moss, and I brought him to our area. We had so much fun teaching together again! Then we went on an exchange where I was with Elder Padilla in our area again. Elder Padilla is so great and always looking to improve. If you meet him you would wonder what in the world he could even improve! I love that missionary. To even explain a portion of what happened yesterday I have to mention that Brother Johnson called us during the week and asked if we could teach the fourteen and fifteen year-old class for him because he was going to have to finish some things up at a property he owns. Elder Dea's favorite thing is working with the youth, so we gladly accepted. We had ward conference yesterday, which meant all the stake leaders came. Our ward council was incredible and President Seibert (a member of the stake presidency) taught us that approximately 80-90% of all lightning strikes that occur annually happen to men. One contributing factor is that men tend to be out more, but they also don't come in as quickly. He taught about how it really is a wonderful thing that within the auxiliaries of the Lord's Church we have both men and women counseling together. I was reminded of all the wonderful sisters that have shaped my life. Sister Wagner from the stake also taught about how we need to be counseling together in order to use the council most effectively. Why am I telling you all this? It was super good, but you probably just had to be there. Bishop Olsen (seriously the best person in the world) also gave the most touching talk during sacrament. So... Elder Dea and I were at the church and our meeting doesn't end until 4:00 right? Well the 1st ward had a baptism at 4:30, so we decided to go and fill the font half-way while we taught, and then go fill it with hot water later just so 3rd hour can use the font room for the young men and young women... well we turn it on because we were told it took an hour to fill it. You see where this is going don't you? Someone (years ago) covered the overflow because it was too low for 1 baptism, but Brother Astle calls us during our lesson and I answered it for once, long story short, we flooded the font room, into the hallways. While we are cleaning up all the water, we get a call from 1st that their baptism canceled. I know there is opposition in all things. Elder Dea and I are so grateful for all the people around us! We couldn't do any of this without them. This Church is true! Especially when these 18 year-olds are trusted to do things as simple as fill the font. Nicolette was baptized yesterday. I love ya. Thanks so much for all your prayers! Love, Elder King
Elder Jaron Hoani King: MondayOnMondaywe had truly the world's greatest meeting! Elder Brent H. Nielsen and his wife visited our mission, and he and his wife are so incredible! They talked with us about how for the first time missionaries are being sent all over the world to seek out the less active members of their wards. D&C 88:72-3 is where Sister Nielsen saw the original vision where the Lord is hastening his work, and she taught us about how we are being raised up to help our wards reach out to the sheep inside the fold. Anyway, I really hope that all made sense. Elder Dea and I were teaching yesterday when a phrase jumped out for the first time: 1 Nephi 17:2 "journeyings without murmurings." My prayer is that this motto is the motto behind our lives. The Church is true! Elder Dea is on cloud nine because yesterday we got to play dodge-ball at mutual with one of our investigators, then we got to drive Sonora's truck! Our investigators Dustie and James are doing so great. Dustie's sister Nikki came to visit and she became a new investigator. Funny how people become new investigators just by visiting family huh? Our apartment is the best! The A/C is broken so it gets super super cold every night! Love ya!
This last week came and went way too fast. We felt prompted to go see James and Dustie for the Saturday morning session, so we watched the first session with them. James said he has been praying for the last six weeks about the call we got late Sunday night concerning transfers. Both Elder Dea and I are staying, and James said he is taking that as his sign that God does care about him. As I have pondered that way of thinking I am reminded that God is in the details. The more we give our lives to Him, the more we can see Him in our lives. On Friday we got to go see Meet the Mormons via President Clark streaming it to the Turlock stake center. Please go see it. If it is even a possibility, make the sacrifice and see it opening weekend. It is such a cool movie about six very different members of the Church. Elder Dea was "feeling Applebee's" so we got the zone together and went to the Applebee's in Turlock... being out here, no one realized that it was Game 1 of the NLDS, so the Giants and Nats were playing and it was packed. We had to be at the stake center at 1:30and we ended up leaving the restaurant at the time! But everything worked out and we got to watch the awesome documentary. Elder Dea and I have a car which is super nice since we live just a little outside our area. We visit the trailer park on Orangeblossom about every other day, and that is where James and Dustie live. Saturday night, after Priesthood we got to go help a family move, and the Lee family was at it again. They are so amazing, and their daughter is going to the Baltic States mission (President Harding's mission)! Sister Lee was the sister I had mentioned was instrumental in Steven's baptism, and over conference weekend she and her kids went to help this family who needed to move. Monday we are receiving a training from Brent Nielsen of the Seventy! I don't think I'll be writing then, but we should write Tuesday. Conference was super awesome! Love ya!
Yesterday Elder Lindner (one of the North Elders) and I read through the last few verses of Jacob. He is such an incredible missionary. Every person you see has already chosen not to rebel against God's plan once. That makes it easier right! Don't be afraid to invite. That is all people need sometimes. This last week we had so many investigators at church. They are all going through some extremely tough and individually difficult circumstances, but they "know in whom [they] have trusted" (2 Ne 4:19) TJ (one of our investigators) is so amazing because he always opens up his home to his friends who need some help. We haven't been able to see he and his family at church, but I know they can make it with your prayers. He has this saying: "It's better to eat hot dogs with friends than steak alone." I love TJ. He really gets it. We keep running in to these people who are begging us to read The Book of Mormon. It is amazing how prepared these people are, and I know they are just as prepared where you are. We got to play some "wiffle" ball while we taught our twin 9 year old investigators Kylan and Keith. They love baseball and remind me so much of Connor. Please keep them in your prayers. Love y'all!
This last week was fairly normal until the weekend. Holy cow this weekend was emotional. On Friday we were out street contacting (which is just the best, we get to talk with people everyday who have no idea what they are missing) and there was no one outside but little kids. It was too hot for any sane adult to be outside, but the kids were out, so we talked with them. There was this little girl who said her mom really needs a prayer. She was about 5 and we followed her to her house. Her mother was less than pleased to see us, but as we were walking away we heard the little girl say, "You just shut the door on angels." It is incredible that little children can recognize us as official representatives of our Savior. They understand so much about life. This life really isn't intended to be complicated. The devil convinces us to make it too hard. If you have 30 seconds, give God 30 seconds. Read one verse. Even if it is just reciting 1 Nephi 2:15 or Jacob 6:12 in your head, I know that our Father in Heaven will be so proud of you and your decision to walk by faith and follow His Son's example. On Saturday we were biking around and literally NO ONE was able to meet with us. We were seriously wondering what we were going to do because we hadn't had any water in a few hours, and we still had a few hours before dinner. We felt impressed to visit a former investigator who lived pretty far away, but on our way we saw a Rams decal on a truck... We took a chance. We biked up and asked for water. Fred and his wife offered us water and pineapple, and as far as I am concerned, saved my life. It was incredible because they said they aren't interested in our message, but they were more than happy to help. Please keep an eye out for people who need your help. They are everywhere. They probably won't be as easy to recognize as missionaries drenched in sweat, but God will lead you to them as you keep a prayer in your heart. Tangie was baptized and wow what a beautiful service. President and Sister Clark were able to attend, and the Spirit was incredible. Their family is so close to their Savior. If I can be half the man that Tangie's husband Maurice is, then I know I will be doing fine. I know this church is true. I know God loves you. Thank you so much for your prayers and encouragement.