April 21, 2014
Last week I reached my one year anniversary since I started my mission. It feels really strange saying that. In addition to that, I’m approaching six months in the area that I’m currently serving in (by area I mean ward - every ward in this mission currently has at least one companionship of missionaries). I’ve been with Elder Farr for about four and a half months out of those six, so I don’t really feel like I’ve seen much change lately. This is my second zone but based on what I’ve seen throughout the mission-the biggest change is probably dependent more upon your companion than your area here in Las Vegas. Needless to say, I’ve learned a lot about getting along with different people - that definitely encompasses that most important and difficult lessons that I’ve learned on my mission.
Here the standard of excellence is one baptism per ward per month. So far I’ve been able to meet that for the most part. (I think I’m at 11 if you include today’s baptism).
My mission has been a series of lessons on gaining new perspectives when really not much changes around you. I've had to learn how to become the one who make change happen. Las Vegas is really a pretty boring place when you are a missionary. What I mean is, that not many exciting things happen unless you really work to make them happen. It is a big city and it is a desert. It’s the ugliest and the most unfavorable place I’ve ever been (in terms of the weather and scenery). But when you begin to develop the capacity to see the good around you, it can become a beautiful place. The key to that is in the people (as I am sure that you have found on your own mission). I love these people so much, It’s such a blessing that I get to serve them. It really doesn’t matter where I am when I get to spend my time serving those around me. The spirit of the Lords strives even in Las Vegas, the city of SIN! It is such a blessing to be able to fell that spirit so strongly every day.
One of the hardest things about serving in the area that I’m in now is that it is so hard to find people to teach. Nearly every investigator that I have taught more than two lessons to has been baptized. We just haven’t taught many people. Here are some reasons:
- Everyone has excused before we even confront them (they’re already familiar with missionaries and the church)
- They’re all to wealthy and on’t think they need, God, or think they already have found Him.
- They all drive cars-you can only find people in garages.
- They keep to themselves-they’re as anti-social and cautious as I am! No, they aren’t going to allow strangers into their house!
- They are catholic -that seems to be a popular excuse…I just want to say, “it’s all right you can repent!”
I could go on but I won’t, nothing gets done when I make excuses. I’ve been working really hard to improve my street contacting as well as my finding through members. Although I have seen little success come from my efforts, the Lord has helped me to find peace and joy from the small success that I find each day that I serve with my whole heart, might, and strength. Today I talked to every single person that I saw (even the people who were talking on their cell phone) and I still only talked to twenty people. (We literally spent an entire day just knocking on doors and talking to people-only one person let us in). Today was a really good day, we have had much worse days than today (normally talking to everyone means talking to 5 people). Out of all of those people, they had all spoken to missionaries recently, they know who we were, and all of them declined our offer to even say a prayer with them (or accept a pass along card). Despite our lack of success in finding people to teach (anyone-not just solid investigators) I was filled with the Spirit and the Lord blessed me with a positive attitude as well as an abundance of energy throughout the day. Those are blessings that I have often missed out on in my life. I am so grateful that the Lord has given me a chance to serve a mission. I am so grateful that He has trusted me to work in His vineyard for a season. Even though I have remained a junior companion my whole mission, I often feel inadequate even for the assignment. I am grateful that the Lord is more patient with me than I am with myself.
I often call Las Vegas the “Furnace of Affliction”(alluding to Isaiah) because it truly is the place that has changed me the most in my life while at the same time it has caused me to sweat more than anywhere else (seriously 120˚ weather with 0-5% humidity is just ridiculous).
Elder Kyle Jensen