Monday, June 29, 2009

Cockroaches from Outer Space

Hey everyone,
So another week has gone by already.  As time goes on it goes by faster and

faster. I can't believe I've almost been out for 6 months. We had a fun week.
We baptized Jette Warnick and Aaron Hoffman from the AFB on Saturday.
Both their families were there because they also wanted to watch the
graduation on Friday. Jette is the girl that I was talking about in the last
letter and Aaron is the guy that had the answer to his prayer at the latrine.
Elder Smith baptized and I confirmed Aaron. Jette was baptized and
confirmed by her Grandpa. We went to lunch at a really good Chinese buffet
after the baptisms. Elder and Sister Reynolds (military relations missionary
couple) said they would treat us to lunch every time we baptized someone
from the base.
I forgot to mention this in my previous letter but Elder Ronan Dennis, the

other guy from Cedar that left the same time as me, is in my district. He
and Elder Solano, who is from a little town by
Tijuana called Tecate, serve
together. I don't know if I mentioned it in previous letters but Elder Smith and
I cover a Spanish ward, English ward, and the ward on base. Elder Solano
and Dennis cover the northern half of the same English and Spanish ward.
Its fun to teach in both English and Spanish. I like practicing both. We can't
proselyte on the base so the only interaction we get from the base is when
people that live on base feed us dinner and when we teach our Sunday
school there.
We have one investigator with a baptismal date.  Her husband is a

member in the Marines and they live in a house on base. Sister Meyer
has been going to church for a couple years and now wants to be baptized
into it. The other day we were teaching them a lesson, Elder Smith was
talking and as I was sitting and listening. Then the cats ran into the room.
They were chasing a big black bug. Well, actually huge might be a better
adjective. It was the size of a jeep! Well maybe not quite that big, but it
was huge ;) But I ignored it because we were having a nice, spiritual
lesson. But the cats kept trying to get it out from behind the shelf. Soon
enough Brother Meyer noticed and went over to investigate. Then he
saw the big, huge cockroach and got mad. I think he might be scared
of bugs :) It crawled onto his PS3 so he picked up the cat and said, "I'll
just aim you at it." He pushed the cat's face into it a couple times and it
still wouldn't budge. It fell into a basket a couple seconds later so he
hurried and put that outside his front door. After that little incident we
continued teaching about the plan of salvation and it ended quite nicely.
One of the things we talked about in our lesson with them was about the
3 degrees of glory.
The terrestrial and telestial are like a circle. Eventually you fill up, you
can't progress anymore. As you can see in my beautiful illustration
below, the bottom two have a limit. But the
Celestial Kingdom is like
a bowl. There are no limits of how much you can progress, how high
you can go. The possibilities are limitless. So keep remembering
that and aim for eternal progression.
Terrestrial and Telestial

We had zone conference on Wednesday.  The big focus this time was

on prayer and teaching with the spirit. They really emphasized the fact
that we need to get our investigators to pray. I really liked this conference,
just like all the other ones. We were combined with one of the other

San Antonio
zones. I got to see three elders from my old district. It was
fun talking to them again.
Elder Solano was wondering if it would be possible for him to get one

of those mini PMG's. From the email you sent me it sounds like we can't
get them anymore but I thought I might as well ask.
Everyone keep working hard in all that you do.  You can achieve anything

you want to through small and simple means. One step at a time. I love you
all and stay close to the Lord.
Elder Gray

Monday, June 22, 2009

Miracles still can happen

How is everyone doing? Everything is going good here. It is pretty hot and humid here, but I am used to it now. And with the zip code, it was the wrong one on the envelope but it still got to me on Wednesday. I guess someone at the post office was being nice and knew where to send it.

Sounds like everyone is having fun at home. The work is going well. We baptized another lady named Mary Williams on Saturday (weird coincidence huh?) It seemed like everything that could go wrong did go wrong. We finally started the services about an hour late and everything went well after that. Oh, and to answer your question mom, we only ended up baptizing one 9 year old while I was in Austin.

That is awesome that I get all that money back in taxes. Tell Brooke thanks! I guess you can just put it in my savings. That's awesome about the Longhorns making it to the college world series. Their football stadium, football practice field, and baseball stadium were all just about 100-200 yards outside of my area in Austin. I am not sure if Kerrville is in our mission or not. The map of my mission area is in my call packet. With exchanges, we go on exchanges with each companionship in the district once a transfer. Since I've been companions with district leaders my whole mission, we also go on exchanges with the zone leaders once a transfer. It is a lot of fun to see how other missionaries work and sometimes its just nice to break away from your companion for the day, even though I have loved both of them so far.

Oh and I forgot to tell you last week. Last P-day 10 missionaries got to sing the National Anthem at a baseball game. I didn't sing but my companion did. We gave him a hard time because his is originally from England :) It was Mormon night for the San Antonio Missions. They are a AA team for the San Diego Padres. It was a lot of fun. We had to leave after the 3rd inning though so we could be home on time.

Yesterday we had a couple of miracles happen. First of all, Carlos didn't show up in time to be confirmed, so we went ahead and did Mary's confirmation. Carlos showed up right in the middle of hers so we were stoked and he got confirmed.

Then we went to the Base to teach our Gospel Essentials class. One of the guys wanted to get baptized. He had an awesome story. He was reading his BOM on the latrine on Saturday night (that's what everyone does because they don't have time during basic training to do much of anything that they want). He was reading a scripture passage that he didn't understand. He prayed real hard for understand. Meanwhile, one of the Mormon airmen got a prompting to go and fill his canteen at the latrine area. He then got a prompting to go to the guy that had just prayed for help. They ended up talking for almost an hour about the gospel. That really goes to show that miracles are still happening all the time.

So while I taught the plan of salvation for Gospel Essentials, Elder Smith went and taught him and made sure he was ready for baptism. I stumbled through the lesson but I thought it went pretty good. A couple of the airmen were returned missionaries so they helped a bunch. After the lesson we were sitting there talking and one the girls in the group approached me and said she wanted to become a member of the church. She grew up in Utah and half of her family are members. She attended church sporadically through her life. Both of these people that want to get baptized are graduating from basic training on Friday. So we have the time frame of Saturday and Sunday to baptize them before they leave to Tech school. We are doing it on Saturday morning.

Well, I hope you all are having an excellent summer so far. Stay close to the Lord and keep reading your scriptures every day.

Elder Gray

Monday, June 15, 2009

Refiners Fire

How is everyone? Sorry I didn't send a letter with my new address on it. I figured it would get there today or tomorrow anyways. So I will just tell you in my email.

I am excited to be in south zone in San Antonio. It is one of the more coveted zones in the mission. We cover the Heritage B area which includes an English war, a Spanish ward, and then the Lackland Air Force Base Branch. It is a really fun area so far. My companion, Elder Smith, knows the members real well so that is always a plus. There are a couple member that always want to give us food and they are happy to do our laundry too.

So my new companion, Elder Smith, is from Birmingham, England. He is really smart and tall (probably 6'6"). When he lived in England he did Judo competitions all around Europe. His dad works for the church so he moved to Utah for his senior year of high school. He went to Bingham High School. Before this, I couldn't really imagine a Brit speaking Spanish, so its pretty awesome being with him. We have a nice big apartment.

On Sunday, we were at the church all day. I really liked the Spanish sacrament meeting because I could understand most of it. I have been studying a lot harder in my Spanish lately and it has paid off. The Lord has really blessed me. It was awesome to go to the Branch on the Air Force Base. This is one of the bases that they do basic training so its big. President Cutler and his wife spoke in Sacrament Meeting. That is a pretty rare thing so we were lucky to get to attend that. He talked about being put in the refiners fire. A silversmith will put his silver in the hottest part of the fire just long enough to burn the impurities away. He knows that the silver is done when he can see his reflection in it. That is what we need to remember. The Lord will put us through all that we can stand and then when he sees his countenance in us, we are good to go. Pres. Cutler likened that to what the airmen are going through during their basic training. We can all apply it to our lives too. I'm sure you've heard that story before because I have heard it a couple of times.

We also had a baptism on Sunday night. Carlos Arrocha was the man of the hour. He is 19 years old and has been investigating for a month or two. It was a good, fun baptism. When Elder Smith went to baptize Carlos, the water was only about 2 feet deep in the font. For some reason the plug wasn't in all the way. So Elder Smith tried to baptize him but his knee wouldn't go under. So we all stood around for about five minutes while the font got filled a little more. The second time was a success. Carlos will be joining the Navy in a couple weeks. He takes his physical test today.

I hope you all continue to do well. I hope I answered all your questions in your letters. I love you all.

Elder Gray

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

"TSAM shoe"

So I am getting transferred. I don't know where to yet, but I know its not the border because I would have been leaving tomorrow morning instead of Thursday. Elder Kleinman is staying. Every companionship in our district is changing so its an exciting time.

Our zone won the "TSAM shoe" for May. It is an old shoe in a case given to the zone with the most baptisms each month. We had 13.

Today we went paintballing. Those really rich people that we went to a month or two ago have about twenty Tippman A5's and two Angels (really good guns). They also supplied us with the paintballs and air. I am real tired from that.

I don't have very much time on email today so sorry this one is short. I will send a letter with some pics and my new address on Thursday. I love you all and deeply appreciate your letters and support. Stay close to the Lord and I love you all.

Elder Gray

P.S. Tell Dave congrats on his mission call.

Monday, June 1, 2009

"This is my life and I choose to make it a success"

♪♪chileeeeeeeeeeeee's baby back ribs (and barbeque sauce)♪

Hola ustedes,
This week was really good.  I went on exchanges with Elder Orme and Elder

Law this week. We had a lot of success. We found some new investigators.
And it was nice to have a little change for a bit. Also Mary got confirmed this
week. She wanted Elder Law to do it because she loves his "strawberry
red" hair :) She is really sweet. She was truly converted by the spirit so she
will be staying in the church. We talked to her about baptisms for the dead
and temple work yesterday. She is really excited to do that. Also we are
gonna get her in touch with the family history consultant in our ward. That is
another thing she really wants to get in to.
Bailey, our little 9 yr old, got baptized and confirmed by her grandpa on

Saturday. Her and her little brothers are a lot of fun.
This morning we had a district breakfast at our apartment.  We had

crepes with homemade whipped cream and a bunch of fruit. It was really
So here's the deal with transfers.  They are going to be happening on

Thursday June 11. I don't know if I'm going or staying. More than likely,
either Elder Kleinman or I will be transferred. I will let you know next
Tuesday what is happening. Transfers happen every six weeks
and the p day before transfers is on a Tuesday (I think y'all already knew

that but just in case you didn't.....)
The mud from that incident came out of my tie and my pants and belt and

shoes. But everything white is wasted pretty much.
Thanks for sending my iPod and pants and everything else.  I really

appreciate all of it. I bet that took a while to put all those songs on the
ipod so thanks even more for all the effort :)
So for my little spiritual thought this week I am gonna share something

that is a little more motivational than spiritual. I found it in a Sports
Illustrated article last summer and have kept it in my wallet
ever since.  It is called the Pledge of Success:
"Today is a new day, a new beginning
It has been given to me as a new gift
I can either use it or throw it away
What I do today will affect me tomorrow
I cannot blame anyone but myself if I do not succeed
I promise to use this day to the fullest by giving my best, realizing it 
can never come back again.
This is my life and I choose to make it a success"
I really like this one.  I am trying the best I can to remember it.  I hope

I answered all your questions. I forgot to bring my letters here to the
library so sorry I couldn't answer the questions in the last letter. Stay
close to the Lord and I love you all.
Elder Gray