Tuesday, July 28, 2009

I am glad that the Lord has blessed me with a bunch of good companions

Thanks for pics. It looks like you all had a lot of fun camping. This week has been pretty fun. My new companion is named Elder Finlayson. He plays waterpolo for Stanford so he is smart and athletic. He is from a little city called Alamo just right outside of Oakland, California. His Spanish is awesome. He is a really hard worker and a very obedient missionary. Each of my companions has been awesome in different aspects. I am glad that the Lord has blessed me with a bunch of good companions.

This week we had an awesome baptism. William was the name of the person getting baptized. I have seen him come so far along the path. It's been awesome. It was my first time being in charge of a baptism. It was stressful but everything worked out in the end.

Elder Finlayson likes to do a lot of tracting/knocking, so we have been doing a lot of that lately. However, we got some updated lists from the ward and are going to do some more 'less active' work. And Elder Smith liked to do more less active work with a little bit of knocking. So each of my companions has had a little different style but it all works out in the end.

That is awesome that you are teaching some investigators in the ward right now. Keep up the good work. But remember to find some good fellow shippers. Most of the people that don't have many friends in the ward stop coming after awhile. Also as a side note, I heard somewhere that wards that focus primarily on missionary work always have more success in every aspect of the ward.

This next little bit is more for non-family people that are reading my letters. I just wanted you all to know that I am gonna stop writing letters to everyone except for the family. I know some missionaries who have done this and it really helped them to focus and have an awesome mission. It will help me to focus on what I am out here to do. In Matthew, I don't remember the exact verse, the Lord told the disciples that if they forsake things for the work of the Lord then they will be blessed many times over in the eternities.

I love each one of you and I enjoy each and every letter. I look forward to the "cool" package from you mom. Stay close to the Lord.

Elder Gray

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Our success rate goes up dramatically when the members are involved

Dear Everyone,
So guess what? Elder Smith is getting transferred on Thursday. I'm a little sad, but at the same time its fun to get someone new. He is going to be doubled in to his new area (that means that both him and his companion will be new to that area.) I'm sure both of us will get awesome companions. His leg is doing well. It just had a big bruise. The dog's teeth barely broke the skin.

We helped a member of the ward move this week. She was recently divorced and really needed help. We had a lot of fun moving everything. We got a free couch and chair from it. Also we committed another person for baptism. He is probably in his late 30's or early 40's. He has been investigating the church since January and he finally worked out everything that was standing in the way of him getting baptized. We gave him a blessing about 2 weeks ago and that really helped. He was going through a tough time. I believe either his dad or his father-in-law is going to perform the actual baptism. He will be baptized on Saturday morning.

Sister Meyer is doing awesome. She is staying active and wants to do temple baptisms as soon as she can. Sister Williams is also doing awesome. Her husband is funny. He reminds me a lot of a guy that I worked with at the hotel, Justin. (Town & Country last summer)

The work at the base is going well. We have about four or five people that are really serious about being baptized. However, most of them are going to wait until after BMT (Basic Military Training) and get baptized wherever they do tech school at.

We had an awesome district meeting this week about working with members. It was one of the best district meetings yet. We had a lot of good ideas thrown around. The thing is we really do need referrals from members. Our success rate goes up dramatically when the members are involved. I challenge you all to find a family that the missionaries can teach. I'm sure they would really appreciate it and you will get a bunch of blessings, too.

I received that letter about Tyler yesterday. (His cousin - on a mission in Russia) That is awesome that he is doing well. That's crazy how far he had to go to get to Zone conference. I thing the farthest I've gone is about 10 minutes.

I bought an awesome cowboy hat last week. And it was only ten bucks. I also bought this really comfortable Mexican jacket that was only about eight dollars. All I need now is a big belt buckle and some boots :)

Well, I just remembered that either mom or dad had a question about something but I can't remember what it was. so what I will do is find the letter, write it down in my planner, then answer it next week.

So just one last little thought I thought I would share with you all. Remember to stay close as a family. Out here we can tell which families do things together like FHE and scripture reading and all that fun family stuff. The whole family is just better. I know it has really helped our family stay close together. Thanks for all the letters. Stay close to the Lord. Les amo.

Con amor,
Elder Gries

Monday, July 13, 2009

The Book is Blue, and the Church is True!

Dear Family,

Well another week has passed by. It was pretty awesome. We had our interviews with the President on Tuesday. I really like those because he is so understanding and he makes everyone feel awesome. We talked about things that I could improve on and also just about how life has been. His son just got home from his mission in Costa Rica.

On Wednesday we had a pretty fun experience. We were at a house with a fenced in yard and all of the sudden these three dogs come running around the corner. The first one was a big pitbull, the other looked like a pitbull/terrier mix, and the other one was just a little grey dog. The first two were angry but they were keeping their distance. The grey one was a nice dog. So we started slowly backing up to the gate. We were almost ther when the pitbull/terrie lunged at Elder Smith and bit him in the leg. He kicked it and it tried to bite himagain but it just nicked him in the other leg. I wasn't gonna wait around for the pitbull to attack so I ran and jumped the fence. Elder Smith was right behind me but was thinking more clearly so he just opened the gate. His bites weren't very bad at all. He just had some ripped pants and a big bruise on one of his calves. It had just barely broken the skin. The members that we were having dineer with were just down the street. So we finished knocking the street and then went to dinner. This family has a daughter that likes to give nicknames to all the missionaries. She hadn't given me one yet so mine is now Elder Forrest (because I ran away from the dogs) (as in Forrest Gump!). Elder Smith's is Big Ben because he's big and from England. But don't worry. Both of us are safe and sound.

We are teaching a guy right now that is almost ready for baptism. We are going to commit him with a date this week. I got to confirm Sister Meyer yesterday. She is so excited to be a member.

On Friday Elder Smith and I got to go on exchanges with the zone leaders. I slept over at their apartment on Thursday night. I got to go with Elder DeLeo. He is from Pocatello. We had a really good day on Friday. We taught a couple of lessons. We shared an article from the October General Conference in one of our lessons. The talk is called "The Way". It was very good. You should check it out. I liked going with Elder DeLeo. He is an awesome zone leader and I learned a lot.

On Saturday we got to go to the Temple. It was really nice to go. I love it there. Its so peaceful. Its a smaller temple. There is only one session going on at a time. But it is still just as awesome as all the other temples. After that we went to the distribution center, an LDS bookstore, and a Great Harvest bakery. They give out a free loaf of bread to missionaries so I got some pizza bread.

Thanks for sending me that camelback and those cookies and music and gum (I think i got it covered, but thanks for anything else I missed). That camelback is worth its weight in gold out here in this Texas heat. I'm glad to hear that you all are having fun. Congrats on your running Ash and good job with football Erik. You are both working hard. Good job on going to EFY. That is the best thing you can do this summer. Tell Brooke and Tim hi. Oh which reminds me......Brooke, do you remember a Schoney about your age. I think his first name is Kyle. He said he was in your sophomore English class or something. Well anyways he is here in the TSAM and says hi. His sister is the Schoney girl that has a bunch of the school records in track.

Remember, the book is blue and the church is true. I love you all and stay close to the Lord.

Elder Gray

P.S. Try reading The Gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke, John) while using the book Jesus The Christ as kind of a study guide. I found it really helps me.

Monday, July 6, 2009

"This church is a way that Heavenly Father can put a little piece of heaven here on earth"

Everything is going awesome here. We have had another awesome week. Another Baptism! It was hot again this week but it wasn't too bad. A lot of times we will be soaked with sweat and dripping when we are on bikes but the Lord is helping a lot. Its' still way fun. We are on bikes half of the week and we have the car the other half. My companion and I get along really good. As far as personalities go, we are way different. But it still works out. The key thing is to forget about the things that just don't matter. It was real hard at first but throughout the month it has gotten a lot easier. It still is hard sometimes but all those little things are forgotten pretty quick when I don't make a big deal out of them. It has made all the difference.

We had a nice 4th of July. We went to a couple different barbecues and had a pretty relaxed day. Lots of food. They were shooting off fireworks at the base so we got to watch a little bit of fireworks on our way home. I don't know if I mentioned this in previous letters but the base is just about a stones throw away from our apartment. So we got a good view of the show.

On Sunday we baptized Sister Meyer. She has one of the strongest testimonies that I have ever seen in a recent convert. She is awesome. She will also keep her husband on track, as all women do, I'm sure;) In her baptismal interview, she said that she feels like this church is a way that Heavenly Father can put a little piece of heaven here on the earth. She has a very sweet spirit. She was beaming the whole time at her baptism. Her husband is pretty funny. When we invited the kids to come up close to the font for the baptism, he hopped right up there to watch. They are an awesome family.

I got teach The Restoration all by myself to two airmen the other day. Elder Smith was teaching the gospel principles class. I was nervous but as soon as I started talking all the nervousness went away. It went really well. The spirit was strong and they had plenty of questions. The spirit does amazing things and helps so much. I couldn't have done the lesson without it.

The Lord has really us with so much. I can fee all your prayers. I pray for you guys too. I am the happiest I have ever been when I'm out doing the Lord's work. It's hard sometimes but at the end of the day it is awesome to look back and see what we did. Have fun and stay out of trouble. Love you all.

Elder Gray

P.S. Thanks for the letters and everything. That would be nice to use that camelback so that would be great if you could send that.

P.S.S. Hey one more thing I forgot to mention in my letter. I have been thinking that I need to start writing in my journal again but I never took the time. Then I got your letter dad, and it really motivated me to start doing it again. I wrote in it yesterday. Thanks :)