Monday, June 28, 2010

So my new area is probably one of the ones I would have picked if I had the choice. It is in south San Antonio and we cover an English ward (10th) and a Spanish ward (Las Palmas). I am really happy to be in south zone again. Now I can talk to the other missionaries in my old area and see how everything is going there. We live with the zone leaders and they are training a new missionary. His name is Elder Dymock (pronounced dimick). His companions are Elder Criddle and Elder Bennett. I know both of them from earlier in the mission. My companion's name is Elder Swainston. He is from Bakersfield, California. He has only been out in the field for about three months. This is the first time I have lived with more than just my companion so it is a lot of fun.
This area and my last one are quite different. This one has a lot more people that are compelled to be humble. Its a little ghetto-ish I guess. There are a lot of baptisms in this area but the retention is pretty low. We are going to do all we can to keep them active. So far the work here has been really good. We have taught a lot of Spanish and English. We also set two little girls with a baptismal date yesterday. They are 11 and 9 years old. They are the only ones in their family that haven't been baptized. There are a lot of part member families in the ward. I am really excited to go out and help all these families. In Wells Branch we had an average sacrament meeting attendance of between 275 and 315 and here it is a lot lower. I would guess about 100 in each ward. But tenth ward has a huge amount of inactive members so our work is laid out for us. We have a car in this area but we will ride bikes occasionally once I get a new helmet. It has been beat up really bad and then it got lost somewhere this last transfer. Don't worry though. The reason its been beat up is because its been sitting in some other missionaries' apartment for the last eight months. I only put a couple dents and scratches on it ;)
Here's my address:
1727 Thompson Place #605
San Antonio, TX 78226
I'm happy that our family and extended family are doing well. I am doing well with my health. I think its been a while since I took my Reliv but I eat healthy. I haven't ever been sick enough to be stuck in the apartment. Just like before my mission, the only times I puke are when I run too hard. For some reason my stomach seems to be pretty weak in that regard. But anyways I am lovin it and livin the dream. I love you all and hope for the best.
Con amor,
Elder Gray

Thursday, June 24, 2010

I'm getting transferred. Its crazy because I feel like I just got here. Time flies. We have knocked a good portion of this area so I won't miss that part of the area. But as I've been here longer I have grown to love everyone more and more. I will miss them. But my new area is going to be even more awesome than this one. We're just going to blow everything out of the water. I really like going into new areas and getting new companions because you can start over new and be whoever and whatever you want to be. But anyways this week was really awesome. We taught 30 total lessons and Randy got baptized. Both of those, especially the baptism, were big accomplishments for us. His kids haven't been baptized yet but Jordyn wants to be baptized. I am confident that they will all be baptized within a couple months or sooner. Randy's wife enjoyed the baptism. It was a really neat, spiritual and personal baptism. The bishop gave Randy an FHE manual and wants him to be ordained to the priesthood as soon as possible. The ward is excited for someone as solid as him to be baptized. He is a really Christlike person and he follows the spirit very well. There is a sister in the ward that has every church app on her I-phone and so she helped Randy to get a bunch on his. There is an app with all the church manuals, standard works, hymns, just everything you can think more!
So today we are going to a place called Buffalo Wild Wings and we are going to do their blazing challenge. You have to eat 12 buffalo wings in 6 minutes. They are drenched in super hot sauce. You get an awesome t-shirt if you win. All the missionaries that have tried it have succeeded, so hopefully I don't break that chain.
Yes the chickens have sharp talons. I'm not sure if it rains much in the summers here on average. It was super dry last summer and this year it has rained a bunch more but not much in the last week or two. From what I understand, we are just barely south of tornado alley. So we can get tornadoes (last spring we had one touch down and then another time we had a tornado watch), but its not too common, I haven't seen any in person. You should tell Erik to send me the ultimate blizzard. That would be tasty ;) That's awesome that you are doing that 21 day thing Mom. I love hearing about how you all are continually improving spiritually. Keep it up and I love you all.
Elder Gray

Monday, June 14, 2010

This week was a really awesome week, especially the end part. We had another good week with lots of lessons and that sort of thing. Then yesterday after church, one of the assistants to the mission president, Elder Palmer, came with us for the day. He is going home in a couple weeks so he is spending a day with half a dozen different companion ships. We were super excited for him to come with us. We only got to work with him for the afternoon and evening, but we got a lot of work done and the spirit at all the lessons was amazing. Elder Palmer is a super missionary. We started off by visiting a member. It turns out that he was about to give up on trying to convert his mom but the spirit really helped him want to keep on trying. After that we went to a lesson that we had scheduled. We could only stay for a couple of minutes but we have a return appointment tonight for a longer visit. It went really well for the short time we were there. After that we went down the street and talked to people and knocked on doors. Almost every contact was positive in one way or another. A couple people let down their guard when we thought they might not. We met a girl that has been taught by missionaries before and was super excited to see us. We have an appointment with her on Wednesday. Everything we did turned out well. We all learned a lot in the short time that we worked together. From this experience I was re-taught how the spirit can teach so much better than anything else, in our own personal problems as well as the lives of others. We set some goals to improve in the next week and I know that we will accomplish them. It was a really awesome experience.
Randy and his two kids are set to be baptized on Saturday. They are coming back from Michigan. So as soon as they are back we are going to finish up teaching them and then they'll be baptized. Its so exciting to see people accept the gospel and change their lives.
Quote: "The best antidote I know for worry is work. The best medicine for despair is service. The best cure for weariness is the challenge of helping someone who is even more tired."
-President Gordon B. Hinckley
Elder Palmer gave us that quote. I know its true. I know that Gordon B. Hinckley was truly the prophet of God at that time and that Thomas S. Monson is now the prophet of God on the earth.
I love you all so much and hope for the best. Keep up the good work and stay awesome.
Elder Gray

PS Good job on medaling in the Summer Games Justin. Erik, good job for keeping pushing. And dad, I'm jealous of your halibut ;) LoL

Monday, June 7, 2010

Stake Conference

So this week we had some pretty good success. We didn't do as well with finding new investigators but we had a couple people come to church. Randy and his two kids are going to be baptized on the 20th of June but they are out of town right now. They are visiting some of their family in Michigan. They won't be back for another seven or eight days. We are praying for them because that is a long time without being able to go over and talk to them. There is another family that we are teaching. They have six kids. The dad and one of the sons came to church. They are going to come next week too. Hopefully the rest of the family can come soon.
It was stake conference but they did a web cast to our building. Its amazing what they can do with technology these days. In the adult session on Saturday they talked all about missionary work. I really liked it. Someone told a really good story about James E. Talmage. Basically, he helped a family with a deathly illness when no one else would. Everyone was too scared of getting sick and dying. The house was super dirty and just crawling with infection. He helped clean up the house and take care of the family. One of the little girls he held until she passed on. She was coughing blood all over him but he wouldn't let that stand in the way of trying to comfort her in her dying breaths. He would get minimal sleep and then come and help even more. After it was all over he quarantined himself from his family. He didn't want them to get deathly sick too. He ended up getting sick but was over it in a week. Look up that story somewhere. I missed a lot of details and its really one worth reading. I really appreciated learning more about such a great man. In the general session they talked a lot about temples. It was also really good.
Dad, how was the fishing in Alaska? Did you catch anything big or have a bear steal your dinner? Haha. I really enjoyed going up there back a couple of years ago. They some memories that I'll never forget. Thanks for your testimony about tithing. My companion was excited about Justin doing percussion. Me too. Good luck in the Summer Games. Thanks for the pics. I love you all and I know that the church is true. Keep building your foundation on Christ and you can't go wrong.
Elder Gray
PS If Erik finds that Emmett Smith cassette, keep it. I would like to make a copy of it someday when I am home.