Sunday, July 1, 2018

Just Floating Away

Hey Hey Hey! Man what another great week. I feel like this week was incredibly quick, but looking back it feels like I emailed you guys like two months ago. We were super busy this week and all kinds of good stuff went down, so I will waste no time and get right to it. 

First of all my man N got dipped in the water yesterday! We are so pumped for him. He is the man. From what they told us, the baptism in Texas was a success. My friend M didn't end up getting baptized... She was really nervous about getting in the water before hand, but we thought it would be alright. No worries though, she has all kinds of time to get baptized. She is the coolest little girl. We are so pumped for that family. It has been a really amazing experience teaching them. We are looking forward to many years ahead of good friendship. They are definitely a family that I will have to visit whenever I am traveling through the Midwest! 

The departing temple trip was this week as well. It is always a good experience to sit down in the temple and think about holy things haha. The temple is a place of so much peace and I am so grateful for all of the amazing things that happen in temples. Hoorah for a temple in L Town!

Instead of traveling back to Des Moines after the temple trip, Elder Wood and I drove even farther into Illinois to meet all of the missionaries coming from the Chicago West mission. We held a short zone conference and met all of the great missionaries we are getting. It is going to be a little wild getting everyone moved over and acclimated to a new mission, but they were awesome missionaries and I am excited to serve with them for the home stretch of my mission.

The rest of the week was spent transfer planning. It is always a fun week to spend a lot of time with the Badgers. They are the coolest people around. I am really going to miss them when I go home. Never fear though, I have already discussed snapchatting Sister Badger to keep her updated. I am so grateful that I have had the privileged of serving close by them for so long. They are amazing. It is crazy to me that I am headed into my last transfer as a full time missionary. Yep..

Last thing, last night, we working on some stuff for transfers when we started getting phone calls from missionaries who were stranded in their cars. There was a huge storm yesterday which flooded a lot of the major streets here in Des Moines. Elder Wood and I got in our trusty vehicle, the van Shaylee, and hit the road. We spent the next few hours trying to help missionaries get back to their apartment and trying to help other people get their cars out of the road. We finally crawled into bed last night around 1. Man I was so tired, but it was quite the adventure. I only took one picture though.... Hopefully you will forgive me. It was a pretty cool experience though! Gotta love the Midwestern rain storms! 

That is about it this week. I hope things are going well back home. I will see you all in a few weeks! Love you

Just Floating Along... Literally

Elder Obray

Sunday, June 24, 2018

The Pursuit of Happiness

Hello hello! What a week here in the promised land. I am really having a hard time thinking of ways that I can keep these emails exciting. I feel like after about 94 of these emails, I am running out of creativity. It was a wild week though, so hopefully it will be a good one. Oh I'm about to dive in!

We had zone conference this week... It is always a pretty stressful week filled with long car rides and long days in meetings. It was successful though. We had great conferences and I felt the spirit for sure. I had a lot of those Walter Mitty moments driving to Cedar Rapids, Waterloo and Iowa City. The next time I make that trip to all of our zone conferences, I will only have a couple weeks left as a full time missionary. Ahh can't think about that too much or it gets me in the feels. I have really been impressed with how pretty Iowa is lately. Man I am so excited for you guys to see it someday. Something about the hills of corn and the sunset. It is definitely a different kind of beautiful, but I sure like it. 

We spent Wednesday on exchanges with some stud missionaries in Manchester, Iowa. Yep that place is booming with life. My companion for the day, Elder Broby, and I knocked a couple towns. One called Coggin and the other called Ryan. I am pretty sure they had the population of our cul-de-sac, but it was a fun experience. 

Update on the coolest investigators on the planet. The Bw are all set for their baptism this weekend. Their baptism is this Saturday and we couldn't be more stoked for them. M (the eight year old) gave us "tickets" this week for being the best missionaries in the world. She is the cutest. We went over the baptism interview questions with them this week and she knows her doctrine too. We are so pumped for them. Definitely feeling real grateful for the privilege that it has been to teach them. 

Today at church, I saw my girl E in the hallway. She is doing really good as well. She is so much happier than she was when we first started teaching her. Whenever I see her she always tell me how blessed she is. She is the greatest. I love that family as well. Man I am getting all sentimental already.. This is no good. 

Elder Wood and I trained on finding happiness in the work. There are a lot of missionaries in the mission who I feel are just going through the motions until their time is up. We really stressed that the time of missionary service is a time to enjoy. My big one liner for the training was "Called to Serve not Called to Survive." I know that I have had some of the happiest times on my mission. The Lord's work is a happy work that is for sure. 

On a super happy note. I found my camera this week! Someone turned it into the Stake Offices after the last zone conferences and it has just been chilling there. How about that? 

Have a great week! I love you!

You can still call me Walter,

Elder Obray


Matching at zone conference. We planned it.

This little man got lost today at church. Elder Wood captured this super candid picture.

Sunday, June 17, 2018

Three Cheers for Three Steves

Happy Father's day Poppa! You are the man. I am incredibly grateful for a dad like you. Some of the best times were spent with you and mom at the movies or post basketball game talks and track meet pep talks or days on the golf course. Words will never be able to describe how grateful I am to have two amazing parents who are my best pals. Thank you for your incredible example of what a father should be like. I will do my best to follow that example throughout my life as a father, brother, son and a man. You are the man Bob. Man I am so grateful for all of you guys. I can't wait to give you all a hug in a little while. 

Man the weeks are getting better and better. I was talking with President Badger the other day and I told him that I feel like the highlights of my mission have been happening recently. The book ends of my mission have proven to be the times when I have grown the most and have experienced the highest moments of my mission. The great thing is I still have 61 more days to have more killer experiences. I can't wait for all the good stuff in store.

On that note, I think that my mission is complete. I don't know if I could ask for anything else while I am here. It is official. S the third has entered the waters of baptism and I couldn't be more excited. He came up from the water and had tears streaming down his face. He is the man. He has made so many changes in his life and he has definitely been prepared for this for a long time. If I haven't shared the story about how we started teaching him, remind me to next week. Answers to prayers for sure. Unfortunately, we haven't found another S yet. But hope is not lost. We won't be able to do too much more finding this transfer, but I know there is another prepared S waiting for a tall scrawny high jumping missionary to knock on his door. 

We had a really cool experience this week with some of my favorite people. The Bs are doing so well. They are such a great family and I'm real excited for them. My man N came to church today with a white shirt and tie. Looking like a high priest. After our lesson this week, we were all just joking around and N was talking about all of the other missionaries that he has shut down in the past. He then talked about how if it had been any other missionaries, he probably would have told them the same thing. He then said something along the lines of, "Because you guys are the way you are, I decided it was worth a shot". Man that is what every missionary wants to hear. Remember what I said about high points of my mission? I am so grateful to teach this great family. 

I am sorry that my emails are getting shorter, actually I am sure that is probably a good thing. I used to write some novels... Have a great week this week! 

I love you! :)

A grateful missionary,

Elder Obray

The man himself, S the III

He told us his name was Jolly Sun Dog. Respect.

The Bs, the coolest people ever

Sunday, June 10, 2018

Pig Farms and Empty Gas Tanks

Like every other week, it is a good week to be a missionary. We had some cute experiences this week that I am excited to share. I really can't believe that it has already been a year since Grandpa passed away... It seems like yesterday that I was sitting in our house in Cedar Rapids reading his obituary. I am forever grateful that I got to grow up with a grandpa like him. He was an example of hard work and love that I will strive to emulate in my own life. Larry is the man. 

I will start this email with an explanation for the subject line. Elder Wood and I were cruising back from Waterloo, Iowa. We had to clean out an apartment there and we checked out their district meeting while we were there. On the way back, we were about an hour north of Des Moines traveling between the booming cities of Ellsworth and Jewell, Iowa. I looked down at our gas gauge and it said that we had 18 miles left in our tank, and that the closest gas station was about 9 miles away. I got a phone call from President Badger which distracted me and I didn't even think about the trailer of furniture we were pulling and how much more gas you need to use so long story short, we ran out of gas at the mid way point between two gas stations. Luckily we ran out of gas right next to an off ramp, but instead of coasting right into a gas station like we did that one time on our way to a soccer tournament, we coasted into the next best thing. A pig farm. Unfortunately the pig guy wasn't very much help, so we began our 5 mile trek to the closest gas station. After about a half mile, we came upon the only house within sight and of course, perfect timing, a woman on a cart came cruising from her backyard. She luckily had a 5 gallon tank of gas and gratefully she hooked us up. Man I was so grateful. She was my hero. She saved the day. Of course we didn't have much to give her in return, but she graciously accepted a Book of Mormon. Who knows? Maybe she will get baptized someday. Fingers crossed!

In other news, our investigator family that I have talked about a little bit, the Bs, are doing so great. The husband is hilarious and he is taking all of the right steps to get baptized here in the next few weeks. We are a little bummed though because they told us that they are going to be traveling down to Texas to be baptized... the wife has family down there so they decided to take a short trip down there for the service. I mean I am not that upset, but I would definitely love to be there. Who knows? Maybe Pres will approve the road trip. haha yeah right! We are stoked for them though. They are such an awesome family and we are stoked for them. 

In other news, my man S the third is getting baptized this weekend. He is the man. We had some really spiritual lessons this week and we are super pumped to help him take this step. He has told us many times that he knows that this is the right church and this is the right time. He is the man. We need to find a new S now. The hunt is on!

I really don't have too much else to report on this week. Just livin the dream out here. Today marks 22 months as a missionary so that is pretty wild. I got an email this week about "my plan" which is basically a training you do in the last six weeks of your mission. Things are heating up a little bit. I don't know what to think haha. 

Have a great week this week. Luv u lots

Future father of a son named Steve,
Elder Obray

We got a new ride this week. Embracing the soccer dad theme from last week.

Sunday, June 3, 2018

Steadfast and Immovable

Hey Hey Hey! It was yet another great week here in the Capital. I am at that point in my mission where I am just cruisin, doing what I can to baptize people. I was reading my journal the other day and I always get all sentimental about my mission. I will forever be grateful for all of the good times I have had and also for all of the rougher times I have had. Missions truly are the coolest thing. I am grateful that I have had the privilege of serving one.

I really don't have too much to report on this week. MLC was Tuesday and that is always a day that gives me stomach trouble. It went well though. Elder Wood and I trained on serving with integrity. Mosiah 5 hits it right on the head when it says that we should be steadfast and immovable, ALWAYS abounding in good works... It isn't just when we are around our mission President, or church leaders, but our attitude towards the gospel and our works should be the same in all things. We felt like it went well. It is always good to hear from missionaries that it was a good training and that it helped them. 

Elder Wood and I conducted some exchanges this week in our area, and I got to serve with my old comp Elder Anderson for the day. He is a Zone Leader close by. It was cool to serve with him again. He has changed a lot since we served together more than a year ago. He is still a punk, but he has become a good missionary. We had a good time pounding some pavement and all that jazz. 

Update on S the third. He is doing great. He announced today in Elders Quorum that he is getting baptized on the 16th. We concur. He is an interesting fella for sure, but he has a sincere desire to put his old life behind him and start fresh. Baptism is the best way I can think of to do that. 

A big emphasis in our training was avoiding complacency. It is really easy to think that my faith is strong enough, or my testimony is strong enough, or my current efforts in my calling is enough, but I have always thought that if we are not progressing, we are digressing. True conversion is a lifelong pursuit, not a destination.

Sorry this email is lame, I commit to having a killer email for you all next week. Take it easy!

Love you

Pavement pounder,
Elder Obray

Add caption

Preparing for the future. "Super Dad"

Wednesday, May 30, 2018

Miracles Dude

Whats up fam fam? Man what a week. Transfer week is always a wild one, but there were some super killer experiences this week that I am excited to report. Super pumped that you guys got the boat out already. Bummer to hear that J Dog took a hit. It reminds me of that one time we were playing volleyball as a family and I kicked the volleyball and totally wrecked mom in the face. Yikes. There is nothing worse than physically hurting your momma (or momma in law). It has definitely taken a turn for the worse here in DM. The temperature shot right up this week and I feel like I am living in a sauna. It is so crazy. We were helping some members move a play ground thing yesterday and I felt like I was swimming in my slacks. No bueno. All part of the experience though right?

The first miracle to report was in the office. On Monday morning during our staff meeting, President Badger informed us that our mission secretary, Sister Martin was diagnosed with cancer and would be returning back home. We were so bummed to hear it. She is the greatest lady. They caught it pretty early, so it shouldn't be too bad fortunately. That being said, we needed someone to replace her and Elder Martin. We were kind of scrambling for some ideas on who could fill the job, when President said, "I have faith that someone will be here in the office tomorrow to do the job, I don't know who it will be, but someone will be here." Pretty wild right? It gets even better, before the meeting was over, President got a call from a nearby stake president who said that he had people he called, and that they would be in the office for training the next day! So crazy! It was one of those, man this church thing is so true. Definitely an experience that I won't forget any time soon. 

Transfers went just swimmingly this week. It is always good to know that everyone made it safely to their new area and that you didn't mess too many things up. The morning of transfers, President informed us of some surprises that complicated things a little, but it all worked out. Good stuff for sure. Elder Wood and I are staying together... Good stuff, we are best pals, it is always the best to be doing the best work with a buddy. 

We saw another super cool miracle finding this week. We have still been on a major hunt for a prepared family, unfortunately the family I talked about a few weeks ago is struggling a little bit, so we set out to find a different one. We felt impressed to stop by a family that we had never heard of. When we got there, we found a single mother of two who is more than excited to see us, weird, that never happens. As we talked, she started to cry and told us how much she needed a change in her life. She told us that as soon as we left she called her very active parents in Minnesota and they have been praying for this day to come for a while. The prayers of the faithful right? She and her two teenage kids came to church today and are progressing so well. We are pumped for them. We are also working with that other awesome family I talked about last week, they also came to church and are already talking about their baptism in July. The Lord is looking out for us for sure. My man St the third is also looking really good to be baptized in a couple weeks. Blessings on blessings on blessings.

Gotta love being a missionary.

Thats about it for this week. We went bowling again with President Badger and Sister Badger, they were a little embarrassed when I started crying over the 50 that I bowled, but all is well. Haha just kidding, I think I have actually gotten better. I bowled a 174 a while back. No more messing around!

Love you guys! 

Elder Obray

This is Sister Badger's phone. She said that we are definitely the "LDS tools." We agree.

The Martins before they headed back to Tennessee.

Lost but Not Forgotten

Hey Hey Hey! Right? Super dramatic/cheesy subject line. To be honest I am starting to run out of creative things to write in my emails. It was the best to talk to you guys last week. Man I miss you so much. The Badgers had a couple of their daughters here in town for a couple of days and it sure made me miss just sitting around the table laughing with you guys. Some of the best memories were spent in our living room or on our deck after Sunday dinner. Crazy those are getting pretty close! I am definitely grateful that you guys are the ones that are stuck with me forever. I love you.

 We had a killer week this week with a bunch of wild spiritual experiences. So lets get moving.

First things first, we spent a lot of time this week planning transfers... It is a really cool experience. The Badgers really love the missionaries. Transfers are really cool, looking back, I am really grateful for all of my companions, I learned something from every single one. A few times that "something" was patience lol but I needed it.

Second, the subject line isn't that dramatic, but I am definitely bummed about it. I left my camera at a zone conference last week and it hasn't shown up. I haven't backed up my pictures since I was with Elder Milligan so I probably lost like 500 pictures... Sad deal. I left it at a church, so I don't feel like it could have gone very far, but the missionaries in the area have looked for it already. I hope it turns up.

We had a really cool experience on Monday. We finished P Day and were out and about trying to find someone to baptize, when Elder Wood said "Man I wonder how the..." before he could finish, I turned the car around and we were on the road to a part member family's house. Same wave length. She is a less active member and her husband is not a member and they have a daughter who isn't a member either. When we got there, we knocked on the door like five times because we could hear them right inside the room and wouldn't take no for an answer. Luckily they invited us in and we started teaching them the gospel. They are an awesome family. She opened up about some things in her life and the spirit was there. It was great. We will be back every Monday until they are sealed together as a family lol.

Another fun miracle happened with my dude S the third. He is the man. We taught him one really short lesson at a baptism last Saturday. We had a lesson on Friday with him and he told us that he had already quit drinking coffee and tea, and that he was working on quitting smoking. He is super prepared. I think I am morally obligated to name one of my kids Steve now. Something special about that name. He is looking to get baptized next month.

We had some other really great people show up that we are really excited to work with. Gotta love being a missionary.

Things are good these days. Can't complain, Elder Wood and I set some lofty goals for the next couple of transfers, so expect miracles every week from now until August 17th! Have a great week this week I love you!

The Steve Baptizer

Elder Obray

Cute sunset pic in front of a huge city

This wall painting looks just like President Badger

The man himself. We matched for one of the zone conferences. Didn't even plan it.