Monday, February 12, 2018

Six Months to Sexy

Hola mi familia! We went on another Spanish exchange this week, so you know I have to throw in some of the Spanish I have been picking up. Truly blessed to teach in English haha. Man, this week was quality. We had some major opposition, but ended the week with a bang. I am stoked to tell you all about it. 

First off, I officially hit my 18th click day. That means the dreaded six months to sexy has begun. It is time for me to stop eating so bad and actually work out hard in the mornings instead of doing a few crunches and a push up. I have already shed a few pounds so before you know it, I will need to get new white shirts. Partly because they are turning yellow and have stains all over them, but more because my muscles will be too big to fit in them. Just wait! I don't really know how to feel about this milestone, but I guess I will continue to do what I am doing and see what happens! 

We started off the week pretty solid with big hopes for the week. We had interviews with Pres Badger on Tuesday which is always a huge blessing. On Monday night, we got pounded with snow so the Ankeny ZLs ended up staying the night with us. Man it was so fun. Long story short, I ended up eating glue, Elder Dunford had to do a snow angel with his shirt off, and another Elder got pelted with eggs in the parking lot. It was a lot of fun! They played a pretty wild prank on us later in the week that I will have to tell you all about when I get home haha. Parental supervision is advised! 

We had a super rough day on Thursday. We stopped by to see our man C (the fifteen year old from Tanzania who bore his testimony) he was doing great, but was a little hesitant when we invited him to work for a date to be baptized. Long story short, he asked his pastor uncle about rebaptism and got an earful. We are super bummed that we won't be teaching him anymore, but I am confident that he will be on the church records here in the next few years. He is a good kid. 

My man R is doing great! He continues to progress. We taught him the Word of Wisdom this week and he is excited to quit smoking. He has to be off it by this Saturday, so keep that man in your prayers. He is such a stud. One of the kindest humans I have ever met. 

One of the main highlights of the week was our African feast with M and A. They are so cool. M spent several hours Saturday morning preparing the good stuff. This time we ate some more Fufu of course, which wasn't as bad as last time, but was still pretty wack. M speaks much better English so she taught us how to eat it right. We didn't use forks or spoons, but we ate traditionally, with our hands. We are supposed to take a piece of Fufu and dip it in the Palm Butter soup (which had fish, chicken. crab, shrimp, and fish head in it) and basically pop it in your mouth and swallow. No chewing, but we got used to it. It was a much better experience than last time. We also had a dish she called Potato Greens, which is the leaves of potatoes mashed up with spinach and fish. It was really good actually. They put it over rice so we got to avoid the Fufu with that one. What a blessing. It was awesome. She told us that she would be feeding us some other good stuff here in the next few weeks. 

We saw a miracle last night. The sisters in our area gave us a referral for a man named H. He is from my favorite place on the planet. This man is sooo solid. It was one of the most spiritual lessons of my mission. We taught the restoration and he loved it all. He was asking all of the right questions so we set a date with him to be baptized in March. This leads right into the spiritual thought of the week. There is nothing I love more than reciting the first vision to people. It seems like every time, no matter what the circumstances, the people pay attention and everything else seems to disappear. Yesterday when I was talking to H about it, I felt the spirit stronger than usual. I know for sure that what we were teaching him is a true experience. Joseph Smith did see the things he saw and heard the things that he heard. I have walked where he walked and I know with out any doubt, that he was a chosen vessel to restore the true church of Jesus Christ to the earth. I am grateful everyday that I can share that happy message with people. 

That's about all I have to update you guys on. The fourth quarter has officially started so look out for the best plays of the game coming here soon. I love you guys! Have a great week.

The Fufu eating American,
Elder Obray



Monday, February 5, 2018

HAPPY BIRTHDAY!

Hey Hey Hey! I want to start this email by wishing two of my favorite people on the planet Happy Birthday! As soon as I logged off last week I knew I forgot something. You two are the coolest cats around. Man, you guys are getting old. Trevor, Bob I am so grateful for all of the great times that we have had together. I am super pumped for many more golf trips, games of 21 in the driveway and ski trips with you guys. I am forever grateful that I have had two excellent examples of how to be a priesthood holder in my life. I have modeled a lot of my life after you two. I love you two. I will be there to celebrate next year.

This week will probably not go down on the list of incredible weeks on my mission, but it was still good none the less. It was a pretty standard, more frustrating than usual week for us here in the Capital. We don't have a ton of time to email today, we have been running around all day plus we are right in the middle of a blizzard so it has been a wild day. So this email might be a little disappointing, I apologize in advance.

I have sad news... We are having to part ways with our beautiful friend Heather. We found out this weekend that we would be downgrading to a Chevy Malibu instead... Man, I am going to miss the wonderful times with this sweet piece of machinery. All of the six point turns in the busy Des Moines roads, barely squeezing into parking spots and never earning any trust from the parents of the kids we talk to. She will be missed. But she eats too much gas and we are basically consuming our mission budget for gas, so they decided it was time to park her for a while. Ugh...

We had some cool things happen this week including one of our investigators named C. He is a fifteen year old kid from Tanzania. He is such a stud. During church yesterday he looked at us and said, "I am going up." This man barely knows English but bore a sick testimony on his first day at church. We are so pumped for him. He is teaching us some Swahili so watch out I will be fluent here soon. If it goes as well as the Chinese lessons went, I will be multilingual when I get home.

My guy R came to church again this week. He is such a stud. He is making some great progress. Who knew? Bible requests actually turn out well sometimes.

I got an awesome email this week from my man Q. He told me that he is doing super well over in China. He also told me a few months back that he met this girl in his Branch and he likes her. Long story short, they are still dating and he told me that they are talking about getting married in San Diego! Man, how cool would that be to be able to go to that man's wedding? I will have to convince him to wait a few months, but I think I have a good shot! Man, I love that man so much. He has been a member for more than a year now, so he is looking to receive his endowment here in the near future. I couldn't be more excited for him! Isn't missionary work the best?

I really can't think of anything else too exciting to update you on. We conducted a couple of exchanges in our area this week with our DLs. We worked super hard and were able to find a plethora of new investigators. Hopefully soon we can get them to church. That is the real test.  

I learned a cool lesson with prayer this week. We have been working real hard this week so when we get into the apartment I am always exhausted. My bad habit of falling asleep on the couch was not left behind in Utah. I have this recliner chair that I fall asleep in way too much. Basically this week I was thinking about how much I do this and how lackadaisical my prayers become as a result. In one of my favorite scriptures in Alma 34:39, it says that we must be watchful unto prayer continually so that the Devil will not overcome us. I have a testimony that when we make a conscious effort to have meaningful conversations with our Heavenly Father, he will direct us and help us in all aspects of our lives. Plus we will be happier, and who doesn't want that? 

I love you guys. I hope you all recover from all of the birthday celebrations this week. Don't get too crazy without me! 

The Third Most Attractive Obray Boy,

Elder Obray III

Monday, January 29, 2018

Flirt to Convert

Hey hey hey! You could have never guessed it, but it was another great week here in the promised land. Have I mentioned how much I love this place? I think that I am going to move to Africa when I get home, because Liberian people are the coolest humans on this planet. I have some fun stories for you this week so lets dive right into it.

I will start off with my favorite story of the week. We got a request from Mormon.org saying that someone wanted a free bible. We get these quite a bit, and usually they don't turn out too well. They often are just old people who clicked the wrong button and didn't know what they were signing up for. We called this mystery person but no answer. We quickly forgot about it and got back to work. A few hours later we got a text exchange that makes me laugh everytime I think about it. Man I am such an idiot. It goes as follows:

Person: "Is this u Jeremy?"

Me (Being stupid): "I wish it was Jeremy. Sorry sugar"

Person: "I am sorry I must of had the wrong number. God bless you and know that Jesus Christ is a prayer away and loves you. #live love laugh

Me (Saw this super dope opportunity to spread the gospel): "No problem. Jesus Christ is definitely the way. If you want to learn more about him and find more happiness and joy, check out mormon.org!"

Person: "Oh yes <3 Thank you so much. Amen! I actually requested a bible from them a week ago or so and am waiting for them to deliver the bible and waiting for a visit. God bless and may you have a humble blessed day, I also recently committed myself to Christ and I feel so wonderful very excited for what is to come and what he has in store for me in the future."

At this point I am pretty much dying because I am such an idiot. But this man R is super solid. Long story short we got it all straightened out that he was talking to the missionaries and that I wasn't trying to flirt with this man. We visited him Saturday morning and he came to church on Sunday. He is now progressing towards baptism in March. What a guy. 

We saw some other awesome miracles. Remember D? My favorite Liberian woman who I invited to baptism immediately? She is doing great. She is progressing so well. She is looking to get dipped on February 24th. She is so awesome. She is an older African woman so our lessons with her are always super exciting. This week, we got into her house and saw that she was watching TV. We asked her if we could have a lesson with her and turn the tv off when we noticed that she was watching Utah play Arizona. I am not going to lie, I was weak. I decided it was okay for a second to watch the last couple minutes of the game. Man it was a pretty wild game too. I miss basketball so much! Oh my goodness. I need to repent.

Last person to update you on. I can't remember if I have already told you about this, but we found this awesome family a few weeks ago. His name is A and her name is M. They are the coolest people on the planet, you can guess where they are from. When we first taught M, she told us that she had almost gotten baptized years before, but decided to wait a while. She is so sick, she invited us back to watch the NBA finals with her and A, knowing my rebellious nature lately I might have to take her up on the offer. She came to church yesterday and is on date for March 17th. She is cooking an African feast for us next Saturday so I will make sure to let you know how that goes in the next couple of weeks. Pray for me. 

Well mi familia that is about all I have for you this week. Some other highlights include: exchanges with the APs, MLC, musical number (went well), praying in Swahili, and lots and lots of peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. Love you!

The Elder who is losing weight,

Elder Obray

MLC with the brethren
My favorite little African girl

When we got the Cafe Rio Burrito

Monday, January 22, 2018

The Word of Wizzum is the Shizzum

Hey hey hey! Man, this week was definitely a wild one. I am excited to tell you all about it. I had one of the craziest experiences of my mission last night so most of the email will probably go into giving you the details on that. So lets get to it! 

As you seem to have found out already, they aren't getting rid of me yet. I guess I need to be in Des Moines for a little longer. There must be something that the Lord needs me to do here. I have some mixed emotions about staying in this area for another transfer. By the time this transfer is up, I will have been here for close to seven and a half months.  Pretty wild. I was emotionally separated from this area at the beginning of the week. I started saying goodbye to members and investigators. I had already started cleaning up my closet to make the packing process easier, but luckily didn't start packing. I thought for sure I was headed out. It is extremely rare to stay in an area longer than four transfers, but I guess President Badger can't afford to let me out of his sight. He needs to keep me in line. 

 I am excited to stay another transfer with Elder Hadfield, he is a good guy, we have close to zero in common, but it is all good, we are getting some great work done in our area. 

The entire week was spent mostly with getting missionaries sent home, and getting the new missionaries in our zone settled in. We had some big changes take place that I think will be good for our zone. Pretty wild thing is that there was a missionary who was born into the mission when I got here. In the time that I have been here, that missionary was trained and then he trained another missionary and he and his boy are both gone before me. I guess that is what I get. We also spent time in meetings and all that good stuff. What a week.

This all leads us to my favorite experience of the week. Elder Hadfield and I were out knocking doors last night, it was time for us to head in for the night, but we decided that we needed to knock on one more door... You already know it is going to be a wild experience from that intro right? As we knocked on this door (it was a duplex house) the man who owned the place next door stumbled out of his apartment and came and introduced himself to us. At first, I didn't recognize that there was anything odd about this man, but he smelled like alcohol. He invited us into his house because he wanted to chat. Of course we didn't think anything of it we just got excited that we got invited in. When we got into his apartment he turned the lights on and I finally saw this man's eyes. They were all kinds of red and his pupils were dilated. He was on another planet. I have never seen somebody so drunk in my life. He was unhealthily drunk. He asked us if we could help him get to the hospital for detox. He then gave me this book out of his pocket with his AA group numbers and his sponsors name and number. So of course I called this man up, he said that he would be there in 30 minutes, as we got up to leave, I felt like we needed to stick around and make sure this man didn't drink anymore, so we sat in an incredibly drunk mans house for close to 40 minutes trying to convince him not to drink anymore. At one point we asked him how much he had drank. He wobbled into his bedroom and brought back a half full bottle of Vodka. I grabbed it from him and told him that we would take care of it for him. Elder Hadfield then asked him if he had any more bottles. He led us into his disgusting room with all kinds of nasty stuff on the walls and we pulled out six more bottles of vodka. Holy cow I was disgusted. At one point he grabbed the half full bottle out of my hands and took another shot. I grabbed it back from him and dumped it all in his sink where I found a home made blunt. Man it was terrible. The poor guy was destroyed. I like to think that we helped this man out a little, because he was in real bad shape. Man if I didn't have enough reason to follow the Word of Wisdom I sure do now. Words can't even describe that mans condition. I guess I am glad that we were there to help. If you need more motivation to live the Word of Wisdom call me (or I guess email me for now) I have a laundry list full of experiences that will help. 

With that wonderful experience in mind, I want to close it down with a spiritual thought for the week. In Romans 8:31 it mentions, "...If God be for us, who can be against us?" In the days we live in today, it seems that the morals encouraged by the church are frowned upon and people are becoming more and more distant to religious worship and church attendance. I have become so aware that there are so many people out there that do not like our faith. The reasons for their hate are beyond me. I love this scripture because if we are on the Lord's side, we are never going to be on the losing team. We will always stand victorious if we defend the Lord's church and it's standards. We should never be afraid to defend what we believe.

Well that is about all I have for you this week. I am playing yet another song at MLC on the piano, serving so close to the Assistants has kind of made me their default musical number guy. I will let you know how it goes. I am playing my guy Trevor's favorite song "Be Still My Soul" I am sure it won't be anything close to your performances, but I will definitely do my best. 

I love you guys. Have a great week.

The stand in AA Sponsor,

Elder Obray


My favorite guy, C

I ran into my girl, Sister Cannon. She is the coolest!

The last P Day of the transfer


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Monday, January 15, 2018

Goodbye Des Moines

Hey family! It is a beautiful snowy day here in Des Moines. The temperature is a tropical zero degrees and my fingers are still warming up from the 100 ft walk into the library. Man it is way too cold here. 

Well this week is transfers, so I am already saying goodbye to all of my favorite people here in Des Moines. It has been such a blessing serving here, I have grown to love the people here so much. Yesterday we were sitting in church and our recent converts, E and R and the other kids walked in. They come every week, but every time I see them I feel this profound love for that family. I told them I was probably leaving this week and the boys covered their ears and told me that they weren't going to listen to me say that. We are headed over later today to say our final goodbyes. Man keep me in your prayers, it is going to be tough to say goodbye to that family. I truly love them. 

This week was spent like any other week. We found some great people. We were knocking these apartments when I got into my first bash in about six months. Man it was a shock to my system, most of the people here live in pretty humble circumstances so they are more than down to hear the message of Jesus Christ. This family opened up the door and smiled, the woman called to her adult son and he looked giddy. The discussion was pointless and frustrating just like all of the other bashes that I have gotten into in the past. This man was training to be "in the ministry" so he thought he knew the bible very well. There were so many times that he contradicted his own arguments. If only people would be humble enough to hear us out. Although we are only two young kids, we can help them find the answers to all of the things they are questioning. If they only knew man. As Elder Hadfield and I kept knocking we were discussing the conversation we had, when we knocked on the coolest lady ever. Her name is M and of course she is from my favorite place on earth. She invited us right in and we had a great conversation with her. She told us that she had almost gotten baptized in the past, but got confused with some of the doctrine and decided to wait a little. Now years later, she has a family and a husband. She is now ready to be baptized and come to church. We are pumped for her. She even invited us to come and watch the NBA playoffs with her when they go down. I might have to make the trip back here when those go down. 

Another fun experience happened when we were leading some exchanges in our area. I saw some apartments from a distance about three months ago and thought that we should come back and knock them. Since Thursday I have never been able to find them. On exchanges, Elder Orme and I finally found them. Man I felt like I was knocking in a foreign country. That place was crazy, we found some great people, and I even got to play a kid's guitar from Thailand. Who would have thought?

I would again like to express my appreciation for serving in this area. I am so sad to leave, but at the same time, I am ready for a change of scenery. I have been in this area for a real long time. I am excited for the new opportunities and for the people that I will get to meet. I will let you know where I am transferred to next Monday

I love you. Have a great week!

The Lonely Elder,
Elder Obray

Monday, January 8, 2018

FUFU!

Hola mi familia! Man, it was a solid week here in the promised land. Because I only emailed a couple days ago, this email will probably be a little short. We had some crazy experiences that I won't soon forget though. The work continues to go pretty well here in Des Moines. We are excited for the upcoming weeks and months with all of the great people that we have to work with. Lets get right to it.

Of course I need to explain the subject title. So do you guys remember that African woman I talked about last week, the one who I just walked up to and asked her if she would be baptized? Yeah she is the coolest human on the planet. She was really shy when we first started teaching her, but she is coming out of her shell and we are the best of friends. Her name is D, and she is from the happiest place on earth, Monrovia, Liberia. She told us last week that when we came over the following Saturday that she would have an African dish called Fufu prepared for us. I was stoked to try it, but man it was an experience. Basically, fufu is doughy bread stuff made of plantains, except they don't actually bake the dough, they just toss it in the microwave to warm it up. So it is basically like eating uncooked bread that tastes about 30 times more slimy and dense. To top it off, they add this broth made of chopped up pieces of tilapia, beef and chicken. It basically tasted like I was eating bread dough, covered in sea water and fish. It was crazy, I was struggling for a little bit to keep it down, she gave us a ton too. My mouth got used to it a little bit and I was able to finish most of it. It was quite the scene, two white missionaries sitting in a Liberian woman's apartment trying to choke down fufu and teach the Plan of Salvation while "Two and a Half Men" was playing on the TV. We eventually got the TV turned off and had a great lesson. She is so excited to be baptized. She came to church yesterday and is looking to get baptized in February. So pumped for her. She is feeding us again this Saturday so expect some more stories this week.

Another fun experience happened right after our adventure with the fufu. We stopped by one of our investigators to make sure he was still planning on coming to church the next day. When he came to talk to us, he seemed a little bit happier than usual and was pretty excited to see us. He told us he had company and invited us in to say hello. We were hesitant because of his weird behavior. We first saw two naked little Ethiopian boys that are always running around the apartment, but then we saw his company. We basically walked in to a hot boxed apartment. Man it was crazy, a cloud of smoke came over us. Long story short, he did not come to church the next day... 

Last story of the day, an Elder in one of the districts named Elder Toone (from Layton Utah btw) and I were on exchanges this week and were knocking these awesome apartments. We made it to the top floor and were knocking on this ladies door. As we waited, an incredibly drunk woman came stumbling down the hall and invited us into her apartment. We declined the offer to come in, but asked if we could share a card with her to look at when she was sober. She accepted and then asked if we could pray with her. She put her arms out (side note: prayer circles are definitely a thing here). People are always down to hold hands and pray, that's what we thought she was doing, but instead she put her hands on our biceps and started praying. Half way through the prayer, she started rubbing my arm and squeezing my bicep. Definitely gave me a boost in my confidence that I haven't lost all of my muscle. We busted up when she went into her apartment. Most action I have gotten in 17 months! haha

Thats about it to report on this week. I am going on exchanges with Elder Balderston this week so I am beyond stoked. Have a great week. Love you guys!

Liberian white boy,
Elder Obray
The famous "Grim Reaper Wall" It was a hit list for gangs back in the day
The delicious Fufu

Wednesday, January 3, 2018

Fifteen Below!

Hey Hey Hey! Happy New Year! Holy cow it is so crazy that 2017 is already over. I feel like that year flew by way too quick. Officially finished with the black out year, that is pretty exciting news don't you think? Sorry it has taken me a few days to email you guys, the libraries were closed on Monday and we had a zone conference yesterday so we didn't have the chance to email until right now. I have a bunch to report on so lets get right to it. 

First off, my guy Elder Milligan finished up his mission and is back safely in Eagle, Idaho. Man it was tough to see that guy go. We dropped him off at the mission home on Thursday and I won't lie I felt like I was saying goodbye to a brother (Trevor of course you will always be my favorite brother don't worry). It was a pretty sad feeling walking to our van with just the two of us, but of course the work must go on and we saw some great miracles as we got back to work. He is up to bigger things now as he searches for an eternal companion.

That brings us to Saturday, the temperature started to drop a little bit so we started to get a little worried about our missionaries proselyting. We don't shut the zone down until it gets below zero, so we went on. Our day was awesome. Remember that African lady I talked about during skype that I just walked up to and invited to baptism? She is so sick, we asked if we could come back the following Saturday and she told us that we could come back every Saturday! She is so awesome, she is cooking us some African food on Saturday so expect a sweet report. We had a bunch of great lessons with our investigators and we were stoked to have four investigators come to church the next day. They all committed to come and were excited about it. About an hour after our first lesson, we received a text that said because the temperature was going to drop so low, they had to cancel church. Yep. We had to call all of our investigators and tell them that it had to wait until next week. 

We woke up on Monday morning for P-day and found out that the temperature was at -15 base temperature and with a wind chill, it was in the 30-40 below range. Man it was crazy. You would go outside for two seconds and instantly your nose hairs would be frozen, breathing was impossible. It was wild. It stayed in the -5 to -15 range all day SundayMonday and Tuesday morning. It is finally warming back up a little bit, it is around 10 degrees right now and it feels like summer. What a blessing. Gotta love Iowa!

The next blessing came when Elder Hadfield and I were called upon to give a training at Zone Conference. I feel like I just gave a training last week! It was crazy, I guess that is what I get for spending so much time here in Des Moines. This time our topic was a little bit different. We got train on "Teaching the Law of Chasity." What a miracle. Man I was pretty ticked to be honest, but the training went well, we got several comments about it and got some good feedback. We focused on teaching investigators about their divine potential to help them overcome the temptations of virtue. I love D&C 121:45 when it mentions that as we let virtue garnish our thoughts...our confidence will wax strong before the Lord, I can't think of a sweeter blessing than that. 

I am really sad to hear about President Monson. I vividly remember as a young kid hearing him speak for the first time in the conference center. He was a counselor to President Hinckley at the time and I remember laughing so hard at parts of his talk. He always had such a happy disposition that is so admirable. He was the epitome of a humble servant and I am so grateful that he was the Prophet during my youth. I will always remember the last couple of talks that he gave a few conferences ago. He emphasized reading the Book of Mormon and being charitable, what better counsel can we receive from a Prophet of God? Study the word of God and help others. I know with no doubt that He is a prophet of God. 

I love you. Have a great week this week.

A Law of Chastity Expert,

Elder Obray


I can't think of a better reason to live the Word of Wisdom