Tuesday, October 17, 2017

The Changing of the Seasons

Hey Hey Hey. It is definitely cooling down over here in good ole Iowa. The leaves are changing colors and the sweaters are coming out. I am so excited to break out my scarves here in the next little bit. Nothing makes me feel like a man more than wrapping a scarf around my neck. I am sad to hear that the boat is going into storage for the winter... Maybe the next six months will be an opportunity for me to catch up on the body I need to have by the time it comes out again. So, think of it as a blessing, for the both of us! This week was a lot slower than other weeks in Des Moines. It was pretty frustrating for us. I guess there really is opposition in all things. I knew it was bound to happen one of these weeks. But I will jump right into it. 

First off, I am sure you are all dying to hear about how the training went at Zone Conference. It went really well. We were really excited about how it went and we got a plethora of compliments, mostly from all of the sisters that have a crush on my companion, plus a couple from the senior missionaries, can't ask for much more than that! Like I said last week, we trained on overcoming the concerns of investigators. We emphasized using the Book of Mormon to help investigators conquer addictions, and solve concerns. Do you guys know how much I love the Book of Mormon? Man, it is so good! 

The rest of the week was pretty bland. A bunch of our investigators literally disappeared. We had a super solid investigator who when he came to church was quoting scriptures from the Book of Mormon during gospel principles class. We were super stoked for him and he was pretty much ready to walk in to the font after his first week at church. When we went over to his house later that week we talked to his girlfriend who is also the mother of his unborn child. She told us with a moment of hesitation that he "left". She had no idea where he went but she was adamant that he was no longer living there. What the? We were super bummed. Plus, his phone is turned off, so there is no way for us to find him. People sometimes kill me! Hopefully a miracle will happen and he will randomly show up one of these weeks. 

The investigator I told you about a few weeks ago who we were trying to help learn to read has also disappeared. He hasn't answered any of our phone calls or texts. He lives in a locked apartment so we can't even try to stop by either. We are super bummed about these two. I guess it is just time for us to get out and find some new people. Our finding efforts have been pretty weak lately because we have been teaching so much, but now we will have a lot more time on our hands to find the elect. Hopefully the Lord will hook us up. So, if you don't have anything to pray for, pray that investigators will appear for the Des Moines Elders.

We do have a few investigators who are progressing really well though. E and R are both doing great. They are so excited for their baptism coming up on the 28th. She asks every time we go over about when we are going to bring her white jump suit. They are such a sweet family, I will definitely be keeping those boys on my radar when I get home. They have gone through so much. They are such good kids. Whenever we go over, we suddenly become a jungle gym and they are always jumping on us. We taught R about repentance the other day and he said the sweetest closing prayer I have ever heard. It is great to see an 8-year-old realize how much our Heavenly Father loves him. 

I love you guys and hope this week is marvelous. Expect some killer finding stories next week!

The Jungle Gym,

Elder Obray

p.s. Transfers are already around again (can you believe it?) Elder Milligan and I are pretty sure we are sticking together, but you never know these days. Stay on your toes. 

We signed a contract to model for the 2017 Ford Transit.
If you were a gas station, you would be a...

Monday, October 9, 2017

Solve for Baptism

Hey Hey Hey! Before I get into this great week, I have to admit that when I logged on today to find out that you all went to Lake Powell this week a little part of me died. Elder Milligan's family has a nice boat so he is constantly torturing me with sick memories of his boat. I am not trunky, but the thought of boating almost brings tears to my eyes. I sure am excited to show off my marshmallow shaped and colored body on the boat when I get home! You guys are in for a treat! :) If you guys have any cool pictures or videos, I would definitely be down to see them! 

It was a fantastic week here in Des Moines. It seems like the number of bad weeks have dramatically decreased, the bad days still come, but it seems that they don't get to me like they used to. Missions are pretty cool. The first exciting event that happened was that my guy E got baptized!! It was awesome, he puts off the tough guy persona, but you could tell that he was so happy. It was great to see. It has been awesome to see the changes that he has made in his life. When we first starting teaching him, he barely believed in God and he was a huge fan of the boos, he was in a gang in high school but these days he excitedly tells us that he is looking forward to church that weekend. He is the only one in his family that is religious so he has definitely overcome a lot of opposition to be where he is. Elder Robley came back to baptize him on Saturday and I got to confirm him on Sunday. It was a great weekend. 

E and I have become pretty good friends so whenever he sees me, he stops and says, "Are you good bro?" then he gives me a hug. It is cool because the relationships we make on missions are eternal. I am so grateful that I had the opportunity to teach him.  I told him that I want him to come to my wedding, so he is going to be working for the temple here in about a year. We are stoked for him. 

I have some bad news... My hot streak of no traffic tickets has finally ended... Des Moines does this thing where they set up cameras in super random places so if you are speeding anywhere you are bound to get a picture and a ticket a couple days later. I don't really have a quality excuse, Heather (our van) just has so much horse power that it is almost impossible to drive below the average speed limits of Iowa roads. Plus, we were running late for the priesthood session, I don't know where the divine intervention was but I guess I needed to be humbled. 

We had a pretty cool finding experience this week. We conducted some exchanges in the Hermana's area this week to help them find some new investigators. We exchanged with a couple of the Spanish elders in our district, so I got some great practice telling people that we were missionaries from the church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints in Spanish. I am pretty much fluent now. But Elder McConnel and I were driving around looking for people to teach when I felt prompted to knock on a specific street. The first door we knocked on, a woman came to the door and when she saw us at her door she started to cry. She told us that she has been feeling that there is more for her to do. She has cancer and was expected to pass away months ago. As we taught her, she was glued to the idea of baptism and excitedly accepted our invitation at the end of the discussion. We are super pumped to go back and teach her some more. 

Elder Milligan and I are training tomorrow at Zone Conference, we came up with a cool formula for resolving common concerns with investigators. Just like usual math equations, there are specific formulas and steps we need to take to fill in the missing variables. Everybody has these unsolved variables in their testimonies. Our job as missionaries and members is to apply the proper steps to help these people identify and solve their missing variables. We are calling it "Solve for Baptism." It is going to be pretty epic, we are pumped to give the training. I will let you know how it goes next week.

Besides the baptism, the week was pretty standard. I love you guys, have a great week.

The Marshmallow,

Elder Obray

Monday, October 2, 2017

Christmas in October

Hola! Isn't conference weekend the best? There were so many awesome talks this time around and I am so grateful for the spirit and the feelings that come to us as we listen to the Lord's chosen servants.  We had yet another fantastic week here in the Capital. We had some pretty crazy experiences too that I am stoked to tell you all about. Of course, there will be a cute spiritual thought at the end so buckle up. 

First experience was after the Priesthood session the other night. Instead of the normal expedition to Texas Roadhouse, one of the sisters in our zone hasn't been doing too hot so we went over to give her a blessing. After talking with them and the blessing we took off back to our apartment. When we were leaving the parking lot we saw a ton of flashing lights and noticed a group of people pretty close. When we got closer we noticed that there was a man lying on his back... Yep he was definitely dead. We freaked out but luckily the police and the ambulances were already doing work. Des Moines is a crazy place sometimes.

We met this guy this week that the Sisters found finding. They called us one night and were super stoked about him... When we contacted him, he sounded like one of those investigators that is too golden to be true. After we talked to him for a little bit, he brought up the golden concern. He only wanted money from the church to pay his rent. We were pretty bummed, we brought a priest with us and he was so stoked about how awesome the lesson went but we knew we had to drop him.  Pretty sad deal. He acted very interested in our message up until we told him that we couldn't give him any money. I am super surprised how much that kind of stuff happens.

We had a great conference weekend. We watched the Saturday afternoon session at the Mission home. Sister Badger made Cafe Rio pork and tacos. It was a blessing and a half (Mom it wasn't as good as yours though so no worries). It was a great conference. We ended up watching the Sunday afternoon session with my favorite family we are teaching. When we got there, they were all ready to go and excited for us to set up the conference for them. One of the kids, R turns 8 this month so I asked him what he wanted for his birthday. He looked at me and told me that he wanted to be baptized. Ugh I love little African kids, I am pretty sure I am going to adopt one. We are going to try to work it out so he can be baptized on the same day as his Aunt. We are so excited for them. 

Also, our other investigator E is doing great. He is getting baptized this weekend! We are so pumped for him. He has his baptismal interview tonight so definitely keep the guy in your prayers. He is going to be an awesome member of the church. He is one of my favorite people I have taught. We are best buds, he told us that he is going to take us down to Mexico with him next year. I am definitely up for it. 

One of my favorite things about General Conference was the obvious emphasis that was put on the Book of Mormon. President Eyring, President Nelson, and Elder Callister all had fantastic talks about the importance and validity of the Book of Mormon. One of the greatest blessings that I have seen from serving a mission is a more sure and firm testimony that the Book of Mormon is the most true book on the planet. Although I have read through the New Testament and am currently reading the Old Testament, I always feel like there is something amiss when I don't spend time reading the Book of Mormon. It truly is the keystone of our religion. It holds everything that we claim in the balance. I am so grateful for Joseph Smith and sacrifices that he made to help bring the Book of Mormon forth. I know without any doubt in my mind that the Book of Mormon is the Word of God and the only explanation of its coming forth is the one given by Joseph Smith. I too know that as we set time aside every day to read the Book of Mormon, our lives will be better, our attitudes will be happier and we will have an increase of peace and love in our lives. I am forever grateful that I got to travel to Iowa to find that out for sure. 

I don't have too much else to report on. I did get yet another bad haircut this morning. I came to the conclusion that if the place has the word "clips" in it, it cannot be trusted. I might as well just raise the white flag and surrender already and buzz it off.

I love you guys and I hope you all have an excellent week this week. 

The Elder with the weird hair,
Elder Obray

Monday, September 25, 2017

What is Your Legacy?

Hey hey hey! It was yet another great week here in Des Moines. We had a pretty busy week with all kinds of different things and unfortunately, we weren't able to teach too much, so this email might be a little lame but as always, I will try to rock your world with the life of Elder Obray.

Elder Milligan and I are doing great! He goes home here in a couple of months so we talk a lot about girls and a lot about music so it has kind of been wrecking me a little bit but all is well. We have a lot of work to do here. I don't think I have had as much in common with any of my companions as I do with Elder Milligan. I am pretty sure we would have been in the same circle of friends back home. Pretty sweet. Can't complain too much. We did a Japanese face mask thing the other night so I will make sure to include some pictures. 

The first week of the new transfer is always pretty busy for us. We had to travel over to Iowa City for a MLC. It is always a pretty fun day. We spend the majority of the day in a big meeting with all of the other ZLs, STLs, the APs and President and Sister Badger. It is fun because a lot of my buddies here in the mission were also at the MLC so it was great to see all of those guys. President and Sister Badger trained a lot on leaving a legacy as a missionary. They asked the question, when all is said and done on your mission, what do you want your legacy to be? It can also be applied to life in general, when the clock strikes zero on our life's scoreboard, how do we want people to remember us? It caused a lot of deep thinking, you all know I am a pro at that.

We also had interviews with President Badger and Sister Badger, it makes for a long day for us, but it is always good to sit down and talk with the Badgers one on one. President Badger and I are growing to be buddies. We sat and talked for a good while. I have so much to learn from that man. It is awesome getting to serve here in Des Moines close to them. 

We have spent a lot of time working out living situations in our area. We suggested that an area be white washed (two new elders replace the sisters that were serving there) and it has caused some problems with the apartments. Basically, our apartment was taken by the new elders and we were forced to find a new one and move all of the old sisters’ furniture into our new apartment. We also spent a long time cleaning the sisters’ apartment, I have come to the conclusion that I don't want to get married. Girls are gross sometimes, man. I have never seen so much hair in my life. But we are finally done and it is behind us. What a blessing. We are finally all moved into our new place and Elder Milligan and I are utilizing some sweet bunk beds. THERE IS SO MUCH ROOM FOR ACTIVITIES! It is cool because I have the top bunk so I can practice my high jump approach every night just to get into my bed. I won't be missing a beat when I get back! 

We had a little bit of a slower week at church with investigators coming, but my guy E is still on track to get baptized on the 7th. He is doing great. It has been awesome to see the changes that he has made in his life. We went over the baptismal questions with him the other day and he passed with flying colors. He is such a stud. I can't wait for his baptism. We also have another woman who is getting close, she is getting baptized on the 21st. She is the woman I talked about a few weeks ago with the cute little African boys. The Lord is blessing us! 

I don't really have too much to report on this week. I will do my best to have killer stories for you guys next week. I love you guys and I hope that everything is going great back in the 801. Have a great week.

The Elder on the top bunk,
Elder Obray