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

Wednesday, December 27, 2017

I'll Be Home For Christmas

Hey Hey Hey! Man, I can't tell you how great it was to see you all this week. I always come away from skype calls with a reminder of why I am a missionary and a renewed enthusiasm for the work. If I haven't said it before, just know I think you guys are the coolest people on Earth. Thank you so much for everything you guys do. You will never know how much I love you. 

This email will most likely be pretty short because we talked a few days ago. Elder Milligan goes into the mission home tomorrow and I am pretty bummed. I am sure going to miss that guy. He has become one of my best buddies out here and I am sad to see him go. Luckily he will only be down the street at UVU. We already have plans for double dates and boating trips. 

S's baptism was awesome, we had a great turn out from the ward. He was so excited to become a member of the church. It was great to see. He is going to do amazing things in the gospel. We have already set a goal for him and his wife to be sealed a year from now. You already know that I will be making the trip back here! 

I talked about the Holy Ghost at S's baptism and gave the analogy of a wide receiver on a football team. When a receiver catches the ball, he is expected to continue moving towards the end zone, not just catch it and stand there. I compared this to when we "receive" the Holy Ghost. We are expected to use the Holy Ghost and continue enduring and running towards the end zone or eternal life. Sometimes the adversary will try to tackle us or make us fumble, but luckily we have lead blockers like prayer, scripture study, temple worship and church attendance to help us get there. Gotta love sports analogies.

One of my least favorite Christmas songs on my mission is "I'll Be Home for Christmas" because I feel like it is mocking me because I obviously haven't been home for Christmas lately. I am happy to say though, that it is back on the top of the list because I can honestly sing that song and know that I will actually be there this time. Can't wait to celebrate with you guys!

That's about all I have for you guys this week. I will be emailing again on Tuesday so expect some killer stories of the adventures of Elder Obray and Elder Hadfield taking on Des Moines.  

Love you.

The Long Snapper for the Lord's football team,

Elder Obray

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Father and Son

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The Greatest District in the Land



Monday, December 18, 2017

Looking a Lot Like Christmas

Hey Hey Hey! It was yet another great week in the promised land of Des Moines. The trio life is going pretty well. We are getting the hang of things together so we are super pumped for the upcoming transfer. It was another super busy week. The first week of the transfer is always jammed so we spent yet another week doing a lot of administrative stuff. Lets get to it!

To start off this email I want to give a great update on our guy S. He is so awesome! His baptism is this Saturday and I don't know if I have ever met anyone with a greater desire to "Feast on the Words of Christ." I mentioned last week that he finished the Book of Mormon and started the Doctrine and Covenants. When we went over a couple days later he told us that not only had he finished the D&C, but he had also finished the Pearl of Great Price. That man is so solid. He is one of the only people that I haven't had to worry about coming to church on their own. We call him on Saturday and he has already made plans every time to come to church the next day. He has a simple testimony that I think all of us could learn from. He is so excited to be baptized this weekend and we couldn't be more excited for him. Elder Milligan is stepping into the font for the last time on his last Saturday in the mission field. What a great way to finish it off. I will spare the cute emotional stuff for next week. :)

In other news, we had MLC this last week. It is always a good time to travel to Iowa City to see a bunch of my best pals from the mission. Have I mentioned that my child Elder Balderston is a Zone Leader now? He is doing big things and I am so proud of that guy. He is serving in the zone next to ours so he comes to our P Days. I am actually sitting right next to him right now. What a blessing. 

We also had interviews with President and Sister Badger this week. It is such a blessing to learn from that man. As zone leaders, we have to help President conduct the interviews so we basically sit in the church all day and babysit the other missionaries. It is a lot of fun and a great opportunity to get to know the members of the zone better. We have a lot young missionaries in our zone, it feels like just yesterday I was in their shoes. Missions go by way too quick! 

In other news, we went through our area book this week and tried by a bunch of former investigators. We had some great success finding families that have been taught in the past that are now ready to progress towards baptism. We were in a lesson with a woman named I last night and she plans African weddings for the local Liberian community. She was showing us some pictures of her past decorations. I asked her if I could get on the waiting list for her to plan my wedding in a few years. She told me, "Only the best for my brother!" I hope you are all prepared for a traditional African style wedding! It is going to be legendary! 

We have been fortunate this year, the weather has actually been pretty nice so far. It is steady in the 30s so it hasn't been too cold yet. But I know that the bone chilling wind and humid cold are right around the corner. Luckily I haven't had to get my scarf out, but I have been wearing those Snow boats everyday. They are so lightweight and make me feel much more athletic, and agile. There hasn't been any snow to trudge through, but I am always trying to be prepared for the blizzards they are meant for.

I am so pumped to talk to you guys this weekend! After this week, there will only be one more round of skyping! How about that?

I hope you all have the epitome of a Merry Christmas. I will be there for the next one! Talk to you soon!

I love you.

A Proud Father,

Elder Obray
Chanman

"The Lineage"

A bunch of the guys I came out with reunited

The Collinwoods gave us the left over cake from their daughters birthday. No complaints

Monday, December 11, 2017

Three is Better Than Two?

What's up gang?! It is great to hear that it was a solid week back home in the promised land. This week was pretty crazy so I will get right to it. Because it was transfers, we weren't able to do as much work in our area as we'd like. But let's get to it anyway.

I have a testimony that God truly does answer our prayers. I am staying in Des Moines for another transfer! I am super stoked about it. Elder Milligan dies here in the next couple of weeks so they put us in a trio for the next little while. We have some great people we are working with so I am excited that I can stay in the area for the next little while to see their baptisms. Our new companion's name is Elder Hadfield, from the thriving metropolis of Elmo, Utah. I think that there were more people in my graduating class than there were people in his hometown, so that is pretty wild. He is a good guy, it is his first transfer as a Zone Leader so we are breaking him in. He joined the Kick a possum gang in his first week. Pretty impressive. Elder Milligan and I have gotten really close and we can do the cliche "Finish each other's sentences" thing, pretty cute. It will definitely take some getting used to with a trio, but we are excited.

Our investigator S continues to be the man. Like I said last week, he finished the Book of Mormon early last week, on the day he finished, he called us and said "Elders you need to come over I want to testify to you!" This guy is the man. When we went over a couple days later, he told us he was already 50 sections into the Doctrine and Covenants. His wife M is now fully active in the church as well. It has been pretty cool! We are excited for the 23rd. 

We are also still teaching my guy B. He is such a stud. He has a super cool story that he opened up to us about in our last lesson with him. He basically told us that there were some events in his past that inspired him to change his life and strengthen his relationship with God, then a few weeks later, the missionaries came along. We are so stoked for him. He is doing great. 

This email is pretty lame and I am sorry, but I will do my best to liven it up with the thought for the week. I have been reading the Gospels lately and just finished John. I was reading in Chapter 6 a few weeks ago and had a particular verse stick out to me. When Jesus Christ is feeding the 5000, the apostles doubted and said, about the loafs of bread, "What are they among so many?" Sometimes we are asked to do hard things that seem impossible, sometimes others seem more qualified for the job, we doubt and wonder, What am I among so many? The Lord will qualify us in every aspect of His work, just like He qualified those simple loafs of bread to bless the lives of so many.

I love you and I hope you have another wonderful week. Let me know if you need anything.

Stake Flag Football Legend,

Elder Obray 


LOL "Rake" University

Monday, December 4, 2017

All I Want For My Birthday

Hey Hey Hey! It was yet another great week in the greatest mission on earth. I am starting to feel like an old man! Twenty years old probably has felt better before. We had some great experiences that  I won't soon forget. The work was a little bit more frustrating this week, but of  course we did some other things to make it fun! I apologize in advance for this email. 

My birthday was one that probably won't go down in any history books. Elder Milligan is reaching the end of his mission so he and the other missionaries going home soon had their departing temple trip. So instead of celebrating with my pal Elder Milligan I spent the day in another area. There is a companionship who is turning around training (training a new missionary right after finishing training) in our zone and they are kinda struggling so I decided that I would conduct a blitz in their area. I know all too well what it is like to be training a new missionary too young with a struggling area.  It was a pretty successful blitz. We had three companionships working in their area and we found a plethora of new investigators for them to work with. We are excited to see the fruit. 

So that was definitely an interesting part of the day. There is a ZL in Ankeny (a suburb of Des Moines) whose companion was also on the temple trip so we exchanged for the morning. He hurt his foot the day before so he decided he needed to get it checked out. When we got there I decided I might as well get my sinuses checked out. It turns out the Elder I was with had a fractured foot, I got the treat of a sinus infection. So I guess all I want for my birthday is a sinus infection. Don't worry though I got the proper medication and it seems to have gone away already. No complaints.

There has been a possum hanging out right by our apartment. A couple months ago we were sitting in our apartment and saw this possum chilling on our porch. We named it Marvin, a couple weeks ago we got back from a long day and saw in our headlights our guy Marvin just chillin. Elder MIlligan jumped out of the car and decided he was going to try to kick this possum. It has kind of become a thing that when ever we see him one of us has to kick Marvin. I am grateful that this week I joined the Kick a possum club. Poor guy. He ran off like he was fine, I didn't get him too hard. Kinda fun though haha.

Just an update on our investigator S. He is doing so good, that man is pretty much in the font already. He finished the Book of Mormon this week. He read it so fast! He knows that it is true as well. What a guy! He came to church again yesterday and announced to everyone that he met that he is getting baptized on the 23rd. No complaints! We are stoked for him and his wife.

Some other highlights include, going furniture shopping with E,  celebrating at Texas Roadhouse with the boys, an excellent birthday dinner from my favorite family, the Collinwoods, holding hands with an African American woman while we prayed together, and getting a high priest handshake from an Ethiopian gang member. 

Transfers are this week, we are almost positive that I will be sticking around for another to kill off Elder Milligan. We will probably be in a trio for a couple weeks until he goes home, but I guess you never know. I really don't want to leave this place. I love it here. I will keep you posted.

I hope you all have a great week this week! Take it easy! :)

Love you.

The Elder in the kick a possum club,

Elder Obray