Sunday, April 15, 2018

I Am Ready to Roll

Hola! Man it was a great week! It was one of those weeks where you are so grateful to be a missionary. It was a super busy one and a super stressful one, but it ended with a huge bang. Man I am pumped to tell you all about it, but first I must repent of last week's transgression and wish my favorite sister a Happy Birthday! Happy 27th birthday L Cat! Man, you are getting old. Thanks for being one of my best pals and for being the greatest sister a young man could ask for! Love you cuh! 

Lets get to it.

First of all, this week was transfers, so we spent the whole week running around trying to make sure all of the missionaries were going to the right place, and making sure there wasn't any problems with the companionships. We spent the good parts of Monday and Tuesday behind a computer screen and talking to every companionship in the mission. It makes for a long couple days, but it is good to talk with everyone and learn more about all the missionaries. Thursday is always a stressful day, we had to coordinate the transfer meeting and divvy out all of the phones to the MLC. It has been quite the headache dealing with all of these phones. Luckily, I will only have to deal with them for a couple months. Elder Sampson also got transferred on Thursday as well. It was tough to see him go, but he is close by serving in a Spanish Branch, so I still see him like every other day when we play basketball in the mornings. I am pumped to serve with Elder Wood though, we have already had some fun experiences. He is most likely my last companion on my mission, which is pretty weird to think about, but he is going to be a good one to end on. No complaints.

I am sure a few of you have seen me on Facebook haha. Man what a mess that is. From what I said in my first post and probably my only post on Facebook, I won't be able to message you or talk at all on Facebook, but feel free to send me stuff, and I will respond on P day via email. It is so weird being on Facebook again, it is even crazier to see how different everyone looks over the past year. So many people are married, it is so crazy. I guess we will learn as we go on how to use that stuff to baptize people.

Speaking of! My man S got baptized this week! Holy cow I love that man. It was one of the cooler baptismal services that I have ever been to. He is such a solid convert and I am so grateful that God allowed me to be a part of his story. Another African member of the ward baptized him and it was such a cool experience. S got up at the end of the service and bore such a killer testimony. He had a lot of his friends and family there, so this man threw down some doctrine. He is going to be a general authority someday! He talked about how he was a lost sheep and that he is now home. I recorded his testimony so I will try to send it over to you. At the end, he said "I am here, and I am ready to roll!"  He gave us all African shirts to wear to the baptism so of course I will attach a picture of the get up. I will be wearing that thing every day when I get home. Be prepared! The ladies are going to flock to that kind of style just wait. President Badger actually confirmed him today during sacrament meeting as well. When we asked Steve who he wanted to confirm him, he wasted no time and said that he wanted President to do it. It was a really powerful confirmation as you can imagine. President Badger is the man. 

We went golfing as well this week. I think the course that we played was similar to Augusta National, and I am certain that the level of competition was the same. Man it felt good to swing a golf club. It took me a few holes to get back in the "swing" of things lol gotta love Dad jokes. I really don't have too much else to report on. This week is going to be another wild one. We are distributing all of the phones out to the entire mission and I have to organize my first MLC. Pray for me! I am excited though it is going to be a great week. 

I love you guys. Keep being the best.

The Elder Dressed like a Liberian,

Elder Obray

The Man Himself
Watch out for this squad on the PGA tour

Sickest shirt I have ever received

Sunday, April 8, 2018

Facebook Your Fear

Hey Hey Hey! First of all, I know what you are thinking, "What a creative subject line," but I can't take credit for it, that was the title that President Badger chose for the upcoming transfer. Pretty classy I think.  This week was a good one, there are some massive changes headed our way in the mission, so I am all kinds of nervous and stressed about it, but it will all work out. No worries. Shout out to Bob and Jen for hooking me up with some good classes and a place to live at Utah State. It is a dream come true. Lets get to it.

We got to go to the temple again! It is hard for me to believe that it was six weeks ago that we went last. Man I love that place, one of the highlights of the trip was picking up my new companion, Elder Andrew Wood from Modesto, California. He is the man. Elder Sampson is getting released and is heading back into a Spanish Branch here in Des Moines. I am going to miss that man, we have had some fun together, but he won't be far away so I will still see him all of the time. Elder Wood and I knew each other pretty well before he got called, so I was pumped to be his companion. We will most likely be companions until I go home, so I have officially received my last companion and am serving in my final area. Pretty bitter sweet honestly. Don't have to worry about that for a while though. Four months is plenty of time! :)

Update on my dude S. He passed his baptismal interview yesterday with flying colors. He is getting baptized this Saturday at four o'clock. You guys should make an appearance! There is another Liberian member who has been a great fellowshipper who is going to be baptizing him. He is going to be such an awesome addition to the ward. He is such a stud. His wife is going back to Liberia next month and she told us that she is going to bring us back some African clothes! I couldn't be more grateful. Yesterday after his interview, I was talking with him and asked him what his favorite music was. He instantly laughed and said, "Country!" Yep this man is a cowboy. He loves the Zac Brown band and Kenny Chesney. I almost cried. I thought it was so funny. He is such a boss.

An update on our other solid investigators, W and C, we are still working to help W and Brother W to get married, but we had a great lesson with them this week, so we are expecting big news by our next appointment. They are an awesome family. 

We have been doing transfer planning all week, so that is about it by way of missionary work stories and updates. We received our smartphones this week! Pretty wild to have a smartphone in my hand again. We are just learning how to use them and what we can do with them right now. Elder Sampson, Elder Wood and I put together our Facebook profiles the other day. I have four friends right now, so you could say I am getting pretty popular. Please don't add me though, as much as I would love to be your Facebook friend, I cannot accept it. Hopefully this doesn't harm our relationship. Expect more pictures though! I am excited to be able to take good pictures on my phone again. I have been taking a bunch of selfies with people, so expect a lot of those in the upcoming months. 

Sorry I don't have too much to report on. This next week is going to be wild with transfers and the baptism, so expect a cool email next week! Love you guys!

The Facebook Famous,
Elder Obray

Elder Wood and Elder Obray? More like Joseph and Hyrum (at Carthage Jail)

The Assistants

Sunday, April 1, 2018

Small and Simple Things

Hey Hey Hey! LETS GOOO! A temple in L Town? That is what I like to hear! You know I will be hitting that thing up every time I come home on the weekends! Man I am so pumped. This conference was incredible. One of the most exciting conferences I have ever witnessed. It definitely seems like there is more urgency these days. As usual, I will tie in small cute thoughts at the end. We had another great week. Lets hop right into it.

This week was solid, on Tuesday we drove over to Iowa City for the new trainers/new trainees meeting. This is basically an opportunity for President and Sister Badger to train the new missionaries and trainers and help them accomplish their purpose. Elder Sampson and I got to role play a companionship inventory. We basically just roasted each other for the entire time and talked about the importance of having them. Solid stuff. We then drove up to one of my past areas to clean an apartment out. It was weird being back in Cedar Rapids, I am happy to announce that the place is still dirty and ghetto. I had a lot of fun in that area though. Some of my favorite memories were made tracting those streets. 

I got to go on some more exchanges this week with some zone leaders. Unfortunately, I didn't get to exchange with Elder Balderston, I went with his stud companion Elder Fox. We were in the same MTC district so it was cool to be around that man again. It is cool to learn from the leaders of the mission. All of the missionaries have unique talents and it is fun to be around all kinds of different teaching styles. Good stuff for sure.

We had another awesome lesson with my guy S this week. Sorry he is the only one I talk about these days, I promise we are working with other people, but nobody is nearly as cool or as solid as he is. He is so ready to be baptized. I am so excited for him. He is only a couple weeks away and he is already inviting his friends and family to be there. What a legend. He told us this week that he threw away his coffee pot and hasn't had any coffee for almost two weeks. What a man. He makes me so happy. He is probably the second most solid person I have ever taught. Q in the lead of course. He and his wife P came and watched conference with us today at a member's house. He also invited us over to his house last night for a family reunion. It was sick, we were early so we could catch the priesthood session. By the time we left, there was a whole squad of Liberians partying in that place. I will lob you guys a picture. I sure love that place. 

I don't have too much time to write tonight so I will conclude this email with the promised thought.
Doing the simple things that the Lord has commanded will help us prepare for the Second Coming of the Lord. Elder Oaks gave a killer talk about doing the small and simple things in order to have the spirit in our lives. The better of the two Obray boys once taught a profound lesson that has stuck with me since. In Matthew 5:48, we are commanded to be perfect. Trevor taught us that in this life we cannot be perfect in all things, but we can be perfect in some things. Reading the Book of Mormon everyday, personal prayer, tithing, and trying are all things that we can be perfect at in this life. We learned that these things are what will prepare us to meet God.  In the conference there was some killer announcements that "unfold the restoration of the gospel" and bring us closer to the Second Coming of the Savior. One of my favorite parts was a simple statement by President Nelson: "Keep His Commandments and we will be alright." I know that the small and simple things will prepare us to reach our "Celestial Potential."

I love you. I will be sitting right by your side to watch the next conference. I can't wait! Can you stream conference to the boat? 

The Small and Simple,

Elder Obray

The only ties at the dump

Squads all here (S is the man between Elder Sampson and I)

Sunday, March 25, 2018

A Mighty Change of Heart

Hey Hey Hey! Man it has been yet another killer week in the promised land of Des Moines. It is insane how fast the weeks are flying by. I feel like I email you guys like every other day. We announced some crazy stuff to the mission this week so of course I will update you guys as well. Got a lot to talk about, so lets get right down to it.

First things first. My girl D entered the waters of baptism this weekend!! WAHOO. She is such a cool lady. From the pictures that I will send, it kind of seems like she hates everyone, but she is honestly one of the nicest ladies I know. She is such an awesome human. It was a great service. I saw her today at church after her confirmation. D is really good at making dresses, so she had made a dress with a bunch of pictures of Jesus on it and wore it to church! It was so sick. I am going to have her make me a shirt with the same pattern on it. She was so excited and seemed so happy. I am so grateful that the Lord crossed our paths a few months ago. It will forever be one of my favorite finding stories of my mission. Man I love Liberia. I have officially decided that I will be taking a trip there someday. I have a bunch of friends here that offered to go with me and introduce me to their village. It is going to be so sick. 

S came to the baptism as well and we got to have a lesson with him with the Badgers at the church. Man I was super nervous, I didn't want President to reconsider his decision to call me as one of his assistants. The lesson was awesome.  At one point S was pretty much bearing his testimony of his conversion to all of us, President Badger said "It feels like you're home doesn't it?" S excitedly said yes. Man I cannot wait for that man's baptism. It can't come soon enough. He is pretty much a member already, we even set a goal for him to go to the temple a couple weeks after his baptism. We are so pumped for him. 

I got to go on a couple exchanges this week with some zone leaders from around the mission. It is a pretty cool opportunity to learn from these guys. We hit the pavement hard for a couple days and were able to find a whole bunch of new people to teach.  My child, Elder Balderston will be in Des Moines this week. Stay tuned for the killer stories of the father and son reunited. 

Soo like I said, Elder Sampson and I were informed a few weeks ago that our mission is going to be receiving smart phones... We announced it to the mission this week, so it is official. We have a a few meetings with Salt Lake City to learn more about it and when they will be coming, but they are coming soon. It is going to be pretty wack to change the way we do missionary work a little bit, especially given that I only have a few months left. I am excited for the change, but I am also nervous. It is going to be quite the process and will really change the way we do things here in Iowa. I am hoping that it doesn't happen, but my companion and I might become the technology specialists as well, meaning that we will be in charge of helping all the missionaries with phone problems. Pray that that doesn't happen, because that would mean even less time in our area. We are excited for the next phase. President is pretty apprehensive about it all, but it will be good. You know I will still be reading my paper scriptures though.

We had a really cool lesson in Elder's Quorum today and I want to share some thoughts that stuck out to me. We were talking about the story of Ammon and King Lamoni (one of my favorites) and also Aaron and Lamoni's father. We all know the story, but at one point of the story, Ammon has Lamoni's father's life in his hands. King Lamoni's father says "...If thou wilt spare me I will grant unto you whatsoever thou will ask, even to half of the kingdom" Fast forward a little and Aaron has just taught this man some doctrine and Lamoni's father feels the spirit and is changed. His whole attitude changes and he says "What shall I do that I may have this Eternal LIfe which thou hast spoken?... Behold, said he, I will give up all that I possess, yea, I will forsake my kingdom, that I may receive this great joy." These scriptures are so profound to me because before Lamoni's father received a mighty change of heart, he valued his life as half of his kingdom, later when he is changed by the Spirit, he is willing to give up anything, even his entire kingdom to receive this joy of eternal life. I think that all of us must experience something similar. In the New Testament, the rich young ruler was asked by the Savior to sell all that he had and give to the poor. Although he was keeping the commandments he was asked to change his heart and put the things of eternity above the world. God promises us endless joy and happiness with our families and sometimes, like Lehi's family, we are asked to leave Jerusalem, but when we are truly converted to the gospel there is nothing that will be more important to us than to receive eternal life. 

That thought got a little longer than I intended but true happiness comes when we put the things of Heaven above things of this world. 

I love you. Have a great week.

Soon to be technology specialist,

Elder Obray

Sunday, March 18, 2018

Celestial Potential

Hey Hey Hey! Man, it was been a wild week over here in the promised land. It has been one of the more spiritual weeks of my mission so I am super pumped to talk to you all about it. Lets get right to it.

I finally found a new suit. Definitely had a spiritual prompting to try a different store right as I was about to purchase a more expensive less classy suit. I got a 600 dollar suit for 250 bucks. What a miracle. It is a pretty nice Navy Calvin Klein slim fit suit. It was marked as 40 percent off, but then there was a special deal running that if you donated a dollar, you could get an extra 30 percent off. No complaints. When you are on the Lord's errand, he hooks you up. 

We had some really cool lessons this week. The first one I will talk about, is our awesome investigators W and C. They are a part member family here in the ward. W is living with a member in our ward so we have been working on helping them get ready for baptism. We have taught them a bunch of the lessons and this week was the time for the Law of Chastity. It is always a super awkward lesson when you know the couple isn't living the commandment. Elder Sampson and I went in with a member and got right to it. The lesson was awesome. The spirit was really strong throughout the lesson and we utilized a wonderful training given by a killer zone leader a few months ago about teaching about divine potential to help investigators live the Law of Chastity. We planned to have our ward mission leader who was with us and was their bishop for a while ask them if they were married and give them the counsel they needed. When it came time for him to pop the question, nothing. Elder Sampson and I scrambled to think of something to say and luckily the spirit helped us out. I testified of the power of forgiveness and the atonement and then Elder Sampson asked them when they would be ready for baptism. They are getting the marriage taken care of and are working towards baptism on April 14th. C is W's eleven year old son who is super pumped to get baptized. We are so stoked for them. Lets go! 

An update on my guy S. He is doing so great. He is making so much progress, he committed to live the word of wisdom this week. When we invited him to live it, he told us "I drink coffee every day, but I know that it won't be too hard to give up" He is doing so awesome. In his prayer at the end of the lesson he said "Father, I now know that my body is a temple, please help me to only put good things into so that I can have your spirit with me." That is what every missionary wants to hear after that lesson. He is the man. He is also working for the 14th of April. What a legend.

Remember my girl D? She is getting baptized this weekend. I am so pumped for her. She is the coolest, and the best part, is that because I am so close, I will be able to go back and be there for the baptism. I am so pumped for her! I love Liberian Iowans.  

The mission tour was a success. We had a great week. We had two separate conferences, so we got to go to them both. Elder Costa was great. He said some really wonderful things. We were really nervous going in just because usually the authorities come in and just wreck the mission. It wasn't too bad though. He was impressed by the Iowa Des Moines mission. He is from Argentina so at times I don't feel like he could express himself in the ways that he wanted to, but it was still good none the less. I learned some really good lessons from him. He taught very simply and definitely had the spirit with him. His story was really cool too, he shared about his conversion and the missionaries that helped him. Pretty similar to his conference talk last April. One of the things that really hit me, was when he said "Every day when you look into the mirror, remember that you are a child of God and that you have Celestial Potential." It was a really powerful moment, Elder Oaks has referred to missionary work as opening the doors to the Celestial Kingdom through baptism. It was a cool experience to feel the spirit testify to me of that truth about missionary work. I am grateful to be a part of it. For the most part, we didn't have too much of an opportunity to talk with him. He was all business, during meetings he was on a tight schedule so he didn't have too much time to talk. I tried to throw in a couple jokes during the conferences and he didn't seem to appreciate them. Nothing serious though. The Obray name is still honorable. 

I think my favorite part of being an assistant is interacting closely with President and Sister Badger, they are the greatest people (besides Bob and Jen of course). I have so much respect for President Badger. He is an amazing example of a Christ-like leader. Like the last mission tour we had, my favorite comments were from him. He told us, that our job as missionaries is to strengthen our own testimonies so that we endure to the end and live with our Heavenly Father again. He then said, we cannot fully achieve this purpose with out helping others return home too.
Our Heavenly Father's purpose is for all of us to receive Eternal Life, but He humbly asks for our help to achieve it.

Have a wonderful week. 

The Elder who can fit into a slim fit suit again,

Elder Obray

One of the conferences

Sunday, March 11, 2018

Men Are They That Might Have Joy

Hola mi familia! Elder Sampson has been teaching me some Spanish lately so I am basically a Spanish missionary. Look out, I might have a hard time remembering English when I come home! I can officially pray over the food in Spanish. 

 This week was a good one. So lets jump right into it. 

First off, we finally got to spend more time in our area this week. All of the drama of transfers is over, we have made all of the plans for the next little while so we got to get out and do some old fashioned missionary work. What a blessing. We found a plethora of people to teach this week that I am super stoked about. One in particular I am pumped about. His name is N and he is a Liberian/Indian. He is a stud. He has met with missionaries before and even attended church a few times. The best thing about him though is that he is living with a girl... But they are married! What the? That never happens these days. We are pumped to teach him again this week. He is going to get baptized no doubt. 

We have also been teaching a super solid guy named S. He is from the happiest place on earth. He is the man. We gave him a reading assignment last week to read 2 Nephi 2 and when we came back this week he basically taught us the Plan of Salvation and testified of how true our church is. Buckets! He came to church this week and is looking forward to baptism on April 24. He is married to a member too, gotta love the part member families! You guys need to see the outfits that Africans wear to church. They are so sick. I think I am going to buy one here in a little just because they are the coolest. Look out for me coming off the plane in an African get up. 

Elder Sampson and I had to do some traveling this week to close down some apartments. We just don't have as many missionaries anymore, so we are having to close down areas and shut down apartments. That means my professional mover title has returned. Gotta love it. We got to travel up past the promise land of Ames and of course all of the good memories of my time there came flooding back. If we plan a trip out here next summer, we will have to make sure to visit up there. It will be easy, because all of my favorite people are with in an hour radius. 

As I mentioned last week, we share a building with the Des Moines ward so I get to see my friends there every Sunday. Today, after our church ended I walked into their Gospel Principles class while they were setting up and got to see my favorite lady D! When she saw me she ran up to me and shook my hand and said, "Oh my I miss you!" She is the coolest lady. She is getting baptized next Saturday and I couldn't be more excited for her. Definitely one of my favorite finding stories of my mission. 

I have been thinking a lot this week about joy. I always think about what President Nelson said in the October 2016 conference, "saints can be happy under any circumstance." I love this so much because it is so true. The motto that I have taken on for my mission is the same as it was before my mission. "Attitude Determines Altitude." As members of the church, we have the Atonement of Jesus Christ and through it, any circumstance that we are in can be made a happy one. Our Heavenly Father's purpose is for us to return to Him, but I also believe that he desires our happiness and joy along the road. 

We have our mission tour this week, so I am super pumped to spend time with Elder Costa from the Seventy. Pray that I don't say anything dumb to embarrass our family. 

I love you guys! Have a great week. 

The Professional Moving Company,

Elder Obray

no pictures this week... I will take a bunch this week for sure!

Sunday, March 4, 2018

The Des Moines Resident

Hey Hey Hey! Not too many things bring a smile faster to my face faster than hearing that all is well back in the 801. I love you guys so much.  It was yet another great week in the promised land of Des Moines IA. I guess that I have really accepted the call to serve in the Iowa Des Moines mission. Who would have thought that I would spend so much time in the capital? I am pretty sure that I will be staying here for the rest of my mission, so it will round out to more than a year in the same church building and driving the same roads every day. I can't complain though. I love it here. This week was a wild one so I will cut right to the chase. 

On Tuesday, I got to go to the temple with all of the departing missionaries. I almost forgot how incredible the temple is. I haven't been through the entire temple since the MTC, so it was a definite breath of fresh air. The temple is such an amazing place and is truly the House of the Lord. Gotta love it. It is about a four hour drive to the temple from Des Moines, and I got to drive my girl Heather again. Man what a blessing. I think I am going to invest in a Ford Transit when I get home. What a machine. The temple president is married to one of President Nelson's daughters... Yes the Prophet's daughter. He is so awesome. He helped us out when Q went to the temple for the first time with us. Anyway, he took all of us up to the bell tower in the Nauvoo temple and talked to all of the departing missionaries. When we were up there, he said a few words and invited us to sing. Of course we sang "We thank thee o God for a Prophet." It was awesome because he backed right into the space next to me, so I got to sing about our wonderful prophet, with our wonderful Prophet's son in law. It was pretty rad. The spirit hit me real good.

The next fun experience of the week was when we got to pick up all of the new missionaries form the airport. Man, it was a humbling experience talking to them. It feels like just yesterday I was coming off of the plane in Des Moines so excited for the work. We had some great missionaries come out. We got to hang out with them and then send them off to their new areas the next day. 

We also had transfers this week. Man, I am so grateful that those are over. It was a fiasco planning this one. We had to close six areas and join four zones into two. It was a huge headache that I am grateful is over. I just pray that all of this stress won't accelerate my hair loss. Luckily everything went super well. Definitely looking forward to more time in our area this week to do the real work. 

On Thursday afternoon, we collected all of the departing missionaries and brought them back to the mission home. One of those departing is my good pal and trainer Elder Dunford. It was sad to see that man go. He is such a stud, and I learned so much from him. He is safely back in San Diego now, but man I will miss him. We had a cool experience to be a part of the departing testimony meeting. It was a really powerful meeting. After which we had to stay up and babysit all of those going home. Don't want anyone hugging or holding hands or any of that nonsense. We didn't get back to our apartment until like one o'clock. We then had to set our alarm for four o'clock to be up to take them to the airport. Man it was wild, but don't worry President Badger approved a nap for us that day. It was magical. I haven't had one of those for a while haha. 

I am finally almost done reading Jesus the Christ. I have read it on and off on my mission but I decided that I needed to finish it. One of my favorite scriptures is in Isaiah 49:16 which says: "Behold, I have graven thee upon the palms of my hands; thy walls are continually before me."  I have loved reading Jesus the Christ because it goes into a lot more detail and expounds upon the sacrifice that our Savior made for us. Words will never be able to describe how grateful I am for Him. I know that He lives and that he is mindful of every one of our needs and desires. He truly is our greatest friend. 

Have a wonderful week this week. I love you! :)

The Des Moines resident,
Elder Obray