Monday, December 26, 2016

Blink and You'll Miss It

NI HAO! For those of you that aren't expert in Chinese like me, that is a simple hello. Minus some accents and such but you guys get the point. I can't even tell you guys how great it was to talk to you yesterday. I sure miss those times just sitting around the table laughing with each other. Luckily for us those moments are only 19 months away. Maxwell is even cuter than I thought! Lindsay, Jonathan you guys did well! Trevor you're pretty cute too. 

Because I talked to you guys yesterday this email will probably be pretty lame, but I will still do my best to keep it lively and entertaining. This week was quite the week. We had the new trainers/trainee meeting in Iowa City on Tuesday. It is weird for me to think that I am almost half way through training a new missionary. Elder Balderston is doing great. He continues to settle in to missionary life every day. We laugh a lot too so that makes the pains of knocking on thousands of doors a little less painful. We also had Zone Training Meeting on Friday which is always a long day of meetings but it was good none the less. 

Just to give a quick update on our current investigator Q. He continues to progress. We had several lessons with him this week and he is beginning to love the gospel. We had a crazy deep conversation about evolution and space this week, which for the most part went right over my head. Q is a crazy smart guy so it is often pretty hard to keep up with him but of course I do my best. We asked him this week if he would do an American accent and he killed it. I haven't laughed that hard for a minute! We taught him more about the Atonement and he was stoked that he could be relieved from the guilt that accompanies sin. He expressed that he felt bad about things that he has done and we were able to tell him that all could be made right because of Jesus Christ. We are stoked for him to continue to progress towards baptism. 

One things I forgot to tell you guys last night was a pretty funny/embarrassing story from this past week. It was a late night last week and the temperature dropped pretty low and there was some intense wind so it was crazy cold. We were out knocking on some doors and we were invited in by an older couple. They immediately told us that they weren't interested in our message, but they just wanted to help us warm up a bit. I think the cold actually froze my brain too because I was trying to make small talk while we awkwardly stood in their entry way. He commented on how cold it was and I looked back at him and said "Yeah I could really go for a nice warm cup of coffee right now" WHAT! It was one of those times when I wish I could catch the words that proceeded from my mouth. Elder Balderston looked at me and laughed when I tried to tell the man that we actually didn't drink coffee and that I was just an idiot. Man, I swear sometimes my brain doesn't work. 

To conclude this email, I just want to reiterate how great it was to see you/ talk to you last night. When the screen went dark I had a pretty helpless feeling. The thought of waiting six more months to talk to you guys was daunting. I wanted to call back immediately after I hung up but of course I had to restrain myself. While I sat gathering composer, I felt an awesome wave of comfort come over me. I knew everything at home would be okay and I felt a rejuvenating feeling and new desire to share the gospel. I know that this work is the most important work that I could be doing at this point in my life. I love it. Although these next six months or even these next nineteen months seem like a crazy long time, it will only be a short time in the grand scheme of things. 

I love you guys so much. I hope things are as good as they seemed via skype. Have a great week this week. 

The coffee drinking missionary,
Elder Obray

There was a "free ice" stand so the Ames 2nd Elders decided it would be a good idea to pile a bunch on our porch. 

Monday, December 19, 2016

Baby It's Cold Outside... Real Cold

Man what a week over here in good old Ames. I will start out this email with a weather report. If I thought that I had experienced cold weather back home in Utah, I have never been more wrong. The cold here is like nothing I have ever felt before.  No matter how many layers you wear, the wind somehow works its way into your bones. It is incredible. All part of the mission experience though right? On Sunday morning, we woke up and checked the weather. At around eight o'clock it was thirteen below zero base temperature, but with the wind chill factor it was around thirty below. At that point the mission actually stops us from doing any tracting so we either go to set appointments or we sit in our apartment. Luckily we have had some appointments this weekend so we didn't spend too much time relaxing. 

In case you didn't know just how cold it is here, I will share this to give you an idea. I have been kind of sick this week and one of the symptoms has been a stuffed up or runny nose. One of the days we walked outside and I had a pretty runny nose. The snot in my nose literally started to freeze. It was incredible! I wrapped my feminine scarf around my face and knocked on the next door. I am such a trooper. 

Last night it got pretty cold again so we couldn't go out. We did the only logical thing that we missionaries could think of. We met together in the Ames 2nd Elder's apartment and shaved our legs. Man what a wonderful feeling. I will include some pictures of the experience. 

We had Zone conference on Tuesday so I was able to see Elder Dunford and Elder Zackrison as well! Man it was good to see those guys. Elder Dunford loves Des Moines. We sure had some good times. Because it was the Christmas Zone Conference, every District was supposed to make a skit of a Book of Mormon story. We did the "Roast of Abinadi" good stuff! I will tell you more about it on Sunday!

Our investigator I told you about last week is such a stud. He came to church yesterday and is now officially a progressing investigator. We are stoked for him. He finished his semester at ISU too so now we will be able to meet with him more. He even offered to teach us some Chinese. It's gonna be legendary. 

One thing I haven't mentioned before; we have a family in our ward and both parents are deaf. A lot of the ward members have picked up some sign language in order to talk to them. We were helping someone move this week and they offered to teach us! We got the OK from President Badger and now we are going to be starting sign language lessons! It is going to be way cool. I am stoked! Who would have thought that I would actually learn a little bit of a different language while serving in Ames? Good stuff. 

I can't even explain to you guys how excited I am to talk to you guys this week.

I will end this email with a thought one of my favorite quotes is by President Hinckley. He said "There would be no Christmas if there was no Easter." How true is that statement? During the holidays, it is so important to celebrate the birth of Christ, but it is even more important to remember why his birth was so significant. The life of Jesus Christ and the Atonement of Christ is the reason that Christ's birth is celebrated. I am grateful for the Savior every day.  If you want to read a cool scripture, read 2 Nephi 9:41. That will get you in the Christmas spirit. 

I love you guys so much. Have a great week. Merry Christmas!

The soon to be Multilingual Elder,
Elder Obray 

In case you were wondering, this is how you write Chandler in Chinese.

Monday, December 12, 2016

The Devil Shall Send Forth His Mighty Winds... Literally

What's up guys?! Holy cow what a week. Life is real good over here in Ames. If you have paid much attention to the weather over here in Iowa, you will see that it got pretty chilly this week. The cold weather was humbling for me because it helped me realize a few important things. The first is that I have absolutely no idea how to wear a scarf without looking like I should work at Nordstrom or Banana Republic. Any advise on how to wear a scarf in a manly way? The second thing is that the key to happiness is warm toes and fingers. A couple of the members have hooked us up with some hand and feet warmers, but there isn't much we can do to stay warm when it is only like ten degrees and there is a blistering wind chill. That is the thing about Iowa is that the temperature has no indication of how cold it actually is. The wind here makes me sad. I forgot my beanie one day and of course we had to track all of that day. My ears literally hurt. Brutal stuff but sometimes people feel bad for us and decide to let us in to warm up. What a blessing! 

We had a sweet lesson with one of our investigators on Saturday. During the week he texted us and told us that he was talking to his friend about what we have taught him already and his friend was intrigued! He is already a missionary. His friend came along to our next lesson and we were able to answer a lot of his questions. And when I say "We" I include our investigator! He was answering a lot of the questions for us and he was spot on in his answers. We are so stoked for him. He is such a solid guy I can't wait for him to get baptized. 

A sweet little experience happened this week. We were driving down the road to where we were planning on knocking and I had the thought that we should go visit one of our potential investigators. We have taught her a couple of times and she hasn't really shown any real interest in the gospel. We headed to her house and knocked on her door. When she let us in she told us that one of her good friends had a stroke that morning. She was really upset about it. We were able to listen to her talk for a while and offer some missionary guidance, through the Book of Mormon of course. She then looked at me and told me what every missionary wants to hear, "I know that it isn't a coincidence that you showed up today." BAM! I was pumped. We are excited to go back and to try to teach her some more. Hopefully she will continue to have a soft heart like she had this week. 

Last night we had the opportunity to teach the mission prep class here in our Stake. Iowa's stake boundaries are huge so there were kids coming from all over the place. It was a solid lesson and it was cool to talk to kids who are my age preparing to serve their missions. I feel like I was in their shoes just a couple days ago. But now four months have passed by. Crazy stuff man. 

I don't have too much else to report on. Missionary work is the most frustrating thing I have ever done and sometimes I want to just curl up in a blanket in our warm apartment all day. But at the end of the day, I never regret going out and working. Missionary work is the best work and I love it. 

I love you guys and hope you have a killer week. 

The Elder With the Scarves,

Elder Obray

Elder Balderston and I played the Sheperds in the Ames 1st Ward Nativity. It was a beautiful performance. I had one line but you know it was a tear jerker.   

Monday, December 5, 2016

A Light at the End of the Tunnel

Hey Hey Hey! Man it has been a great week over here in Good Ole Ames! I really feel like it was just yesterday I was sending an email your way last week. It was so good to hear from you all last week and this week. You guys are the greatest. I will give a quick update on the birthday. I did have some sweet pictures to send you guys but I left my camera at the apartment. I will shoot them your way next week. We did end up going to Texas Roadhouse. Man it was so good. I almost forgot how magnificent those rolls are (Not as good as yours though Mom). The Cannon's actually hooked me up with a cake from Cold Stone to celebrate. Man I love that family. We watched the Christmas devotional with them last night. They are going to be a family that I will not soon forget. We had another Birthday experience on Wednesday. We went to the Reynold's house. We go over to their house for dinner at least once a week.

After all the birthday celebrations we got back to work. Man it was a struggle this week. I was really frustrated because of the lack of success we are having in Ames. I feel like all of the doors we knocked in the past couple of transfers seemed to pile up and I was pretty frustrated. When we got home for the night I spent some time on my knees. I am happy to report that my many prayers have finally been answered. 

Bishop Cannon got a call from a man wondering where he could learn more about the Mormons! Holy cow! Prayer is the coolest thing guys. We had breakfast with him at our Ward Mission leaders house on Saturday and we were able to teach him the Restoration. He is golden! He is from China, but is fluent in English. He doesn't have any problems with the Word of Wisdom and he even told us how important he thinks families are. Man what a blessing. The Elders in the Second ward had a baptism in the afternoon so I said, "Hey man there is a baptism in like an hour and you are welcome to come." He even showed up!

The rest of the week was pretty plain in comparison to the fire lesson. We taught some other lessons, but nothing super exciting. Yesterday at church we were on our way to Gospel Doctrine class when we noticed five people wanting to attend gospel principles. I panicked because there was nobody to teach. The responsibility fell on us missionaries to teach. Elder Balderston is still getting the hang of things so I said a quick prayer and started to think up a fire lesson on the spot. It actually turned out to be a great lesson. We talked about the need for the Fall of Adam and Eve. Being a missionary is the greatest sometimes!

Not too much else to report on, it is the truth when people say that on a mission you experience the highest of highs and the lowest of lows. I am glad to say that this week ended as one of the highs! I love this work and I am so grateful to be a missionary. Pinch my nephew’s chubby legs for me.

I love you guys. Have a killer week!

A Proud Father,

Elder Obray

Monday, November 28, 2016

One Year Older and Wiser Too?

Hey Hey Hey! Another great week here in Ames. I spent the majority of the first part of last Monday in Iowa City for the new trainers meeting. There were only seven new missionaries this transfer. I felt like a little kid sitting at the adult table at Thanksgiving dinner meeting all of the other trainers. It is really weird to think about how I was the one coming to Iowa just a little more than three months ago. It is also weird to think that I am 19 and have been on a mission for almost four months. I still feel like I am a deacon just barely getting the priesthood. Time is flying by! I was thinking this morning that I only have one more birthday on my mission. Two years seems like a minute when you think about it like that! 

I am sure you are eager to hear about my child that entered the mission world this week. His name is Elder Balderston from Farmington, Utah. Crazy enough we actually knew each other back home. We have some mutual friends and we actually hung out a few times back in the day. Small world I guess. From what I hear the first week of training is always the toughest and I will defend that statement. It is pretty stressful making all of the plans, scheduling the appointments and nursing a new missionary.  I sure hope that I will be able to get the hang of it here in the next few weeks. I really am going to miss Elder Dunford though. We had such a great time together and it turns out that we actually had a lot in common. I will forever remember my trainer in a positive way and I hope that my boy will be able to say the same thing. That being said, Elder Balderston and I already get along pretty well so it is going to be a killer few months.

I am really excited for the next couple of transfers. We are working with a new mission leader, and things are starting to heat up already. We have desperately tried to get the ward fired up about referrals in the past, but with no real success. Fortunately that is starting to change! I can already tell that the ward members are starting to get into that missionary spirit. Hopefully I will be able to bring good news about all of the lessons we taught! We already have more appointments than usual this week! I guess it must be harvest season! 

Unfortunately I don't really have anything else to really report on. Besides the birth of my son and Thanksgiving, it was a very average week. We knocked a lot of doors and talked to some really nice people. For the most part, people reject salvation in a pretty nice way. 

Have a great week!

Poppa Obray

Saturday, November 19, 2016

Enjoy the Journey

Holy Cow. Although it has only been a couple of days since I wrote you guys last, I have a ton to update you guys on. This week has been incredibly crazy. I have also learned a ton. Because this week was so crazy, This email might be a little bit of a novel so like always I wouldn't be offended if you took it in pieces. Read a little now and maybe the rest some other day.

To jump into it. The beginning of the week was pretty standard, lots of knocking, teaching some lessons and talking to less actives. We are working a lot with a less active member. He has been a member of the church for quite a long time, but has seemed to lost motivation to attend church. He works the night shifts at Wal-Mart so it is hard for him to work up the desire to attend church on Sunday mornings. We have been visiting him quite a bit and he has actually started to show up to church a little more! We are excited for him. We set a date for him to work toward going back to the temple. I miss the temple so much!

It started to heat up a little bit on Thursday. Elder Dunford and I have been teaching a guy for as long as I have been here. He is a super religious guy and he knows the Bible really well. He even organized a bible study for his military group. He is a stud. We have only been able to teach him a couple times because he is so busy so we haven't seen a ton of progress. We taught him again on Thursday and it was fantastic. We were talking about the importance of the Book of Mormon in conversion and the spirit was so strong. Even if he didn't feel it, I know that my testimony of the Book of Mormon grew a bunch. He committed to read the Book of Mormon and pray about it. My writing definitely doesn't compensate for how great the lesson actually was, so you will just have to take my word for it.

Friday we had mission tour. Basically a general authority comes to our mission and we have an entire daylong meeting about missionary work. Elder Anderson from the seventy came out to Des Moines and it was an amazing experience. He and President Badger gave incredible trainings that pretty much rocked my world. I noticed a theme through out the meeting though. What I learned is the importance of gratitude. You guys know me so you know that my mind wanders a little bit. This was the case during one a part of the training. I was thinking about my emails home and I realized that my usual emails are usually focused more on what ISN'T going on in our area. I realized that I forget to mention all of the great things that happen in Ames.  Although it is a pretty hard area, I have learned so much here. My testimony of the scriptures has multiplied ten times over in just the short few months I have been here. I have been required to strengthen my testimony because devout members of other Christian faiths are constantly challenging it. Let's just say I have benefited immensely from serving in Ames. I love the ward here. There are amazing families in Ames that I will remember for a long time. Although it is pretty dang hard sometimes, I have learned to trust that I am being molded into something better because of the hardship I face. Because of that I have grown a ton as a missionary and as a member of the church.

I think that that Walter Mitty/ Revelatory experience was the preparation for the news I received this morning. Buckle up! During studies this morning we got a call from President Badger relaying our transfer information. President only calls the companionships that are receiving leadership positions. I answered the phone and got ready to hand it over to Elder Dunford. President then said he wanted to talk to me! My heart started beating pretty fast and I started to get a little sweaty haha. He told me that I would be staying in Ames this transfer and that I am going to be having a son (in missionary speak that means I will be training a new missionary). Holy cow I almost passed out right there. I feel like one of the teenagers on 16 and Pregnant! Young, immature and hardly prepared to bring a new life into the world (or into the mission). Of course I accepted the call but am extremely nervous. I hardly feel like I can be a missionary by myself, now I have to train another one. Poor kid is going to struggle! Haha I obviously felt a wave of inadequacy at the call, but President Badger told me that he has complete confidence in me! I had the thought in my head that "Whom the Lord calls he qualifies." It is going to be quite the experience, but I am really excited to learn with another new missionary. It is going to require me to better my study habits and learn a lot more about the New and Old Testaments.  I won't meet my new companion until Wednesday so I will have to update you next week on all the details of the delivery. Keep the poor kid in your prayers!

The rest of the week pales in comparison to this weekend. Elder Dunford is heading down south to Des Moines to be a district leader there. He is going to do great. I have loved being his companion these past two transfers. I have learned so much from him. I am going to miss him a ton. But of course he won't be too far away and I will see him at all of our mission conferences. Good stuff.

I will end this email with a cute little spiritual thought. During the meetings yesterday, I heard a quote that really stuck out to me. It was that we should "Enjoy the Journey." This is something I have kind of struggled with in the past couple weeks. I have kind of had a salty attitude about knocking doors with very few results. I was only enduring my time in Ames. I have come to realize that it is not only important for us to "Endure to the End," but we are to "Enjoy to the End." One of my favorite scriptures is in 2 Nephi 2:25. There it says, "Adam fell that men might be, and men are that they might have JOY." We are meant to enjoy our lives here on earth. I am meant to enjoy my mission not just endure for two years and then go home.

That thought made me sound like I haven't enjoyed my mission. That is absolutely not true. I have loved my mission. I would be lying if I said that I have loved every second, but looking back on my short months in Ames, I realize how much I really have loved this place. I so look forward to spending two more transfers here!

Have a great Thanksgiving.

Expecting Father,

Elder Obray

Just one picture this week from Mission Tour. The missionary right next to me with the dark hair is my Grandpa and the missionary on the far left is my Great Grandpa. You know Elder Dunford as my Dad. What a blessing to continue that wonderful lineage. 

Monday, November 14, 2016

If They'd Just Listen to the Truth!

Last night Elder Dunford and I were walking around a pond talking to people trying to reach our OYM goal. We found a ton of cars in the parking lot and there were actually a lot of people just walking around. The jackpot for missionaries. We excitedly got out of the car and got to it. We had only talked to a few people when we ran into an older gentleman and his dog. The conversation quickly escalated and we found out that he knew all about the Mormon Church, so he thought. We run into a problem here in Ames when people claim to know everything about our faith because they have read books about the Book of Mormon or books about the Joseph Smith. We quickly ask if they have actually read the Book of Mormon and nine times out of ten the answer is no. This was the case for this man. He started listing off all of these things he had heard about the Mormon Church and of course we did our best to debunk all of the false things he was claiming. Long story short, we would ask him questions and he would change the subject. At one point I asked the simplest question I could think of. I said, "Do you think God loves all of us?" He thought for a second and responded with a question that was clearly intended to criticize in a mean way some of the sacred doctrine of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.  I fought the urge to push him into the pond but walked away instead. It's frustrating that people often won't take time to learn about the gospel directly from us, the Lord's missionaries. It's amazing how many tools the adversary uses to distract people from the truth. 

We run into a lot of people that like to try to prove us wrong. Fortunately, my knowledge of the scriptures is improving quite a bit so Elder Dunford and I are usually able to back up our beliefs. Of course in a without debating in an inappropriate way! 

I had a pretty cool experience this week. Because it was my senior comp week, I was able to make a couple more of the decisions on how we spend our time. That being said, we spent the whole week taking naps and watching movies. Haha just kidding of course! On Saturday night we were walking down the street looking for people to talk to when we walked by some college dorms. These dorms are always locked. As we walked by, I had this thought that I should try to open one of the doors, I did so and found it open. Weird. We decided that we had to knock it then. We were on the second floor when a couple walked by. We talked to them for a second and they continued up the stairs to their floor. We kept knocking and the guy came out of his apartment to talk to us for a while. We were able to talk to him about the Book of Mormon and he wants to read it. Gotta follow those spiritual promptings that is for sure. Hopefully I will have news about him next week!

It is our last week of transfer number two. More importantly I only have one more week of training! It will be so nice to put the greeny phase behind me! The trainer usually gets transferred after training so I am going to miss Elder Dunford. He has been such a great companion and I have learned so much from him. Hopefully my next companion will be great too. Transfer day falls on Thanksgiving this year so they decided to bump the transfer day to Monday and move our next P day to Saturday. So expect another email from me on Saturday. Hopefully by then I will know some more about next transfer. 

Sorry this email was kind of a dud. I will do my best to have incredible experiences to report on Saturday! I love you all and I hope you have a killer week. 

Elder Obray

Monday, November 7, 2016

What Does it Say in the White Handbook?

It sure was a good week over in Ames. The weather here has been fantastic! Everyone is so pumped because it never stays this warm this late into the season. Along with this warm weather means a lot more leaves to rake too. There are massive trees here so you can imagine the leaf output is magnificent. This brings me to my first story. Elder Dunford and I were raking leaves for one of our potentials this week. She has two huge trees in her front yard so we spent the better part of the afternoon raking them into a massive pile (to jump in of course). By the time we finished, the pile was huge so of course I jumped into it. After we messed around for a second, the mission veil was lifted for a second and I remembered that I was a pretty good high jumper back in the day. I decided to consult the white handbook to make sure there weren't any rules on doing the Fosbury flop into a pile of leaves and found that I was in the clear. It made me miss the good old days and made me real excited to get up to USU when I get home. Unfortunately the landing was not nearly as pleasant as I assumed. My back was sore for the next couple of days but it was all worth it! Who said I wouldn't be able to practice on my mission?

We went on exchanges twice this week. Because Elder Dunford is the district leader, we went with the Ames 2nd Elders on Wednesday and went with our zone leaders up in Fort Dodge on Thursday. I was able to lead the area for a day when we went with the 2nd Elders. I was pretty nervous but found that it is definitely not as hard as I thought. We ran into a few potentials that we are going to stop by to see this week.  It is also my senior companion week this week. I will be able to take the lead in our finding and teaching. I am super stoked to experience what it is like to be a senior companion because I am pretty sure I will remain a junior companion for the rest of my mission! Haha hope not!  I will let you know how the week goes. Pray that our area won't tank even more than it already has!

There wasn't really anything else that was incredibly special. I wish I could say that our area is heating up but unfortunately it is encouraged that missionaries refrain from lying. The work is still slow and our investigator pool is still about as shallow as a shower (quote curse of curves). Fortunately I still had a great week. I had a refreshing optimism the whole week even though we only taught one lesson to an investigator and a couple recent convert lessons with Diane. I guess prayers really are answered. Remember that fire email I sent a couple weeks ago about choosing to be happy? It works!

One great thing that I haven't mentioned before in any of my emails: Growing up I never really had any major doubts about the church and nobody really questioned why I had a testimony, not even myself. I have a great family and my life was pretty good. I had a testimony of the Book of Mormon and that's all I really needed. The more I study the scriptures, the stronger my testimony grows because there is proof all over the scriptures that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints is the only true church. My testimony of the church only grows stronger when someone wants to bash us or when they tell us that they are worried about our salvation. If only people knew how much sense the church makes. I love the gospel with everything I have. I am eternally grateful for our Savior Jesus Christ. 

I love you guys so much and I hope you all have an incredible week. Share your testimony with someone. I promise it feels good. 

Call me Elder Fosbury,
Elder Obray

P.S. quote of the week: "Missionary work is not easy because salvation is not a cheap experience!" Read it with some fire in your voice like Elder Holland does. 

Still got it. Kind of.. Notice the Book of Mormon in hand!

I love the houses here! They are so classy.

The only wild life Iowa has to offer. They are literally everywhere you look.

Monday, October 31, 2016

Trials Shall be but a Small Moment

Happy Halloween from the Midwest! Halloween on a mission is the best, especially when it falls on a P-Day. Usually P-Day ends at 6, but because people will be trick or treating and because it would be pretty dangerous for missionaries to proselyte in a college town, we have the whole day to pile (pretty much be an unproductive missionary) because we have to be back in our apartments at 6:30. It is a blessing for sure! 

On a more serious note, the work here in Ames continues to be incredibly slow. If I thought that the beginning of my mission was the trial of my faith, I was wrong. Transfer number two is kinda kicking my butt. We have a couple investigators but we aren't sure how promising either one is going to be. I have found it pretty difficult to get excited to knock on doors for hours, nobody letting us inside their homes, and definitely no potential investigators. But I can feel it, a solid investigator is coming this week.

The other night one of our potentials got anti'd by her preacher son and decided that it was no longer appropriate to have a Book of Mormon in her home. We were devastated when she told us she no longer wanted us to come by. There we were bummed out, slowly getting into our car when Elder Dunford played a really great talk. It is called Missionary Work and the Atonement.  It is basically a compilation of talks by President Eyring and Elder Holland. Elder Holland mentions something along the lines of, as a missionary you will often wonder why it is so hard and ask why it has to be so difficult to be a missionary. His reply hit me right in the heart. The reason that missionary work and sharing the gospel is so difficult is because it is so worth it. Salvation doesn't come cheap. Even the Savior of the World, the Son of God was rejected and asked if there was any other way. I am pretty much slaughtering the lesson I learned but I admonish you guys to look it up. Basically after listening to this talk, those feelings of disappointment and discouragement were absent and I had a new desire to share my testimony with the world. 

On a mission there are so many times when you don't want to leave your apartment in the morning and there are times when getting out of bed seems impossible, but there are also a lot of times when you want to run down the street yelling your testimony and shouting for joy because we had a great lesson or somebody accepted an invitation to read the Book of Mormon. At the end of the day or week, or at the end of the transfer, you don't look back on all of the bad things that happened or all of the doors you knocked, you look back on all of the great lessons you had with people and the killer experiences we are having. Without the bitter, the sweet wouldn't be as sweet right? 

The moral of the story is slow weeks like the ones we are going through in Ames are going to make it that much better when we aren't having such slow weeks. The great thing is that our "trials shall be but a small moment". These slow times never last long.  Sometimes you just have to grit your teeth and take it so that we can be trusted enough to have good weeks. 

Excuse the tangent and excuse how long this email is. I will wrap it up here. All in all, even though things are pretty tough right now, I love being a missionary. I was thinking about how great it is going to be to look back on how much I have grown on my mission. I have grown a lot in just the first couple of months. There is a reason that young men are commanded to serve missions. My love for the gospel is more than I could have imagined. It is the truth when people say that the first conversion of your mission will be yourself. I have strengthened my testimony more in these first few months than I have my entire life. 

I love you all so much and I think about you all of the time. I miss you a little as well. 

Have an amazing week.

Currently wearing a tie with elephants on it,

Elder Obray