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