Monday, August 7, 2017

A Good Anniversary Present

Holy Cow. I don't think I have ever seen a better-looking couple in my life! You guys are pretty much a super model couple. I am so glad to hear that the wedding was a success. You guys looked so happy and I am so incredibly happy for you two. Trevor with the dip outside of the temple yeah? Well done. You make a brother proud. If I am going to be honest, it was super tough for me on Friday not being there. I imagined what it was like in my head but obviously, it didn't help too much. Luckily, we were jam packed with meetings and appointments to keep my mind off of things. It was super weird to me to think that my brother who I used to jump on the tramp and play Legos with is now a married man. You are getting old brother! I can't express in words how happy I am for you two. I am so looking forward to all of the great memories ahead for all of us together. 
 It feels good to be the only single Obray. At least I have my companion for another year to keep me company. Me and Maxwell are up for some good times here in the future. 

I received some big news this last week. My predictions were correct about getting transferred... It was really sad to leave Cedar Rapids, I really loved that place. There were so many good people there that I made friends that will hopefully last a lot longer than just a couple months on a mission. Both of my Zone Leaders and I really grew to be good friends, I am going to miss serving with them a lot. On Tuesday, President Badger called me and told me that I would be transferring to Des Moines, and my companion and I would be whitewashing (neither of us have ever served in this area). My companion is Elder Robley from Raleigh, North Carolina. He is a stud missionary and has been out for about 20 months. I have so much to learn from him. It is going to be an awesome couple of transfers. He and I are the Zone Leaders here in the capital. I am pretty excited for the new responsibility but I am also pretty terrified, I feel a lot like a deer in the headlights, but change is good, right? 

I arrived here in Des Moines on Thursday and we got right to it. The Elders here before us didn't leave us with too much advice on how to work this area so we have basically just been trying to get oriented and trying to meet with all of our investigators. It was a much-needed distraction from the events going on back home. We have some awesome people in this area to work with. We are really stoked to work here, it is known as the promised land in the mission. It is kind of the dream area for ZLs so hopefully it will prove to be super fruitful and that the Lord will trust us to teach a few of his children. We have already seen some amazing miracles in just the past couple of days. 

The awesome thing about this area is that our assigned car is the transfer van. Elder Robley and I cruise around in this massive fifteen passenger van. If we didn't get a bunch of weird looks in the past, we definitely do now. It is pretty legendary driving through the ghettos of Des Moines. It is quite the sight. 

Sorry this email has been kind of all over the place, this week has been an emotional roller coaster. I love this work and I am so grateful to be a missionary. The gospel is so true it is crazy. I learn that more and more every single day. We are so blessed. I am so grateful for the spirit in my life. I felt an unbelievable amount of comfort this last weekend. The Lord definitely knows what we need and when we need it. He will take care of us if we let Him. I love you all and I am so grateful to be an Obray. I hope you have a great week. I already know Trevor and Maddie are. :) Love you!

The One Year Old,
Elder Obray

Also like always, if you run into any virtuous young women who would like to write a tall skinny missionary, you know who's email to give them. That pool is a little shallow these days! Love you

Monday, July 31, 2017

No Such Thing As Coincidences

Man, it was a great week this week. It was a great time to be a missionary. I think the Lord is just hooking me up with good weeks to prepare me to get wrecked on Friday. I might ask President to do a quick exchange with me so I can make it to the wedding.  I can't complain though the work is good, we saw some great miracles this week and I had one of the most spiritual experiences of my mission. Yep so be excited. 

First off, I want to give a shout out to Trevor for teaching me a little bit of his Tagalog. We were knocking an apartment complex yesterday and I heard two women speaking in a different language outside the apartment we were knocking. As I started to talk to them they told me that they were from the Philippines! It was awesome to talk to them about it! They did say that they have seen the Elders walking around back home so I am pretty positive that you talked to them while you were there bro! I am excited to say that I was able to ask two Filipino women what their names were and tell them that I loved them in Tagalog. They were impressed! Haha I wish there was more to this story, but the conversation ended with us only giving them a card and her telling us that she would call us. I have probably handed out 3000 cards on my mission and I have not once received a call back... But hey, this will be the first! 

We had the sweet opportunity to visit the pageant this week. It was a great experience to be in Nauvoo. Elder Youngstrom and I got there a little early so we were able to spend some time in the temple. We didn't have enough time to do a session, so we went and did some initiatories. It was great to be in the temple, it was my first time in the upper part of the temple for about a year so I’ve missed it. There is a special feeling in the temple that can't be felt anywhere else. It was great to go from the dirty streets of Cedar Rapids to the sacred halls of the temple. I love it! 

The pageant was awesome. Part of me almost wished that I had decided to try out for the pageant squad instead of serving a mission. That feeling was very short lived. It is an awesome show though. We saw the British Pageant which talked all about the reformers and early saints in the British Isles. Pretty amazing stuff. Plus, I even saw a couple people that went to my high school. That was pretty wild. 

I have great news! Q, our convert from earlier in my mission, received the Melchizedek Priesthood yesterday and was able to give his first priesthood blessing! Man, he is a legend. He is taking off to China in August, he will make a great contribution to the saints there. I told him that he will be called to be the Branch President in no time. 

Because I know you are dying to hear about it, I will share a super cool finding experience from yesterday. Elder Youngstrom and I were cruising down the street headed to knock by the community college in our area. We drove by an apartment building that Elder Cline and I knocked out a few months ago, but when I looked at the building I had the impression that we needed to turn around and go knock it again. I ignored the prompting and justified to myself that I had already knocked it and the people were mean there. When I got it again, we were about a half mile down the street so I turned around and went back. As we drove past it, I accidentally missed the turn and had to pull into a neighborhood to flip a U-turn. I noticed there was an apartment building that I had never seen before and I felt like that was the place we were supposed to knock. As I got close to the apartment I saw the lock on the door and started to get a little upset, but when I got to the door, it was slightly open so we got to it! Out of the whole place only one person answered the door and he told us that we needed to leave. What the? I was pretty bummed that this spiritual guidance didn't prove to be legit so we started walking to the original apartment I was prompted to knock. As we were walking I saw a guy sitting in the shade reading a book. I knew that he was the guy we were supposed to talk to. When he saw us, he excitedly stood up and walked to us. We explained who we are and started the Restoration lesson when one of his other buddies pulled up. Long story short, we taught them a super spiritual restoration lesson and committed them both to baptism in the parking lot of their apartment complex. Their names are N and S from Benin, Africa. They are the coolest guys around.  It was an awesome experience when I truly felt that I was being guided by the Spirit.  It was one of those times when you know for sure that you are on the Lord's errand. Gotta love missionary work.

I see that this email is way too long so I will shut it down. I am so bummed that I can't be at the wedding this week... But I know that this work is the most important thing that I can be doing right now. Just know that when I get home, we will be reenacting the whole thing.  I am so happy that you guys are happy and finally decided to make the next step in eternal progression. Thank you for being such great examples to me. I hope you got the letter that I sent and I hope that my awkward missionary personality won't shine through. I wrote it like four times. Feel free to edit it in any way you want. I love you all and I will be thinking about you all week. 

Perfectly Lonely, 
Elder Obray

p.s. Transfers are this week and from the looks of it I am pretty sure that I will be taking off. Big news coming next week! 

Our shirt say "I love Mormon girls." It's the truth! 

Monday, July 24, 2017

I'm Feeling Lucky

Hey everyone! What a great week to be a missionary, but aren't they all pretty great? It has been the hottest week of my life here in Cedar Rapids. It was one of those weeks this week that was as ordinary as they come. What a time to be alive. That being said, this email might be a little bit of a dud so like always, if you don't feel up to the challenge of taking on the whole thing, I wouldn't be offended. 

To get started, it has been so hot this week. it is incredible. The temperature was regularly 90 plus with occasional spikes up to more than 100. It is getting toward the end of the month as well and we are only allowed a certain number of miles in our car every month. We had to do a little bit of traveling early in the month so our mile count is getting pretty low. That being said we spent some great days back on the bikes. Man, it was great to actually move my legs aggressively. I am pretty out of shape as you can probably tell from my pictures. It was quite the week riding around Cedar Rapids in the heat. People were pretty surprised when we knocked on the door and we were soaking wet. It looked like we spent the afternoon in a swimming pool. Gotta love being an Elder. 

We had Zone Conference this week in Davenport (close to my old area of East Moline). It was great to get back there and see a lot of the Elders I served with there. Three of my past companions were there so it was great to catch up. It felt like the Sons of Mosiah reuniting after their missions. They are all doing great. Elder Balderston has almost been out for nine months. Holy cow they grow up so fast. It seems like yesterday I was picking him up at the mission office. He is doing great and is becoming an excellent missionary. He makes a father proud. The conference was great, it is always good to learn from President Badger, he is the man. I am incredibly grateful to be serving with him and Sister Badger, you guys would love them! 

Like many other missionaries can attest to, the week after a baptism is often pretty brutal. Our teaching pool took a major hit this week when we had to drop a few of our investigators or they dropped us. It is so frustrating when people let pride or laziness get in the way of the everlasting joy that comes from the gospel. It is sad to see people deny the blessings that we know are in store for them, but our Heavenly Father has a plan for them as well. They will get there someday. 

Some crazy news is that we are getting kicked out of our house. The owner of our house is like 100 years old and he decided it wasn't a good idea for him to be out there mowing the lawn. We definitely agree, so we have been apartment shopping a little bit this week.

I will close this less than mediocre email with a spiritual thought that I have talked about before. One blessing of serving a mission is a profound sense of gratitude for the gospel. I have never been so grateful to have been born in the covenant, I have never had to search for the truth, because I have always known where to find it. I think a lot of times as members of the church, we don't quite fully appreciate how amazing the gospel really is and how blessed we are to be a part of the Lord's true church on the Earth. Every time I am in a lesson and bear testimony of the Plan of Salvation, my testimony gets stronger. I am so grateful to be sharing the restored Gospel with the people of Iowa. I am so grateful that I get to do it for another year. 

I love you guys, have a great week! Smile a lot and share the blessings of the gospel with those around you. The gospel changes lives. 

With a testimony as big as his forehead,
Elder Obray

Monday, July 17, 2017

Five Times the Blessings!

Hola! It was yet another fantastic week here in Cedar Rapids. Man, it seems like the weeks are getting better and better. A ton of super frustrating stuff still happens, but looking back I am content and happy with the week. All is well here in Iowa. It is crazy that the wedding is only a couple weeks away! You better be sending an invitation my way! I already know that they are going to be super adorable. It has been quite the week this week so I will get right into it. 

First thing I will talk about this week is that our investigator D GOT BAPTIZED! Holy Cow it was such a miracle. Man, it was kind of out of nowhere but she came to church last week for the first time in a while. We were finally able to connect a ride for her. When we went by later that night she told us that she was ready to be baptized on Saturday! We were so stoked for her. But we had to plan the entire baptism in just a couple of days. It was pretty wild. As every missionary can testify, the day of the baptism it seemed like everything was going wrong. The day before, I spent a while making a nice program for the service. When we got to the church the morning of the baptism the file that I saved was nowhere to be found. I quickly got the church computer and drafted another one, but found out that there was no way to print from the laptop I was using. Man! So, we ran over to the library to make the third program of the day. To make it all better, our Zone Leaders decided that it would be a great day to go on exchanges. So, we were cruising around in their area all morning. When we finally were making our way to the church we ran out of gas... Holy Cow it was so stressful. Luckily, we were pretty close to a gas station so we had just enough gas to get there. By the time we got there, the car told me that we had 0 miles left in our tank. Barely made it! Some other things that went wrong that day included the church printer was running low on ink so the programs came out pretty bad anyway and Elder Youngstrom and another one of the zone leaders didn't start filling the font early enough so it was pretty shallow. 

Elder Cline made the trip out to Cedar Rapids to perform the baptism. It was his first time in the water so he was pretty nervous. It took him five times to finally immerse D completely in the water. When I gave the okay, everyone at the baptism started clapping. Haha it was quite the scene. But the important thing is that D was baptized and no matter how many times it took, she is now a member of the church. We are grateful for her decision. On Sunday, I was able to confirm her and help her receive the Holy Ghost. That is always such a special experience. Gotta love exercising the priesthood! D is so awesome and she will make a great member of the church. She has been taught by a lot of missionaries and I am grateful that I was a part of her baptism. Blessings on blessings!

Remember that guy I talked about last week who had literally read all the Book of Mormon in a couple of days? He is turning out to be quite the project. He has a pretty hard heart to the Book of Mormon and to the Prophet Joseph Smith. There are so many people here that make the argument that the Bible is the only source of truth and it is all we will ever need. It is crazy that Nephi saw this day in 2 Nephi 29. If only we could force people to feel the spirit. We are going to keep trying though. We have a bunch of other investigators we are excited to work with as well. This place is the promised land. 

Well this email is getting a little lengthy so I will shut it down. I love you guys and I am so happy that things are peachy back home. You are always in my prayers. Keep smiling and keep being examples of Jesus Christ. People notice! Have a great week!

Elder Obray  

Monday, July 10, 2017

Anger Management

Hey hey hey to my favorite people on the planet. It is a great day to be alive don't you agree? This week was one of the best of my mission and I am so excited to tell you more about it. I feel like I have been floating through this weekend. I have a lot to report so I will dive right into it. 

First, I will give an update on our marvelous Fourth of July. It was one of those days that really made me miss home. I have fond memories of Fourth of July's at Grandma's house growing up. It was pretty depressing this year because my date to the fireworks was another guy, plus we had to be in our house by 6:30. Luckily our house is right next to the river where the fireworks go off so we got some lawn chairs and climbed onto our roof for some great seats of the festivities. Gotta love living in America! I do have some awesome pictures/videos for y'all but they will have to wait until next week. I forgot my camera!

The next update is a pretty wild experience Elder Youngstrom and I had this week finding. We knocked on this guy's door and he excitedly let us in. This never happens unless someone thinks that they know all about the Mormons so I prepared myself to bash. We had a pretty intense conversation about Mormon doctrine and our theology. It was one of the most respectful bashes of my life, and this guy is a genius he knows his stuff. I had an insanely difficult time keeping up. By the end of the lesson, his countenance softened a little bit and he invited us back a couple days later. We left him with the commitment to read the Book of Mormon and pray about it. When we got to our return appointment he told us that he had read the BofM up until Ether, and that he had also read Mormon Doctrine, some of the discourses of Brigham Young and several other Mormon books. It was pretty insane. We had yet another discussion on Doctrine that went for the most part over my head, but we did give him some good talks to listen to. Hopefully I will have better news about him next week. Pray for us with that one!

I am stoked to hear that the Associated Golf Tournament went well! I am glad to hear that you guys took home the W! That’s what I like to hear! A 59 is pretty crazy! One of the Zone Leaders and I went on a quick exchange this morning and played 9 holes this morning. It was pretty brutal! We didn't spend any time on the range beforehand so it was pretty rough. I shot a 60! So, I am pretty proud to say that the four of you played twice as many holes and still beat me! My last few holes were much better than the first 6. I finally started to get the groove back but it was quite the experience! It was pretty frustrating stuff. I was definitely reminded of how angry that sport makes me! There is a reason it is called Anger Management.
Lastly, I had the amazing opportunity to head down to the Nauvoo temple on Saturday. Q, one of the converts from Ames drove to Cedar Rapids and picked me up and then we drove over to Davenport to pick up Elder Balderston. It was just like the good ole days in Ames. It was such a great time. Q insisted on playing music in the car so I got to hear some of the popular stuff on today's radio. That definitely didn't help the whole missing home problem! I can't even tell you how much I miss music. It is incredible. It was such an amazing experience to be in the temple with Q. It was a profound experience to stand in the waters of the baptismal font with him and baptize him for somebody else. Words cannot describe the amazing feelings that come from the temple alone, but they also can't describe the joys that come with being there with someone who you helped into the church. I will send some pictures next week. 

I officially hit eleven months today! Pretty wild that I am almost on the down ward slope of the mission. It is so crazy to me how fast this year has gone by. It makes me sad that I am already almost half through my time here in Iowa, but I am so excited for the second half! There are so many miracles waiting and so many amazing experiences to be had before I come home to the 801. I love you guys and I am so grateful for you. Have an excellent week! 

The Soon to be Professional Golfer,
Elder Obray

Monday, July 3, 2017

Miracles on Miracles

Hola familia! It has been a great week this week and I am so excited to tell you about it. At first, it was also one of the most frustrating weeks of my mission, but the Lord knew just what I needed. I am stoked to hear that things are going grand back home.

Well I better dive into it. This week was super frustrating. We have several investigators who have dates for baptism that just aren't making the steps they need to be to get there. Our most promising investigator was supposed to be baptized this last week, but she hasn't been to church for a few weeks and we don't feel that she is ready. She didn't come again yesterday so we will have to postpone her baptism for a couple more weeks. Pretty sad deal. Agency is the worst sometimes. But we will get her in the next little bit! 

We decided that our teaching pool needed some help so we hit the streets. We met so many people who bashed on our beliefs and told us that they would pray for our salvation, it was crazy. I felt like I was back in Ames. It’s the best when people try to tell us what we believe. We weren't having any success and it was starting to wear on me. As a missionary, you are always able to tell if you have the spirit with you or not, because your level of optimism and excitement for the work is dependent on the spirit. That is why the happiest missionaries are the ones who work the hardest. They always have the spirit with them. I made a conscious effort to have the spirit with me this weekend and the miracles flowed right on in. 

The first happened on Saturday when we were knocking this apartment complex. We started to try to talk to this man. He didn't speak very much English so it made it pretty difficult. He knew enough English and I knew enough Spanish that we were able to find out who each other were. He is from Panama and he loves Jesus. We scheduled a return appointment for the next day. Our Ward Mission Leader served his mission in Panama so it all just worked out. The lesson went great, he is so solid. I was pretty bummed the whole time that I didn't know any Spanish, but all is well. We are having another lesson with him today. It is going to be the best. 

The second miracle happened yesterday. We were about done for the day when we saw this African woman standing on a chair with a long stick trying to get something out of a tree. We walked over to see if we could help. Lucky I am so tall, we eventually got the shoe that was stuck on a branch out of the tree and we started to talk to them. They are from Liberia and the woman is a less active member who was baptized in Missouri. She basically told us that she wanted to start coming back to church and that her daughter wanted to be baptized. We also met her fiancĂ©. He is also a non-member and he wants us to teach him. Man, who knew that being tall would help us find investigators?! What a blessing. 

The last miracle happened like five minutes after we said goodbye to the African family I just mentioned. We were driving home when I got a phone call from a familiar area code. I picked up the phone to hear my man Q. Man, it was soo good to talk to him. He told me that he wants me to come to the Nauvoo Temple with him this Saturday to do some Baptisms. He is getting ready to go back to China for a couple of years so we have to take a road trip together. I am so pumped! But wait that’s not all! He told me that he had his interview with the Stake President in Ames for the Melchizedek Priesthood!  I am so pumped for him! It was one of those times that I can't explain the joy that came over me when I talked to him. He is going to be such a blessing to the church in China. I won't be surprised when I see him giving a talk over the pulpit! He also told me that he wants to come back in a couple years to live in Provo and go to BYU for his Graduate Program. Who knows? Maybe you will be able to meet him! 

I see that this email is getting a little long so I will wrap it up. I am so grateful to be a missionary. I am so grateful for the blessing it was to teach Q and for the trust that our Heavenly Father had in two young missionaries to teach one of His elect. I love this work. It is the most frustrating thing I have ever experienced, but the joyous feelings when someone accepts the gospel make it all worth it. I love you and I am so grateful for all of you. Have an excellent week! 

Elder Obray

Monday, June 26, 2017

No Shoes, No Shirt... Wanna get baptized?

Hey Hey Hey. This week has been a pretty standard week. There were some interesting changes though so we will see how things go. Because of transfers, we didn't really get to do as much work as we would have liked, but all is well. I am glad things are going well back home. I am jealous that summer is starting up for you guys! The humidity is picking up here. Just like the winter, the actual temperature has no indication of how the weather really feels. I am becoming more and more grateful for air conditioning and deodorant. What a blessing. 

So I am kinda bummed to say that Elder Cline got transferred this week. I was sad to see him go. We sure had a lot of fun together. He moved out to Mason City, Iowa. I sure am going to miss him. The cool thing though is that we will be going home together so we definitely will be around each other again. My new companion's name is Elder Youngstrom from Idaho Falls. He is a super funny kid and he is a crazy artist. He is currently drawing a picture of me and my dream girl, Rapunzel from Tangled. I will make sure to send you guys a picture when he is done. We are pretty different, but I am excited to learn from him.  He has been out for nineteen months. 

There was a couple of pretty unfortunate things happen this week that put a damper on the work. Our investigator D didn't come to church for the third week in a row. we are going to have to postpone her baptism a little bit. She told us she is ready to go, but has a hard time getting rides to church. Definitely keep her in your prayers this upcoming week. She needs to get baptized! We had awesome lesson with another one of our investigators C. We taught him the Gospel of Jesus Christ from 2 Nephi 31. We had an emphasis on the spirit and he opened up and told us that he was starting to realize the truth of our message. He told us that he feels the spirit and he is excited to work towards his baptism date of July 22. We found an African investigator from a new country this week. His name is M and is from Chad. We are teaching people from like ten different countries right now. Who knew? 

I am starting to recognize a pattern here in my mission. It seems like every Sunday night, when we are about to go in, we end up finding an investigator on the last door of the day. Obviously, no coincidence. Yesterday was an interesting one. We approached the door and I was convinced that no matter what, this guy was going to be a new investigator. When he opened the door and came outside he was literally wearing nothing but a tiny pair of boxer briefs. He proudly came outside and talked to us as he rubbed his hairy belly and wiped the tired out of his eyes. As we talked to him, he said he was down to have us come back and teach him. I invited him to be baptized and he even accepted. Hopefully he dresses a little bit more modest when he comes to church. I don't think the Relief Society would appreciate that. 

Unfortunately, that is all the real highlights of the week. We did find a street called "Chandler Street" and of course we knocked it. No success really, but we did have a Christian singer give us his CD. I can't wait for August 2018 when I can put that bad boy in and jam. 

Have a great week this week. I love you. 

Elder Obray

Monday, June 12, 2017

Friend Zone

Hey Hey everyone! It has been a great week here! MAN TREVOR AND MADDIE FINALLY ARE ENGAGED HUH? That is so exciting! I am stoked for you two. You guys make an adorable couple. If you have any, send some pictures of the proposal. Trevor it seems like you did a good job on the big event. You make a brother proud. It is pretty wild to think about how different life will be when I get home. Three Cheers to Two years! I am really sad to hear about Grandpa's health. He has always been such an amazing man. I am especially grateful for the experience that I had to give him my first priesthood blessing. I will hold on to that memory forever. Many other blessings have followed and I am grateful that I had the privileged to give my own grandfather my first. Please give him a hug for me and tell him and grandma I love them. Enough of the sad stuff. 

Some highlights of the week, we were accused of housing a juvenile delinquent who escaped her half way house. We saw these two guys wrecking each other outside of Taco Bell. We found an investigator from Egypt, and we literally found an investigator whose name is Lemuel. I almost peed when he told us his name was the same as the brother of Nephi. He is going to get baptized for sure. Plus Elder Cline and I have officially been out on our missions for double digit months! Ten months has flown by holy cow. The mission thing is crazy sometimes. 

The role of district leader is going just fine. I have an awesome district so we haven't run into too many problems. I am grateful to say that I give a lot of blessings of course, but I don't mind at all. This last week I gave a training on staying out of the friend zone with investigators. We talked about making our purpose clear and having a DTR (Define the Relationship) during the first lesson. It went well. Who knew that dating is such a great analogy for missionary work. Lucky I have a ton of experience with the friend zone! I practically live there! 

Our investigators are doing well. D, our investigator has set a baptism date for the first of July. Who knows we might be moving it up a little bit. She is ready to go! We continually find new investigators from other countries. I love Africans so much! I am definitely going to try to go over there and do some humanitarian work when I get home! They are the coolest people. 

I will finish this email with a thought. I have felt extremely grateful these past couple of weeks for the blessing of being born into the church. Lucky for me, I have never really had to search for the truth, because I was born with it as a part of my life. Every day I run into people who could so greatly benefit from this message, but are not willing to put pride aside and listen. Bob and Jen, thank you so much for raising me with the gospel in our family. I will be forever grateful for that blessing. We are so blessed to live where we live and to know the things that we know. It doesn't take long to find a long list of blessings that we have been given because of the gospel. Gratitude is the key to happiness!

 I love you guys have a great week! 

Still in the Friend Zone,
Elder Obray

Monday, June 5, 2017

It's Heating Up!

Hola! It has been a pretty great week here in CR. I am beginning to love Africans so much. Man, they are the coolest. There is a little Liberian kid in our ward and we are best buds. Whenever we go to visit his family, we have to do our special handshake, which includes a jump shot and a dab. I will try to get a video of it the next time we go over there. Man, this week was pretty wild. There are a couple of pretty fun stories that I am sure that you will enjoy. 

The first story happened on Saturday night. When we got back to our house, we were just sitting around talking in the living room when we heard some gun shots from right across the street. Have I mentioned that we live right across the street from a super sketchy bar? We looked out the window and pretty soon like five cops rolled up and an ambulance as well. A few minutes later, we watched this guy get arrested and pushed into a cop car and then we watched a gurney roll into the ambulance from inside the bar. Yep we are pretty sure somebody was killed right across the street from our apartment. Gotta love living in Cedar Rapids. Pretty sketchy. But never fear we park our car in the back and are rarely in our front yard so don't worry mom! I feel completely safe! 

The second story was a finding miracle from yesterday. In the early afternoon, we went to try by one of our investigators. When we stopped by, she came to the door with the Book of Mormon in her hand and said that we could have our bible back and that she is too busy to meet with us again. We did our best to turn it around, but she awkwardly stood in the door trying to close it. We let her keep the BofM and took off. I was pretty frustrated because we were pretty excited to teach her. I angrily started to knock on the next few doors and nobody was down. As we were about to finish up, we knocked on the last door of the complex (coincidence? I think not). Two girls came to the door. About an hour later, we gave them a Book of Mormon and set a return appointment for this Tuesday. We are pretty excited to go back and teach them some more. They were super open and actually knew the Bible really well. You don't see that too much here. So, it was fun to talk to them. 

Cedar Rapids is very different from any other place that I have served so far. Out of our investigators we are working with we have six from all different countries. Sudan, Togo, Kenya, Ghana, and Pohnpei. It is super diverse here so we run into people from all kinds of different walks of life. Who knew that when we went knocking, I would have to carry around pamphlets in French, Arabic and Swahili in Iowa. It is a pretty awesome experience to meet these humble people.

I know this email is getting a little lengthy, but I will close with my testimony that our Heavenly Father loves all of His children. He has a plan for each and every one of us. It is not fair for us to decide which ones hear the gospel or not based off of their outward appearance or surroundings. It is simply up to us to share the gospel with everyone. All of His children deserve to hear the message of the restored gospel. I love this work.

Have a great week this week! I love you!

Elder Obray

p.s. If any of you know any virtuous young ladies who are cute and willing to email a missionary please give them my email. The struggle! 

Super candid picture while helping a member move
The Cedar Rapids District! Gotta love serving around a bunch of Sisters! 
Where champions practice

This whole missionary work thing must be paying off!

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

You Would Not Believe Your Eyes

Hey Hey! What a week! Sorry this email is a day late; all the libraries were closed due to the holiday. L-Cat and Jonathan you guys are the cutest family I have ever seen. I am jealous you guys had a great trip in Hawaii. I am not too jealous though because Cedar Rapids pretty much has tropical beaches and beautiful scenery all around us... I will draw some similarities really quick. Hawaii has beaches where people wear swimsuits and men don't wear shirts. Well, Cedar rapids doesn't have any beaches but the lack of clothing remains for some. I think living in Iowa has made me more content with my appearance without a shirt on! What a blessing.  I have quite a bit to report on so I will waste no time and get right to it. 

This weekend was pretty wild. Like I mentioned before, we live within a one mile radius of like six bars so you know the party was pretty sweet. Especially on Sunday night. There was a huge party at one of the bars close to our house. When I was doing my weekly call in reports (I call the district members and they report numbers and talk about investigators) I heard like six gun shots. Yep I am pretty sure there was a gun fight right outside our apartment. Each gun shot was followed by an ambulance wailing down the street. Never fear though, we are safe! 

Another fun story of the week. One night we went knocking to finish off the night. It was about 8:45 so people were extra cranky that two white boys were knocking on their door. At one of these doors, a couple sweet daughters of God came bursting out of the door, and asked what we wanted. I barely had time to say that we were missionaries before getting cussed out like never before. I have never heard the F word used so many times in such little time. Usually if this is the case, I get a little sassy and try to save the OYM but this time I just wanted to get out of there. Man, it was brutal. Pray for that woman. There really isn't a moral of this story, that is all. 

We are working with an awesome lady named D. She is getting ready to be baptized on July 1st. She has had a pretty tough life. She has some health challenges so she can’t work or drive. She is awesome though. We went through the baptism questions with her yesterday and she is all good to go. We just need to help her with a couple other things and she will be all good to get baptized! Hoorah!

One thing that is great about the Midwest is that there are fireflies all over the place at night. We will be talking to someone and all of the sudden a yellow light will start flashing around us. It is the coolest thing. That is all. 

Out of our teaching pool, more than half of them are from Africa. I love those people so much. Their love for the Savior and their humility is so inspiring. We talked to a guy the other day that when he saw that our name tags said Jesus Christ he stopped and said, "Oh I love that man!" I want to go and do some humanitarian work in Africa when I get home. I love them. Hopefully we will have a couple of them enter the waters of Baptism here soon. They are great. 

Not too much else to report on this week. The District is starting to see more success and we are excited about the work going down here in Cedar Rapids. 

I love you guys! Have a great week!

Elder Obray

You see stuff like this all the time. Pretty sure this guy was under the influence. He fell off his bike twice while we were watching him.

Monday, May 22, 2017

No Regrets

Hey Hey! Man, it was a great week here in Cedar Rapids. It was so great to talk to you guys last week. I sure do miss you guys. I can't wait for the times when we can sit around and joke around in person. I will dive right into the week.

The first full week of Cedar Rapids was pretty crazy. We have had some great success with finding this week. We have found a couple new investigators who are awesome. We are teaching a couple African families that are so great. They are so humble. Their kids often do not wear pants. It is hilarious when we are in a lesson and all the sudden a little boy runs into the room and literally has nothing on but a shirt. My kind of lifestyle. Elder Cline gets a little bit uncomfortable when I follow their example though... 

Our Zone Leaders have had their car in the shop all weekend so it fell on us to go into a car share with them for a little bit. To make things easier, they are staying in the house with us until their car gets fixed. It has been wild that is for sure. 

We have been teaching a woman named D. She is so awesome. She has had a pretty rough life and lives in some pretty sad circumstances. She came to church yesterday and is now working towards her baptismal date of July 1st. It has been great to testify to her that she is a Daughter of God. We are really excited for her to continue progressing towards baptism. I will keep you posted.  

The first real District Meeting was pretty wild. I prepared like three trainings and I couldn't really figure out what to actually train on until like ten minutes before the meeting. Not a moment too soon. I ended up training on serving with “No Regrets.” One thing that I have really kept in mind during my mission is that I never want to look back on my day and even my mission with the word regret in my mind. As missionaries, we will never look back on the day and regret working so hard that day, we will only regret not doing our best. The Lord promises us that if we do our best, we will sometimes be disappointed in the outcomes, but we will never be disappointed in our effort. I can relate this to life. At the end of the day, we will never regret doing the righteous thing, we will only regret the mistakes that we made and the consequences of those actions. When we compromise our standards to take the easier way, or the more fun way, we will eventually regret it. At the judgement day, we will have a perfect knowledge of all of those mistakes. I hope that I won't have too many regrets at that day. Luckily, we have a pretty awesome thing called the atonement to help out when we mess up. 

Not too much else to report on this week. I hope everything is going great back home. I miss you like crazy. I love you! Have a great week. 

Getting a little chubbier,
Elder Obray 

Monday, May 15, 2017

I'm Just Chilling in Cedar Rapids

Hey Hey Hey! I can't even put into words how great it was to talk to you guys yesterday. I almost forget how beautiful my family is. I am so glad to hear that everything back home is going well, prayers must actually work haha. Maxwell is the cutest little guy. Jonathan and Linds, you guys did well in creating that little one. I already know that we will be best buds when I get home. 

Because we talked yesterday this email will probably be pretty short and pretty lame, but I will share a couple experiences from this week that I didn't get to share yesterday.

The District Leader responsibilities are going splendid. I haven't really received any type of training on it so I am pretty much shooting in the dark, hopefully the Cedar Rapids District will be patient with me until I can figure out what I am doing. My first training during district meeting will be Thursday. Pray for me! Hopefully it will all be alright.

We did find a couple new investigators that we are excited to work with. Miracles all around us that is for sure. Hopefully they turn out to be alright. We scheduled a return appointment so when we got there for the return appointment they decided to take us to dinner instead. We didn’t complain. I will keep you guys updated on them. They have talked to a lot of missionaries and they told us that they know it is true, they are just waiting on a couple things first. 

Not too much else to report on this week. I will reiterate how great it was to talk to you guys yesterday. It is always pretty depressing when the screen goes dark, but I felt a renewed motivation to get to work. Thank you guys for all of your support and for the amazing family that you are. Only a couple months until I can see you guys again. Counting down the days until Christmas, and hey, we made it through half of the skype calls of my mission! We are doing great! I love you guys so much. Have a great week. 

Elder Obray