Monday, March 27, 2017

Ain't No Mountain High Enough

Hey Hey! Man, it is has been a great week here in East Moline. It has been one of those weeks that probably won't be a highlight of my mission, but it has been great none the less. 

I will start off with a quick shout out to J-Dog! Happy Birthday momma! I love you so much and you don't look a day over 30. I have never seen such a slim Grandma in my life. You are the greatest. I will be having a party with Elder Blau and Elder Cline this week to celebrate! 

We did have a couple wild experiences though so I will jump right into it. 

To start off, we have been in a trio all week. Elder Cline from the Twin Bridges 2nd ward has been serving with us all week. It is really nice to have him around. We were in the same MTC district so it has been cool to see the growth in each other since the MTC. He is a great guy and it has been nice to have some extra company while we do the work. 

One of the days we went to a chiropractic office that the 2nd Counselor of our bishopric runs. Elder  Blau has been having some back problems so he helps us out.  He also aligns our spines for free so we take full advantage of it. When we walked in this lady from a ward close by asked us if we could give her a blessing as well. I was asked to be the voice for that. That is one of the cool things about being a missionary, we get to give blessings all the time and exercise our priesthood. Giving blessings is such a great experience. 

We did find a couple new investigators this week so I am really excited to teach them. We have started to work with a part member family in our ward. The father is inactive but he is such an awesome guy. Hopefully things will turn out for them. They are one of those "Why aren't you already Mormon families?" I would love to be able to help them become sealed as a family. 

Because of the trio, we got to attend two ward services yesterday. Six hours of church is always a treat. Man, it was a long day. It was ward conference in both wards, so it was quite the day. Mom, I don't understand how you did that stuff with the Young Womens. I was exhausted just from sitting there all day. In the Twin Bridges ward, one of the Sunday school teachers didn't have a substitute for his class so he asked us if we could cover for him. No warning, all he said was the lesson was on the Atonement and he took off. Sweet. When we sat in the class, we found out that it was the 16-18-year-old class. As we got started one of the beehives came in and said that they didn't have a teacher either and wondered if they could come with us. So basically, we taught the entire youth of the Twin Bridges ward about the Atonement without any prior preparation. Luckily, we study a lot. It was a great lesson. The Atonement is an amazing act of Love that our Savior provided. 

To conclude I will share a cute thought on the Atonement. In Romans 8:38-39 it says, "For I am persuaded that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord."  In the margin of my scriptures I wrote, "Ain't No Mountain High Enough..." Of course, I have to compare gospel principles to classic music. In reality, there is absolutely nothing that will separate us from the love of God and Jesus Christ. The Atonement is always there for us. In Jacob 6, we read that He has his hands outstretched towards us all the day long. It is such a comforting message when sometimes we feel that all is lost. I love this gospel and I am grateful every day for the Atonement. It should be used every single day, no matter how good we think we are doing. We all fall short of the glory of God, but through the Atonement, we can keep trying and keep progressing. 

That is all I've got for you guys this week. I hope that everything goes well this week! I love you guys.

Have a great weekend and pay extra attention to Conference! It is Christmas already! 

The Momma's boy,
Elder Obray

p.s. Transfers are this week, so I am getting a new companion. I will keep you posted on how that goes. I am most likely sticking around here in East Moline. 

Monday, March 20, 2017

The Ultimate Weight Loss Program

Hey Hey Hey! Man, I say this every week, but I can't believe how fast time flies. This whole mission thing is going by way too fast! J-Dog I am glad that you are slaying the gospel doctrine classes. I actually really miss gospel doctrine. On a mission, we attend a gospel principles class, maybe you can come teach the gospel doctrine class in Logan when I get home for a while? Sounds like a plan! 

It has been a pretty wild week so I will jump right into it. I will start with the reasoning behind the subject title. On Tuesday nights, a lot of the men from the ward and stake get together to play some basketball. It is a lot of fun. This week we only had like ten minutes for dinner before we had to go over to the church to play. I quickly boiled some water and threw some ramen in and went to get changed. I grabbed the ramen from the pot and we were out the door. First mistake, word of advice: Never eat a bunch of ramen noodles and eggs before running around for a while, it will wreck your stomach. While we played, my stomach really started to feel weird, but ball is life so I continued to play. By the time I got home I was really hurting. I went right to bed and tried to sleep, but to no avail. Around midnight I stood up and went to the bathroom and finally all of that ramen I ate for dinner ended up in our toilet. I assumed that after I threw up, my stomach would start to feel better. So I thought. When I went back to bed I could feel a fever coming on, I was freezing. I proceeded to throw up six more times before noon the next day. Man, it was brutal. The following day was spent wrapped up in my blanket, shivering and trying to sleep. I haven't been that sick for quite a while. No fun. On Wednesday night, I weighed myself and found out that I had lost like five pounds in a single day. So, if you ever need a quick weight loss program give me a call! I am pretty proud though, I almost made it seven and a half months without a sick day. Not too shabby. 

We had Zone Conference the next day. Luckily I was feeling a little bit better, but it was still kind of brutal. Being sick on a mission is the worst. Zone Conference was awesome! President and Sister Badger are the greatest. President Badger continues to amaze me. He is such a loving man and he knows so much about the gospel. I learned some great stuff that I am excited to apply to our area here in East Moline. 

On Thursday night, I received some sad news. Elder Seljaas has had a pretty intense shoulder injury for a while. It has been affecting the way he sleeps and it has really been bothering him. I found out this week that he is heading home today to have it looked at further and possibly have surgery. I am pretty bummed that he is taking off. We have really become good friends while serving here. Hopefully I will see him again out here but if not, I will see him back home. I hear that Debuque College is one of BYU's preseason games in 2018. Do you think it is too late to sign? 

Because Elder Seljaas is going home, we got special permission to go down the Nauvoo temple on Friday. We didn't have time to go in, but it was still super cool to see the temple. Just being on the temple grounds was a breath of fresh air. There is a certain spirit that can only be felt at the temple. We are extremely blessed to have so many close by in Utah. Go as much as possible! The Nauvoo temple is a beautiful place. I can't wait for you guys to see it. 

The last part of the week and probably the highlight was our investigator T getting baptized. It was an awesome experience to help him progress to this point. It was a great service and I know that T felt the spirit while we were there. He is going to be a great member of the church. We are excited to continue to help him grow and strengthen his own testimony. All of the rejection and frustration, all of the people who laugh at us on the street or who flip us off as they drive past and all of the people who shout out their windows stuff like "Hail Satan" seem to be washed from my mind when someone like T accepts the gospel and enters into the gate. This is definitely the Lord's work. There would be no other way I would make it if it wasn't. The Lord definitely protects his missionaries.

I love you guys and I hope that everything back home is real peachy. 

Future Division 3 basketball player,
Elder Obray

My apron is dope, watch out for Blau in your nightmares.

Monday, March 13, 2017

Keeping Commitments

Hey Hey Hey everyone! It is good to hear from you guys. Lindsay that little guy gets cuter and cuter. I can't believe it. He makes me happy even though I have never even met him. From the pictures you sent it may now seem that Trevor is the favorite uncle, but as soon as I get home that title will quickly be mine. I just had to give you a head start Trev! He is getting big! Mom, Dad, you are the best looking grandparents I have ever seen. Keep up the good work! 

This week was kind of an interesting one. I can't say that anything really exciting happened. We did a lot of work of course, but the results haven't quite come through yet. We are excited for the upcoming weeks because we have found some great new investigators this week!

I am learning that people in the mid-west have an incredible habit of over estimating the weather. We have had several tornado warnings in the past couple weeks. If there is a small breeze you can bet the tornado warning is going to go off. Last night when we were stopping by to see some potentials, the temperature dropped a little bit. At every door people warned us about the oncoming blizzard that was definitely headed our way. We got back to the apartment a little cold, but with no snow on our shoes. We did wake up to quite a bit of snow, but no blizzards. Let’s just say that by the time I get home, I will be able to go skiing in a t-shirt and basketball shorts. The cold here is unlike anything I have ever felt, but I am getting used to it and can usually go out with just a jacket on. One of the blessings from serving in Iowa/Illinois.

Fourth, on a more exciting level, one of our investigators, T has been struggling with one of the commitments. Elder Blau and I prayed and prayed that he would be able to improve. I was frustrated that such a simple lifestyle change would keep a man from true happiness. We went back later and he had kept the commitment for the entire week. We were pumped! He then went on to pass his baptismal interview. He is scheduled to get baptized on Saturday. We are stoked for him. Elder Blau and his past companion taught him before I got here and we think he is now ready to enter the waters of baptism.

Other than that, there isn't too much to report on. I love the gospel, I love sweet sunsets over the Mississippi (honestly I wish you guys could see it, the pictures don't do it justice) and I love you guys. I hope you all have a great week.

Elder Bing

Monday, March 6, 2017

A Recurring Lesson

Hey Hey everyone! It is a great day to be a missionary. It is great to hear that things are great back home in the 801. Lindsay, the video you sent me of Maxwell jumping made me proud. If anyone is going to be breaking the Layton High high jump record I expect it to be my nephew. I can't wait for the day when I can actually meet that little guy!

Well to get into the week, we had interviews with President and Sister Badger this week. Basically, they come to the stake center and we get about fifteen minutes with each of them to talk about things. It was great. They are such incredible people. I have so much to learn from each of them and I am so grateful that I can serve with them. President and I had a great talk about charity. It is one attribute I have been studying a lot lately. I have found that it is the number one attribute that I wish to develop the most on my mission. In Moroni 7, it talks about how Charity is the pure love of Christ and in Mosiah 2:17 it states that when we are in the service of our fellow being we are only in the service of our God. What better way to show God our love than by loving and serving his children? When we are truly able to develop the Christ-like attribute of Charity, it becomes easier to put others before yourself and it becomes much easier to knock doors in the cold all day. 

 It was definitely a week that I am not too fond of. It was one of the rougher weeks of my mission in all honesty. I haven't really missed home too much until this week. Suddenly a wave of homesickness hit me. It was pretty crazy. I think that it is a culmination of things. A new area and a new companion, investigators who aren't progressing like we’d hope, and lessons falling through. I miss you guys, I miss my friends, I miss music, and I miss having time to just relax and sit by myself.

We spent the majority of the week doing a lot of finding. We needed some new investigators so we hit the streets. Not a ton of success unfortunately. I have felt like we have been working hard but we haven't really seen the results. Yesterday while I was sitting in Gospel Doctrine I was kind of stewing. I was pretty frustrated with things and this continued until after church and well into the evening. I had a pretty salty attitude that really isn't like me. When we got home from Church, I knelt down to pray for some help. When I finished the prayer, nothing miraculous happened and I didn't really feel any different. So, I decided we ought to just get back to work. After our dinner, we decided to try to stop by to see one of our investigators. When his landlord opened the door and told us he wasn't home, that discouragement came back... For about thirty seconds. We were about to leave the porch when I was prompted to keep talking to him.  As we talked to the landlord, we found out his name and talked to him about the church. Turns out he has had a pretty rough life and lost both his daughter and wife to cancer. He lives alone. We were able to testify of eternal families and the Plan of Salvation. He then became our newest investigator. When we were driving home, I felt this feeling of joy that I haven't felt for a little bit. It was one of those I want to yell out the windows screaming to music (approved hymns and primary songs of course) kind of feelings. All those feelings of discouragement and frustration seemed to disappear at the slightest sign of interest. I am not sure that this man will progress, but it was exactly what I needed to boost my spirits. I can testify that God truly does hear and answer our prayers. It may not be in ways we expect or immediately, but he will always answer our prayers.

I notice this email is getting a little lengthy so I will close with a spiritual thought of the week. You guys know my favorite scripture of Ether 12:6. "We receive no witness until after the trial of our faith." I learn that lesson over and over on my mission. The Lord "tries our faith" all the time so that he can trust us to receive the blessings he wishes to bestow upon us. Some days on a mission are frustrating and discouraging but in the end, the joyous feelings when someone accepts the gospel washes away all those negative feelings. Some days, missionary work is the last thing I want to do, but at the end of the day, I love this work. I love Iowa (well Illinois currently). I miss you guys more than I can say, but there is a lot of work to be done before I get to see you again. I love you. Have a great week.

Current LHS High Jump Record Holder,
Elder Obray