Monday, April 24, 2017

The Sun is Shining

Hey Hey! Man, it has been a great week. I realize that I say the same thing at the beginning of all my emails, but these days, the weeks are consistently good. It has been a beautiful week this week. The sun has been out and the temperature has been steady around 65 degrees. Perfect weather to catch people relaxing outside and perfect opportunities to hear about the gospel. This week wasn't nearly as exciting as last week, but it was still pretty great. I think back and there really isn't much to report on, but I will do my best to keep it entertaining. 

I will start with a fun experience we had this week. Elder Anderson and I have kind of become our Zone Leaders’ little helper companionship. We have been traveling all around the zone with them to help other areas find new investigators and help their areas. We spent this Thursday in Davenport. Usually in this case, we go on an exchange too so that we can learn from somebody else. When Elder Anderson and I got there, they told us that we would be sticking together and that we would be tracting all day. We didn't really have any directions so we said a prayer and got to it. As we were knocking near a Catholic church, we realized that everyone in this neighborhood attended that church of course. A couple hours into it, we knocked on the door of a Nun. Man, it was wild. She came out all guns a blazing on us. She had all kinds of thoughts about what we believed. It is pretty sad to me that other congregations spend time feeding their members false information about other churches, especially ours. We can always catch them though when we ask them where they got their information. They confidently say that they have done research on the Mormons. In other words, their preacher told them.

Another fun little story happened on Saturday night. Elder Anderson and I were knocking some apartments. We were almost ready to head back in when we knocked on a woman’s door. We shared a brief restoration lesson and got a return appointment. She asked me to write down all the bible references for the points in the Restoration lesson. Sweet! Luckily you can find it all in the Bible! When we were exchanging information, I had the weirdest prompting of my mission. I had this thought come into my head that I needed to ask her about Mexican food (This woman was Caucasian). I kind of ignored it and then it came back! So, I asked her if she knew any good Mexican restaurants around town. Her face lit up and she told us all the good Mexican restaurants on this side of the Mississippi. She and her son apparently are avid Mexican food fans. The Spirit is real man. I am excited to go back and teach her. Hopefully she will be down to grab a taco or two and talk about Jesus. 

The last experience comes from yesterday. We were excited to start the day yesterday. We had three of our solid investigators say they were going to come to church. K, A, and K. We even got K to try to help us give a ride to the other two. We were stoked when all three of them responded Sunday morning that they were indeed coming to church. When we got to K's house to lead him to the church he was all ready to go sweet! When we went to A and K’s house, they were nowhere to be found. We frustratingly told K maybe next time and got back into the car. When we got to church and got K all situated, we took our seats on the stand (Elder Anderson and I spoke in sacrament meeting). A few minutes into the service, A and K both walked in. Man, I haven't been that stoked for a minute. It was great to have three investigators there. We are really excited to continue to help them prepare for baptism! Hopefully I stick around another transfer! Fingers crossed. 

Well I am sorry that this email is kind of lame. I commit to having a better one next week. Thanks for the package too! The Legos were a highlight. Elder Anderson is incredibly jealous!

I love you guys. Have a great week! 

The Avid Mexican Food Eating Elder,
Elder Obray

The golf course where the John Deere Classic is played is in our area!

Built some street credit when I played some pickup ball with some guys this week!

Monday, April 17, 2017


Hey Hey Hey! Man, it has been a great week here in East Moline. I can't complain about things here. The weather has warmed up a lot. We had a few weeks straight of rain and overcast skies. Fortunately for us, the weather has cleared up and the sun is out. I love this time of year because I feel like along with the Resurrection of our Savior on Easter, the earth experiences something similar. Can't complain too much! 

This week was pretty wild. We had a bunch of pretty interesting experiences. It was a crazy busy week as well. On Tuesday, we had a triple blitz in an area in Moline. We had seven Elders working the same area so that was a treat. I got to go with one of our zone leaders. He has been out for almost twenty-one months so it was great to work with a seasoned missionary. As I thought about my mission so far, I realized that all my companions have been pretty young. Elder Dunford trained me at 6 months and all my other companions came out in the same group with Elder Balderston. Pretty crazy. 

We also had interviews with President and Sister Badger, they are the greatest. I learn so much from them whenever I am around them. President is such an awesome man. It will be cool to hear him from the pulpit in the conference center some day! Another highlight of the week was our mission gathering. Unfortunately, Elder Stevenson couldn't make it like we thought. It was pretty disappointing. But instead, we got to hear from L. Whitney Clayton, the Senior President of the Seventy. It was a great time to learn from him. He brought two other members of the Seventy as well so I can't complain. It was cool to be in the same room as such spiritual men. I will talk about that more at the end of this email. 
I got my first taste of some different Christian churches. On Friday, we attended a Methodist service with a recent convert. He is a wizard on the piano so he played for their service. The highlight was on Sunday morning. One of our investigators decided that if we came to his church, he would come to ours. Sounds like a good deal. So, on Easter Sunday, Elder Anderson and I got to attend a Baptist service. It was so sick! We got some crazy looks. Not only because we were two of maybe four white people in the church, but we were the Mormons! People were incredibly nice though. We made sure we introduced ourselves to as many people as we could! The Baptist church really knows how to keep a service exciting. The whole time, people were yelling "AMEN" "HALLELUJAH!" and "PRAISE HIM!" It was awesome. They had dancing, mingling time, and they even had a choir that belted out the songs. I am pretty sure I am going to join! Haha just kidding. I had the same feeling as I did in the Methodist Church. They definitely had a fun time, but if nothing else, it solidified my testimony of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. Our investigator, A came to our sacrament meeting and really enjoyed it. He said that he has some pretty intense anxiety but when he came into our church, he felt calm and at peace. Gotta love the spirit. 

Although it was great to learn from Elder Clayton, my favorite part of the meeting was something President Badger said. He told a story about running with a tail wind versus running with a head wind. When we run with the tail wind, we don't always notice that it is there and we start to become a little confident as we feel like we are in much better shape than we thought. We don't realize that we had the help until we turn around to face the head wind. At this time, we are often humbled as we struggle against the wind. President Badger said that sometimes all we can do is put our head down and keep moving our feet against the trials we face. By the time we get back home to our Heavenly Father, we will be grateful for the trials that we had because of the strength that we received as we endure the struggles. He also said that "The absence of trials is also a trial." When life is going swell, we are often reluctant to look to the Savior. We become complacent and prideful as we rely more on our own strength. When we have trials, we have the privilege of gaining strength and experience. The last quote that I really loved was when he said, "At the end of the day, when we return to our Heavenly Father, I think that we will look back and be surprised at how much help we actually had in our mortal lives." I testify along with President Badger, that the Lord is always with us, even when we feel that we are alone. He will never turn from us, it is just up to us to keep out minds turned to Him. That is when true peace and joy come. 

I hope you all have a great week this week. I sure do love you guys. 

Elder Obray 

I got this shirt at the Truck Stop of course. "Wanna Taco bout Jesus? Lettuce Pray"

Monday, April 10, 2017

The Gift of Agency?

Hey Hey! It has been a fantastic week here in East Moline. Elder Anderson and I are doing great. We spend a lot of our tracting time making up raps, and beat boxing between doors. I think I will be able to give James the Mormon a run for his money. Chan the Elder? I don't know I will think about it some more. We found some great people this week that we are excited about. But first! HAPPY BIRTHDAY L CAT! Man, you are getting so old. I am working on a birthday present. It might get there a little late, but I am definitely working on it (Mom your present is in the same boat) I don't have quite as much time as I would like to spend shopping for gifts for my favorite ladies. I commit to have it to you by July! If not, I will bring you home a cute present in sixteen months. Isn't that crazy? Today marks my eight-month mark on the mission. Officially one third of the way. Crazy stuff!

We had one of the best lessons I have had on my mission with our Indian investigators. We centered the lesson on Jesus Christ and even watched a video on his life. As we sat in the Relief Society room, I listened to A basically testify of the Savior. It was an amazing thing. He said that he knows that what we have taught him is true and that he wants to be a part of it. Sick! We are stoked for that family.

Yesterday was incredibly frustrating for us. We spent a lot of the week hounding our investigators trying to get them to church. We had some great lessons and six of our investigators committed to come to church. We woke up excited for the day (fast Sundays are always great to have investigators at church). One by one all six of them texted us an excuse as to why they couldn't make it to church... Remember that family I was excited about last week. When we went back, she told us that she was no longer interested and that she was content with where she was. If they only knew how much of a difference this gospel can make in their lives. Missionaries can testify all day about that difference, but until they try it, they will remain in the dark. We will get them all there next week. It is going to be incredible! 

A super cool experience happened this week. We were at dinner on Friday night with a member family in our ward. During dinner Brother Krause told us he had a referral for us. That never happens either so we were stoked. As we talked about it, he said that he went to visit an inactive member in our ward to fulfill his home teaching responsibilities. When he knocked on the door, a woman came to the door. She told them that the member had moved several years ago. He continued to talk to her still. He told us that the home had a good feeling about it and we should consider stopping by. Sweet. On Saturday morning, we drove to their house and were about to stop by. After we said a prayer, we felt that it wasn't the right time and that we should go see another one of our investigators instead. We taught the other investigator and went back to her house around 5:30. When she opened the door she excitedly asked us if we could come back in an hour. Of course, we obliged. When we went back, we taught a killer Restoration lesson on her door step to her and her three-year-old. She is super prepared and is open to the gospel. What do you know? Home teaching is important! We have a return appointment with her this week, I will let you know how it goes.   

It warmed up this week! We had a couple 70 plus degree days this weekend. That means that proselyting basketball is in full force. Elder Anderson and I played a couple guys the other day at a park. It is pretty funny when we walk up to ask if we can play. They always look us up and down and say, "You wanna play in that?" as they size us up a little bit. Plus people shave off points like nothing else. We played some guys to 11 the other day and we must have gotten to 11 five times before they accepted that two Mormons in white shirts and ties beat them in two on two. After a loss when they are a little humbled and embarrassed makes for a perfect time to talk about Jesus!  Who would have thought basketball would be a great way to share the gospel? I will try to record one of our pick-up games and send it your way. I am definitely much slower and can't jump as high so don't expect too much!

I will end this email with a cool experience. Elder Anderson and I were knocking some apartments this week. While we were knocking, we could hear a woman and man screaming at their little kid. When we got to their door, we hesitantly knocked and OYM'd them. They were more than happy to tell us that they didn't want to hear about "our Jesus" and closed the door. When we moved on to the next set of doors, the man decided that he hadn't had enough. He came out in a wife beater and with a beer in his hand. He said, "Nobody in this building needs saving from you dumb *swear word." We told him that we were just trying to help people find joy through Jesus Christ and he continued to drill into us. Of course, we did our best to leave peacefully but he got all the neighbors out of their apartments too. It was quite the sight. I am happy to say though that Elder Anderson and I stood our ground and testified of Jesus Christ. Nobody was converted and we didn't have any return appointments, but it felt good to stand up for what we believe. In Romans 1:16 Paul says: "For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ for it is the power of God unto salvation to everyone that believe' to the Jew First, and also to the Greek." 

I encourage you all to find opportunities to share your testimony with others. It is a great way to strengthen your own testimony and you never know what impact that testimony will have on that person. 

We do have a great opportunity this week. Elder Gary Stevenson of the Quorum of the Twelve is coming to visit our mission on Saturday. It is going to be such a killer experience to be in the presence of one of the Lord's apostles. I will let you know the details next week.

I love you guys. Have a great week! 

The Rapping Missionary,
Elder Obray

Monday, April 3, 2017

Called to Serve

I am going to go ahead and copy Robert's subject heading for my email today. I guess that great minds think alike? Wasn't conference the best? Conference is always such a great time to be a missionary. On a mission, I have literally become giddy whenever conference rolls around. It is such a privilege to be part of the Lord's true church and to be able to listen to his apostles and prophets address us. WE ARE SO LUCKY. I will talk more about the conference near the end of this email.

I am glad that things back home are going so well. I always feel relieved when I log on and find that all is well back home. Please keep it that way! Mom I am glad that the birthday was a party! From what I hear there were parades and all the fourth graders in the state of Utah had the day off to celebrate! You make such an impact on those kids mom. Hopefully someday I will be as cool as you are.

We had a wild week this week, so I will dive right into it. The highlights include transfers. Elder Blau headed over to Ankeny. I was sad to see him go, but at the same time it is nice to have a change of pace. I learned a lot from serving with him. The Lord puts specific people in our paths that will help us grow into what he wants us to be. He did exactly that with Elder Blau. On Thursday, I traveled to Iowa City with my favorite member, Sister Hirst. My new companion is Elder Anderson from Salem, Utah. He is cool guy. I think that this next transfer will be a good one. He actually plays basketball too. Hopefully our Tuesday night ward ball will provide some good games. 

When we got back from Iowa City, we got right to work. Unfortunately, the investigators that we have aren’t progressing as quickly as we would like. Our most promising investigator B is waiting for doctor's clearance to be baptized. He had to have his toes on his right foot removed due to some complications with a fish hook. Long story short, he can't dunk his foot for a while. We are bummed because he is very ready to be baptized so hopefully he will continue to have a rapid healing process.

I have also learned that it is always a good idea to knock one more door. Last night we ran into a family who we are excited about. We were about ready to head back to the apartment for the night when we decided to knock one more door. We knocked and a very foreign woman told us that she was not interested and closed the door. Bummer, as we walked back to the car, we decided to hit up one more. The next door we knocked was an awesome family. We were knocking in a really nice area so we were surprised when she actually came outside to talk to us. We are going to go back this week! I will let you know how it goes!

That is about it as far as awesome missionary experiences this week. I really enjoyed conference this weekend. There were a few talks that really stuck out to me. Of course, I am a little biased to the talks about missionary work, so of course I really loved Elder Bednar's talk during the priesthood session. He seemed to say the exact words that I needed to hear. Lately on my mission it has been kind of a struggle. I haven't really felt like East Moline is where I am supposed to be. The ward and the work is very different than it was in Ames. I honestly was missing serving in good ole Ames. Elder Bednar talked about how we are first "called to serve" then we are "assigned to labor." The call to serve is not dependent or restricted to a specific location. Whether it be East Moline, Ames, California or South Africa, all missionaries are called to do the same thing, serve. I wish I would have heard that talk one year ago when President Stevenson submitted my papers to the Church Office. I learn more and more every day that Iowa/Illinois is where I am supposed to be. I don't always like it and I still often get jealous of missionaries in other countries, but at the end of the day, the experiences that I am having on my mission are priceless. 

I also loved Elder Gary B. Sabin's talk in the Saturday afternoon session. He talked about being "all in" in our personal discipleship. The gray area of discipleship is growing thinner and thinner so it becomes more important every day to make sure that we are always on the Lord's side. Make sure to go back and review the talks as well. It is great to hear them once, but reading them again will bring much more understanding and spiritual strength and will help us catch the things we missed. 

I love you guys and I hope that you all have a great week. Make it a great one. 

Elder Obray