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 

Monday, May 8, 2017

High Priest of Good Things to Come

Hey Hey Hey! Man, it has been quite the week. I look back on the week and a couple of the days I felt like laying down in the street for a while, but now it is all good. One minute you are down in the dumps, then five minutes later you could be happy as can be after someone schedules a return appointment. Hopefully I will be a little more stable by the time I get home. 

To dive into the week, we had another really frustrating week. We spent a lot of the week trying to work with the investigators that we do have already. We have a bunch of people who claim that they are interested and say that they love our visits, but they never keep commitments and never come to church. It is quite a frustrating process. We decided this weekend, that in order for us to find the elect, we need to stop spending so much time working with those who aren't the elect yet. So basically, that means that we are starting from scratch. We have had to drop several investigators which is never fun, but the field is white all ready to harvest, right? There are other people who need our time. Now we just need to find all of those people. 

We had a pretty unfortunate event take place this week. After district meeting, we took off to change from our suits and use the bathroom. While our car was parked on the side of the street next to our apartment, an elderly man backed his Silverado into the driver's side door. We were inside so we had no idea that it happened. When we got out to the car, we found an older couple knocking on the doors around us, looking for the Mormons who drove the Ford Fusion. Did I mention we have been rolling around in a fusion? Man, it is mean machine. We get some sweet looks from the guys in the rougher parts of towns. Basically, the fusion has a sweet dent in the door and we are going to have the door replaced, but I was super grateful for this man who was honest and sought us out. Who knew? There are still good people in the world. 

To give you an idea of our proselyting area, the other day, we were walking down the street, and a police officer pulls up next to us. We got ready to tell him that we weren't soliciting and that we were missionaries. He said "Do you guys know where you are? There have been several shootings in this neighborhood the past couple of nights." He was pretty nervous, but little does he know that we have some pretty sweet back up on our side. Don't worry mom I promise that I won't be getting shot any time soon! 

I am sorry this email has been super lame, but I will try to spice it up with a spiritual thought. Man, these past couple of weeks have been incredibly frustrating for me. It is so hard for me to see people so close to experiencing real joy but being to lazy to keep commitments or keep appointments.  I was reading a talk this morning by Elder Holland called Remember Lot's Wife. Bob and Trevor, I know you guys know this one. Towards the end of his talk, he mentions that Christ is "a high priest of good things to come", and that we must have faith that there are good things to come. Although it is incredibly sad for me to see people reject the gospel, or even just not take it serious enough, I know that someday, sometime, they will have an event happen in their life that will turn them to their Savior. He is the author and finisher of our faith and he extends his hands to us unconditionally. These people are being prepared for another missionary who will come by and help them towards the true church, and I am being prepared for others who I will be able to help accept the restored gospel. If we keep the perspective that there will always be a light at the end of the tunnel and Christ is that light, it becomes easier and easier to endure trials with a cheerful attitude. 

President Badger, told me in my email that there are some changes headed my way. Basically, I will be getting transferred. I will let you guys know on Sunday where I end up. Man, I can't even explain to you how excited I am to see you guys and talk to you. Don't be surprised when you answer the skype call to find a slightly chubbier and balding version of your son and brother. Have a great week this week. See you on Sunday. I will have a member text you some more details as it gets closer. Most likely Sunday night. I love you! 

Elder Obray

Whitey's is the best ice cream I have ever had. It will change your life. 

Monday, May 1, 2017

Seeds Need Water to Grow Right?

Hey Hey Hey. It has been a great week here in the Quad Cities. Man, if I could use one word to describe this week, it would be "wet". It literally rained for the entire week straight, it was crazy. I am finally understanding why Utah is called a desert. One huge plus about the rain is that my hair is continually thinning so when my hair gets wet, you can see right through it to my scalp. I guess it is just preparing me for the future when there really is no hair there. Oh boy. 

Speaking of, one night Elder Anderson and I got back to the apartment and we decided that we were pretty bored. What do missionaries do when they are bored again? Last time I shaved my legs so this time we decided to give each other haircuts. It is kind of peculiar because as missionaries we constantly challenge people to use their agency for good, for some reason I haven't really been thinking things through before I use my agency. So, we went for it. I think I need to get a job at Super Cuts because Elder Anderson's hair looked top notch. As for Elder Anderson, I think he would fit better in a Great Clips setting. Long story short, my part is pretty much on the middle of my head. I think I might have to cut my hair real short to fix it. I guess a mission really is the best place to get a bad haircut! I forgot my memory card adapter thing so pictures will have to wait until next week. 

Unfortunately, we had a couple of our investigators flake out on several appointments and had some of our most promising potentials drop us. It happens though, right? So, we hit the streets. We have decided that we ought to do some finding in some really nice areas to find that "one golden family" that is down to get baptized on the spot. It has been a pretty brutal process. We didn’t really have any signs of potential for the majority of the week. We knocked and knocked while soaking wet and cold. Door after door, people would open the door with a smile, that quickly turned to a frown and say, "I am catholic" and slam the door. Sick. Let’s just say that we planted a ton of seeds this week. And because of all this rain we have been having, those seeds will definitely sprout into some sweet trees. 

On Sunday night, we were pretty much down in the dumps. We had gone out and worked the entire week in the rain. We thought that for sure someone would at least let us in for a second to warm up. No luck. The entire week, not a single person let us in to teach them. I felt like I was back in Ames.  The success didn't come until the last door we knocked on for the week. There is that fourth floor last door thing again, except if you are serving in Iowa it is more like the fourteenth street, last door. We went to knock on one of our potentials door. When she came out she told us that she was planning on coming to church that day, but had a family emergency in Chicago. As we talked to her, she told us that she has been looking for a church to go to with her kids that will teach her kids about the gospel. Man, the Primary is the best. After we continued to talk to her, she accepted a baptismal invite and she told us she wanted her kids to be baptized too. (They are below the age of accountability unfortunately but they for sure will in a couple years). It was a great way to end the week. There is a scripture I kind of like that talks about the trial of our faith, I don't really remember what it says though. 

All in all, it was a great week. At the time, it felt like I wasn't going to make it, but looking back I am grateful. I love this work. I hope you all have a great week. CTR. I love you guys. 

A Future Hair Stylist,
Elder Obray

p.s. shout out to the Jazz for first making it to the playoffs and second actually having a series win. Of course, it happens when I am on a mission!