Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Week 14, August 19, 2013

Malo! That's Hi!, in Samoan...
This week has been pretty good. Well, ok... its been great! haha New companion Elder Dorsey is pretty cool. He is from Pocatello, Idaho and it turns out he knew one of my good friends who was from there as well. Small world. Its been great working with him so far. Hopefully, he doesn’t get transferred next week. That would be kind of weird. I have pretty much had to take over the area again. Elder Dorsey wasn’t too happy that he was pulled out of his last area on a moments notice. He has only been out four months and that was his first area. I kind of understand, but Frederick is much better. He will realize that soon.

The mission is definitely a learning experience. We pretty much tell people that we can help them with anything and then when they give us the job we figure out how to do it. This week we visited a guy. He asked us if he would vacuum his car and help him out with some stuff in his house. Of course, we said yes. So we got there and I grabbed the vacuum and got to work. Then he comes out of his apartment with a very large pair of clearly used underwear and some armor-all and insisted that Elder Dorsey clean the dashboard. Never in my life have I been so glad I started working first. haha But we did it. It was one of the "I can’t believe this is actually happening" moments. Missionaries truly do see it all... Sometimes we see way too much. When I finished vacuuming I took pictures... haha

We have just barely contacted a media referral. She was raised in an lds home until right before she was baptized. Then things kinda’ went bad and her parents split up and they went less active. Now she is a single mom and looking for religion. She recognizes the need for spiritual things in her life and in her son’s life. Her grandma, also lds, insisted that she get in contact with the church and so she did. She is pretty awesome. She already has a great testimony of the importance of prayer and knows there is a God. She has never read the Bible or Book of Mormon. She knows who Christ is and what he did for us but she doesn’t know any of the stories or a ton of the details. She knows a lot about lds way of life though, since her extended family is all lds. We have met with her twice. She came to church on Sunday. Her son is six and he was a little wild in sacrament. I was really hoping that she would have a chance to focus and feel the spirit there but her son was really distracting. It was neat though because she started telling him why the sacrament was important. Then she kinda’ realized that she didn’t know how to explain it very well. It was a good opportunity to explain the atonement and sacrament quickly and briefly in simple terms. I think that was a benefit to both of them. After the sacrament her son persisted in his six year old wildness. Luckily, a Sister helped out and offered him a coloring book. Problem solved.

Good news is that we went over to her house later that day and answered any questions that she had and then had some great faith building spiritual experience sharing discussion. She wants to come back to church this week. 

The weather is really nice here. One of the mildest summers in a long time from what we hear. Feels like September or October more than August. It has been nice. I have heard that Utah is in a heat wave.

We have not been able to meet with Professor lately. Although, we did meet some of his students at the Frederick Rescue Mission. We volunteer there every Friday. They were pretty cool and knew who Professor was. And they will definitely tell him hey saw us. They couldn’t believe we were from the west. They insisted that they get a picture with the people from Utah. I was thinking "No. You’re missing the point. You don’t want a picture with some one from Utah, you want a picture with missionaries..." hahaha Some people...

Oriole night was really fun! I think I saw maybe four plays the entire night, but it was great to hang out with all of the other missionaries. Baseball is definitely not my thing. We all had a blast though. All of the missionaries were in one big section. There were about 270 of us there. It was crazy. We were on the jumbo-tron a lot. Pretty neat.

We are looking forward to another great week here. We a have a lot of things going well in this area. I hope you guys are having a great time at home. I am sure you are staying busy. I have got to go now…I will talk to you guys next week.

Love you guys,
Elder Hinkle

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Week 13, August 12, 2013

Week 13, August 12, 2013

Hey everyone!

Well, we had another great week here in the MBM (Maryland Baltimore Mission). So, the day after I emailed and said I didn’t get the quest bars, I got the quest bars. haha The zone leaders had told the mission office they would take them to me and then left them in their car for two weeks... haha Oh well. They are still delicious and nutritious. In fact, I am eating one right now! I also got the package you sent me. I was all shaking it and Elder Hansen thought I was getting candy. I responded "even better! Vitamins!!" haha and I loved the magnet(tennis player: "My purpose in life is to serve others") and sticker (i-Serve) hahaha I love it, I love it, I love it! Pretty neat… anyway...

I am glad to hear everyone had a great time at the cabin last week. Boating is definitely the funnest activity! haha I definitely miss boating... or the water for that matter. haha  I cant wait to get the package you guys sent as well! That will be exciting!

It is pretty crazy that it is almost time for school to start again. Where did the summer go? Plus, Mormon night at the Orioles is this Friday! Booya! That is going to be a party. We are riding out with one of the young men in our ward we are good friends with. And we will see all of the other elders. I heard Elder Holland threw the first pitch at a Mormon night for some other team. That would be cool, but I’m not really expecting someone as cool as him to throw the first pitch.

So the big news for the week happened this morning... the news is bad & good... Elder Hansen was emergently transferred. New companion-Elder Dorsey is his name, and hopefully, missionary work is his game. I am excited to work with him for the next two weeks of this transfer. Then we will see what happens. We have no idea if he will stay or not when transfers come around. He seems pretty cool. I’ve only known him for about an hour but he seems like a great guy. Or I might be blinded by optimism. I’ll let you know next week. haha Unfortunately we had to exchange during zone soccer... I was not happy about all--quite disappointed, in fact. So unfortunately, I do not have any soccer highlights for you guys. I will in two weeks though.

Anyway, story time. So, on Tuesday, I went on exchanges with the zone leaders. I teamed up with Elder Ferrin. We thought we had a great day set up but every appointment fell through. We found out that every single one was canceled by about one thirty. haha So the sweet day that we had planned was totally emptied. So we changed up all of our plans and tried to contact some different people. Well, we didn’t see anyone. So it was around seven and we had already burned through all of our new plans. Elder Ferrin was looking at me like, "I don’t know where to go". And I was stumped as well. So we decided that we would pray and ask for direction and then visit the first active member that came to my mind. So we did so. The family I thought of was the Thompson’s. We rushed to their house hoping to finally talk to someone. The decision to go was on me. I was the one who knew the families in the area. I did my best to ask in faith and follow the prompting given me. As we drove to their house, I had time to think. Time to think about quick decisions isn’t always the best. I reflected on how I felt about visiting the Thompson’s. Analyzed the feelings that came with the prompting I received. I had to decide if I really thought I had received direction from God and that we would go where he wanted us to go. I decided I had indeed been guided and that we would accomplish something that night. We got to the Kilpatrick’s house and knocked on the door. No dice, the Thompson’s didn’t answer. So we got back in the car thinking that we must be in that area for a reason. We looked on the GPS and saw that a less active family, the Jackson’s, lived close by. I had no idea who they were, so we decided to find out. After knocking on doors all day we finally got one to open. This lady pretty much yelled at us to never ever stop by again. Apparently, we need to work on our first impressions... We finished the night and actually found a couple more people who asked us never to return to their doorstep. They were a little more polite though. So fast-forward to Wednesday. I’m back with Elder Hansen and the day is going in pretty much the same direction. No one was home. Then we got a text from the referral center. We had nothing to do at the moment so we went to check it out. Turns out it was the Thomspon’s neighbor. A guy named Professor. He let us in and was excited to talk to us. He mentioned how surprised he was that we had come so quickly. He told us how he had sent in a request for a missionary visit late the night before. He saw us visiting the Thompson’s and decided he wanted to talk with us. The story gets better. He plays tennis and he fed us dinner! We are good friends now. He is a Catholic and he wanted to find out more about our religion and learn more about mission life because a former student of his is serving in Brazil right now. Oh yeah... he is a college professor. Minor detail. Anyway, we found this guy because we were in the right place at the exact time we needed to be for him to see us the night before. If we had not gone to the Thompson’s, we would not have visited the Jackson’s. Even if Heavenly Father had inspired us to see the Jackson’s when we asked who we should see we would have been too early. It was really quite amazing. It was a learning experience for me. In this month’s Ensign, I read about personal revelation. This is something I study a lot. I apologize for not remembering who said it but somewhere in there it said that we must learn to walk to the edge of the light and then take a few steps into the darkness. Knowing that once we do so, we will receive further light. This might be the one time that I do not have my book of thoughts on hand right now... sorry not to have the exact thought. But it’s not important. The point is that we need to act on the promptings we receive. Then more revelation will come as we are on the move, following what we have already received. It can be strange, I’m not going to lie, to be walking on a path without knowledge of where it will take you. It is humbling. It is truly God's work and I am both humbled and honored to be a part of it. The amazing thing is that while this story may have been the most clear example of this, this type of experience happens to me all the time as a missionary. Pretty neat.

Every morning, I pray for guidance when I study. Sometimes certain random things will stand out to me. I find that these seemingly random things become important in the days meetings. On Thursday, I was talking to a less active member, a converted Catholic. We were talking and he brought up that he had a problem with the church not using unleavened bread for the sacrament. In that mornings study, I had come across the verse in the Doctrine and Covenants where the Lord revealed that we should not use wine in the sacrament and that we could use anything as long as we took of the sacrament with an eye single to the glory of God.  I asked if he believed that Joseph Smith was a prophet and had received revelation from God. He answered in the affirmative. I was then able to provide this guy with the reference and explain the answer to his question. He was astounded at my knowledge of the scriptures. haha But I am quite certain that the spirit just brought that verse to my attention as I was flipping though the pages that morning. And I let him know that. I told him the whole story of why I knew the reference off hand and testified that God answers prayers. It is so fun to be a part of experiences like these. They are priceless.

Dad- good luck in the tournament of love. Who is playing the exhibition this year? Since you didn’t tell me-- it is either someone so cool that you don’t want me to know or someone who isn’t as big of a name but still totally awesome. Just wondering... I loved your lesson from Lorenzo Snow. What he taught is very true. That is definitely the attitude that is needed to be most effective while working with the Lord.

Oh, you can probably send things to the mission office address. I gave you my apartment address too but either one will work. As long as my zone leaders don’t leave it in their trunk...

I’ve got to go now, but I will talk to you next week. I hope you are all doing well. I love missionary work!! hahaha Talk to you later.

Love you guys,
Elder Hinkle

Monday, August 5, 2013

Week 12, August 5, 2013

Hey guys! Another week has come and gone. It is pretty crazy to think that it is August already and half way through the second transfer. Time is moving fast. No surprise, this week has been great! But before I tell you about it I need to rewind, back to last Monday. I forgot to mention zone soccer again! haha! It was pretty great. My highlight was a lefty goal from like thirty feet out. I felt pretty good about myself. Not quite sure how I forgot about that in my letter last week. Oh well..

So Monday night we decided to contact a media referral. Media referrals are referrals from where people go online and request a missionary visit or a book of mormon. So this guy requested a missionary visit and we decided to go meet him. Here in Maryland we encounter some crazy pet people, but this guy was really over the top. He lived in this tiny apartment house. As he invited us inside we quickly hit a wall of such penetrating stench as I have never before seen, or in this case, smelled. I was quick to remember to remember the lord's promise in the doctrine and covenants that those who try to poison me shall fail, for I was quite sure the odor was poisonous and I was quickly losing brain cells. As I tried to get my wits about me I began to count cats... one, two, three.... six cats. Then I noticed the dogs... this is a tiny apartment! No ventilation.... not surprisingly this guy ended up being a little crazy. Normally, we love talkative people but this guy really couldn’t seem to get his story straight. It was like talking to a four year old, no offense to the cousins... anyway... so he tells us his initial story and then we leave, promising to return again on Wednesday. Aaron claimed he was interested in the church and wanted to learn more and change his life a bit. He mentioned the word of wisdom and claimed to have no issues with following that commandment. His pet collection has grown considerably and as we left he swore us to secrecy because he isn’t allowed to have that many pets... for good obvious reasons, I might add. As much as I wanted to tell him that the best way to improve his life was to get rid of all of his pets and move to a new house far away, that was not the message I prepared for our return visit. I still wonder if I should have... haha as we thought about where to go with this guy we noticed something odd on the ward records... his name! Now we were a little intrigued. Who could possibly get baptized and not remember? There must be a story behind this one. So Wednesday arrived and although the smell would be nearly impossible to bear, we pressed on in order to get to the bottom of the matter. We wasted no time at all. Within the first few minutes we informed him that he is a member of the church. He looked like a kid caught with his hand in a cookie jar. And we got the real story. Well, we got the general idea. He has been living in such an unhealthy situation for so long I think it has damaged his communication abilities beyond repair. Very long story made short - he thought he was excommunicated for something his dad did. In reality, his dad was offended and left. He was not involved in the situation at all. Fortunately/unfortunately, he is out of town for the next two weeks. We will see what ends up happening with him.
Thursday we had a zone conference. Pretty big deal. Meeting from eight to twelve. Lunch break. Meetings from one to five. Eight hours. It was good though, president and his wife were there and we had some recent converts come and bear their testimonies. It was great. Well, we received some great training about using online videos in the messages we share to help members think about ways they can do missionary work. These online videos are pretty great. They are on the hastening the work section, you guys should check them out. We decided we should probably apply the inspired training and decided to use it in our visit that night. We familiarized ourselves with the website and selected the video we would share. When we got there and started talking we discovered that they had seen all of the videos. Very recently. Like the day before was when they had watched them. So we didn’t show the video. But we still had a great discussion.

Friday we visited another guy. it was recently his birthday and so we brought him a frosty. He proceeded to ask Elder Hansen his usual questions. Elder Hansen was again uncomfortable. But we challenged him to come to church. He told us that he was going to buy a white shirt and a clip on tie before he came this weekend. Clip on tie? Yes, and Elder Hansen has zip ties.. haha He said that he would come but we wouldn’t see him. We assured him that we would if he came over and said hello. So Sunday rolled around and we didn’t see him. We thought that he just didn’t keep the commitment. As we walked to our car we saw a note in the windshield wiper. He was there. And now he thinks he is so cool... ugh…I completely forgot about him trying to avoid us…Mostly because I didn’t take him seriously. But we will get him next time.

Fast Sunday was great this week. During sacrament I found out that I needed to prepare a back up lesson plan for Elders quorum in case the guy who was supposed to teach didn’t show. I did so and so I did not take the opportunity to bear my testimony. I hope some of you guys did. It is a great opportunity to share what we know to be true. Fortunately the guy who was supposed to teach did arrive. He taught a great lesson on fasting related to testimony. We were in elders quorum with a Brother. He is not a member but his wife is. Cool guy. The teacher asked if we would all go around and bear our testimonies. We did so. When it was this Brother's turn he too bore his testimony and in his words "this church is in the correct way" said with some hesitancy. I think that’s a word, hesitancy? Anyway, it was neat and when he finished, an older member of the quorum called him out saying "that was pretty good, when are you getting baptized?" haha I took the opportunity to bear my testimony as well and I would like to share it with you guys as well.

I am here in Frederick, Maryland for a very specific reason. I stand as a witness of Jesus Christ. I know that Jesus Christ is the Son of God. I know that He died for me and paid the price for all of my sins, allowing me to learn and progress. I know that He did this for each and every one of us. He is the Savior and Redeemer of all mankind. Almost two thousand years ago Jesus Christ died on the cross. I can testify that He was resurrected. He lives! I know it.
He established His church on the earth when He was here and after it was rejected and altered by men He has established His church once again. That church is the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, which was restored through the prophet Joseph Smith. I know that the current President of the church, President Thomas S. Monson, is a prophet of God leading and guiding us today under direction of Jesus Christ.
Jesus Christ lives to lead and guide us that we may grow greater than we currently are. God and Jesus Christ know our divine potential and work tirelessly to help us achieve it. I know that with their help all things are possible.
Some people will question how anyone could ever come to know these things. Only through the Spirit can we know the truth of spiritual things. I can say, without doubt, that I have felt the Holy Ghost impress upon me that these things are true. Personal revelation is real and is available to every one of us. Ask and ye shall receive. Seek and ye shall find. Knock and it shall be opened unto you.
I am a representative of Jesus Christ and I know these things to be true. I say these things in His name, Amen.

I hope you guys are have a great week. I will talk to you guys next week.

I love you guys,
Elder Hinkle