Monday, December 22, 2014

December 22, 2014-Merry Christmas!

Hey guys! Merry Christmas!! Three days! haha  It will be fun to see you guys on Christmas! We have a pretty packed day - we will be going to two people's houses for Christmas dinner. One at three and one at five. haha Then, we will see the L family a little bit before we skype home. And we may try to see some other people. We will see what we can set up. It will be a fun day. This week is pretty crazy. It's a really weird week; we only get like two normal days to proselyte. Crazy. 

Brother K was confirmed in church yesterday! That was great! His home teacher, brother N confirmed him, which was good.  We did everything we could to have a member of the branch baptize him... I do not know if that is a world wide thing or a mission thing but it sure does make a ton of sense. Missionaries...we come and go pretty quick. I would not be surprised if I am transferred in three weeks. The members stay in the area with the new member. So if the members perform the ordinance, then there is that connection within the ward. Ideally, it is a home teacher or close friend in the ward. We have done everything possible to get brother K a lot of friends in the ward. And he has a ton of them.  Oh yeah, and we had like sixty people there at the baptismal service. Awesome turnout! President Richards came and it was a really good service. After the service, the B family, the other people being baptized, invited us and bro K over to their house for lunch. And so we went with them and we had a good time. And then, yesterday, they were all confirmed. Brother K wanted like everyone in his confirmation circle though.. haha It was funny. And his home teacher was voice, so that was great! So now he has the gift of the holy ghost! Plans are in motion to have him ordained to the Aaronic priesthood. as soon as possible. And then we will get him involved and transitioned into full activity in the church. That's what its all about. We have a lot more work to do to help brother K. But he is on fire and things are going really well. 

That has taken up most of our week. It's been a lot of work for brother K. The week before the baptism, we know, is like a spiritual fifth set tie breaker. Just like the time leading up to serving a mission, just before you leave... satan gets desperate and tries hard. We were very aware of that, so we redoubled our efforts to strengthen bro K in the Lord this week. With faith that if we did all we could, then the Lord would help him. Like elder Sam Wong's talk from conference, "when Jesus saw THEIR faith He healed the man with palsy," we spared no expense in meeting with him every day and getting things in order. We made sure brother K was our priority this week. And that was good. We are glad that everything went so well. Several members remarked that the baptism was a very spiritual experience and they really enjoyed it as well. Awesome.

It was a good thing to have the baptism so close to Christmas. It has caused me to reflect a lot on receiving the gift Christ gave us. That is exactly what brother K did this weekend as he received the sacred ordinances which literally allow him to receive the gift of the atonement of Jesus Christ. That is exactly what we do when we worthily partake of the sacrament of Christ each week in church. Talk about embracing the gift. 

This Christmas season I have reflected a lot on what Christmas means to me this year. The themes of faith, trust, and love stand out in my mind. The prophet Mormon tells us "God declared unto prophets that Christ should come. And by declaring the word of Christ unto the chosen vessels of the Lord, that they may bear testimony of Him, the Lord prepareth the way that the residue of men may have faith in Christ that the Holy Ghost may have place in their hearts." This Christmas season, I celebrate that the gospel of Jesus Christ has been declared to the world. And even more, the fullness of his gospel has been restored to the earth! What a blessing it is to have prophets, to have the gospel declared, that we may know about Christ and have faith in Him! What a great gift! The prophet Mormon tells us through faith in Christ, we may lay hold upon every good gift. There are a lot of good gifts out there and through faith in Jesus Christ, we can have them. The prophets have told us about the gifts Christ can give us for a long time.... gifts of hope, peace, joy, overcoming our weaknesses and mistakes, living with our families forever. Just to name a few. All gifts, which mean a lot to me personally and seem to resonate with most of the world. So I celebrate that we have the gospel and know of Christ. Because we know of him and his gospel we have the opportunity to have faith in him and lay hold on every good gift. 

There are many invitations the Savior extends to people. The one that seems best fitting to me for the Christmas season is "be of good cheer". That is my invitation to all of you. Do not be distracted by all of the commercial christmas stuff. Rather let the birth of Jesus Christ and his life and his atonement, rest in your minds, that you may be of good cheer. When we remember Christ, we will be of good cheer. 

Our family has so many reasons to be happy. I am glad I am a full-time missionary right now. Because as the prophets have declared glad tidings of joy to the world, I get to help take the word of Christ to people who have not heard it yet by bearing testimony of Him, so that other people can have faith in Him too. It is definitely a memorable Christmas to see the fruits of the work of many missionaries and members in the life of brother K. That is what it's all about. Helping people to come unto Christ and experience the same joy we have felt. 

Merry Christmas again!
Love you guys,
elder Hinkle

Monday, December 15, 2014

December 15, 2014

Hey guys! Ten days till Christmas!!! Whaat!? Merry Christmas to you too Jordan! haha and everyone else! We are so stoked this Christmas season! We love Christmas! 

That's cool that Matt spoke, definitely tell him I say hi. And then, David too this next week. haha Man time flies. That's crazy. People are all starting to go home now... these next few transfers in the mission there are a lot of people going home that I know. It's crazy. 

It sounds like you guys had a really fun week this last week! Well, mostly it sounds like Jack had a really fun week. haha Jack - in answer to your question, brother K is going to be baptized this Saturday!!! It has been so fun to teach him leading up to this Christmas! President Richards interviewed him last night! It's official! Now we are just planning the baptism. It's going to be awesome! haha 

We have had a fantastic week this week! We met with brother K pretty much everyday. It's been fun to work with him. Monday, we went with him to the single adult fhe. Tuesday, we were out caroling with brother S again. Bro K was going to come with us but something came up. So we stopped by with bro S. Out of the blue, brother S invited brother K to go to the festival of lights at the DC Temple with him on Saturday. They had a blast from what we heard! haha Thursday, we had dinner at the R's home and they invited brother K! We taught tithing there and it was a really good visit! The R's were super involved and testified powerfully about their experience as faithful tithe payers. Brother K really liked the idea. He kept asking if any of it went to help the missionaries.  haha We told him it does not and explained all of the other donations on the tithing slip and stuff. We got the sense he really is grateful to the missionaries. It was pretty cool. Friday, we had the ward Christmas party! That was awesome! Such a good opportunity to help brother K integrate with the ward. Brother N was recently assigned to be his home teacher. haha And they are definitely becoming good friends.  Bro N drove us and brother K out to president Richard's house last night! And we had a lesson in President's house with brother K's new home teacher! It was a really good visit - we taught about the commandment to follow the prophet and had a really good discussion involving bro K and N and President and Sister Richards. And then, afterwards, sister Richards pulled out her many dessert options and took many pictures, and then, President interviewed bro K. And all went well. So we will be busy planning the baptism this week! President said he is going to try hard to come! haha So that will be cool too. We are going to try hard to meet with brother K everyday again this week to do everything we can to keep the ball rolling! He is on fire right now! And we have a lot of good stuff coming up for him as well! 

Wednesday, this week, we had a specialized training with president and sister Richards. We taught them again and that was fun too. But our entire day was taken up. We had the specialized training and then we were assigned to direct parking at the temple for festival of lights. Long day but it was fun. We had to use a ton of miles though so we have been trying hard to save them now. The temple is really cool. It was fun to be there. It was pretty chilly though. 

We have no snow here. It is looking like it will be a green Christmas. Which is good. I'm all for that! haha If i'm not going to go snowboarding then I don't need any snow. haha We had a little snow the other day and there was enough for elder M to throw a snowball at me... but you should have seen how long it took him to get enough snow to make a snow ball... haha I didn't even bother... I just caught it when he threw it at me and then threw it back at him... haha 

One night this week we were walking around and we approached this guy who was setting up Christmas stuff. And we started talking to him and then his girlfriend comes out all excited and see that we are missionaries. Turns out, she is a long time less active member who just moved into the neighborhood. And we found her. haha She said that she had the sisters over to feed them like every week before she moved and so we hooked her up with the sister's number and stuff and they will start working with her now. We went in with her and her boyfriend and had a fun visit. We shared with them the "He is the gift" video and they loved it. And they gave us hot chocolate, like everyone else we see.. haha I swear, we get so much hot chocolate... It's crazy.

I am kinda sick this week. On Friday, my voice was super deep again like it was in Bel Air that one time. haha. And it was the night of the Christmas party and I had to call president Richard's for our lesson. haha It was funny... my voice was super low... it's better now but I am more sick. Just a bad head cold, I think. But that's ok. Hoping to be over it as soon as possible.  

So I have had a rather interesting experience this year.... We are stoked for Christmas, right? So we are counting down, right? Ten days left!! So when we see people, we will excitedly remind them how many days are left until Christmas. The reactions we get vary... but it is more rare than common to find someone who is really enthusiastic about Christmas being right around the corner... We were talking to this lady the other day - we saw her coming in struggling to carry all of this stuff she bought, cursing loudly as she was trying to get it all out of the car. We offered to help her and she says - "No i'm fine, i just hate this season"... haha We were like ok...  the most common response is a deep breath or rolled eyes accompanied with comments about how much they have to do before then and how much stress it is causing them... I have heard  sin defined as "missing the mark or missing the point," we read in the book of mormon that when we sin we separate ourselves from God and push away His spirit. As I have reflected on the general attitude toward Christmas, I think that people do not like it because they are missing the point... They are so caught up in the wrong things. And because they are missing the point, they just push away the Christmas spirit and end up not happy... it's interesting. So what is the point? The point of Christmas is to remember the Savior. To have His spirit in our lives and to share that with other people. 

I have heard it often said that Christmas is not about the getting as much as the giving... I think that is good, but it is also good to remember to focus on receiving the gift that God has given us. We must receive it often. We give gifts to remember the gift of Jesus Christ which God has given us. But we can't get too stressed out about giving things to other people that we do not take time to receive the most important gift. We receive this gift by remembering Him. Recall the sacrament prayers - we promise to always remember Him - that we may have His spirit to be with us. That has deep significance relative to the Christmas season as well -  inasmuch as we remember Christ this Christmas season, we will have the spirit of Christmas in our lives. Which Christmas spirit is the spirit of cheer,  gift of giving and service and love. But inasmuch as we forget the Lord and focus on material things, we will miss out on the best parts of Christmas. So I invite you to do things specifically to remember Chris,t that you may have the spirit of Christmas with you through out this season. I will let you think of things you can do. haha 

Anyway, I've gotta go.. I hope you guys all have a great week this week! Merry Christmas!!! I will talk to you next Monday! Then there will only be like two days till Christmas! Wo. I wish you a good week. 

I love you guys! 
elder Hinkle

Monday, December 8, 2014

December 8, 2014

Hey guys!!! It sounds like it has been a good week for you guys! I can't believe it has been so warm there! That's awesome! We do not have any snow but it has definitely been pretty cold. That's crazy. haha I would take fifty degree anytime in December. haha

We had a fantastic week! It was really good. Probably the best week we have had here in Pasadena. Starting with last Monday night! We went to the single adult family home evening and we took brother K!  We were a little nervous as we looked around at the small crowd of old ladies who were in the group... apparently not everyone showed up last week, I don't know how the whole group really looks...but it turned out to be awesome! They get together every week and the read and discuss passages from the Book of Mormon. Last week, we read Msh 27 - the conversion of Alma the younger. Awesome chapter! But the best part came in the course of conversation - bro K introduced himself as a new member. And so they started asking him questions. He proceeded to announce to the group that he is going to be baptized. haha! It was pretty funny how it all played out! And brother K loves the single adult fhe! We are going tonight too! He is going to give us a ride there! haha He is really progressing and loving the gospel! We have had something with him almost every night this week! And we have something scheduled with him for every night this week! It is unreal. He is going strong! It's cool to see him making changes in his life. He has great faith. 

Last night, we watched the christmas broadcast with him at brother L's house! And he has been assigned home teachers! Whats up! We are planning the baptism and it is set for that Saturday morning so we can start inviting people! It's going to be fun! We are going to be meeting with brother K like everyday before his baptism to really help him prepare and then we will meet with him lots after to help him keep moving! It's going to be a fun transfer! What a way to gear up for christmas! haha 

We have had a lot of other good success as well this week! Elder M is great! He has a lot of enthusiasm for the work and we have been busy meeting all of the members and stuff. We have been sharing lots of christmas messages! The first night elder M was here we went with the L family to the Pasadena christmas tree lighting. They thought it wasn't going to be a very big event... it was a huge party! haha So we split from the L family and started contacting people! As we were talking to different families in the crowd, we would see brother L pop up in the background taking our picture as we talked with people! haha And he posted it on facebook! haha there is a new initiative here called #socialmediasplit. And whenever we go do stuff with members they are invited to share with their friends that they were out with the missionaries! Pretty cool. 

The feeling here is this area has definitely changed - I like that.  I think it is great and we have had miracles all week long and so we are both stoked about serving here! Score! That makes everything easier! And we have a lot of fun stuff coming up. 

As we are beginning this christmas season, I would bring to your attention this counsel from the Savior - "lay not up for yourselves treasure on earth, where moths and rust doth corrupt, and thieves break through and steal; but lay up for yourself treasures in heaven, where moth nor rust doth corrupt, and thieves do not break through and steal" 3 Ne 13:19-20. The holidays are very commercial these days... There is a lot of focus on what material gifts we want and what we will do with them. If we are not careful our attention is drawn away to the earthly treasures that we desire so much. And it is not so much that wanting things is bad, we just have to remember that many christmas gifts are earthly treasures and do not have as much value. But there are things that christmas brings that are heavenly treasures. Treasures that moth nor rust can corrupt, and no thief can steal. A big one is christmas memories. I have received many many christmas gifts in my life, which things I am grateful for. But more than being grateful for those things, as the years have gone by I am grateful for the memories and the christmas experiences. I remember spending christmas with the family and doing things with you guys. I remember going to both grandparent's house and having big family parties. haha I remember everyone being happy. 

As we anticipate christmas, let us all remember the gift of Jesus Christ offered to each of us by our Father in heaven. It is the greatest gift of all. As much as I used my tennis racquets, I have used the atonement more. I have broken strings often and I have even broken racquets I used them so much.... the atonement will never break. We can always rely on the Lord and use this matchless gift from our father in heaven. Surely the atonement of Jesus Christ is the most used christmas gift of all time, and therefore, the most valuable. What a treasure! It is definitely a cause to celebrate as we look back on the birth of the Savior and His divine mission to redeem the world. 

I have got to go! But I will talk to you next week! Merry Christmas!! By the way, there is like what? 17 days? That's what's up!? I'm still counting down. haha I will talk to you later! 

I love you guys!
elder Hinkle

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

December 1, 2014

Hey guys! Happy Thanksgiving again!! Sounds like you guys had a good holiday! We did too! Really good food. 

We had a really good week this week. Brother K was out of town but we were able to maintain semi-consistent contact with him. 

And I did not get transferred this time! Elder D did though... that's a bummer.  But it will be fun to take over the area and make some changes here. I'm going to talk our area up a ton and spin it super positive. And then stay positive! There is a ton of sweet stuff going on here so hopefully we will be able to eliminate any feelings of negativity about the work here. When a new missionary comes in I have learned that it is very important to present the new area in the right way. If you do not, it can make things a lot harder. But the glass in Fort Smallwood is half full. That's for sure. 

Oh yeah... we painted this guy's house and he has us eat this pizza that was made out of pretzel and nacho cheese sauce and pepperoni... Interesting food. 

Like I said, Thanksgiving was cool. There was a lot of food. The other missionaries played ultimate frisbee that morning  for a while which did look really fun from the sidelines.

Yesterday was pretty crazy. We raked leaves for like four hours. haha It was fun. That's the most work I've gotten to do in a long time. Elder D was all sore. I was surprised but not sore at all really. Which is good. haha These guys had so many leaves! It puts Grandpa's leaf piles to shame! It's madness out here. I'm surprised that more people have not had us rake this year..but we aren't in a very open country area at all really... 

Hey! Thanks for the package this week!! That was awesome! I loved getting your letters this week and the electric blanket has already been of use. It's super nice! Your home-made caramels were a big hit too. Everyone loved those. Thank you guys so much!! 

I was studying the sacrament yesterday morning. I was studying primarily from the latest general conference and the book of Mormon. I learned a lot the other day. I was reading elder Hamula's talk I think, about the sacrament. He talked about why the order in which we take the bread and water is important. I found this pretty interesting. We take the bread in remembrance of the body of Christ. In His body He came to earth and in His body He was killed and died. But in His body He rose from the grave breaking the bands of death for us all. As we remember His risen body, we are reminded of our own inevitable resurrection... I know that I will certainly be resurrected and be brought back into the presence of God where I will be judged... that happens because of the resurrection of Christ. Because He was resurrected, all of us will be brought to stand before God at some future point. We remember the victory over physical death... for some, that is cause to celebrate and for others it is cause to mourn because of their poor choices...The scriptures teach us that no unclean thing can stay in the presence of God... so we take the bread and we are reminded of this dilemma... but we then take the water in remembrance of the blood He spilt for each of us. Christ Himself declared the solution to the Nephites when He told them that through his blood they could be made clean. When we drink of the water we remember his atoning sacrifice. We remember the victory over spiritual death or separation from our Heavenly Father. As we take the sacrament we covenant to take upon us the name of Christ, always remember him, and keep his commandments. He promises us that we may have his spirit to be with us. The spirit is a cleansing and purifying agent. As we yield to the promptings of the Holy Ghost telling us to do good things and follow Christ we get better. We are sanctified... it's a process. Taking the sacrament yesterday with those thoughts in my mind was a highlight of the day. I am truly grateful to have the companionship of the Holy Ghost who is helping to purify me. And I hope to be better able to yield to his quiet voice. 

We just barely got the Ensign for November... I'm so stoked about it! I love re-reading general conference!! It's pretty sweet! There is a lot to learn there. I have not gotten the December one yet... I imagine I will pick it up at transfers on Wednesday. It's going to be weird. All of the sisters I came out with go home this week.... and soon a lot of the missionaries I have known most of my mission will start going home... It's going to be lame if I can't go to the transfer meetings now.. Hopefully, I will be able to go to most of them. My companions are going to start leaving soon. 

Anyway, I've gotta run for the day! I will talk to you next week! By the way! There are only twenty five days til Christmas!! What's up!? haha 

I love you guys!
elder Hinkle

Monday, November 24, 2014

November 24, 2014

Hey guys! Whats up!? It sounds like you guys had a really fun week! I bet you are stoked for Thanksgiving this week! We are! We are going to visit two families... one I don't really know yet and the other, I have met a few times. It's going to be a really fun day. Most of it. We have a zone activity in the morning to play ultimate frisbee.. so that means I'll sit on the ground for a couple hours.. but after that  the day will be sweet! haha 

Next Thanksgiving I will be there! That's weird.. but normal at the same time. I don't know. I always talk about not wanting to come home because I like being on a mission.  I feel like that's kind of a faithless attitude so I'm trying to be more excited to come home... don't get me wrong, I miss you guys and I can't wait to see you... but it really is good to be a missionary. haha 

You guys will have a lot to be thankful for this year. I saw something in a member's home once. One night for fhe they pulled out a giant piece of paper- like a really big one, three by three feet or so. They hung it on the wall. Then they all wrote things they are thankful for on it until it was full. I invite you guys to try it! Thanksgiving week! Hang up a big piece of paper in a place in the house that gets a lot of traffic, that you pass a lot. And put a pen next to it. Then every time you pass the paper you have to write something that you are grateful for until the end of the week. I guarantee you guys could fill a paper that is like ten feet long... but for the sake of time, it doesn't have to be that big... haha Then you can count your many blessings at the end of the week. yay. 

Brother K left for Florida on Friday. We met with him a lot before then. He is on fire. Tuesday, we taught him the gospel of Jesus Christ lesson. We were on exchanges and I stayed and one of our zone leaders elder Ferrin came here to work with me. We had a great lesson and talked a lot about repentance, we have covered a lot of the other subjects and repentance is going to be a big thing for brother K to understand moving forward. The good news is that he already has the desire to make these changes in his life. All he needs is a little doctrinal push to motivate him I think. I think that he will be able to do it. While we were teaching the gospel of Christ, we were at the B's home. A member in our branch. Brother B joined the church later in his life and he shared his story about how it all happened. It was an awesome story and brother K loved it. Then bro B invited brother King to be baptized on the 20th of Dec.  It was sweet. Brother K is praying about it. He is really looking forward to it. 

Oh, yeah... so we are in the ward choir here, right? Well, we sang in sacrament meeting this week. The song we sung was in Spanish... haha I didn't even know how to say all of the words... let alone sing... ... We have been practicing it in choir practice every week... well... sometimes I was on splits.. .and then I don't go to choir.. haha But yeah. You would have laughed seeing me up on the stand singing in Spanish... I don't think anyone heard my voice out of the choir because people kept saying we sounded great. That may be the first and only time that people compliment my singing. haha So, check that off the bucket list. 

It was a pretty good week. and to top it all off I find out today that Federer and Wawrinka won the Davis cup for Switzerland! whaaat!? I am sorry I missed  that. It is not often that you meet people who follow Davis cup - but I did! haha So I hadn't heard any news about the ties except for what you told me last week... so that was a sweet surprise! haha I'll have so much to catch up when I come home... and a ton of time to do it too. haha

I have been thinking a lot on gratitude this week. And last two weeks since they asked me to speak about it kind of. As I have pondered that, I think the things I am most grateful for this year are things which give me hope and things which have helped me become more converted to the Lord. In my mind, there are many things which stand out. A couple of those things are the book or mormon and the atonement of Jesus Christ. The book of mormon is something that I treasure. I've definitely felt the power of the book of mormon. It teaches us true and simple doctrine. It is full of invitations for us to act and promised blessings. When ever I read the book of mormon it renews my hope for the future and refreshes my view of what is going on around me. I have found so much needed direction in the book or mormon when I needed it. I remember my last semester in school I was having a difficult time. The more I have learned the more I see how I could have handled the situation differently. But one thing that I did right was turn to the book of mormon. I remember making it a priority to turn the pages of the book of mormon daily and read the word of God. I know that is one thing that really helped me out then and has continued to help me as I strive to be an effective missionary and go through life. I know that the book of mormon is true and it is the foundation of everything I hope for. If the book of mormon is true than I believe I have a great future ahead of me. If it is not, then I do not know... the good news is that I know it to be true. And that witness which I have received through the power of the Holy Ghost is something I am very grateful for. 

The atoning sacrifice of Jesus Christ and the work he has done and is doing and has promised to do in my life is something else that causes me to be grateful. I look back on my life and see that I have not always been the person I should have been. I am not yet the person I want to be.  I know of the work the Redeemer has done in my life to help me. It is because of Jesus Christ that I can look back and say - I am better than I used to be. As I reflect on that, I am filled with gratitude. I know that I still struggle to be who the Savior and I want me to be, but because of the gospel of Jesus Christ I am hopeful that I can and will continue to improve according to my faith, diligence, and obedience.  And life will be good. 

Reading your letters today is also something I am grateful for. I have been blessed to have a great family. I love reading the letters you send me. And it is quite a blessing to be able to email every Monday. I enjoy sharing my experiences with you guys and I enjoy reading about what's going on with you guys. I am really grateful for all the support that you guys have given me as I have been serving a mission especially. It is nice to be able to talk to you each week and hear your reports of the week. I am excited to talk to you guys on Christmas and it will be fun to come home and hang out with you guys this summer. I have met a lot of people in the last eighteen months... haha And I often find myself recognizing that we really do have a really cool family. If you guys were members in my ward, I would love to come to your house. haha You guys would be the favorites. haha 

Have a Happy Thanksgiving!! 

I love you guys! 
elder Hinkle

Monday, November 10, 2014

November 10, 2014

Hey guys! We have had a great week this week! It's getting really cold again... This week is supposed to be even colder but today is nicer. Not looking forward to the winter... but oh well.. Sorry, the other missionaries here like to email really early... so I beat your emails to the library. haha My bad. Maybe I will get them before I leave, we will see. 

People wise, brother K is doing great! We had some really good visits with him this week. We taught him about the plan of salvation this week. It went pretty well. We were at brother B's house and brother K loves him. haha We taught the first half and finished by talking about the atonement of Jesus Christ. We emphasized that baptism is the way we receive the gift he wants to give us. We invited bro K to be baptized on the 29th. He said he would but he will be out of town... haha So we extended the date of Dec. 6th. He said he would pray about it. We left it at "we are not making you promise to be baptized on that day, just setting it as a goal." He kinda didn't say anything definitive so we aren't sure ... He has been telling everyone that he is going to be baptized soon though. haha Yesterday in church, I overheard him telling multiple people that he is going to be baptized in a few weeks, so there you go. haha We also invited him to attend a baptism on Saturday. He was stoked about that. So we went and watched this baptism. We met with him about 30 min beforehand to teach him more about what baptism is and that lesson went very well too. Brother K really liked the baptism. When the lady was baptized they forgot to use her middle name and brother K was like, "I cant believe they messed it up! It's like the one time she is going to be baptized and they had to do it again!?" haha I reassured him that we will make sure they do it right at his baptism. haha He wants to meet with us more and is always asking if there are activities he can come to. Unfortunately this branch is not huge on activities. So we are working hard to keep him involved and busy. haha We are meeting with him tonight in another member's home to finish the plan of salvation. We are going to teach with the temple in mind and prepare him for the rest of the week. We hope to have the visit after that with a family history consultant and get him started in family history. Then, this Saturday we are going to go to the temple and the visitors center. Whats up!? haha It's going to be sweet! So yeah, things are looking good for him. He loves the church. It's fun to work with him and the members are being great about welcoming him and welcoming him into their homes. Awesome.

We had dinner with this old guy on Wednesday... We were walking to the car and he was legitimately about to fall over. I caught him mid fall and put him back on his feet but yeah.. I feel bad for the guy. He is a really awesome guy but he has some serious health challenges. Super funny too. Just classic old guy - "I sure am glad you caught me elder." haha Just as calm as ever. 

We have been low on luck with potentials lately. So we don't really have any news about new people. Well, that's not true - we have a return appointment with a lady named E this week. We were going to meet up with them last week but she and her daughter got sick with the flu. So we rescheduled for this week. They seem like a pretty cool family, so hopefully that lesson goes well. I won't be there. I am going on exchanges this week and so I will miss that appointment. 

We are going to have a really good week this week. Good news - I will be here for the highlights too. The temple trip this weekend will be the best. I will try to take some pictures when we go down. And I will tell you more next week. 

Elder Perkins' visit was awesome. He talked about a lot of really good things. I felt like I was seriously called to repentance... He talked about being positive. He only said a little bit about it but that hit me pretty hard. I am pretty positive with regard to everything missionary work related, but I have been less positive in my personal life. Having my ankle injured for so long with no way to fix it anytime soon has been draining. Having to protect it and refrain from doing anything risky has had me saying things like "I can't" a lot. That is not a good thing to say... in fact, it is a very destructive thing to say...  When I was playing tennis I was trying to be very disciplined in my mindset - trying hard to focus on the positive. I think that has kinda faded as I have been on my mission. So I got a solid wake up call this week. It's easy to just get down when you look at all of the problems in front of you. It takes more work to focus on the positive and see things with an eye of faith. There is a language of faith. The way we talk about things and think about things has a great effect on how we feel and perceive what is happening in our lives. I think it especially important for me to try to be more positive when looking at my personal life because it will help invite the spirit to be with me to a greater degree. And that is always good. Discipline is very important. The ability to say this is what I am going to do and then do it, is something that sets winners apart. The discipline required for daily obedience and faith will forge our future. If we discipline our minds to see the world in a good light then we will have a great future ahead of us. Elder Perkins talked about faith grows. He talked about how we can help other people's faith grow and the pattern applies to us as well. The final stage of faith is when it becomes a principle of power. Faith can be a power to the point that when we have faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, we can make things happen in our lives that could not happen if we did not have faith. The book of mormon teaches plainly that in the strength of the Lord we can do all things. The book is full of people who had faith in Christ sufficient to do things that even they admit were beyond their own power or ability to do. Elder Perkins taught that the key to developing this type of faith is to eliminate doubt and fear. They hold us down. Even the Savior specifically said - 'doubt not, fear not.' He directed us to look unto Him in every thought. And to be of good cheer. That phrase - be of good cheer is one that I particularly like. Inasmuch as we have faith in the Savior, we can be of good cheer. It will make our lives better. 

But some of the things I thought were interesting from elder Perkins... one thing he brought up that I really liked is he asked us "what is the difference between a tool and an instrument?" There were many different answers. His was the best. He taught us that an instrument can be tuned and a tool cannot. One thought that popped into my mind is that makes a tennis racquet an instrument. haha But another thought was closer to what he was talking about. Alma rejoices in his opportunity to be an instrument in the hands of the Lord, this was his joy. Elder Perkins told us to always remember to be an instrument and not a tool. Don't be a tool! haha Let the Lord adjust you and tune you. Repentance is key to allowing that to happen. It's hard to do but brings great blessings. If we will speedily repent then the Lord can fine tune us to perform the work he has in store for us. Our greatest  joy in life will come from doing the work that God has for us to do, when we really let the Lord use us. If I remember right pres. David O. Mckay told us about our personal priesthood interview with the Savior at the day of judgement. Question 3 was the Savior would ask for a reporting of how we used our talents. We are all unique instruments in God's hands and I believe that He wants us to use our talents in his service to the best of our ability. As we walk the path of obedience we will prosper in the land. Life will be good. The question then becomes - what can I do to be more in tune with the Lord? What do I need to adjust in order to do the work He wants me to do in the way he wants me to do it? Harder questions. 

It was good to hear from you guys today! It sounds like you guys are busy as ever. haha Just always remember to devote adequate time to the Lord!!!

I love you guys! 
elder Hinkle

Monday, July 7, 2014

July 7, 2014

Hey! I can't wait to watch the Wimbledon final!!! ahhhh!!! I can't believe Fed lost it! I heard he was in the finals on Saturday and I was so stoked!! Fed - Djokovic match up is such a good one! Holy cow... I caught an update on the match in priesthood opening exercises right in the middle, with Fed and Nole tied 1-1 sets 3-3 in the third! ahhh!! I found out later that day that the Djoker won but no one here can really tell me about the quality of play, sounds like it was fantastic though!!! Oh man... thanks for the update! I'm a fan of the detailed report! haha Man... do you guys realize that this was the last time wimbledon will be played while I'm on my mission... Dang, the grass season is over... like, my mission is almost over... there are only two more grandslam events left... just two.. and a lot of good stuff in between but still time goes way to fast.. We are almost half way through July! Dang it! haha hang on... 

Brother Ashley is doing good. They were out of town for a family reunion this weekend but we are going to see them on Tuesday... tomorrow. haha We are stoked about his progress and for his baptism! Fun fact - so elder Ballard came into the mission and when he was speaking he told us that we needed to be talking to more people, because the more people we talk to, the more people we teach, and the more people we teach, the more people we will baptize. He set the standard that we need to talk to at least twenty people each day. So here is the fun fact - every companionship in the entire mission who has been talking to twenty people each day has an investigator on date to be baptized or has had a baptism. Jarom 1:9 and thus we see that the word of the Lord was verified which he spake unto our fathers saying inasmuch as ye shall keep my commandments, ye shall prosper in the land. Obedience brings blessings, exact obedience brings miracles!!! Lesson learned- always follow the prophet! Our leaders in the church are mighty men in the faith of the Lord! They truly have the spirit of revelation and also prophecy! Our leaders are inspired and called of God. The prophet, the apostles, and so on down to mission presidents, stake presidents, and bishops! What do you know! Always follow the prophet! If we follow the Lord's guidance, which is given through his inspired servants we will reap the blessings that the Lord wishes us to have! That's true in the mission field, and it is true outside of the mission field, in all of your lives! That's pretty neat! Just saying... 

Hopefully, you guys had a great fourth of July! It was a pretty dead night for us. Everyone was either having a party at their house or they were at a party at someone else's house... and they were all in their back yards... No one was on the street that night, except for a few people, which we talked to and that yielded a couple return appointments for the sisters, which is good. But still...

You guys should totally have the elders there teach you all of the lessons! All the way through lesson five!! You guys would love it!! We do that with active members sometimes and it is always a good experience for the families! I love doing that! To me it is a sweet platform for the family members to share their testimonies of those basic fundamental truths. Those are what are important and it is always so powerful when the members of the family answer questions and share their experiences. I'm all about fundamentals.  haha So yeah, do that!!! The spirit will come into the house and you guys will love it! Do it! Do it! Do it! And keep their commitments! - just a tip. Exact obedience brings miracles!

Well, I've got to be off soon. I hope you guys have a great week this week! We sure are, I can tell you that! Thank you so much for all of your prayers! I really appreciate that, as does the Lord, I am sure. 

I love you guys!
elder Hinkle

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

June 17, 2014

Hey guys! It was good to read your letters today! Happy father's day to Dad and Grandpas! .. and the other fathers. Someone wished me a happy father's day on Sunday.... and then asked if I had kids.. flip! I'm too old!! I could not believe it.. haha Anyway, happy father's day! The family history focus at Scott's house sounds pretty sweet! That was a cool idea! Its neat as missionaries, we encounter some people who don't want anything to do with us but when we mention family history and the family history center nearby, some of them open right up and are really interested in that kind of stuff. We had stake conference this week, which was an awesome meeting, and a young man from our ward spoke on family history. He has truly caught the spirit of Elijah and has found over 200 names and is in the process of taking all of them to the temple for proxy baptisms. He did all of this recently. That's ligit! Talk about hastening the work of salvation! As he was speaking, you could tell that getting involved in that work has really brought the spirit into his life.  As he spoke about the blessings of temple work for us and for our ancestors the holy ghost truly did testify to me that family history is a great work! So for you guys getting involved at home good luck! It seems hard to me... don't know how to do any of it, but Scott taught you guys, so you can do it!! And God will help you. Oh, and its worth it, so you should do it. Especially for the kids that can drive, Utah is pretty great because there are temples everywhere. So they can find names and go to the temple. That would be a fantastic way to bring the spirit into your life during your high school years when there are so many other influences around you which are not so great... Just saying, if you do temple work God's grace will spill into other areas of your life and he will help you with everything else you are doing! 

But yeah, we had a great week this week! I was on exchanges from Tuesday to Thursday so I missed a little bit of the action in the Columbia second ward but a lot of good things happened. So I wasn't there. I was in Ellicott City. We had a fantastic exchange. The first day, we went over to a families house where the dad is active/recent convert. He converted because his wife got him into it. Now, his wife is less active and his son claims he does not believe in God. Ouch. But we went over and the elders there had previously set up teaching them the missionary lessons. So we went in to do just that. Initially, the wife wasn't too happy we were there - she was watching reruns of the French Open, so its understandable. but we got everyone together and we had a fantastic lesson. It was the first visit, so we set expectations for further visits and we talked a lot about how they could get the most out of our visits and talked a lot on how to recognize the holy ghost and how the holy ghost testifies of things which are true. And it went great. The spirit was there; everyone was included and participating. As we left, the wife commented that she was glad we came. She told us how she wasn't looking forward to it before we came but now, she was glad that we did come because of the peace she felt come into the home. Perfect! Then, we also had a great meeting with their newly called ward mission leader telling him all about his calling and what not. Updating him on the area and what's happening right now in the Ellicott City area of the mission field. That was fun too. The rest of this week, we have had  good days - brother Weiss prayed with us, brother Wight is back around and he is excited to introduce us to his wife and invite her to church - she is not a member. and he knows nothing about the church really.  But he loves us and we are going to try to bring him back and bring his wife into the fold with him. He is a funny guy. We have also been talking to a ton of people lately... like last week. So hopefully, some of these people we are meeting will turn into investigators. 

In other news, I am staying in Columbia for six more weeks!! Good news! And elder Christensen is staying with me. So, yeah. We are excited about that. Like I said, I could stay here for a while. I like Columbia. It has been very nice weather here lately. I don't feel like it has been too hot or humid yet. Its just been really nice. Rains a bit too often but that's Maryland. The other day, we were walking around looking for some people to talk to and there was just no one outside, because it was about to rain. So I was like hey, let's knock on this door. Some random door... the guy there comes out and just starts talking to us like friends. Turns out he is from Florida, vacationing in that house for two days and he has mormon friends back home and has met with missionaries before and he invited us in to talk with him. We talked with him for about half an hour and while we were in there, it rained hard. So we missed the big part of the storm but we left walking in the rain and on the way, we ran into Kevin, who had just gotten home. So we stopped in to talk with him. We were inviting him to church and he pauses us and asked us 
"Do you all shout at your church?" - Kevin
"No" - elder christensen
"Well I do." - Kevin
(elder Christensen tries to be diplomatic)
"So if I stand up in the middle of the church and start shoutin', would people be looking' at me all weird?" - Kevin

Haha It was pretty funny. He will come to church one day, but it wasn't this week. 

I hope you guys have a great week this next week! We will, that's for sure! The weeks are flying by, this is my tenth transfer... I've gotta run though! I will talk to you next week!! 
Also, good fathers day video to watch - earthly father, Heavenly Father. - mormon channel, mormon messages. Watch it! 

I love you guys,
elder hinkle

Monday, May 19, 2014

May 19, 2014

We have had an awesome week here in Columbia! It's been crazy. Crazy stories, crazy miracles. It baffles me that it's all happened in only a week... when you look back at things, you just feel like they happened forever ago because the days are so full... but then time goes really, really fast... and it doesn't seem that long ago that I left home... I don't know... it's weird, but it's fun! 

So we did not see the Miranda's on Monday night.... They canceled with us again.... but that's ok. We will get in with them and teach them about the restored gospel! haha That fell through and then another appointment for Friday fell through... but then we sent them a text inviting them to church! ... no answer... but they came to church!! All three hours too. haha It was great! And they loved it! But yeah... sister Miranda loved relief society. The sisters took care of her and it turns out relief society talked a lot about the book of mormon and she said it answered a lot of questions that she had. And Danny, their son, had a blast chilling with our ward mission leader's son in their class! And bro Miranda was participating in classes and super social with everyone. It was so cool! The bishop was stoked! Yesterday was just a good day. I'll start there... haha

We have continued to have good visits with John. We are doing our best to help him out... it is tricky though... it's just an interesting situation. We have been pretty straight forward with him. And he has told us this week, his goal is to find out if what we say is true. And if it isn't, then he will decide what to do from there. If it is true, then he will make plans to be baptized and he said there is a plan to follow. haha Pretty sweet.

This week, we encountered many many agnostic people. Their favorite phrases are "I don't care," "it doesn't matter," or ... "whatever"... haha It is just so interesting how pervasive the philosophy of "it doesn't matter" is in the world today. There are so many people that we meet who just don't care about God. It is so sad... and dumb. 

Oh! Brother Zhen's daughter got baptized! That was sweet and he baptized her! It was cool! So that was a great way to start our Saturday morning! Then, we went to the mission conference!!! That was awesome! Just a priceless experience! Elder Ballard is awesome! An apostle of the Lord, Jesus Christ! So cool! I'll pass on a few notes, but I'll have to be brief - 

Elder  Clayton spoke with him. He talked about the phrase "hear Him." This is my beloved son hear Him! And how we hear Him in our lives. We hear him in our lives when we follow the commandments of the Lord with exactness. We hear him when we serve others. We hear him when we are faithful home and visiting teachers. We hear him when we take time to read the scriptures and pray everyday. We hear him as we are are kind and cheerful in our homes. We hear him when we attend our church meetings and partake of the sacrament. And when we hear Him, we will be happy because we will have the spirit of the Lord with us. Our goal as missionaries, and members too, is to help others hear Him. They hear Him as they keep commitments and things like that. We must help them. 

I liked his message. Over the course of my mission, I have pondered the words which our Father in heaven spoke in the first vision. I have tried to imagine how exactly He spoke. I try to imagine what He emphasized and what kind of tone of voice he used. I can only imagine Heavenly Father speaking to Joseph Smith, pointing to his son, Jesus Christ and saying "this is my beloved son, hear Him!" in the most loving way possible. I imagine that when He says hear Him, He is pleading with people to listen. He testifies that Jesus is the Christ and that following Him is the only way to the celestial kingdom and then, He pleads with us to hear Him. He implores us to listen. He has given us the ability to chose for ourselves but he begs us to choose to follow Jesus Christ. He asks us to do that because He knows how much joy and peace is available if we do. Our best bet is to hear Him in all we do. 

Elder Ballard spoke for about an hour. He spoke about a lot of things that are directed to missionaries. But some applies to you as well. He told us that someone had recently asked him how he does it? How does he keep going? He responded, saying - 'I remember the Savior. I keep a picture of the Savior in my scriptures and whenever I am tired, I pull it out and look at it. I remember Him. There is a phrase in the book of mormon "look and live!" It goes so well with what he spoke about at that point. His picture of Christ was the pass along card of Jesus Christ coming out of the tomb. The one that is taped to the front of my planner at the moment. I love having pictures of the Savior around. I got one once in a Christmas card from the institute at SVU. I really loved that. I still have that picture. I remember taking great care to ensure that it would not be bent or damaged in any way until I got a frame for it. It is on my study desk right now and I look at it everyday. Elder Ballard's words on that topic were a powerful message from an apostle of where the real source of power lies. Elder Ballard relies on the Lord all of the time and we can and should as well. 

Hey I've gotta go! I hope you guys have a great week this week! Sadly, I am out of time... I wish I had more time to talk to you guys... And I will, on Monday. haha Until then, have a great week! 

I love you guys! 
elder hinkle 

Monday, May 5, 2014

May 5, 2014

Hey family!! 

It was great to hear from you guys today! Sorry, I am a little short on time today. Caleb shot me an email so we had to talk a bit. haha It was good to hear from him. Hearing that Coach Johnson is working with USU was sweet! That's awesome! He was the best coach ever. ahh!! That's crazy! I honestly can't wait to play again. I just need to keep myself in the best condition possible so I can jump right back in when I get home. When I get home, I pretty much just want to coach and play. That's the dream. Then, I will play for USU and still get to work with Coach Johnson! That's cool that Jenna is cheering with Ethan's sister. Now, we just need to get Jack playing tennis with Ethan's brother. Jack - I have had great anxiety over you and all of this baseball playing.... and now you are pitching...baseball is not easy on kids. I know you're super good at it but let's be real, you are super good at everything. I don't know... I'm just saying...but the plays dad told me about sounded pretty sick.  Whatever you do, do it well, right! haha Also, good to know that you guys named the dog. hahaha So, I did know that you replaced me with a dog, but I don't think you ever told me its name. haha Sorry. Elder Pail and I had a good laugh about that last Monday. haha I was like "who is that?" haha 

Are you ready for terrible news? ... Elder Pail is getting transferred... it's a bummer. We work pretty well together and there is a ton of good stuff happening here and we have a ton of fun. I don't know the new guy. Elder Christensen. I don't really know anything about him. Hopefully, he is cool too. I'll let you know on Sunday. Oh yeah, Skype Sunday!!! What's up!? I will give you guys a call sometime this week to set it up. Can't wait!!! That's going to be a party! Same drill as last time from what I understand. 1 hour on the dot. haha

Anyway... we have had a fanflippintastic week! Story after story, miracle after miracle! agh! I don't have the time for it all! I wish I could share more of my mission with you guys! It's like the perfect movie - very uplifting, lots of comedy (always clean), some adventure, a little bit of action, and absolutely no romance. Perfect. haha but yeah... 

So I guess I'll start withTuesday - you get the highlights...which are like the best of the best at this point... 

We had one of the best lessons that night! We were over at Sammy's house for the next visit with Rafael. (Sammy's Mom's boyfriend)  I told you about him, right? If not, sorry but I don't have time right now... haha So we taught him and we had a great visit. Long cool story short - last time he asked to learn more. This time we did some htbt (how to begin teaching) and taught about the Godhead and the holy ghost. The spirit was definitely there while we were teaching him. Great guy too. So we are going back tomorrow!!! We will teach the restoration. So yeah, when we taught him this week he made us tacos. They were delicious tacos. 

Wednesday was insane! I thought the earth was being flooded again. It rained all day long. It rained hard! So we were going about our day dreading each time we had to run from the car to a door and get drenched in ten seconds and we got a call from a member who's on vacation in Elder Pail's home town. haha Crazy, right? Before they left, they took a picture of us and then, when they were there, they just happened to meet his girlfriend and yeah...that was weird. But  anyway...they called us and they asked us to go in their house and see if there was any flooding. So they gave us the garage code and we went over. So we go in and we are going into the basement and elder Pail is in front. No lights on. He says, "Alright, I'll find a light switch and then we will look for water." Then, he stepped off the stars into the water. haha The basement was covered. Lots of water....so we helped out as much as we could... but we had an appointment with John so we didn't have too much time. Long story short - it all worked out and we helped. 

The lesson with John that night was interesting.  In answer to a lot of questions he had last week about death and suffering and stuff.  We decided that we needed to help John understand how to find these answers himself in the scriptures and from God. They don't mean as much when they come from two eighteen year olds...haha So we did, under the direction of our ward mission leader and hopefully the holy ghost, we set a plan. Bro Cintron asked us to give him an assignment that was pretty large. And we gave it to him. He said he would do it.  I know that the answers he needs can be found in the scriptures, I just hope that John is ready and he does get them. We meet with him tomorrow night. We told him that the next appointment he is going to just teach us what he learned. The assignment is pretty extensive, so if done properly, he will have learned a lot and tomorrow will be a great visit. The ward council fasted for him this week as well. 

So another highlight is that we are starting a sports night. This last week, we had a trial round. We invited people and it turned out that we had a ton of success. We actually bit off more than we could chew for this first time... haha It was awesome! We had one of our investigators there and he loved it! That was Ryshaun. Everyone calls him Smilie. That's his street name. Everyone really does call him that. haha So that was great! 

Saturday was the best day of the week!!! So we visited brother Zhen. Solid visit. Before that, we had coordination meeting so we needed to make up some study time and prepare a bit. We did that in a gazebo in a park. There was this guy who just finished playing tennis. I chased him down and we had a great street contact. His name is Steven. Hopefully, I talk about him in coming weeks. Then, we went over to the Miranda family. Awesome fam. They invited us over for dominican chicken. It was delicious. We played a game called ice breakers during dinner. Each person essentially gives a short intro for themselves. We laughed a lot and learned a lot about them. Then, we sat on their couch eating these ice cream cones they gave us-butter pecan. Elder Pail's favorite. haha As we sat there licking our ice cream cones, we couldn't believe what was happening. They loved us! Then, conversation turned to God and religion. They are looking for more purpose in life. They have tried many churches but don't feel like the one they currently attend is completely right for them. Both parents had past experience with missionaries. Roger, the dad, told us that he doesn't really know what it means to be a mormon, and he wants to learn. We were stoked! So we offered to teach them and they were excited about it! We will meet Friday! Danny, their son, is coming to mutual Thursday! They are coming to church this Sunday! Boom!! They are excited. We are excited! Our bishop is excited! haha You guys should be excited! hahaha It was a miracle! And this Friday will be awesome! They couldn't make it to church yesterday because their son was really sick. But they will come next week.

Then, yesterday was a blast. We found out elder Pail was leaving. I mean, we got the call, it's not like we didn't all see that coming... haha So we met with a lot of people. And set up even more appointments. He did good work here. The ward will miss him. And I will too... haha

So yeah... those were the highlights of our week! It was fantastic! Now, I get to talk to you guys today and then I will see you at the end of this week. Can it get better than that? Oh! yes it can! We have a mission conference with elder Ballard coming up on May 17th!!!! Whaaat!? I am stoked for that too!!! So we had a good week. A lot happened. 

I will talk to you later this week. I've gotta go.

Love you guys!
elder hinkle

Friday, April 4, 2014

March 31, 2014

Hey guys!! It was great to hear from you today! Sounds like you are all doing well. We had a great week this week!!! Finished strong in nap-town and Columbia is a blast! haha My comp, Elder Pail is cool. We have a ton of fun together. Elder Pail, pronounced Elder Pie-all , is from Austria. Super cool guy. So that’s been a lot of fun to work with him here. It’s a party. haha And we drive the mission truck. haha We drive a chevy silverado. haha It’s so nice! We share it with the sisters in our area though, so we still get to bike some. I’ll send a bunch of pictures this week, but I forgot to take one of the truck. Our zone is cool too. Elder Holt is here, Elder Day is our zone leader and Elder Dorsey is here too. So that’s fun.

We had a good last two days in Annapolis. We had pretty stacked days and stayed really busy. We had a great dinner visit with the Weurdeman’s last Monday. They were sad to see us go. Hopefully, the sisters can follow up with that and make some thing happen. The highlight of Tuesday was definitely the oreo party with Sister Kinsella. haha Pictures to follow. We showed up and she had a picnic basket and said we had to have a party! haha We love Sister Kinsella too... She is so cool... She was really not happy that we left... and she is not excited about sisters. She said they are all boring. haha But we tried to talk with her a bit. Mostly just listened though and reassured her that things would work out, and the ward really loves her and wants her to come. ... ugh…But I suppose it’s all in the Lord’s hands now. I trust that he will do all he can to help her. I am just disappointed that I don’t get to see the rest... 

We didn’t get to see Ryan before we left... that was a bummer. We saw Mindy and she was also sad to see us go... She is stoked to meet the sisters though and we set something up for them. So that miracle will continue for sure! haha

So then we got transferred.... haha Columbia second ward.. It’s been so much fun!! Haha Elder Pail has been here for all six months of his mission. So, he knows what’s up. Unfortunately, the odds of us spending more than this transfer together are kinda low... bummer. Training was a lot of fun but it’s so nice not to have so much extra study... plus, I don’t have to speak Portuguese any more... I have a bunch of stuff memorized in Portuguese, all of our recitations hahaha but we can speak English now! Plus, Elder Pail knows what’s up. Funny story... I trained Elder Holt and Elder Pail trained Elder Holt’s MTC comp and now Elder Pail and I are companions. haha We make missionary work fun, let me tell you. Anyway, we both are on the same page with a lot of stuff so it just makes it smoother. Plus, Elder Pail can out juggle me with the soccer ball... for now. But we call it futbol because he is from Austria. And it’s cooler.

We are working with a lot of cool people here in Columbia. Our foremost investigator is a guy named John. I use "John" so you will not be confused with the Jon in a story later on. haha John is a cool guy. A little awkward, computer engineer, but super cool. He isn’t quite sure if he believes there is a God. But, he has been to church like nine times and continues to read and learn. He has read all the way to Alma 5. Craziness. We have a great relationship with him and we are really excited for him. Unfortunately, he will not be in town for gen con (general conference) haha but we will watch a session with him later. Which may be cool because we can choose the session. Pause - general conference this week!!! haha Can’t wait! Five days! - Anyway, we are going over tonight and we are going to read Alma 30 with him. If you have read Alma thirty lately, you may have guessed that this could be a pivotal lesson. We will see how it goes. Hopefully, it goes well.

We had a sweet miracle this week. We were at a member’s house, the Morgan’s, and we had an appointment with another family who we are teaching the daughter who wants to get baptized. So dinner ends and we share the message and Brother Morgan insists that he walk us out to our car, well truck, excuse me. (it’s really nice) So he asks where we are going and then he just casually drops some info telling us who their new hometeachers are. We are like thanks, I guess... Then, our appointment called and said that the dad would not be home so we could not come over. This was literally as soon as we got into the truck, about two minutes after Bro Morgan told us who the hometeachers were. So, we looked at each other and we were like let’s call the hometeachers. haha And one of them came with us. And we had a great visit! hahha Miracle! 

We had another sweet visit with this 15-yr old kid named Sammy. We went over and talked about the restoration with him. Lots on prophets due to the upcoming conference. He is 15 and the only member of his family. He catches a ride to church and activities every week with an older lady member who actually introduced him to the wards scouting program. The youth group here is awesome!!!  There are like three hundred members in sacrament. It’s like a Utah ward. haha In Annapolis, we saw pretty much everyone in our area in a week. Here that is impossible. It’s so different. But I love it. The members here are great too! We get dinner every night! That’s unheard of for me. So that’s pretty cool. And the ward is very supportive of missionary work. Even on our bike days, we will generally just ride to appointments with other people. Awesome to see!

Anyway, I’ve gotta run! I’ll talk to you next week!!! Have a great general conference! Don’t forget to receive personal revelation!! I will talk to you next week! I want to hear your favorites! Have a great week!!

I love you guys,

elder hinkle