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