Thursday, April 29, 2010

April 28th, 2010

It's good to hear that everything seems to be going well with Hailey. It's snowing here today. We're supposed to get between 10-15 centimeters of snow between today and this evening. Right now, it's a pretty annoying wet snow with a strong wind. I don't think we'll be spending much time for preparation day outdoors today. We'll probably play basketball of volleyball at the stake center. Our zone usually just gets together and we hang out at the church or at a park or something.
I got an email from the mission about our phone calls. They said that we can talk for 45 minutes sometime between 1pm-8pm our time. We have church from 1-4, so anytime probably between 5-8 would be best for us. I'll send you the phone number next week because there's a chance that I could be transferred. We'll get the transfer emails next Tuesday so preparation day will also be on tuesday next week. Time continues to fly by. This next transfer there will be two elders going home from the spanish program and end of july we'll get two more new ones. This past week I passed the 10 month mark which is hard to believe.
Our investigators continue to prepare for baptism. There's a chance that they will have to move the baptism because of work issues, but we're praying that all goes well for this Sunday.
Last Sunday was our first branch conference. President Spackman is our stake president and he spoke about Matt 6:33. That if we first seek the kingdom of God, everything else will work out in our lives. He is the grandson of a past apostle. I assume it's probably Elder Tanner because I've heard that he was from here. He said as a 10 year old, he knew that his grandpa was very wealthy and so he asked him what it takes to be rich. His grandpa responded with that scripture adn he said it's always stuck with him. He said that his grandpa shared the story in a general conference talk a short time after that. There are several people in the ward struggling, or looking for jobs and I think that it really benefited them. Elders Quorum was interesting because one of the Stake counselors taught it in English and it was a very interactive lesson. It was funny to hear the members that we always speak spanish to speak in english. I wondered what I sound like in spanish. It was a good lesson tough about the importance of home teaching for our branch. Our branch is interesting because there's probably about 170 members on the records and about 130 of those are fairly active. There's usually aroudn 100-110 every Sunday in church. There was more less active work in the ward in the North that we did so that makes the work a little different.
Thanks for all the sacrifice and support! I love you all! I hope you have a great week!
Con Amor
Elder Dunlap

Thursday, April 22, 2010

April 21

Hola familia!
It's been another great week. Our two baptismal dates continue to progress and come to church. Enrique and Francisco have been coming to church and know what they've been feeling in their lives. They've been hard to get to read on their own because of their schedules, but they continue to progress. We rescheduled their date with them last night for May 2nd because this Sunday is branch conference and the bishopric said they're going to have meetings. We try to have the baptisims after church on Sundays just because it's when most of the ward is willing to come. Because a lot of members don't have cars and things, it's hard to get a good turnout during the week.
I had the privilege to speak on Sunday during sacrament meeting about missionary work. I talked about doctrine and covenants 4 and what types of "hoces" or sickles i think in english that we can use to share the gospel. I also talked about how members can be led by the Holy Ghost to follow the same pattern that we as missionaries use in our work. To plan, pray, and go out and work and be led by the Holy Ghost. I think that it went well.
We had a zone conference yesterday and it was all about improving our teaching skills. They really emphasized role playing in the mornings our teaching situations that we will have during the day and how it really helps us to put ourselves in the shoes of our investigators and recieve revelations of the things that we can teach them and questions that we can ask them. We've been practicing our question asking to really help them learn by faith on their own by sharing their thoughts and feelings.
Time has been passing pretty fast. We're slowly starting to teach more in this area. We always try to talk to everyone on the streets as we're traveling to find those that the Lord puts in our paths. It was much easier in my old area because it was more residential areas. Every once in a while, someone would be getting out of their car, or standing outside their house. This area has a lot of apartment buildings and there's always people traveling in and out of downtown. Sometimes I'm lost at who we should talk to and people seem to always be in a hurry. It's been a struggle finding the right balance.
I don't know if I've shared it with you, but in my setting apart by the stake president, he counciled me in the blessing to talk to everyone on the streets because thte Lord would put those that are prepared in my path. As Spanish elders, we drive around most of the time because our areas are so large. Walking really just isn't very effective and that leaves little opportunity to talk to people in the streets. Even harder is finding Spanish speaking people in the streets. Elder Galloway and I in one of the last few weeks of my old area decided that we should drive to neighborhoods and then walk to all of the contacts and things we had in that neighborhood if we weren't in a hurry. It decided to do it as we discussed that part of my setting apart. We were walking one afternoon during the week and were a little lost but saw a lady a ways down a street as we passed it. She looked like she had darker skin and we contemplated whether to walk to talk to her. At that moment, she said something to her son in what sounded like spanish and so we went to talk to her. I was able to teach her one time before I left the area and she came to church. She's continued coming to church and should be baptized soon with her husband. She has told Elder Galloway that she had been specifically praying for something more in her life and more guidance for raising her kids. She was searching for more happiness. It really is great to hear that she is still progressing and see the Lord's hand in this work, to be able to be part of tender experiences like that.
For Preparation days, we just clean from 10-11, email from 11-12, go shopping for a while and then eat lunch. we then have 3-4 hours to usually just play sports. The zones all get together in every stake at the stake center or at a park now that the weather's nice. It's nothing really too exciting. There's some neat things here in this area like museums and chinatown adn things in downtown but we haven't been down there yet. I'm sure we will sometime soon.
I did get the package, thanks a lot it was great! I love everything you sent. No, I haven't really gained any weight at all, I still weigh about 155 like when I left. I think some of my muscle has converted to fat but overall I weigh the same. My companion and I have started running though. We have a community park right across from our house and it's not freezing in the mornings anymore.
Thanks for everything! I love you and miss you!
Con amor,
Elder Dunlap

April 14

Hola familia!
Thank you for the letters. I'm glad to hear that everything went well with nathan and ashley and the yard sale. I haven't recieved the box yet, but I'm sure that i'll probably get it today. The zone leaders pick up the mail from the office every week and wednesdays are when we usually are able to pick it up.
the week has went great. we have two baptisimal dates for the 25th that i really think are going to go through on that date or shortly after. we set the dates with two middle aged men named enrique and francisco on my first day in this area. they had been taught for several months on and off by missionaries. they initially rejected a baptisimal date, but we promised them if they set a goal that they'd recieved the help and strength that they needed from the Lord to be prepared. we knew they liked to drink adn were worried that they'd actually stop drinking. i really lacked the faith though that they'd actually keep any commitments when we set the date. they came to church 3 weeks ago for the first time and really felt something different. they've continued to come every week and told us this week that they feel a lot closer to God and happier in their lives with the changes that they are making. the Spirit is helping them personally learn the things that they need to give up and change to prepare for the baptism. we taught the word of wisdom two days ago and they accepted it well. i'm sure there will continue to be more challenges, but i've really grown in my testimony of the strength we can recieve from the Lord to live up to the tasks that we are faced with. they've been examples for me over the last couple of weeks. we meet with them pretty much every other night for short visits and i think it's helped them constantly be reminded of the things they are feeling.
the cold weather has unfortunately returned this week. there were a couple days of snow and cold rain. i thought that we had escaped it. i'm definetely excited for short sleeve weather.
president continues to help us out with changes. we previously ate dinner every night with someone in the ward and usually it would be all 6 or at least 4 of us in the ward at the dinner. we're now only able to eat in our specific areas with our companion and the members or investigators that live within our borders. our area is a little lacking in members and so we're definetely eating more at the house. we tried to get president to give us more allotment money but he didn't go for that idea. it's been good though. we're able to spend more time in our specific areas. it's also better because we get to work with the members in our individual areas more. president has been stressing that dinners aren't for us to be fed, but for us to have an opportunity to be in a members house and encourage and help them do missionary work.
i'll be praying for hailey. thank you for all the love and support! i feel like i'm running out of things to say. not too much changes week to week other than the people we work with. send me questions if there's specific things that anyone wants to know.
love you all!
elder dunlap

April 7th

Hola familia!
I'm glad to hear that all is well at home! I'm kind of bummed that Duke won the national championship, but i guess it's good for the ACC.
I extremely enjoyed conference this past weekend. It was a nice spiritual energizer. I really enjoyed the talk by President Uchtdorf from the priesthood session about patience. He really has a way of transforming a basic doctrine into something great and desireable. I liked how he said that part of patience is actively working towards the goal although things may not seem to be going exactly as planned. It also seemed that alot of the talks were on families. It's kind of scary and challenging to think of what is to come in the world and the attacks that will be placed on the family. But, I liked how Elder Packer said that the glorious thing is that we know we win in the end. We know that we have the strength to resist the adversary if we remain strong. Elder Bednar's talk was a short version of the basic topics and things that he discussed with us just a few weeks ago. We got a longer, more extended version. I thought it was interesting that he came to speak to 200 missionaries and focused a lot of his words on the importance of teaching our children one day in the same way that we try to teach our investigators. He emphasized that children must learn by the spirit for themselves to have lasting testimonies. I left conference with a greater appreciation for the counsel and words of our chosen leaders.
One of the pictures is of my new companion, Elder Walker, in front of our car that we ride around in.
THe other picture is of a lady that's Bolivian that we taught on Monday evening. She's here from Virginia visiting her family members that are members of the branch. We ate dinner with them and then began teaching her about the Restoration. Monday was probably one of our hardest days because no one really seemed to be home all day. We ended the night with the dinner and lesson. It was one of my favorite and most spiritual lessons that I've been able to experience in the mission. She had definetely been prepared and was teary as she expressed the feelings that she had felt and the changes that she wanted to make in her life. She leaves soon for Virginia and so we won't be able to teach her more, but, I know it was a blessing from the Lord to lift us and inspire us when we were feeling a little down. It is times like these when I truly feel the spirit working through us that I know we're being instruments in the Lord's hands and there's really no other place that I'd rather be. It really was a touching night. She had us take pictures with her and the Book of Mormon that we gave her and she had us sign it as well.
The weather continues to get warmer and there's more and more people on the streets near downtown. We've had some very interesting experiences this past week with drunk and homeless people that we have passed and seen. My past area was pretty tranquil and quiet. I'm sure that there will be many more experiences to come.
There's not much else that's new. We continue to work hard and search and pray for new investigators.
Thank you for all the love and prayers.
Con AMor,
Elder Dunlap

Sunday, April 4, 2010

March 31,2010

Hola familia!
This past week has been a week of changes and adjustments. It's interesting being in downtown. I went from an area that was all neighborhood houses and fairly calm to downtown. A lot of the area is apartment buildings and there's always people everywhere to talk to. It's been hard leaving the old area because it's really all I've known on the mission, but I know that this is where the Lord wants me to be. We were transferred on Wednesday and the ward had been planning another big talent night. We got permission to attend and invited some of our investigators from down here. It was fun and I was excited because 12 investigators from my old area showed up. It was good to see them there. Elder Galloway and I had worked hard inviting them and reminding them and it felt good to see them amongst ward members even though I won't be working with them anymore.
I love my new companion and new area. It's been a challenge because there's not too much going on in the area, but we've been blessed with several miracles. The first lesson that we taught together, we were able to set 2 baptisimal dates for April 25th. They are two middle aged men that had been recieving the missionaries for a while now named Francisco and Enrique. We were super excited because they came to church for the first time this past Sunday as well. I really don't feel like it was anything that we did. The spirit just touched them and their hearts and they accepted an invitation to begin preparing.
We also recieved a call a couple nights ago from a lady named Yovana that told us that she wanted to start meeting with us and she wanted to start coming to church with us. We stopped by the next day and visited a little with her at the door. She's a single lady so we had to set up a return appointment for tomorrow. She has two young kids and really just wants to come closer to God. Her neighbor is an English speaking member and has shared a little about the Gospel with her and gave her our number. She seemed very excited and we felt a great humble spirit as we were talking with her.
We're working hard and trusting that the Lord will provide us and the members with opportunities to share the Gospel with their friends and find some more people to begin working with.
The Branch is definetely different. There was 107 people at church on Sunday, but it's a bit smaller than the ward. There's a lot of new faces, but I'm excited to get to know them.
I was also able to attend a baptism here in the branch on Sunday of a lady named Fanny that I taught for about 3 transfers in my past area. Elder Galloway and I were able to help her get married and then she moved to the branch. After a couple more weeks, the elders were able to help her along to baptism. It really was a great blessing.
We're driving a new car too. It's a cool little Pontiac Vibe.
Our stake center is the 17th avenue chapel. It's a 2 story stake center that I remember hearing deda and grandma talk about. Our branch also meets in a chapel on Heritage Drive which I think is the building that Deda and Grandma served in. I met some people from an English ward this past Sunday that said Deda and Grandma attended their FHE group every week. They said that they miss them and think about them often and were interested to know how they were doing. One of them was named Grant Pilling.
I'm glad to hear from many of you! Thank you for the support, love, and sacrifice.
Con Amor,
Elder Dunlap