Friday, October 31, 2014

Renton--October 28, 2014

Dear family,
I love and miss you all very much. I am so glad to share my experiences with you. They have helped me grow and learn in such a short time. One of the biggest lessons I've learned so far is that the gospel is one of simplicity. Everything we do should point us to the Savior and His atonement. I've met a couple converts to the church that have fallen away because they perceived that we glorified Joseph Smith too much, instead of focusing on the Savior. It is necessary to understand that Joseph Smith is the man that restored the truth to the earth, but we must be careful not to put him on the same pedestal as Jesus Christ. We must talk of the Savior and his atonement much more than the prophet Joseph Smith. Joseph only pointed us to the Savior, receiving all the priesthood keys necessary for our Salvation, which, through exercise of them comes the fullest blessings of the atonement.
While pondering the atonement last night, I had a vision in which I saw a rotary chamber-like machine, with the brightest white quartz I had every seen inside. It was spinning around inside the chamber. It projected bright rays of light throughout a dark room and the rays of light transformed into millions of bright stars all around me until the walls of the room disappeared and the stars were propelled into the night sky. It was a really neat experience. It impressed upon my mind the centrality of the atonement. When we exercise faith in Christ's atonement, it "spins and projects" light until it fills the dark with an innumerable amount of stars.
I think the vision was an answer to my prayer. On pondering how the atonement applies to each aspect of the gospel, I asked God how the most simple and basic doctrines relate to the more profound. It reminded me of the scripture in D&C 88 which says the light and truth of Christ grows brighter and brighter unto the perfect day.
Our central purpose as missionaries is to help God's children receive all the principles and ordinances which they need in order to have Eternal Life. As I teach, I am sometimes worried that they will not understand even the most basic doctrines. Then I remember that we are all still learning basic doctrines, and none of us can receive more knowledge until we treasure up the knowledge we have already received.
We had the primary program last Sunday. It reminded me of our investigators' experiences with learning the gospel. Even though the primary kids don't know a word like "dispensation," they have a testimony of Jesus Christ. I could feel it as they sang words to a song they barely knew, and read from a script they could hardly read.
I'm so grateful for the members of our ward. Many of them need our love and support. I continue to pray for them. The member that sent you my picture is "M C". She is a young single adult in our ward, and she has a lot of struggles. I had the opportunity to give her a priesthood blessing last week. She told me it was one of the sweetest blessings she has received. I'm glad that she recognized when she needed help, and I hope that others can follow her example.
I love you all very much,
Elder Herbert 

Friday, October 24, 2014

The Best Surprise

I got the best text today from someone in Elder Herbert's ward in Washington. The text stated "One of the best missionaries in my ward." It made my day--no--my whole month! He has not been able to send us pictures, so I am so happy to see him. Looking great Elder!

Monday, October 20, 2014

Renton--October 20, 2014

Dear family,

If I walked outside right now, I could see Lake Washington from the church parking lot. Mercer Island is in the middle of it, and you can also see it from here! It's a beautiful view. (I'm still trying to find a way to get the pictures on here). It's close enough that you can still see it on a cloudy day, unless it's foggy too! Mount Rainier of course is only visible on clear days, and its full view is available up on the hills surrounding the city center. The church is above the valley of downtown Renton. It's very hilly here! I'm lucky to have a car. We lost it for a week, as I've said before, and rode bikes, but it's not as bad as biking uphill in Utah.

Yesterday, we attended a missionary devotional in Maple Valley, and "E" and "J" came. They loved it, even though the singing was bad and the first convert took up half the time for his testimony! I also saw Elder Andrew Shreeve! He is serving in the Federal Way stake right now. It was so good to see him. Elder Tibbitts' recent convert said the opening prayer. His name is "D S". He was in Elder Tibbitts' last area. At that time, he had been Christian for several years, and gave up living a gay lifestyle. His parents were antichrists. He has a dark past and very traumatic experiences with the secret combinations and oaths performed by devil worshippers in Omaha, Nebraska. It stands as a testimony that anyone, no matter where they've been, can come to Christ and be fully healed in Him. Elder Tibbitts says Brother "S" is a funny and optimistic guy, despite the horrors he went through. No one can say they can't change. Its a lie. Satan tries to deceive us by making us think we're stuck in a rut, or we're too far gone.

I've learned so much in the past month, and I'm excited to continue to grow my spirituality. I do love the people I'm serving, and I want to help them because I know the message I share is the only way to true happiness. I will be much more bold when teaching. One way I can do that is making sure the people I stop on the street perceive us as servants of God, not salesmen. I will say, "The message we share will change your life for the better. It is the most important and life-changing message you'll ever receive. It is bold and unapologetic, but it is the truth, and it will get you closer to God if you listen with all your heart." Instead of, "would you like to hear a message of how Jesus Christ brought back His true church..."  I think that people will be more impressed if they hear the truth without the prerogative of "would you like." That just makes it sound like an advertisement.

I love you with all my heart, and wish you the best.

Much love,

Elder Herbert

Monday, October 13, 2014

Renton--October 13, 2014

Dear family,

This week has been incredible, for many reasons. It has also been physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually demanding. However, after every trial, we have seen the hand of the Lord sustain us, and I feel like angels are lifting us up with every step.

Our car was taken from us and given to the sister missionaries in another area because theirs was rear-ended, and it's being repaired. In the meantime, we are on foot, walking up and down hills, and streets with angry, drunken, homeless men. It is so sad that they have so much hate in their lives that they take it out on others. The main scapegoat for their problems of course is the Mormon missionaries. So far, they've only yelled at and slandered us. It was funny because we were stopped by a policeman for the Renton Police Department. He asked why we were out so late walking down dangerous roads. We told him we were on our way home for the night. His name is Sergeant "A". He explained to us that he was a member in the Spanish branch in Graham, WA. We told him about the harassers, and he told us that they've always been a nuisance for the missionaries. He said "if they ever come up to you, call me and I'll show them a thing or two." He said that his squad would always have our backs, and they throw these losers in jail all the time. Once, one of these men punched an elder in the face. He gave us permission to call 9-1-1 if we ever feel threatened by them again. I feel so blessed by the Lord for sending sergeant "A" to us. 

This week, we witnessed a miracle. We met "J" and "J". They hardly speak any English, and they came from China. "J" was out talking on her cell phone, and I recognized it as Mandarin. Elder Tibbitts stopped to talk with her, and I explained as best I could in Mandarin that we wanted to help her. We called sister Jin, a Chinese missionary from Temple Square that is only here for a few months. She and "J" talked on the phone for twenty minutes. She began crying and there was so much emotion in her voice. After their phone conversation, Sister Jin told us that "J" is Christian. She and her husband were baptized in a church that "didn't feel right." Her husband, "J", is severely depressed, and hardly ever comes out of the house. They are struggling financially, especially because "J" had surgery to remove a brain tumor. In the midst of this trial both of them have been praying fervently for the true Christian church, and help during this difficult circumstance. They were both at sacrament meeting yesterday, and a senior sister missionary from China interpreted for both of them. They continue to take lessons from sister Jin, and at church they requested a Book of Mormon. This is a testimony to me that God is no respecter of persons, He answers sincere prayers, and He is preparing the hearts of those we meet to hear the restored gospel.

In the same complex we found "J", we met a girl named "S". She and her family just moved here from Ferguson, Missouri. She has a lot of brothers and sisters. After trying several times, we finally caught them when they were home. The rest of the family was busy helping the kids with homework, but "S" let us in. She invited us to teach her. What stood out to me is that "S" is only fourteen years old. She told us that she has been reading the bible a lot, and wants to know more about God. She goes to church sometimes, but she is thirsting for more knowledge. We taught her a short lesson on the restoration and gave her a pamphlet to read. She was really confused by it, but she wants to keep meeting with us. We told her that she could pray to know if it was true, and she didn't need to understand all of it yet. We showed her the outline for prayer listed in the back of the pamphlet and told her to keep it by her bedside so she could pray every night before going to bed. 

"E" is doing all right, but ever since I've been here, she hasn't attended church. She told us she'd be at church this week, but when we called her that morning at 9:15, she told us she was busy helping a patient and couldn't make it to church. Her uncle, "J", is a recent convert, and referred "E" to us. It saddens me when I don't see him at church either. The whole time I've been here, I've seen him at church one or two times. We have a lesson today with her at Family Home Evening. FHE is hosted in the "C"'s home every Monday at 6. The "C"'s are a sweet elderly couple that rent out rooms to other people, including "J". Besides these setbacks, we are helping them both strengthen their testimonies, as we teach the lessons at FHE. We often have two lessons a week with "E", and "J" is there as often as possible. Hopefully, she'll become more converted as we continue to teach and prepare her for baptism. We moved her baptismal date from October 25 to November 22

Yesterday, Elder Tibbitts and I contacted a young man and woman from Germany! Their names were "D" and "N". They were both there on a backpacking vacation, looking for a host family's address. They were pleased to stop to talk with us. It gave me a chance to practice my German. I told them, "Ich sprache ein bisschen Deutch. Ich hat fuer zwei Jahre in Gymnasium gelernt. Meine Mutter kann auch sprechen Deutch. Sie hat ihre Mission in Deutchland gegeht." They were impressed with my German. They told us they had heard of the Mormons before, but they weren't really religious. We asked them if they had faith in Jesus and they said, "kind of." We gave them our number on a card to call in case they got lost, and we directed them to the street they were looking for. It was so cool to meet them, and it reminded me of you mom. The Lord answers the prayers in our hearts through small, tender mercies. Even though I'm not homesick, I'm glad for those tender moments God gives us to remind us of His love. 

I am going to buy a usb cable from Walmart today, so I can send you some pictures next week! Hopefully you'll get them soon. It's been a month since you've seen me. Thank you so much mom and Sarah for the package. Let Genny know I appreciated her gift. I treasure the songbooks, and I sing or read at least one song every night. I have also used the bible highlighters, and they are wonderful. I've also eaten almost all of the candied almonds. I will let you know in a few weeks if I'll be moving to another area next transfer, so after six weeks, don't send anything to my apartment, just send it to the mission office. The assistants to the President pick up the packages and deliver them to us. 

I love you all very much.

Yours truly,

Elder Herbert

Monday, October 6, 2014

Renton-October 6, 2014

Dearest family and friends,

I am so grateful for the opportunity to serve the people in the Skyway Ward. It is a difficult area, but it is so rewarding to see the fruits of your labor when at least one person you meet stops to talk with you. Elder Tibbits has a low tolerance for people who say things like, "I'm pretty sure all churches are the same, I don't need organized religion, I'm already saved, We're Catholic," etc. I try to help him by saying that if we have faith, we'll find someone who is open to us. We always do. We have four investigators that are accepting lessons from us. We can usually weed out the new and potential investigators that aren't committed, because they almost always discontinue the lessons, and say, "we'll call you when we're ready." It is really disappointing, but I know that they weren't at all committed to learning more. Hopefully they'll remember what they felt when we approached them on the street. I am trying my best to extend the invitation "come and see" to everyone. 

I felt the spirit in each General Conference session. I am grateful to know that we have prophets on the earth today. I testify that by following their counsel, we will not be led astray. So many people we meet rely upon their own interpretation of the bible, or the interpretation of their pastor. Many have not read any of it for themselves. They say as prophesied in the Book of Mormon, "A bible, a bible! We have got a bible. We need no more bible." Some people had been Christian, but said, I went to church until I read the bible. Without the doctrine of Christ, we have no gospel. There is nothing as sweet, simple, and powerful than the words contained in the Book of Mormon. No earthly power can convince me otherwise.

Thank you so much for all of your support. I know the Lord is with me, because I've had what are referred to as "barking dogs" verbally attack us in the street. Yesterday, four obviously intoxicated men walked around the street corner and said, "Look, Mormons!" They immediately contended against us. They bombarded us with questions and scarcely left us any time to respond before attacking the Book of Mormon. "Where the heck in the Bible does it talk about the Book of Mormon?" Another man was shouting about the evils of organized religion. It was so chaotic, but I kept smiling the whole time. It was such a pathetic attempt to tear us down, that I couldn't help but be amused. Thankfully, they left. Then, we immediately found a young woman who was a member of the church, standing at the bus stop with her friend, and we chatted for some time before heading our way. Her friend was Jehovah's Witness but not strong in her faith. She said she went proselyting a couple of times with her family, and didn't like it at all. She said we were really brave. 

We are still teaching the homeless man, "B". I am touched by his humility and patience through difficult circumstances. One morning, we cooked breakfast at the homeless shelter and I was so grateful to see the love and charity that these poor and needy have for others. One man told me that there are always people less fortunate than he, so he never takes more than two pancakes. We are teaching "B" tomorrow at the church with Brother F, who teaches the church's 12 step addiction recovery class. We'll give him a lesson, and Brother F will explain the program to him. Brother F will also take him on Wednesday to the addiction recovery class.

"E" is progressing so well. We invited her to watch a session of conference at work, so hopefully she was able to do so. She said 1-3 pm was down time in the nursing home, and there is never really anything to do. After we taught her the word of wisdom she was already trying to quit smoking. She went from a half pack a day to only two a day. The Lord is preparing His people. It is a miracle, especially for her. She has a hard time keeping her commitments, because she has the mentality that she'll be able to do it "someday." But lately she's been good about reading the Book of Mormon, praying, and striving to keep the word of wisdom. 

We haven't been able to teach "J" and "T" this week, because they are always working or running errands. "T" texted us though, and said she has Sundays off work now! "J" will probably have to wait until he requests Sundays off because it has something to do with seniority. We invited them to watch General Conference yesterday, but they couldn't find the BYU channel! :( It's ok, we'll show them how to watch it online. 

I love you all and wish you the best. I'll have to get a USB drive with an SD card slot for the camera, because I can't find any plug for the cable. I did take a few pictures though! 

With love,

Elder Herbert

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Picture of Elder Herbert

This is a picture from The Washington Federal Way Mission blog taken when Elder Herbert and his fellow missionaries arrived. He is in the second row from the top and the second in from the right. Click on the picture to display it larger.