Tuesday, March 23, 2010

This Week

     I haven't found my camera yet, but I'll send home the SD card as soon as I find it. Yes we're still on bikes, and I'm enjoying it immensely, no problems. We have enough people to start a branch, but many are less active, what we need is 6 Melchezidek priesthood holders to start one here in Sonoma, and we're working our way up there. I'm going to start making a list of stories to share with you guys next week, so that you guys can get more of a feel for what's going on, and yes we still have studies, 3 of them Personal, Companion, and Language, and Weekly Planning it all differs, but I'm out of time I love you all!  Thanks for your letter Leah!

     This has been a great week! It's been great as I've strived to talked to everyone on the street more and I'm seeing a difference here in the way people interact with us. People are more friendly and open, and are more willing to talk. I know that it's the Lord blessing Elder Knowles and I as we give all of our heart and strength to the work. We've also had good success with our investigators this week! We haven't gotten as many lessons as we would have liked since some of our investigators left us high and dry, or had to cancel because of work. Such is life, obstacles come and go. Some of the investigators that are really progressing is the Gutierrez family: Berta, Moises, Francisco, and Teresa; Erika; and Anastacio and Maria.

     The Gutierrez family is doing great, and loves to learn from us. They read and ask good questions, and we have faith that they will progress rapidly to baptism. What we're focusing on is getting them to church and on setting a date. We've committed Berta to prepare for baptism, so we're making progress. We're definitely excited. Erika like I've mentioned in previous letters is very spiritual and likes reading and learning what we believe. We've committed her to praying to receive an answer about the Book of Mormon and Joseph Smith, and if this is truly the living church that Christ established all those many years ago. She feels that all churches are good, but we've helped her understand that God has a church that He established, and that we should be united in one fold, and one faith. Anastacio and Maria are doing great too. They take a little bit more  effort to teach to show the connections between the Gospel Principals, but I love them, and when they do understand the principles then they are solid. They understand that they need to be baptized, and we're working with them to show more faith to receive an answer to their prayers to gain a testimony from the Holy Ghost. We're also working with them to get out to church to expedite the process and help them feel the spirit, but like many things it will take a little more time, effort, and exhortation to help them help themselves. Some investigators that we didn't get to teach this week, but that we are still focusing on is the Saabedra family, Montserrat, a different Angeles, Velia and Armando, and Lourdes. Juan, and Carla Saabedra didn't show up for our appointment a few days ago, even though we talked with Carla that morning as a reminder... so it was sad, because we were really excited to share a little more with them and invited them to the baptism in Napa this Saturday, but we'll catch up with them and see how we can help them progress. Montserrat is going through changes in her work so we don't have a set time to meet her anytime soon, and she said she would call us, but I think we may pass by or call her ourselves in a few days to see how she's doing and how we can help her. The "new" Angeles is an answer to a prayer from Elder Knowles and me, we prayed to find someone that morning and we ran into her when following up with old investigators. She was interested in learning more about how we can strengthen our families and find more joy in our lives (soul questions). We're going to teach her today, and we're excited to see how ready they are to learn. Velia and Armando had to reschedule because she was called into work, but we're scheduled to see them this week, they still have their doubts which we'll be focusing on, but once they overcome those doubts they should progress very rapidly. Lourdes seems to be losing steam, or seems to have been more happy to just chat and talk. We've visited her, but she doesn't seem so excited to keep commitments... we're going to give her a few more chances, but we may end up dropping her until her husband comes back home. We had a chance to talk with him since he was visiting from Mexico, but he wont be back for a few months because of work. We'll see how they come along as well.

     I love this work, and I love being able to be an instrument in the Lord's hands, and how we can spread more happiness, light, and joy into the world because this is the truth! I love being a missionary!

     Your missionary, son, and brother

     Elder Mackelprang

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Napa Zone Conference Pictures

Here are a couple of pictures I borrowed from Sister Bunker’s blog.

DSC_0053-NAPA_ZONE This is from the Napa Zone conference a few weeks ago.  Elder Mackelprang is in the back row, left of center.
DSC_0049-BIRTHDAY Here are all the birthday missionaries at the conference.  Quite a few for the month of March!
IMG_2674_RGM_Happy This is of Elder Mackelprang coming out of an interview with Pres. Bunker.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Spring Time Is Here

     ^^ It's great to hear that things are going so well out there! Yes I did get your pictures that you sent me, and I enjoyed them thoroughly. I told Elder Knowles last week that I don't know my own house anymore. I would love to see more pictures as you get them. I'm still figuring out what happened to my old camera and SD card... it just disappeared when I was moving from the English apartment to the one we're in now. I'm praying to find it... I know it's around here somewhere. I have another camera that Elder Grandela left, which takes better quality pictures. So the camera itself isn't a worry, but just where the SD card is... I'll keep you posted with what's happening there.

     What I like about the part of the story right in Helaman 16 (I think) is where you see how people are converted in different ways and how while Samuel is preaching people are looking for Nephi and are getting baptized at the same time. They really make a good team. It really is amazing when you look at a time scale or rather when you make one yourself of year by year with some of the changes that occur within the people of the Nephites. It's really sad how a few times when everyone is about to be destroyed and everyone changes and repents and then 5 years later they're in trouble again. *sigh* It's just another testimony to me of how patient God really is with all of us.

     What's been happening in Sonoma (Note to Pres. Bunker):

This week has been great with Zone Conference, and with many steps forward with the work here in Sonoma. We have 5 progressing investigators of note: Juan and Carla Saabedra, Velia Bravo, Mike Guzman, and Erika. Juan and Carla are old investigators from about 2 years ago and were almost baptized. We tried setting another date with them after sharing a spirit-filled restoration lesson, but they wanted to make sure that they knew enough first. So we'll keep trying and show them how much they really do know, especially as we commit them to coming to church. They really are a sweet family. Velia Bravo still has some doubts about Joseph Smith being a prophet, she believes he was a good and inspired man, and that the Book of Mormon is a good book, but it's pretty much just a copy of the Bible. We'll be focusing on showing through the scriptures that the Book of Mormon is similar to the Bible, and it is necessary to help her build a testimony of the Book of Mormon as she continues to pray to know if the BoM is true and that Joseph Smith was a true prophet. Step by step and precept by precept like Sis Bunker mentioned.  Mike Guzman has been pretty busy, but he has kept his commitments and is progressing. We extended a baptismal commitment to him too. His doubt is within his own ability to make the necessary changes to be a continuing disciple of Jesus Christ, that if he was baptized that he wants to make sure that he doesn't fall to the wayside and become a hypocrite. We're excited for him and will help show him that he has already grown considerably and that this growth will only increase as he follows the commandments that God has given us. Erika is new from this week. She was a refferal from Sis. Moreno, and has been taught twice this week. She is very spiritual, but I think that she has a few misunderstandings on what we have said that we will clarify the next time we meet, but she's very excited about learning from us, and how we can help her bless her family. These investigators are progressing pretty quickly, but there are also a few others who are approaching the point of being ready for baptism really soon too! I'm excited to help all of them come closer to Christ through helping them grow their own faith and testimony.

We had our 2nd Spanish Sacrament meeting yesterday, and it went beautifully. We had 20 people there in all. We had some beautiful talks on Prayer, Revelation, and the Holy Ghost given by one of the youth Leonardo Moreno, Sis Villalobos, and Elder Knowles. We hoped that some of our investigators would come, but they were unable to make it. We are making plans for more activities that we can hold to get more and more of the Spanish community out and coming to the church for other activities, besides just the church meetings on Sunday. I think that it'll help them feel more comfortable coming to the church building, and help them know where it's located and develop friendships with the other Spanish members. We'll see how that goes. We know we still have a large amount of work to do if we ever want to achieve a branch here in Sonoma. But, just like any big goal like losing 100 lbs, you have to take things step by step, and lengthen your stride as you make headway.

I'm excited to keep the work moving forward, and to keep improving myself to be a better servant and missionary of the Lord!

Your Missionary,

Elder Richard Mackelprang

Monday, March 8, 2010

March 8th 2010

      *Whew* This has been a long week, but a very good one. We're making progress from where the Spanish people have been at the last couple of weeks since I was in charge of the area. We've gotten in touch with Angeles, but she's still being plagued with problems that conflict with our appointments, I hope to catch her at work while I'm out shopping today and see if we can pan a few things out with her baptism, or at least with another appointment.

     We've also gotten back in contact with Mike Guzman who has been working like a maniac. He hasn't read which has been the commitment that we've been leaving with him, but we hope to be able to stop by his work for a few minutes during the week to remind him and check up on him. Once he gets reading he will progress really quickly, and I pray and hope that he will be baptized within this transfer. We've also continued with Montserrat Munoz, Velia and Armando Bravo / Landeros, and with Berta and Moises Gutierrez. They are all progressing well. Montserrat will be coming to our Spanish Sacrament this Sunday, and loves learning and the understanding that comes from reading the scriptures. Elder Knowles and I agree that she will progress quickly if she continues to keep her commitments. Velia and Armando have some doubts about Joseph Smith and him being a true prophet, which is the next thing we need to help them tackle and show them that we have the divine authority that Christ gave to his apostles. We have committed them to truly praying to know that Joseph was a true prophet of God, so we'll see how the spirit and the scriptures will help them overcome their doubts. The Gutierrez family is awesome! Berta loves reading the scriptures, and likes to understand more of what God has in store for us and our purpose here. We're sad that they didn't make it out to church like they said they would... we'll have to invite them again, and give them a phone call in the morning to remind them. We also came in contact with the Saabedra family! They are old investigators from about 2 years ago, and they were almost baptized. They taught US the 1st lesson when we talked about what they remembered about it, and so we're going to move right along with them and get them in the waters of baptism!

     The Street contacting is still sparse for us because some of the people we try to talk to aren't willing to talk and they just walk on. We will be making a stronger effort to talk to more people outside since we've been walking a lot since my bike tire blew out, but we hope to fix our bikes and to be able to get around to more people and move our efforts to building a Spanish branch out here in Sonoma! God willing, we can make this happen, only with His help and guidance. We've found 6 less actives that we're going to focus on to re-activate to achieve this goal, but I still need to learn more to know what more we can do to make it happen. Oh! something cool about yesterday is that I got to see my first investigator baptized!! Margarito from Santa Rosa! ^^ I taught him with Elder Knowles my first 6 weeks in California, and he's finally baptized! I got to stand as one of the witnesses with Elder Knowles, that was a special moment for me. I was cool to see some of the members of the branch out there and they're amazed that I speak, quote, "perfect Spanish." I wouldn't go that far, but they were amazed that I was speaking a lot easier than when I first came.  

     I like President's words about being marginal members, or not valuing the lessons and meetings and ordinances that we have received and that we continually receive each week! Like Dad said in his email and his quote from Pres. Kimball, 'Remembering can be the most important aspect in our lives...' we definitely need to remember if we ever expect to be more grateful for the things we do have and the blessings we do receive. We also need to open our eyes more to the small things that we all often times take for granted. I know that our Savior loves each and everyone of you and that He constantly is waiting for you to talk/ pray to Him, to come to know Him on a more personal level than we have before. I definitely will not fall into the marginal category, especially while I'm out here doing the Lord's Work! I'll do my best to be an Outstanding Missionary!

     Your Brother and Friend,

     Elder Richard Mackelprang

     A few notes and questions asked of me

[We asked about Richard’s new companion] - Yep! I'm with Elder Knowles again! We're good friends, especially since we were figuring how to do things right together since he was starting his 3rd transfer when he trained me. We're way excited to get working around here, because we have so many people who are progressing rapidly. The names of the people above are some who are progressing the fastest. This transfer is looking really awesome!

[We asked if he noticed a minor earthquake we saw on the map in Northern CA] - I haven't felt any quakes, but I have heard about some of the quakes around the world in Chile and Haiti, and in California, but nothing happening with us.

[We asked about his apartment] - I like our apartment, it's more spacious than the first one I was in. It's not as new, but it's good.

[We asked about his birthday dinner] - King's Buffet is a Chinese restaurant, nothing special happened. We were there later than expected so we didn't run into Aunt Marsha, but it was a lot of great food. We celebrated with Aunt Marsha's Birthday Cake and candles afterwards before going out.

[We asked about his bike] - I'm getting bike parts today so don't worry about the bike issue, the outer tire was worn so it popped the inner tire.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Birthday EMail!

This first half of this letter is made up of:

Questions from the family, and

answers from Richard.

The second part is about the people Richard is currently working with.


Do you have any humorous stories to share with us?

Well I do have some funny stories, I pulled the cockroaches in the bed of one of the Gringo elders, but when he climbed in he was too tired to react to them besides throwing them on the floor.

The next was something the Gringos tried to pull on me (they pulled this one before I tried the cockroaches.) It was lights out and they got up and went to the restroom and after some low scuffling noises they jump into the room all covered in Glow stick stuff and screaming. I just slowly looked up at them with a bored look on my face and said goodnight. I heard them say that that was a waste of their time.

What did you and your comp do for your birthday?

They sang for me this morning and we're going to be at the King's Buffet in Santa Rosa because we're getting some stuff done on the truck. Surprise! But I'm still serving in Sonoma.

Are you still riding in the truck with the Gringos? When is the move -- is it this week or next?

I'm still in the truck until tomorrow, when Elder Knowles joins me in Sonoma! We're serving together again! YES!

Are you warming up yet?  Or is it still raining and cold?

It's warming up, not as much rain, and it's starting to get sunny.

Any insights from gospel studies or scripture reading?

I've been reading from the beginning of 3rd Nephi and it's just amazing! I'm actually running out of time to write, but read it!

How's the language coming along?  Would Rosie (from Tucson) believe you're the same Richard you used to be?

Rosie would probably be amazed at how well I could speak now, I actually did my first try at translating for Sacrament yesterday... man that was a lot of work. Everyone said I did really well. So we'll see how it goes. Being on my own has definitely pushed my abilities to speak. It's going great.

Prayer is awesome and I'm sorry I don't have much more time to talk about it. I bear to you my testimony that this church is true and that the Book of Mormon is the word of God. If you want to know if it is read it and pray about it to God and I know that He will tell you. I love you all! Be safe and enjoy the snow that never came while I was around! :P

Here's an excerpt to my letter to president about how my investigators are doing:

     I'm glad that I was able to make it to a library to write to you this Transfer/P-day unlike last transfer. Talk about general craziness! This week has been pretty good, and has been a large growing experience for me since I have had to do everything that I can to visit as many people as possible and keep finding people and help the English Elders with their Lessons. The unfortunate thing about this week is that many appointments fell through because of people being sick. All that there remains to do is to keep finding and trying to contact and visit our investigators.

     I have finally heard about one of our investigators that has a baptismal date, but from what I heard from the member I asked to help me contact her it doesn't sound good... Elizebeth Ramirez got a raise recently and we haven't been able to get into contact with her since. According to the member she says that Elizebeth will call us to talk about what's going on, and that she feels like now may not be the best time. I'll be trying to call her again to see what we can do, but if we can't contact her within the next few weeks we may just drop her, because it has been getting close to 3 weeks since we last talked with her.

     Angeles has a baptismal date for the 6th of March, but we haven't met with her in the past week to make sure we're all set for it, and being un-learned in the ways of preparing for a baptism, I haven't scheduled the Napa Stake Center for that baptism yet, so I will be trying to see if we can move her baptismal date for the 13th of March. That appointment with her is tomorrow, hopefully Elder Knowles will be down here in time to meet with her. Angeles has nothing holding her back, so I'm really excited for her and the happiness that this baptism will bring her.

     The lessons that I have had have been with a member present which is really good. Bro. Moreno and I taught a solid lesson about the commandments with Velia Bravo and about the way she can know which church is the right church to be baptized in. We committed her to truly praying to know about the Book of Mormon, and about Joseph Smith. She already feels that the Book of Mormon is just like the Bible, but she needs that spiritual confirmation to be able to help her move in the right direction. We actually ended up giving her a blessing for the sick, because she said her hands were giving her great pain, and she was set to go see a doctor, so I anointed and Bro Moreno gave the blessing. That was nice.

     We've been trying to get a hold of Mike Guzman as well. He's really prepared, but he wants his wife to be there for the lessons too, and she has just changed jobs so she's been all over the place for the moment, but I talked with her at church yesterday, and she said that things are getting more settled and we now have an appointment this coming Friday. If Mike has been keeping his commitment of reading and praying over this time period, then I think it will be time to set a date with him, we will see what the spirit directs.

     I've been setting up English classes with less actives for now, because I need to pick up some English class cards and because the less actives know of friends that want to learn English so it will be a great finding tool. It's just a matter of getting it set up and started. I'll let you know more about it as we go along, but we're trying to establish a "Daily Dose" English program like the one in Napa, where we teach in people's homes and form smaller groups of 5-8 people each. I've found some good potential investigators to visit in these upcoming weeks, from tracting and from activities that I'm setting up with less actives and members. The area here is ready to be harvested, it's just a matter of finding the right spot to get the most out of your work.

     I'm excited to be companions with Elder Knowles again, and I know that he's excited that he finally gets to leave Santa Rosa and see some other areas of the mission. We have the board laid before us and we will rock this town with the spirit guiding us. Especially as we are striving to establish a Spanish branch here. That's part of the reason that working with the less actives here is pretty key, they know people that we can teach, and we need them to help start a branch and eventually a ward. It's a step by step process, but we'll get things moving as fast as we can inspire them to go!

     It was very interesting to read about Elder Holland's talk about Lot's wife, because I remember reading it or hearing it. If it was a BYU devotional around the Fall 2008 I heard it personally. It's very true that our hearts are very necessary if we ever hope to accomplish anything in this work, because people can and do tell when you care about them or not. If you consider them another number or just another face. Your heart needs to be with your investigators and their needs and how you can best help them. I know that and I feel my love for them grow as I serve them here. I'm grateful for the opportunity to learn from the scriptures and Preach My Gospel, because I know that through that love and learning that I can become the missionary that I need to be to best serve the Lord and people that I will be called to serve in the future.

     Your Missionary,

     Elder Mackelprang

     P.S. Happy 20th Birthday to me!

Note that this is a moderated blog - Elder Mackelprang neither reads or (directly) writes to this blog. This is done by his father.