Month: March 2016

Week 11 – Easter and The Atonement

Hope everyone had a great Easter yesterday!

I had a great Easter. We had dinner at the Billoli’s house. They are super cool people and it is always a fun time at their house. We had chicken fried steak, loaded mashed potatoes and carrots. It was really good. It was a wonderful day talking with everyone we talked to about the Atonement–what Easter truly means. The Atonement is an amazing thing. Without the Atonement we wouldn’t really have any purpose here on this earth. Because of the Atonement we can repent and be forgiven of our sins. We will be resurrected just like Jesus Christ was. Because of the Atonement we can return to live with our Heavenly Father again!

We went to a house yesterday to try and find a less active lady. We knocked and a guy answered. He said she wasn’t there and that four other sets of missionaries have tried. We then asked if we could share a message with him. He said, “sure” and let us in. He is 23 and going to college. It was really cool to talk with him and see his side of religion. We taught him about the Atonement. He really took it well but he wasn’t sure if religion is right for him in his life right now. He said his life is going well and he doesn’t really need to change it right now. We are going to visit him next week. He is super cool and just really fun to talk to.

We had dinner with the Avina family this week. Sister Avina is the lady who has cancer and is not doing very well. It is always so nice to go over and talk with them. Her husband, Abraham, loves talking to us because it gets his mind off of her cancer for a little bit. She is doing radiation every day and if the radiation doesn’t work then she has three months to live, which is really sad. Renee, their daughter, lost her husband three years ago to cancer, so it is making them really nervous. Pray for Ester.

We met a kid out in a driveway. His name is Jose and he is 18. We found out that he lives in a group home with a bunch of other kids 16 to 18 years old. We were able to set up a time for this week, so hopefully that goes well. We are down to only one investigator, so hopefully we will be getting some this week.

This morning we went over to the Westmoreland house. They were having six missionaries from our district over for breakfast this morning. The Westmorelands are Sister Tilbys parents, by the way. I ate 10 pancakes and the other Elders ate about 10. He just keeps on making food and doesn’t stop!

We have three different service projects this week, so I am really excited about that! Not a whole lot else this week. Turlock California is a really cool place and I am so happy I am able to serve here. I love you all so much. Keep up the good work!

There is a very cool Mormon message called Enduring Love. We watched it in district meeting and it is very touching. Watch it if you get a chance. We all need to have enduring love in our lives!

Love,
Elder Pope

The picture below is of Renee, Abraham, and I.
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Week 10 – Happy Easter

2 months already? It is crazy to think that I have now been in Modesto for two months!

This week we were able to meet with a potential investigator who we have been wanting to meet ever since I have been here. We always talked with his son, who is 15, but the dad was never home. We were able to catch him at home for a few minutes and talk. It was pretty funny because he is way into dirt biking and cars. We started talking about dirt biking for like 15 minutes. I then asked about the car that he had in the driveway. He showed me a picture of what he wants to do to it. He said it is his wife’s car. It is a 2015 Dodge Challenger SRT. It is a beast of a car. We then got started on other cars including the car he is going to get himself soon. He is super cool and I am super excited for our meeting tomorrow. He is basically like a grown kid with cars and dirt bikes, and I loved it.

Saturday night at the ward talent show I found out that one of our members owns his own car shop. I went and asked him about it. He told me that he takes fast cars and makes them faster. He also told me that he holds the fastest miles per hour in the world. For the mile he went 204 MPH and his half mile is 176 MPH. He told us he has a Zl1 Camero that is running just over 1500 HP. He is one of my new favorites in the ward. We are hoping to go to his shop today. His name is Brother Starkweather.

This week we were able to do three different service projects. We were able to do two service projects on Saturday, which were really fun, and the first service project we did was on Wednesday. We helped Brother Mallory do some yard work and we taught him while we helped him clean his yard. The second service project that we did was moving concrete for a member who had to have it moved so their kids could play in the backyard. Some of the pieces weighed about 300 pounds. It was really fun, then we took them to the dump! The third service project that we did was mowing a ladies lawn. We mowed her lawn three weeks ago. She wants us to mow her lawn every two weeks. They were are all really fun! I really love doing service! We actually did another service project too. The ward got together and bought a lady in a different ward some furniture. A few of the missionaries got together and helped move it all in.

I had a really cool experience this week. We were biking in the southern part of our ward and I saw two Hispanic men walking up the road towards us. My companion rode past them, but I had a feeling I needed to stop and talk to them. As I was approaching them, I noticed that the first guy had a big bowie knife in his pocket and his friend had a curved knife. I stopped and started talking with them. I asked if I could give them a picture of Jesus Christ. I pulled out the picture and showed them. One of the guys grabbed the picture and threw it on the ground. The other one picked it up and said he would watch it. The first one came and gave me a hug because he felt bad. We talked for five minutes. I just hope that the second one, who picked it up, will watch the Hallelujah video. I was praying the whole time that they wouldn’t stab me. I was saying to myself while riding up, “I fear no man.” As missionaries, we are supposed to invite ALL to come unto Christ. I knew that I couldn’t pass them up!

We are trying really hard to find new investigators. The ward jokes around because all of the investigators that we had have been baptized. There have been seven baptisms in the last four months and before that, in the last year or two, they didn’t really have anyone be baptized. We have two investigators that we met this week and we have times set up with them, so hopefully we will be able to work with them. Keep praying that we will find investigators because we are struggling right now.

I love you all so much! Keep up the good work with all that you do! I know that this is the true church and this is where I am supposed to be.

Love,
Elder Pope

Service project moving in furniture.
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Service project moving concrete. Now you know why my back hurts. Haha.
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Eating dinner at Brother and Sister Everett’s house. He is the one I baptized!
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This is a nearby food truck that we go to. I was super hungry and put down two of these burritos. We had just finished a service project. I see why Mexican food can make you fat!
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Happy Easter/St. Patrick’s Day/Valentine’s Day!
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Week 9 – The Sutton Boys Baptisms

This week was a good week!

This week I had the opportunity to baptize and confirm Drew Sutton. Elder Jarvis baptized and confirmed Ayden Sutton. It was so awesome to go down into the baptismal font with him because he was so excited. Drew is ten and Ayden is twelve. They are both super awesome young men and it was great to see them be baptized. It is the best feeling bringing someone unto the waters of baptism.

On Tuesday, Elder Jarvis and I went to a service project for someone in the ward. We got there and no one was there, but the project was done. We decided we better just go back and change, then keep proselyting. On our way home there was a old man in a wheelchair in his front yard. We waived but kept riding. I had a feeling we needed to go talk to him. We went over and asked how he was doing and if we could help him with anything. He wanted us to mow his lawn. He told us he couldn’t mow his lawn and it was too long; he didn’t like it. We mowed and trimmed his lawn for him. It took us the rest of that day, until it got dark, so we told him we would come back tomorrow and finish. He was very thankful. Come to find out he is on our avoid list! I guess the missionaries had gone over to his house a few transfers prior and he had flipped out at them and told them to never come back or he would hurt them. I know that it was the spirit telling me we needed to help him out. Always follow the spirit when it prompts you to do something. You might not know what it is for, but just do it.

We weren’t going to have any investigators after we baptized the Sutton boys, so we were trying really hard to get a new investigator before they got baptized. We were riding our bikes to an appointment and were able to stop and talk with a girl named Lisa. We were able to teach her about the Restoration and are meeting with her again on Wednesday, so that is really good!

There is also this potential investigator named Crystal. We have tried going over a few times each week but it is never a good time and she doesn’t want to make a set time because she never knows when she will be home or not. We were about to leave and we thought we should go and see her before we see the other people we had planned to see. We went over and a lady answered the door. She explained that they were just talking about the missionaries going over to the hospital to give her niece a blessing. Her niece, who is 8 months old, got a piece of her head bitten off by a pit bull and it wasn’t good. We gave them the number for the Elders who were in the area of the hospital, so they could give her a blessing.

This week we were informed that one of our recent converts still has cancer. She had done stage 1 of chemotherapy and it just stopped the cancer from spreading. They found a tumor the size of a lemon in her now too. Her son in law passed away in stage two cancer two years ago, so she is really sad right now. She and her husband are the sweetest people. Keep them in your prayers. Their names are the Avinas. Her husband Abraham is taking it pretty bad, but he took us out once this week to our appointments and he wants to take us out more this week because it takes his mind off of it. I will try to get a picture with him. It is always super fun to go over and teach them the new member lessons because every time we go over they say, “should we start off right and start with the Pope or end with the Pope.” It is super funny. Elder Jarvis and I always joke around with people when they ask why I am not Catholic. We tell them I am the only Catholic missionary serving a Mormon mission, and people usually get a kick out of it!

The church just put out an Easter video that you all should go and watch called Hallelujah. There are actually two that you should watch. There is an actual video and there is a really good one of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir singing with other people via video. There is also a Mormon message I would like you to watch – “The Will Of God.” You might have already seen it but watch it again. It is super awesome.

I love you all so much! The church is true! Keep praying for all of the missionaries. Always strive to be more like our Heavenly Father in every way possible. Always remember who you represent!

Love,
Elder Pope

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It was pretty funny because it was pouring really hard and we had an appointment. We were riding and people were offering to let us into their garages to dry off for a little. We couldn’t be late so we just kept riding. It was pretty miserable but it will all pay off in the long run!
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Week 8 – Seven Week Transfer

This week was really great! We had the baptism on Saturday for Anthony, but other then that it was pretty slow. Anthony has grown so strong and I am so happy for him. I have grown really close to him and I want to stay in contact with him for the rest of my life. This next Saturday the Sutton boys are being baptized and I can not wait for it! They are both really excited and ready. I couldn’t be happier for them and their desire to be baptized.

This transfer is seven weeks instead of six because of the MTC extension. I will still be serving in the Turlock 4th ward with Elder Jarvis! I have become really close to some of the members and am so happy I am staying here for now.

This week I heard my first two gun shots. It was pretty crazy. We were in a members house and we had the door open. We heard one and thought it was just a firework, then we heard the second shot. Yep, it was definitely a gun. You could tell it had a silencer on it but we could still hear it so it was pretty close.

This week it rained on us for three days now and it is still raining outside. It is pretty fun biking in the rain but it can get cold sometimes. My legs get drenched, but other then that it has been really fun biking in it!

We get free pizza from Little Ceasers because it is a member who owns it. The missionaries get to have one free pizza each a week. There is also a frozen yogurt place down the road from it where we get the first five dollars free each time we go. It is a member who owns it and this is her way of feeding the missionaries. I got a massive one and only had to pay 97 cents for it.

I want you all to watch the Mormon Message, “Refiners Fire.” It is a really good Mormon Message that I really enjoyed this week. Our Heavenly Father cuts us down so that we can be built up stronger. I love talking about the Plan of Salvation with members or non-members and explaining to them why He cuts us down so we can grow stronger from it. I love sharing a experience with them that I have realized while being on my mission. Heavenly Father puts those challenges in our way to see if we will stay strong. I know that He was challenging me to see if I would still go on a mission after my grandma died the week before and the funeral being held the day before my farewell. I love to share it with them and how we can grow from those challenges that he puts in our paths. If we didn’t have those hard times then we wouldn’t know what the good times were because everything would be a good time. They are there for a reason.

Les quiero mi familia.

I didn’t have a whole lot of time today, so it isn’t the longest but I love you all! Keep up the good work at home and always remember how much your Heavenly Father loves you!

Love,
Elder Pope

This is my district!
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This is from the house we live behind. It was a really cool sunset!
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This is the chicken coop that we built this week. I really enjoy doing service for others.
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This is one of our less-active members car. He has tattoos everywhere and he is super cool! His car has hydraulics. I will take a video next time we go over there. He said when he drives it he bounces it up and down.
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We were able to go on a “field trip” with one of the members after dinner. I went on exchanges with my district leader and the member took us to the Golden Dragon for dinner, then he took us to his work for all-you-can-eat ice cream and a tour. It was super fun! They make the best stuff possible. They make tons of Tillamook ice cream and I was so jealous. There was so much ice cream there and I just wanted to eat it all!
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We got rain!
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This is a picture of Anthony’s baptism. It is with Anthony and his finance, Ali, who is a member.
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This was today. We went shopping, then stopped at Little Ceasers, then played pool. We played pool and ping pong with the Tilbys on Saturday night. Their son, who is a junior in high school and plays baseball, really loves me. We always talk! He was talking smack about how he could beat me in pool and we played and I beat him. Then I played ping pong against Sister Tilby, the mom. She is the second best player in the family, behind Brother Tilby, and she said she could beat me. We started playing and I was up 4 to 1 on her but it was 10:30 so we had to run upstairs and jump into bed. It was really funny but we are probably going to finish tonight with them!
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We received this picture at Anthony’s baptism from President Palmer, Nathan’s mission president.
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