Monday, October 25, 2010

Work, work, work!

October 25, 2010
Dearest Mommy,

So If I could describe this week in one word, it would be work. Work, work, work, work! The best part about it: I LOVE IT!!! Ah it's been such a busy, exciting, stressful, and satisfying week I absolutely love it. We've been teaching up a storm as well as finding new people! Let me give you the down-low for what all we've been up to. Last Monday you already know all that excitement of playing soccer as a Spanish zone and then buying a freakin' sweet jacket which I happen to have on right now :-). After that wonderful day, we set off to work.
Tuesday, we had to go to the doctor to have a follow up with the CDC down in Salem, so we were all stressing that it was going to shoot our day, so we planned to do it during language study (10:00 am), take our lunch hour, and then only have to sacrifice one hour of proselyting time, and it paid out in spades! We got there, got 'er done, and got back in time to teach seven lessons and do an hour of finding! Wh'bam! Technically it was due to the divisions we did, but it was still amazing! The best thing about being in a trio is that if you can find members to go with you, you can triple your work load for a day. So Tuesday racked up our member-present lesson stats for the week, and then the following day, we scheduled a triple-blitz with the English elders here in Woodburn because they're also in a trio... it worked out really well!
The thing that's funny about this is that we were planning on having a pretty crappy week because we had to shoot basically three hours for the doctor on Tuesday, plan on thursday for three hours, have district meeting on Friday which takes quite a bit of time, and go to the doctor again on Saturday. In spite of all of that, we had one of the best weeks we've had in the last month!
The thing that makes me even more stoked about it is the fact that our investigators are doing well as well as our recent converts. We had a lesson Thursday with Ivelisse where she set November 7th as her goal for getting baptized, we had a lesson with Adan & Rahab on Friday where we talked to them about getting baptized on the 14th where all they need to do is get married, and we also had several lessons this week with a lady named Bertha Hernandez who has been investigating the church for more than a year, but has not gotten baptized because she's married in Mexico and lives with someone else here... oops haha. Luckily, we talked to her, and it turns out that her sister is now in the process of divorcing her in Mexico so she can marry her...umm.... partner Martin (pronounced Marteen). Anyways, exciting stuff right now.
Aside from those three, we're working with a couple whose names are Leonel and Cristina. They're progressing very well, and I think we'll be getting them baptized (married first though!) towards the end of November. We are also teaching a lady named Laura who has come to church for the last four weeks in a row and she is really liking what she's learning... We're hoping to set a baptismal date with her tomorrow night!
One other sweet thing that has happened is that Rahab's family has taken an interest in the church. Like her mom says when she finds out its true she wants to be baptized! Holy crap right? For example, she had a question about baptisms for the dead the last time we went over (yesterday), and we ended up teaching her the entire plan of salvation in depth. I'm talking IN DEPTH. Like we were talking about the pre-existent state of spirits, the council in heaven, the veil, the foreknowledge of God and how it played into the fall of Adam and Eve, the millenium, etc.. A really exceptionally intelligent woman who soaks up information like a sponge! If she gets baptized, she'd probably be like a relief society president or something... we've just gotta pull the rest of the JW doctrine out of her head first haha.... I'm a little scared to teach her that Jesus is Jehova.... Oh boy for that I've got a nicely marked up bible :-P.
Speaking of bibles, I bought the coolest one ever!!!! We were wandering around on Front St. in Woodburn, and we found this little tienda called 'El Nuevo Jerusalen', so we decided to stop in. Turns out it sells grocery-type products in front, and blasphemous Adventist materials in the back... along with a whooooole bunch of different bibles. I found one that is fuhreakin SWEET! It's a little pocket bible that isn't just the new testament... it contains ALL of the old and new testaments and it's teeny tiny! Anyways, since I found it, all I do now is carry around my book of Mormon with a bunch of pamphlets stuffed in it and then the bible in my pocket in case someone tries to give me crap for not having it.... then I can smash them with it :-). Naw I'm just kidding I don't bash. But yeah, I love having that little guy with me it makes it super fun :-).
So on a little bit more serious note, I had a super sweet personal study the other day, and I kinda wanna share my "revelation" with you guys haha. So right now I'm working on reading the book of Mormon again, and I'm in Alma. What I was reading that called my attention is in Alma 12. To explain a little of what is going on so you have a point of reference, this is right where Alma and Amulek are laying it down on Zeezrom and they call him to repentance and he sees the error of his ways. From there, Zeezrom asks to know how he can know for himself the things of God, and this is what happens:

9 "And now Alma began to expound these things unto him, saying: It is given unto many to know the mysteries of God; nevertheless they are laid under a strict command that they shall not impart only according to the portion of his word which he doth grant unto the children of men, according to the heed and diligence which they give unto him.
10 And therefore, he that will harden his heart, the same receiveth the lesser portion of the word; and he that will not harden his heart, to him is given the greater portion of the word, until it is given unto him to know the mysteries of God until he know them in full.
11 And they that will harden their hearts, to them is given the lesser portion of the word until they know nothing concerning his mysteries; and then they are taken captive by the devil, and led by his will down to destruction."

The key to all of this is found in verses nine and 10... where it says God grants the portion of his word according to the HEED and DILIGENCE that we give to him. Not only that, it says that he who hardens not his heart is the one who will receive the mysteries of God in full. So, in order for people to become converted to this church, they must not harden their heart to the message, and show diligence and really try to listen to get an answer. Anyways, I thought it was cool.
So for my last thought, now that I've got the spiritual stuff down on the page, I've gotta share with you something really, really funny that happened last night. So we ate dinner with the Wetzels, and they're awesome... they kind of remind me of a slightly younger version of Grandma and Grandpa Dayton. They actually have the same vintage house and cook very similar foods I love it! Anyways, they're kind of the same caliber of members as well. VERY awesome people! Super spiritual giants, humble, kind, willing to share the gospel, etc.. So we got to the end of dinner and we were fixing to head out, when brother Wetzel says hey I have a note I would like you guys to read, but not until you're out of the house and in your car, okay? We all said okay and took the note. Once we got out in the car, this is what we found:

Who are the 5 most constipated men in the Bible?
1. Cain - because he was not Abel
2. Noah - Passed nothing but water for 150 days
3. Moses - took two tablets and went into the wilderness for 40 days and 40 nights
4. David - no power on earth could move him
5. Solomon (David's son) - sat on the throne for 50 years

Maybe it's highly inappropriate, but coming from a guy like brother Wetzel, we were about on the floor crying when we opened it up! Ah he's such a sweet guy and he always has a subtle joke like that to pull on us.
All right, well that's the excitement for the week here in Woodburn (or Boorbun as I heard it called the other day haha), but I love you all so much, tell Katie Jo that I am so sorry I didn't get my card off to her in time, but I'll be sending her one today in the mail. I love you guys so much, and I all is well! I pray for you every night, so I hope everything is good!
Love today, tomorrow, the day after, yadda yadda yadda,
-Elder Kurt Kay Mooney

PS: I do play the piano in district meetings from time to time, so your years of tooth-pulling with me was not wasted! I love you mommy! Tell those Larsen kids to get their butts in gear or I'm gonna kick 'em when I get back next year!

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

"Bear witness of the Light"

October 18, 2010
Dearest Mommy,
Okay, so here I am at 7:30 writing to ya and trying not to fall asleep haha. Today for our P-day, we played soccer with both Spanish zones... again... and we did it for three hours haha. Oh my goodness I was totally trashed afterwards haha. It was such a total blast though I loved it.
Aside from that excitement today, we had an all-around good week! Last tuesday I had a super sweet exchange with elder Davis, one of our zone leaders, and then later on in the week I had the opportunity to serve with elder Rangel again!... but this time in Salem! Ah it was so sweet being able to go back and serve with him again! I'm pretty sure they should let us open a new area together, because we would blow it up. We were able to teach four lessons, two with member, and talk Charlie (Miriam, my Cuban Abuelita's husband) into getting baptized! I am so excited!
What's even more exciting than exchanges is the fact that Rivera is now back to normal! We actually went walking around for the first couple of days this week! It was really nice to be able to go out and about and not feel so fat... ya know? I think this whole near-death thing has really changed him as well. Now he is really carefree, happy, and good at teaching it's rad! He has no fear to open his mouth and teach doctrine to anybody. Not only that, but now all the members love him!
I'm trying to think what else exciting happened... ooh! I bought my jacket today, and it is fuhreaking sweet! Like really, it's gonna be way nice once the weather really hits. It's a North Face soft shell.... yeah it might be easier if I just send you a picture of it haha. Anyways, it's gonna be relly warm, keep me really dry, and last for a long time... *knock on wood* I was super bugged because I had planned on buying this Helly Hansen jacket that I've been looking at basically the whole time I've been in Woodburn, but unfoturnately today when I went to go get it, it was GONZO! Oh well I think this one is cooler haha. Anyways...pretty exciting, right?
Anyways, I'm having a blastie here in Woodburn, although I think my time has run out for this area... I don't know... we'll find out in the next couple of weeks, but I realized I've been here for almost seven months... I love it! I hope I get a chance to come back here again haha.
What else what else...... ooh! Okay, so this is kind of weird and you guys will probably think I'm an idiot, but I had kind of a spiritual experience running the other morning. So we go running around a neighborhood by our apartment complex, and part of it runs through an old folks neighborhood where every house is cookie-cutter exactly the same. One thing that's interesting is that every one of those houses has motion-sensor lights. As we're running in the mornings, it's dark obviously, and once we get to that neighborhood, every house we pass by, the lights turn on out front, and all of them seem to stay on after we run by. The interesting thing is that by the end of the houses, if we're taking a more leisurely pace, the sun comes out, and we don't get to play our little game of turning on all of those lights, so we always try to run a little bit quicker when we see the light starting to come out. You're probably thinking, "wow elder Mooney, this is totally not related to the gospel", but bear with me. I was thinking about my mission and how it seems like we always seem to be in a rush to find new people, teach them, baptize them, etc., and I always thought, why can't we just take a nice, steady pace to do it... doesn't the old saying go "slow and steady wins the race"? Then I kind of had an epiphany. The mission is a lot like the route we run in the mornings in that you only have a certain amount of time to get things done, and then it's all over once the sun comes out. If we waste time dawdling or "taking it easy" as missionaries, there will be people that we won't quite reach in time, and have a chance to be touched by that "light".
It's kinda like it says in John 1:7-9... likening it to myself a little bit, it made a lot of sense
7" ...[elder Mooney] came for a witness, to bear witness of the Light, that all men through him might believe.
8 He was not that Light, but was sent to bear witness of that Light.
9 That was the true Light, which lighteth every man that cometh into the world. "
I love our church and the opportunity to let my light so shine before men... I hope you guys are willing to do the same.
I've gotta go cause my time is up, but I love you all so much have a great week!
Elder Kurt Mooney

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Slowly but surely

October 21, 2010
Dear Mom and Dad,
Well, this week has been a little bit less exciting... and I think that's a good thing haha. Right now I'm here at the Mt. Angel abbey writing this email with my good ol' zone leader elder Davis... and I don't even know what to write haha. This week has really been pretty uneventful.... I'm trying to think of anything out of the ordinary that happened.
Well, first things first I guess. So you all know, elder Rivera is almost 100% now! He is going to be going out to do visits with us tonight, so that will be exciting :-) He had a doctors appointment yesterday and they said that he will be fine he just needs to finish his antibiotics this week and he will be golden! No more visits to the hospital or with any doctors! Yes! Finally!!!!! It's super funny though, because "mommy" (hna. Ruybal) is watching over us like a proctective... I don't know what haha. She's making sure that we are safe from any potential typhoid hazards in the future... she won't let us eat at certain places in the branch, if we want to eat at a taqueria, we have to call and ask if it's an okay place, things like that haha.
Other than that, I saw someone I hadn't seen since I was about 15 years old.... Josh Schriner! I know, super random right? We were driving back to our apartment on Sunday after church, and there they were he and his wife driving in a van! They probably thought I was an idiot waving like I was, but I think they recognized me... if not, well... then they'll just think that missionaries are total dorks. At the very least, it was something interesting that I could throw in the email to take up a paragraph :-)
Our investigators right now are doing all right... I'm a little frustrated with them because I feel like we're not really making a lot of headway with all that has been happening with elder Rivera, but now that he's better we should start kicking some butt. Adan's soon to be mother-in-law is having surgery today on her ankle, so we might go visit her to see how she's doing, as well as tell her to push the marriage thing with Adan and Rahab... is that terrible? haha if so, then I apologize, but they need to start living the law of chastity so that they can get baptized! Wedding number two of the mission... I just hope this one works out a lot better than the last one :-S. Aside from them being good and coming to church this last sunday, we had a super funky day for church... I was kind of annoyed. We only had two investigators in church! We called all of our investigators to make sure they were coming, and out of those that answered, all of them said "but it's raining a lot outside"... and!? It's not like we hold our meetings outside people! It was just super funny because branch attendance in general was in the toilet. We only had about 50 people show up... super strange thing about hispanic culture or something. Anyways, at least Adan was there.
I don't think I have anything else to report from this week... we taught a bunch of lessons, we were handing off Rivera to members every day, and yeah... that's about the excitement. It kinda stresses me out a little bit, so I've been super tense, and of course I'm not exactly getting regular massages to work out knots in my back, but let me tell you all a story. So this last Wednesday night we were picking up elder Rivera from the Mendoza's house, we got talking with them for a minute and Hna. Mendoza's brother said "elder, you look overly stressed, let me give you a massage" He gave me one and I just about died I was so happy. My back was solid knots, and he totally worked me over. I don't care that it was a 40 year old man who did it for me because I was completely comatose from 9:30 that night until 6:30 the next morning haha.
So aside from that, I'm over the year mark and I feel really weird about it... where did the time go? I still feel like I just started a little while ago, but here I am with more than a year gone! Poof! Fart in the wind! I don't know what else to say about this past week, so I'll stop. I love you guys so much and I'm so grateful for all the support out here. I'll write something more exciting next week I promise. :-)
Elder Kurt Mooney

Monday, October 4, 2010

Typhoid Diet

October 4, 2010

Dearest Mommy,
Okay, so it's been a pretty eventful week haha. The big news is that it turns out that Elder Rivera not only had sepsis... he also got Typhoid fever! What the heck!? I thought that disease died out with the pioneers!!! Super weird right? They had a whole bunch of doctors coming in trying to figure out what the crap was going on when President Dyches told them to talk to an infectious disease doctor, so he did and ta-da! Typhoid fever. It's really really really rare that this ever happens in the united states... like the CDC (Center for Disease Control) wanted to talk to us to see what we'd been eating and stuff like that. They were saying he most likely got it from a south american company called Goya, so if you go into one of those little latin markets, DON'T BUY GOYA PRODUCTS! I feel bad that they're gonna take a hit as a company, but that's what they get for giving my companion Typhoid.
Now that you know what he's got, I should probably give you an update on Rivera: He's doing okay. He's getting better every day, and he is chock-full of antibiotics. Not only that, but holy crap he is SKINNY!!! He weighed himself when he got back to the apartment and started laughing a little bit. When I asked him what was so funny, he told me it was because he had lost 20 pounds in only like a week! Holy COW!!!! He really does look really skinny... I didn't notice it at first because...well... he had about a week's worth of beard on his face, but when they shaved him down, he looked like a survivor from a death camp or something! He is reeeaaaaally really skinny. We were joking around and saying maybe we should market this as a weight loss program. It could be called "The Typhoid Diet" it would be sweet! We could use elder Rivera as a testimonial and show a before/after picture haha. As you would probably imagine, he didn't really find it too terribly funny, but ah well he's on the road to recovery.
Aside from that, we've been... well.... pretty much worthless missionaries this week just studying in the hospital for a couple days, trying to get some lessons done when we could to keep the work afloat. I was really stressing out about everything and thinking I might leave Page with Rivera in the hospital and go on all-day splits with a member to get the work going, but then Uchdorf's talk about slowing down and working at a steady pace kind of slapped me in the face and was basically telling me "don't stress so much!" I really enjoyed conference this weekend... ah the spirit during the talks were so amazing and they really spoke to me. I know that I need to show more trust in our leaders, have more faith, receive the Holy Ghost, and show more gratitude to those around me.
I'm trying to think if there was anything else exciting that happened this week that was of much importance.... We went running for a couple days this week which has helped me lose some of the stress I had bottled up... that was nice. I really can't think of anything else that happened this week. Your prayers were much appreciated with all that has been going on with elder Rivera. Now that I've got conference on the brain I need to say thank you for all of your support out here. Your prayers really do help in ways that you don't even know.
I love you guys all so very much and I pray for you each night. Keep on keepin' on!


Elder Kurt Mooney

Hey just thought you might think this was cool... check it out :-)
A Special Type of Soldier--Hugh B. Brown
At the request of the First Presidency, I had gone to England as coordinator for the LDS servicemen. One Saturday afternoon in 1944, I sent a telegram from London to the base chaplain near Liverpool letting him know that I would be in camp the next morning to conduct Mormon church services at 10:00 a.m
When I arrived at the camp, there were 75 Mormon boys, all in uniform and quite a number in battle dress. The chaplain to whom I had sent the wire proved to be a Baptist minister from the southern U. S. He, too, was waiting for my arrival. As these young men ran out to greet me not because it was I, but because of what I represented, and as they literally threw their arms around me, knowing I was representing their parents as well as the Church, the minister said, "Please tell me how you do it.
"Do what?"
"Why," he said, "I did not get your wire until late this morning. I made a hurried search. I found there were 76 Mormon boys in this camp. I got word to them. 75 of them are here. The other is in the hospital. I have more than 600 Baptists in this camp, and if I gave them 6 months notice, I could not get a response like that."
And then he repeated, "How do you do it?"
I said, "Sir, if you will come inside, perhaps you will see."
We went in to the little chapel. The boys sat down. I asked, "How many here have been on missions?" I think a full 50% raised their hands.
I said, "Will you and you and you, and I pointed to six of them, please come and administer the sacrament? And will you and you and you, and I pointed to six others, please come and sit here and be prepared to speak."
Then I said, "Who can lead the music?" A number of hands were raised. "Will you come and lead the music? And who can play this portable organ?" There were several more hands, and one was selected. Then I said, "What would you like to sing, fellows?" With one voice they replied, "Come, Come Ye Saints!"
We had no hymnbook. The boy sounded the chord: they all arose. I have heard "Come, Come Ye Saints" sung in many lands and by many choirs and congregations. Without reflecting adversely on what we usually hear I think I have only heard "Come, Come Ye Saints" sung that once when every heart seemed to be bursting. They sounded every verse without books.
When they came to the last verse, they didn't mute it; they didn't sing it like a dirge but throwing back their shoulders, they sang out until I was fearful the walls would burst. "And should we die before our journey's through, happy day, all is well". I looked at my minister friend and found him weeping.
Then one of the boys who had been asked to administer the sacrament knelt at the table, bowed his head, and said, "Oh, God, the Eternal Father." He paused for what seemed to be a full minute, and then he proceeded with the rest of the blessing on the bread. At the close of that meeting, I sought that boy out. I put my arm around his shoulders, and said, "Son, what's the matter? Why was it so difficult for you to ask the blessing on the bread?"
He paused for a minute and said, rather apologetically, "Well, Brother Brown, it hasn't been two hours since I was over the continent on a bombing mission. As we started to return, I discovered that my tail assembly was partly shot away, that one of my engines was out, that three of my crew were wounded, and that it appeared absolutely impossible that we could reach the shore of England."
"Brother Brown, up there I remembered Primary and Sunday School and MIA, and home and church, and up there when it seemed all hope was lost, I said, 'Oh, God the eternal Father, please support this plane until we reach a landing field.' He did just that, and when we landed, I learned of this meeting and I had to run all the way to get here. I didn't have time to change my battle dress, and when I knelt there and again addressed the Lord, I was reminded that I hadn't stopped to say thank you."
"Brother Brown, I had to pause a little while to tell God how grateful I was."
Well, we went on with the meeting. We sang. Prayers were offered, and these young men, with only a moment's notice, each stood and spoke, preached the gospel of Jesus Christ to their comrades, bore their testimonies, and again I say with due respect to the various ones with whom I have associated and labored they were among the finest sermons I have ever heard.
Then the time was up and I said, "Fellows, it's time for chow. We must dismiss now, or you will miss your dinner." With almost one voice they cried, "We can eat grub any time. Let's have a testimony meeting!"
So we stayed another hour and a half. I looked at my friend, and he was weeping unashamedly.
At the close of that meeting, this minister said, "I have been a minister for more than 21 years, and this has been the greatest spiritual experience of my life."