Tuesday, December 28, 2010

December 27 2010

We had a long and wonderful conversation with Elder Mooney on Christmas Day, so he sent this short e-mail for the week:

Just wanted to say that I'm so glad I got to talk to you guys on Christmas. I miss ya tons but not in a trunky way :-)


Elder Mooney

December 18, 2010

Elders Mooney and Rivera with the Cruz family for their sealing at the Portland Temple

Monday, December 20, 2010

Judge not...

2010 December 20
Hi mommy,
Okay, so I'm trying to work up the gumption to actually write up an email right now, and I am battling with it haha. I just feel like it's not so necessary because I can just talk to you about it on Saturday in my letter, but then I realize that it would be bad if I didn't have a record of what happened someday down the road.
So this week, there was definitely some big excitement among the Spanish missionaries. We had transfers a week ago, and all companionships aside from ours and one in the South zone were changed... pretty nuts eh? It was pretty sweet though. There are some good things going on this transfer for sure.
I'm trying to think of what else that was exciting on Monday night.... oh! One thing that was funny about the night after we got out of transfer meeting is that we went to teach this guy named Nestor (like molester?), who is the boyfriend of an inactive member. It's super funny because he told me that I speak like someone from Mexico. When people ask where I'm from, I say that I'm from the state of Guerrero, near the coast, because I've heard from a lot of people that there are white people with green eyes that speak Spanish. Sometimes they give me this really surprised look and say "de verdas!?" or "are you serious!?" but from there I say that I'm just blowing smoke because... well... it's not the truth obviously haha. I'm not trying to toot my horn, it's just fun to feign being Mexican for a little bit :-) My Spanish isn't native-status Spanish anyways... I don't use words that they do like troca (truck), naifa (knife), esquipiar (to skip), quiquiar (to kick), or parquiar (to park), or things like that haha. It's fun to talk like that though. Anyways, I'm gonna shut up about speaking Spanish because you probably don't care haha.
So Tuesday... oh Tuesday... so here's what happened: We had district meeting that was good until we sloughed out into the rain... lots and lots of it. We knocked doors for a while because our appointments canceled, and then finally came the time when we were going to visit an inactive that we found knocking named Yari. I was frustrated because I thought he was going to bail on us and I have to be honest, I judged him on his appearance the first time we met him. The first time we knocked his door, he answered it with snakebite piercings, ears pierced, with a shirt that said (edited.) From there I thought "wow, what a tool. We came to find out he was super inactive since 15 and yeah. The time came, and elder Van Hook asked if I wanted to go visit him or go visit someone else. I said "al cacho! We've got more important people to visit than an inactive." As soon as I said it though, I felt like I was going to come to regret it. Turns out that we went to visit another appointment, and they canceled on us, so we had to go visit Yari. He's just a 20 something kid who got baptized when he was fifteen. We ended up going in and having an incredible lesson with him for an hour and talked to him about returning to church, and turning his life around. I felt totally humbled and realized that I need to show love for people no matter their situation, because who am I to judge?

Aside from that, I also want to talk about my Wednesday experience. We had no fixed appointment. None. Not only that, it was raining and 40 degrees outside. Long story short, I was about to quit and say forget this let's just go to the apartment when we decided to visit a less active family. Turns out their cousin was visiting, and he's sweet! He's a 16 year old kid who got in with the wrong crowd, but now has left his friends and wants to find God. We taught him about a few things, and one of them was prayer. He said the first prayer of his life, and the spirit struck him... it was really like a Lamoni's father kind of instance in the mission where the spirit was just so powerful! Ah I love it when God throws us a bone. God really helps you out "after all that we can do".

The other excitement from this week came on Saturday. Ivelisse Cruz's parents went to the temple, and I got to go with them! Not only that, but they also were sealed to Ivelisse soon after their session! Oh my goodness it was such an amazing experience! I don't really know what else to say about it because...well... words don't accurately describe it. I do love the session in Spanish though. I think it's because it's the language of the Gods :-).

After the temple, we also got to see the Mormon Portland Choir perform in Vancouver at Skyline high school where I met a few missionaries that know Matt Gammett :-) We actually went with Nestor and his girlfriend hna. Cabrera! The even cooler thing is that the next day, she came to church for the first time in more than three months! Awesome!

The other exciting thing that happened Sunday was that we got to go down to Woodburn again for a baptism! This time for hno. Javier Blanco! Remember how back in the day I was saying I should start a TV show called "DR. Feelgood" because I had been counseling a couple in the branch? Yup. This is the one. Now I've got some credibility so I can get started hahaha! It was such a good experience to see all of the members down there again... They're all making me promise to come back to finish my mission, so hopefully pres. Dyches can hear that cry and push me that direction in a couple months to finish up... oh man that would be so sweet! I actually might be able to spend part of Christmas down there because we're going down for Charlie Raizer's baptism, so we're gonna swing by the Pister's afterwards. We're gonna do our calls beforehand though at the church around 11 in the morning if that works for you guys... well... I hope it does haha. We'll just plan on 11 and I'll call ya from the church building in Keizer :-)
I love you guys and look forward to talking to ya!
Con carino,
-Elder Kurt Mooney

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Monday, December 13, 2010

"I love this church!"

Dear Mom,
Well it's been a pretty good week for the most part here... kinda relaxed and not too stressful. We Started off last Monday hanging out with zone leaders down in Tigard. It was pretty fun... especially since I made the most ridiculous impulse buy ever haha. We took a little trip over to a stationary store, and I blew... well, I won't tell you how much, but a good chunk of money on a fountain pen hahaha. Sometimes, you have to buy yourself a little something fun to shake things up on the mission. Aside from that, Monday wasn't that exciting of a day.

Tuesday, however, was pretty dang fun. We ended up eating with a family who knew some of the kids that I went to high school with in Bend, so that was fun. One thing that was pretty sweet that I saw while I was there was a picture that they had from the wedding of their daughter. There was some random cutout missionary in the picture, and at first I thought they had just cut him out of a picture and done a terrible job photoshopping him in, but then they explained that it was a a life size cardboard cutout of their son! They said that they wanted him to be a part of the wedding, but that was obviously impossible because he was in Portugal, so they took a picture of him, went to Kinkos, and got a ginormous copy put on a cardboard cutout for the wedding, so there are pictures of him with his family, with the bride and groom, and it's pretty dang awesome/comical :-) I don't know... I'm just throwing that out there because I think it'd be sweet to have a cardboard cutout of missionary me at Josh and Jessica's wedding since I can't be there :-)

Aside from that, on Wednesday, we had a pretty entertaining discussion and lesson with a few of our investigators, but then we had a discussion with our ward mission leader. Holy cow haha that guy knows his stuff about the church, and he also absolutely blasted us with deep doctrine! I was looking on his bookshelf when we went to his house for dinner, and I noticed some Hugh Nibley books and commented about how much I loved "Lehi in the Desert", and he said that they were definitely awesome books, but then went on to teach us a little about what he was studying right now about the second coming, symbolism in the old testament, and even saturn stones on the Salt Lake temple.... kinda blew my mind haha. I don't really wanna get into it, but he whipped out a couple videos on us from youtube (I repented of it, don't worry. he said it was on lds.org but it turns out it wasn't haha) one called "LDS, the ancient heavens" Anyways, it's super weird, but interesting if you're bored and want an entertaining youtube experience I guess haha.
Anyways, Thursday turned out to be a mess... it rained SO HARD! Oh my goodness it was a wicked change from the normal overcast and sneezing to torrential downpour that we experienced while we were out knocking doors haha. I'm glad I waterproofed my scripture case because if I hadn't, that book would have been absolutely trashed! It was pretty nuts though... we had a couple of good spashdowns while we were driving around between appointments.

Okay, now for Friday. So, I'm gonna start it off with something that's going to freak you out, but bear with me. I held a cigarette in my hand for the first time of my life haha. We were teaching a lesson to three investigators that we have (Andrea, Cathy, and Sabrina), and the lesson seemed to be going well. They had all read, had all prayed, and were all saying that they thought Joseph Smith was a prophet, but Andrea was acting really antsy the whole time we were there. Then, all of a sudden Andrea tells us that she has a problem with smoking and that she only wants to smoke two more cigarettes and then she'll quit for good. We were kinda taken aback and a little confused (especially because we haven't taught the word of wisdom yet), when all of a sudden she pulls out two cigarettes from her backpack. I told her she couldn't smoke them, and then she compromised herself (because I had no part in it) to give me one and smoke the other one. We still told her no, but then all of a sudden she thrust one of them into my hand and went running out the door with a cig in one hand and an already lighted saint candle in the other (her family is catholic... they've all got saint candles around the house). We went outside and I basically yelled at her to stop being an idiot fifteen year old and put out her cigarette, so she did and then I went over and stamped it out. Then she asked if she could have the other one, and I said no, then promptly snapped it in front of her face, dropped it to the ground, then ground it into the pavement with my foot. Score one for the Missionaries haha. While I did this, she was kind of wailing as if I'd just kicked her puppy or something... it was kinda weird/melodramatic, but hey, she has no more cigarettes haha. We're gonna keep teaching them and see what happens. Sorry that was a long, random story.

When we got home that night, Van Hook said he wasn't feeling too well and went to bed around 9:30 right after planning. I finished writing in my journal then went to bed as well. Unfortunately, elder Van Hook spent most of the night cosied up to the toidy puking his guts out the poor guy. He slept for about an hour in his bed, then like I said, spent most of the night in the bathroom. He got food poisoning most likely, but who knows how... we always eat the same things, so we're not sure what happened.

So, for most of the day Friday, we were in the apartment. While Van Hook slept, I took some time to catch up marking my new book of Mormon as well as read the first 40 chapters of Genesis... yeah it was exciting, lemme tell ya. It definitely makes me appreciate the Book of Mormon that much more. Anyways, Van Hook mustered up a little strength and we went and taught a new investigator named Jessica who is the sister of a recent convert. She is super sweet and hopefully will progress well in the coming weeks.

Other than that, we confirmed Adrian a member of the church yesterday which was awesome... he's such a stud. He'll make a great missionary someday :-) We also had the opportunity to attend a musical fireside that the stake put on, and it was AWESOME! It was like Utah Mormon status production with like eight choirs, a brass ensemble, and a great Christmas atmosphere. The most awesome part was at the very end. The Spanish group was asked to sing the first verse of 'Joy to the World', and we were pretty worried, because the group is... well... pitifully dinky haha. It was sweet though. After they invited the Spanish group up, they also invited any who spoke spanish or would like to help the group to come up, and it was amazing to see the great amount of support that was shown to us. I really was so pumped to hear the hymn sung in Spanish, and it really made me happy to see that these people are so loved and accepted in this area. I know it doesn't seem that special, but it really was to me. I love this church.

Well, that's about all for this week, but I love and miss you guys so much! I hope you're enjoying the spirit of the Christmas season... it makes me think about you guys a ton.. especially since all Christmas music is approved :-D haha I'll talk to you guys next week and then on Christmas!


Elder Kurt Mooney

Monday, December 6, 2010

The day that changed my mission

Dear Mom,
Okay, so this week was pretty eventful. On Monday, we drove around downtown Portland looking for a good spot to take our Christmas card picture, and we found a spot... I'm not gonna lie, I'm pretty stoked about it... you'll just have to wait til the card gets there to really appreciate it :-) I have to say though, Portland is a pretty rad place.
On Tuesday, we started leadership training again where we went through the eight new fundamentals of Preach my Gospel, which was sweet, but holy cow it killed our work load! We were in Meetings Tuesday through Thursday from nine in the morning until four or five in the afternoon, so that's some prime work time shot out of the sky.
So, It kinda turned the middle of the week into a time warp until Friday. Now... Friday was a day that really changed my mission, and I'll tell you why. So we woke up and did studies as normal, then we went out and tried to visit a couple people with Hno. Muniz. They fell through, so we just knocked doors for a little while. After we finished up and were headed back to the car, I got a phone call from one of the elders in our zone asking if we could set up a baptismal interview, so I pulled out my pen and planner and set my book of Mormon on the hood to talk and write down the when and where, and then we headed to our next appointment. Unfortunately, when we got going in the car, I realized I didn't have my book or Mormon with me... I kinda freaked out and realized I left it on the hood of the car, so we retraced our steps to the apartment complex where it happened, and it was GONE. I about broke down and cried, because that book had all of my notes in it, and I had marked it to the point where I was comfortable with it! Ah I was so mad! Over the weekend, however, I've kinda come to grips with the fact that I don't have it anymore, and I'm kind of glad. Although it would have been a good thing to hold on to as a memory, I realized that I needed a new book because of something important that had happened: I was comfortable. I don't remember if I told you guys about this, but several months ago while I was in Woodburn, I had a dream. In this dream, I had kind of a revelation. Not that it was anything huge, but it was just one simple sentence that somebody told me, and it has stuck with me ever since. Someone said, "be careful Kurt, because when you become comfortable, that is when you are the most vulnerable." I know, it's kinda weird, but I realize that this will be a good thing to start anew with no markings to distract me from what is found in the Book of Mormon. Why get hung up on things that I've read in the past when every time you read is a new opportunity to learn something new? Anyways, that's the way I'm looking at it so that I don't feel so frustrated with losing my baby haha.
Later that night, we ate with Adrian's mom, Ana Laura. Over the course of dinner, we talked a little about me losing my book, and she said I'm so sorry, that's too bad, yadda yadda all that good cheer up and quit being a whiner stuff. Anyways, as we were about to leave, I noticed that she had a thighmaster, and I asked if she actually ever used it, and she laughed and said no. From there, she said I could have it if I wanted, so I took it haha. Van Hook was joking with me afterwards saying, "well, you lost your book of Mormon and got a thigh master all in one day... it's not a bad trade hahaha." Anyways, I thought it was funny.
So, Saturday was also an interesting day. We had no set appointments aside from this one awesome African dude that called us up and told us to come over. We knocked and found a couple of cool people and ultimately the time for this appointment arrived. We went in, and it turns out that he speaks French! Holy schnikes I was totally frustrated because I couldn't communicate very well! It was really weird... I could understand him mostly, but every time I tried to speak in French, Spanish would come out! Oh goodness it was entertaining. The funniest thing was that he had totally gotten JW'd, so we had to explain in Revelations at the end that adding to "this book" is talking about the book of Revelation and not the bible. We also had to explain that the fall was part of the plan and that the doctrine of original sin is a bunch of garbage. Luckily, he had a french book of mormon with him and I was able to find the scriptures I needed, but holy cow it was weird not being able to communicate with someone haha. I'll have to brush up on French when I get back :-) We also set up another appointment with him and we're gonna bring a french speaker from the ward this time haha. I can't smash false doctrine if someone doesn't understand what I'm explaining!
Now we'll talk about Sunday a little bit. I really loved it! We had church where our baptismal candidate didn't show up... we were scared because the guy who normally picks up he and his mom heard that he had a temperature of 104, so we were afraid he wouldn't be able to get baptized. Luckily when we visited them, it was only 100.4, so he was fine. He was actually really excited.
We went over to the HUGE stake center and got the font filling up... and it took three hours! Holy cow we were kinda worried that it wasn't going to make it in time. Luckily, we started a little late (because Adrian was late for his own baptism...!), and there was time to fill the font. It really turned out to be a great baptism though. His mom gave the first talk of her life, and she nailed it! She was asked to speak on baptism, and it was textbook. She used a personal experience, she used preach my gospel, and she bore a powerful testimony at the end! Goodness I was pretty stoked. Adrian was way happy and now is looking forward to getting his own set of scriptures with his name on them this week :-). I really love this kid. He actually reminds me a lot of myself at his age, so he has really become like my little brother. Not to toot our horns, but he really looks up to us... I can't wait to see what he does with the gospel in his life.

That was about the excitement from this week though... how have things been with you guys? You said you wanted to know if I'm still taking pictures, and I am actually! The ony thing that keeps me from sending this memory card home is that you haven't sent me the other one back yet haha. The day that you do, I'll send you this one okay?
I'm so stoked to hear that Brooke is doing well and that Katie did well on her musical number. I love you all so much! You guys are awesome. I'll talk to you next week, okay?
Elder Kurt Mooney