Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Time flies when you're having fun...even more so when it's with those you love

2011 September 26

Yikes! Last letter? How the heck did that happen!? Oh well... guess that means we better make it count then, right? With the amount of entertaining stuff that happened this week, that shouldn't be a difficult task (aside from the typing part :-P).

Monday, I'm not even gonna bother writing about because it was pretty worthless/frustrating haha. We were supposed to have a few appointments during the day that fell through, but still pulled time out of our P-day, so that night after (a failed dinner appointment), we decided to take advantage of our p-day time and catch up on some much needed R&R to get the batteries charged up for the week.

Tuesday proved to be an eventful day haha. We decided to spend the majority of the day in Canby and try to contact a couple of potential investigators as well as knock for a few hours. One of the places we stopped at was the house of a kid named Danny that we had met a week or two ago. Unfortunately, he wasn't there, and there was some super paisa guy who was too lazy to even get off the couch to say hello to us. In spite of this though, we talked to him and tried to get him to open up. We were a little worried about talking to him because the rest of his family belongs to the "Luz del Mundo" church (an apostate branch of OUR church that got its start in Mexico), and they're not exactly friendly with the Mormon missionaries at times haha. The sweet thing that happened though was that he ended up being completely golden! We told him we were missionaries from the church of Jesus Christ of latter-day saints, and he said "another church? There are so many nowadays, and I don't understand why. From what I've studied, I know that there has to be one true one, but I don't know how I'll ever end up finding it. I know it can't be the Luz del Mundo because of the things they do, and it's DEFINITEY not the Catholics... I just wish I knew how to find it." Like I said earlier: golden. We told him we knew which one he was looking for and how he could find it. We had a really good lesson with him about the great apostasy and restoration of the one true gospel. A couple of times he tried to bring up some "money" questions to get bashy with us, but the spirit was so strong as we taught and testified to him that he couldn't cause any contention... it was cool! Oh, so that you know, "money" questions are the ones you hear from different churches: for the Catholics, it's "do you believe in the virgin Mary?" With the non-denominational Christians, it's "are you saved?" With the Jehovah's Witnesses, it's "what is the name of God?" and with the Baptists, it's "in what name do you baptize?" Yeah. Money questions to start contention haha. Like I said though, with the spirit that was there, it wasn't possible to get bashy, and he ended up accepting to let us come back. He even committed to read and pray about the book of Mormon!
Later that night, we had a little lesson with Jorge where we just hashed out what it was that we were gonna need to cover for his interview, and it turned out well. He's a typical nine year-old as far as attention span goes, but we've found some ways to keep him interested haha... you'll see how later on in the email :-)

Wednesday, we had a completely wide open day after district meeting in Woodburn, so we decided to take a trip out to Oregon City and try to find some Hispanics because up to this point, we've had no investigators out there, or even people to visit really. The thing that made me want to was the fact that our strongest members live out there haha. Anyway, it was fun! We drove all over while doing some racial profiling, looking for Dish 500, shoes outside the doors, spider-man bikes, curtains in the windows, more cars than occupants in the houses, F-150's with lots of chrome, bright yellow, pink, and blue houses, etc.. We ended up finding some pretty promising places, and decided to knock in one of them. It was kind of interesting how we found it, and even more interesting the prompting that came to knock it when we did, because we were supposed to be heading to dinner within ten minutes so we could arrive on time. There was a row of townhouses that looked potentially paisa, but after four doors of angry white people, we were about to call it quits, but I decided that there was one more door we should knock. Across the street, kitty-corner to where we were, there was a house that I felt we should knock. All things considered, it looked like a VERY white house. Newspaper on the driveway (Hispanics do NOT get the newspaper), Chevy truck, Nissan altima (not chromed/riced out), No curtains (slat-blinds actually), and a plain-Jane earthy green and tan color combo on the house. Nevertheless, we knocked it, and lo and behold! A Hispanic lady took one look through the screen door at us and said "come in!" We were a little confused because we hadn't even said anything yet, so we said "are you sure?" and she said yes, yes come on in! Sit down!" Turns out that this lady was a member who had been baptized in Mexico more than 15 years ago, and when she had come to the states with her non-member hubby, had lost contact with the church. She lived with her husband on a piece of land out in the boonies east of Gresham, and he was a total jerk who never let her leave the place I guess, so she had no contact with anyone who was LDS. Anyway, long story short, she ended up divorcing from him because he was abusive and moving in with her son and daughter in-law a year ago. Recently, she had been thinking about her church days and how she wished she had given her son an opportunity to learn the gospel.... then we knocked her door. Hooray for direction from the Spirit! We're set up to go back over and talk with her and her son this coming week, so hopefully it'll bode well for baptisms in the future.

Thursday was a freaking sweet day! So, the first thing that happened: I finished the book of Mormon again... absolutely awesome as always. The thing that made it better was that we were going to the temple that day, so I decided to try something. Instead of just saying a prayer and asking if the book was true, I could do it in the temple! I must say, it was definitely a good call. If you get good reception to hear answers to prayers by living the commandments, it must be like standing next to the cell tower when you go to the temple, because holy cow! I definitely got my answer. The book of Mormon is true. Jesus is the Christ. Joseph Smith was called to translate it by God. The church is true. I love this church!
To top it all off? We decided to go to Quizno's after our session, and someone paid for our lunch! It's like the cherry on top, right? haha

Friday turned out to be quite epic as well. We went out knocking in those streets we discovered in Oregon City on Wednesday, and it turned out to be a very good call, because we had some sweet lessons! The first one that we knocked into that was awesome was actually a Muslim guy named Ali (go figure, right?) To preface this a little bit, I've gotta backtrack a couple of weeks. So remember how I said I bought a Qur'an at the DI that one P-day? Well to entertain myself sometimes during lunches or at night after planning, I started reading a little bit just to kind of see what the big differences are and where we coincide, and it's pretty dang interesting. Fun facts for the day: Did you know that in the Muslim religion, they believe in a pre-mortal life, a code of health similar to the Word of Wisdom, that God the Father and Jesus Christ are two separate people, in degrees of heaven, and that scripture AND prophets are both important keys to guidance back to God's presence? They even believe in repentance and having what you do in this life "restored to you in the resurrection" when you're judged by God. Yeah... we're definitely a lot closer in beliefs than people think.
Anyway, when we knocked into this Ali guy and got to talking, he asked if we were Christians. I responded that yes, but not what most would consider "traditional Christians" which sparked him to ask what made us non-traditional. I responded that we were different in that we actually believed that God and Jesus Christ were separate individuals, that Christianity as most people practice it today is not the kind that Christ himself established, and that we believed in a pre-mortal life, degrees of heaven, and in modern-day prophets that go in accordance with the scriptures. He was kind of taken aback when I spouted all of this to him, and he said "please, come in and tell me about this." We went in and ended up having an hour-long conversation with the guy about how we were close in what we believed, and how we recognized that prophets are extremely important. Now, the Muslims believe that Jesus was just a prophet-- not the son of God, and I think even that he didn't pay for our sins. They also believe that Muhammad was the last prophet and that there aren't any more. We talked about how it's difficult to know that Jesus Christ was really the son of God with only the bible as a witness of his divinity, but that the book of Mormon was an additional evidence that he really was the Christ. Talk about a sweet lesson! Holy crap! That morning in my personal study, I had read a couple of verses in 3Nephi 10 that I was able to share with him (divine guidance on this stuff, I'm telling ya!) but here's the background, this is the chapter that talks about all the great disasters that happen as a sign of the death of Jesus Christ, and how it fulfills a lot of prophecies "of all the holy prophets":

"11 And thus far were the scriptures fulfilled which had been spoken by the prophets.

"12 And it was the more righteous part of the people who were saved, and it was they who received the prophets and stoned them not; and it was they who had not shed the blood of the saints, who were spared—

"13 And they were spared and were not sunk and buried up in the earth; and they were not drowned in the depths of the sea; and they were not burned by fire, neither were they fallen upon and crushed to death; and they were not carried away in the whirlwind; neither were they overpowered by the vapor of smoke and of darkness.

"14 And now, whoso readeth, let him understand; he that hath the scriptures, let him search them, and see and behold if all these deaths and destructions by fire, and by smoke, and by tempests, and by whirlwinds, and by the opening of the earth to receive them, and all these things are not unto the fulfilling of the prophecies of many of the holy prophets.

"15 Behold, I say unto you...many have testified of these things at the coming of Christ..."

After sharing this with him, We talked about the divine law of witnesses-- how that "out of the mouth of two or three witnesses shall the truth be established." #1: the Bible. #2: the Book of Mormon. #3: Thomas S. Monson. He was actually pretty pumped to hear about all of this, especially coming from the faction of Islam that he belongs to. There are two main divisions in the Muslim religion (didn't know you were in a religions of the world class did ya?): The Sunni and the Shia. The Sunni are kind of what you could compare "old school" Christian bible thumpers that believe that the bible (or Qur'an in their case) is it, whereas the Shia are almost like us, in that they believe in inspired modern-day guidance. Well, sort of. Anyway, because he's a Shiite (that's really what they're called haha) he's more open to the thought of modern-day prophets. We're procuring a copy of the book of Mormon in Arabic this week so that we can give it to him and hopefully have one more lesson with him before I take off... talk about a crazy lesson right?

That night we had another lesson that maybe wasn't as doctrinally exciting, but it was pretty freakin' fun! We taught Jorge the restoration, but we did it in a little bit different fashion than we normally would. We came to the conclusion that we needed to do something fun to make it more attention-getting for him, and at first we weren't quite sure how to, but then it dawned on us... we could teach the great apostasy by using some little cups set up in a pyramid to represent the teachings/organization of the original church of Christ. We soon came to the realization, however, that we had NO cups to build our little pyramid with. What we did have though was a montage of Diet Coke cans in the window that were already stacked up in pyramid form, so what did we do? Oh yes. We did... we labeled Diet Coke cans to create our pre-apostasy original church! :-) haha. Never did I think that Diet Coke could be useful in teaching the restoration, but little Jorge understood PERFECTLY after we showed him how it worked haha. Pretty sweet right? It was a good way to end the night for sure

Saturday turned out to be an all-day service extravaganza with president Martinez. We spent the entire day helping him out at the house and talking about who we were teaching, as well as starting a revolution in the branch to get the members excited and progressing. We started off by helping him haul off a cinder block wall and throw it into the hole of some random farm that was looking for fill. That wasn't too big of a job, but then the real work began. We got back to his house and came to find out he wanted us to help him put together a shed in his backyard. It had originally been owned by another member of the branch who recently moved out, and so they disassembled it into the four walls and two sections for the roof, but president had to build the foundation and floor for it at his house. It was an adventure putting it together-- lemme tell ya haha. It wasn't exactly square, and the walls weren't exactly plumb either, so it made putting the roof on a major adventure... especially since it wasn't a tin roof. This was a legitimate roof with asphalt shingles already installed on it, so each of the two sections weighed probably 250 or 300 pounds apiece. What we would do is all three of us would lift up a section from one side, lean it against the rickety wall (held to the other two walls by three wood screws...yikes!) until it was about to tip to the other side, then while one person held the piece from the outside, the other two would run to the inside and catch it and pull it up towards the center of the peak of the roof. This wouldn't be so sketchy, but seriously, there was NOTHING holding up that frickin' roof aside from a couple of wood screws and some 2x4's haha. Long story short: We got it up and screwed in place, but it's what elder Hernandez has termed a "Mexicanada" which translated to English would be the equivalent of grandpa Mooney's endearing term of "you-know-what" -rigged haha.
Luckily, we were able to make it out of there without having the dang thing fall on us/kill us, and only received some scrapes and bumps... oh, and a nail that stuck through the bottom of my sandal and into my foot...youch! It looked pretty funny, but it sure didn't feel that way! Oh well haha stupid is as stupid does right?
The cool thing about finishing off that day was the lesson we had with Elisa. We were finally able to sit down and talk to her after almost a week of total silence from her. She has been praying, and trying to be better about doing what she's supposed to, and we were able to talk a little bit more in-depth about baptism. She asked us what the requirements were for it (like if she needed to study the bible or take a test or something), so we talked to her about us teaching her and getting interviewed and she said, "oh, well if that's all I need to do, I'd be okay with that." She was feeling a little leery about getting baptized next week, and in all honesty, she won't be ready, so we pushed back the baptismal date for the 16th of October where I'll just happen to be to baptize her :-) Sweet right? I really hope it goes through because she's really a great lady and would be so happy if she just "gets" it.

Sunday, we had quite a few people show up to the branch... more than I've seen in five weeks here, and the family that I laid the law down on last week ended up showing up for church! Other than that, I played the piano again, and it made me kind of sad to know that was my last normal Sunday as a missionary. It's okay though, because we ended up having like a five hour block haha. What they did was the normal three hour block, a mix and mingle to eat and talk for an hour, then they called a special branch meeting where we were able to hash out the revolution :-) Remember how I said we discussed the revolution during our Saturday service extravaganza a little bit? Yeah... it's happening now! During that meeting, Presidente Martinez talked about how the branch has been stagnating and how he is worried that they'll dissolve it if they don't get more done and start growing soon. He was open to suggestions, so everyone started giving their opinions about how home teaching needed to get done, how families needed to read their scriptures, how people needed to come to church, help each other, blah blah blah. While all this was going on, a thought came to me (like I said, CAME to me-- this was not something my little noggin is capable of coming up with on its own) and I raised my hand. At this point in time, they were complaining about how it was so difficult to set up to do home/visiting teaching because their companions could never find time and the families they were assigned to could never set up a time to do it either. President Martinez called on me and out came the rebuking :-P. I said "it's understandable, and yes, it's difficult to set up to get your visits done, but let me ask you a question: if a close friend called you right now and asked if they could stop by and talk for 15 minutes sometime in the next week, would you make time for them to come by? Absolutely." I then said "would you like to know the real reason why getting your visits done and getting people to come back to church is so difficult? It's because you don't really care that much about the other members of the branch. You aren't really friends with each other, and that's what kills it. Yes, those of you that come to church have testimonies that the gospel is true, but you look at the branch members that surround you as your co-workers instead of as friends-- or maybe better said-- your brothers and sisters. The moment that you really come to love and care about each other instead of criticizing or just 'doing your duty' is when this branch will begin to truly thrive and grow."
Talk about a rebuking, right? I felt really bad saying it, and honestly, I don't know everything that's going on in the branch, but from what I've seen and what I've felt from different members in their interactions, that's exactly the vibe I get. The reaction of the branch was pretty interesting when I said it, because up until this point, hands were going up, comments being made, points, counter-points, etc.. Once that was said though, it went really quiet. Presidente Martinez said "you know, he's absolutely right. Elder, thank you for pointing it out, because it's something that none of us have been willing to acknowledge. What do we do to change that?"
The revolutionary idea that they're going to implement is a branch family home-evening every Tuesday night from 7:00-9:00 where there will be a potluck dinner and spiritual thought by the missionaries, followed by games so that we can get them to be closer friends with them. We're just going to open that night having three families assigned to bring a dish (so at least three families show up) and then inviting friends and other families to come and join the fun... Revolution!

Coming to the close of my mission, there is one last thought that I wanted to share that came from a scripture I read. Doctrine and Covenants 30:11 Here, the Lord is giving a commandment to Peter Whitmer as to what he should do. Up to this point, he has been faithful to the commandments that he's received, and is coming to the close of one mission, but is now sent out to another one, and it seems like it applies pretty well to where I find myself right now, so I took it to heart.

"11 And your whole labor shall be in Zion, with all your soul, from henceforth; yea, you shall ever open your mouth in my cause, not fearing what man can do, for I am with you. Amen."

From what I've put into it, who I've met, what I've learned, and who I've been able to help change and grow, I realize now that this simple commandment to Peter Whitmer applies to me perfectly. For these past two years, I've been trying to be obedient, love those around me, share the gospel, set a good example, serve the church with the time and talents that the Lord has given me. Because of this, I know that even though the stake president take my missionary tag off (and I'll probably cry like a baby), it doesn't change much. Being a full time missionary? Yes, that's a rare opportunity that I'm glad I took advantage of. However, being a missionary is part of your baptismal covenant, and unfortunately, I didn't realize that before the mission. Knowing what I know now though, I know that even if I don't have the mantle of being a full-timer, I still have the opportunity (and duty, actually) to share the gospel and build up the Lord's kingdom on earth after the mission. This is one thing that actually makes me look forward to go home. I know that with the distractions of life, it will be more difficult to find opportunities to do so, but I'm just glad I have the rest of my life to enjoy the gospel, share it with those I can, and someday build up my own family on the foundation that the gospel provides.

One of the last things I wanted to include here (like parting words of a dying person--or missionary for that matter) is something that I've come to realize in serving for these past two years. Going on a mission isn't a time of hiding the "real you" to put on the "missionary mask" and planning on going back to "normal life" and the "real you" afterward. You can't do that. It's impossible. Well, you may think you can (and try to), but if you do, you're an idiot and will soon find out you can't. Life will never be the same after going on a mission-- whether you come home early or return with honor, you're forever changed. Whether that's for the good or bad is up to you. If you do it right, you can be the "real you" as a missionary and avoid putting on the mask. As you serve as an obedient, diligent missionary and strive to follow Christ's example, you go through a refinement process where you continue being "you," but discarding the parts of you that aren't Christ-like. As this happens, you become the best version of yourself-- all the good without the bad.

I'm excited to be able to apply the things I've learned in these two priceless years to the rest of my life. To be like every other cliché mission-serving member of this church, these really have been "the best two years" so far. There are a lot more things to look forward to in life, but I'm grateful to have this as a source of strength, experience, and happiness to draw from for years to come. One thing that I should probably put on here with a little asterisk next to it is the "best version of yourself" part. I say that because I'm still working on that version of me, and there's a LONG way to go! Please forgive me if I'm not perfect when I get home... just like everyone else, I make mistakes. I'm not saying this as an excuse to fall off the deep end, but I don't want people thinking that I'm one of those who says the word "darn" once a week so that they don't immediately get translated into the celestial realm haha.

Anyway, Mom, Dad, Katie Jo, and everyone else who might chance to read this, I am so grateful for all of your love and support during this wonderful mission, and I am SO EXCITED TO SEE YOU! See you next Monday! :-)

All my love,

Elder Kurt Kay Mooney

Monday, September 19, 2011

Two weeks and counting......

Dearest Mommy,

All right, let's get into the events of the week... I'd like to
respond to your whole email, but also give you the blog material so
you can enjoy these last couple of emails... it's been a pretty good
week, so here's the update:

Monday: We had a blastie on P-day as we spent it with the Gresham
English zone ... elder Anderson and my son Rivera are both there, so
it made playing dodge ball with them super fun! The one problem is
that I totally threw out my arm playing, so I couldn't sleep on my
left side that night or the following haha. Such is life with a torn
rotator cuff :-P Aside from playing dodge ball and laughing it up with
the boys, we also decided to scoot down 82nd avenue and pick up some
books from the DI and then do some blous-- browsing around the
Salvation Army monstrosity of a store that they have right down the
street. At the DI, I ended up picking up an apocryphal new testament
along with a copy of the Qu'ran and... ah crap there was one other
that was really cheap that I couldn't pass up. From there, at the
Salvation Army, I found some SAWEET deals on a pair of Express slacks
($10.00), a never worn Nordstrom tailored dress shirt ($7.00), as well
as an Izod oxford shirt ($free.99).
The really exciting thing about Monday, however, happened that night.
So there's a family here in the Molalla branch that is super strong--
the Garcia family. The whole family is baptized minus the grandpa
(he's a super paisa catholico) and the sister-in-law of the branch
president. She's a pretty tough egg to crack... other elders have
tried in the past to get her baptized, but she ends up shutting down
because she feels pressured by the missionaries and the family at the
same time. As president Martinez said, "she's a stone." However,
what I've come to realize in my lifetime is that stones sink pretty
well when you throw them in the water. :-) Anyway, back to the story.
So we went over there to try to catch her home after work and talk to
her a little bit. Turns out that we found her in the house, and she
even let us teach her after talking for a bit! She's facing a lot of
difficulties in life right now... her kids are a mess (one just went
to Juvie(sp?), another sells drugs, and the other one is a heavy
drinker), and she's dealt with a lot of crap from her ex...ummm....
partners? She was never married, so partners is what we'll go with
here. Anyway, because of her difficulties, she said she didn't feel
like she even knew if God existed or not, so how was she going to be
baptized into a church. Because of this, we took it all the way back
to basics and talked about the story of king Lamoni and how Ammon
taught him about the concept of God and how to come to know he exists.
We shared from Alma 18 his little experience, and she seemed pretty
stoked on finding out about it... she was also excited about asking
God if He had forgiven her instead of just saying that she was sorry
in prayer. We set up another lesson with her for Wednesday, and I'll
tell ya how it went.

Tuesday was a day full of door-knocking and contacting in Canby. we
found some good potential investigators, but didn't really have any
awesome lessons until later that night. We went to dinner with a
less-active family, and it was weird because when we got there, there
was a guy who I knew looked familiar, and we got to talking... come to
find out that he's the brother-in-law of Laura Gutierrez, one of my
old investigators from Woodburn! It's just funny because I was
looking through my journal the other day, and I found an entry where
we were teaching Laura, and he was there. The thing that was sweet is
that he bore testimony of how he knew he wasn't living up to the
standards, but that the church was true, and that Laura could find out
by reading and praying about the book of Mormon. Anyway, it was cool
because in the dinner we got to give his family a kick in the butt for
not coming to church and not reading their scriptures... hopefully
it helps and they can get active (although they didn't come on
Sunday... GRRR!).

Wednesday we had a leadership training meeting... nothing too exciting
there haha. However, that night was sweet because we had an epic
lesson with Elisa! So, remember how she had a bunch of problems that
she was facing in life? Well, she decided to give Dr. Feelgood a call
and hash out ALL of her problems and pull ALL of the skeletons out of
her monstrous walk-in-sized closet... hoo buddy this woman has had an
interesting life. To be honest, she's brought most of it on herself,
but the basic gist was that she didn't understand why all these bad
things happened to her, and what her purpose here on earth was. We
ended up turning it into an epic lesson/counseling session talking
about the plan of salvation, agency, and baptism. The short version
is that the Spirit was really strong and she now has a baptismal date
for the 2nd of October. Booyeah! :-)

Thursday we shot the ENTIRE day with studies, planning, and going out
to the Toyota dealership in Beaverton to get the 20,000 mile check-up
on our little Corolla... we even overlapped our driving/sitting time
with planning and were still there til about 5:00...ridiculous! It's
okay though. We still managed to get in a little bit of knocking
before heading to dinner with president Martinez that night. We did a
sort of family home evening with them, and it was pretty fun.

Friday, we did some service that at first I thought was going to suck
royally, but turned out to be pretty sweet. So the elders here
volunteer one Friday a month at the Canby senior center to help
prepare, serve, and clean up a lunch that they put on, and it is
awesome! The people who do service there were so down-to-earth and
kind-hearted... it makes me want to find somewhere that I can do that
once in a while when I get home... it's a good experience for sure!
There's something to be said about giving of yourself freely that
sparks something in those you come in contact with... it's almost
contagious in that it makes you want to pass it on to someone else.
It kind of set the tone for the rest of the day for us. Afterward, we
went out knocking and found some sweet potential investigators, and we
even gave out a couple copies of the book of Mormon to some promising

Saturday we had a branch party for Mexican independence day, and it
turned out to be quite a riot. We started it off with a prayer, then
decided that we were gonna sing the Mexican national anthem... there
was one problem though: NOBODY IN THE BRANCH KNEW THE SONG!!!
How sad is that!? A bunch of Mexicans that don't know their own
national anthem haha. Luckily, we had a computer in the church were
we could print off the lyrics... from there, we found ONE person who
knew the tune-- an 84 year-old man that everyone calls "abuelito".
honestly, I don't understand a dang word he says, so hearing him sing
out the national anthem along with the rest of us sounded quite
comical haha. We finally got through it and got to chowing down on a
BOATLOAD of Mexican food. It. Was. Awesome. I love this branch.

Sunday was pretty sweet as well. So, of all subjects in the church,
the gathering of Israel seems to be the one that makes everyone get
this look on their face that says "I'm in a stupor of though" and
their eyes sort of glaze over. However, talking about it this Sunday
was pretty frickin' sweet because of a verse that we read. The basic
gist of the gathering of Israel is that those who are "of the house of
Israel" (a.k.a. you and I as members of the church) are supposed to
help EVERYONE else recognize that they are a part of, or should become
a part of that club-- I mean, house. Anyway, the thing that made it
interesting was a verse in the bible from James chapter one. Okay,
almost every latter-day saint knows that James 1:5 is the "if any of
you lack wisdom, let him ask of God" scripture, because that's what
separates us from every other church. You might even say it's our
"money" scripture. Instead of proving ourselves with verses from the
bible, prayer is the key to revelation so you can know the church is
true. What struck me was who James directed this little piece of
counsel to... here's what the verse says:
"1. James, a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ, to the
twelve tribes which are scattered abroad..."
It's just kinda cool that as the only church who really focuses on
this verse, it's all geared toward helping to gather the 12 tribes of
Israel... anyway... shake off that stupor of thought and rub your eyes
so you're not all glazed over, I'm done haha.
Aside from that on Sunday, I was called on to play the piano again,
and oh my gosh it's so stressful! I didn't make any major mistakes
(thank goodness), but I really thing I'm gonna need some therapy to
get over the anxiety that comes from playing the piano haha. Talking
to our chorister about it, she said "you know, I can tell that you
hate playing the piano in public just by the way you played that last
hymn. Even if you hate it though, you've got to get over it so you
can bless other peoples' lives with your talent." I told her I might
need some counseling to get over the stress and anxiety, and she
directed me heavenward saying "well, you've got all the counsel you
need right up there." Kind of a slap in the face, but it's funny how
you can tell that the Lord is talking to you sometimes. I just hate to
think that it means more practicing, more stressing, and a lot of
counseling haha. Thank you for teaching me how to play the piano
mommy! :-)
The only other exciting thing that happened after that was that we
helped get someone's ox out of the mire... the former president of the
branch is moving into his new house, but needs to finish painting and
putting the floors in... and they barely got the drywall finished, so
it's been an adventure since they've gotta be there soon. Anyway, we
got to doing some crazy frantic painting, which seemed a lot like
having too many cooks in the kitchen since there were probably 20 of
us in there painting like mad... paint flying everywhere, brushes,
rollers, and bright Mexican reds, yellows, and blues haha. That house
is looking pretty legit now!
The best part of all of it? There's a kid, the son of a member, who
isn't baptized, and he just came up to us while we were there and
said, you have to teach me stuff so I can be baptized, right? We said
yes, and he said "ok cause I want to start tomorrow. Can you guys
come over?" *PLOP!* two week kiddy DUNK! haha. He's a little stud,
and his family is sweet... they just need to get a little bit more
active. it's just funny because we've been trying to set something up
with them for the entire time I've been here, but to no avail.. ah
well at least we know now haha. Chalk up one more :-)

Okay, so I'm all sorts of fried on typing now, and it's time to go
enjoy the day now that the sun is trying to come out. I love you guys
so much, and I'm way excited to see you soon :-)

All my love,

Elder Kurt Kay Mooney

Monday, September 12, 2011

"Make some good waves in the pool before you get out..."

Dearest Mommy,

Holy cow it has been HOT this week! It's seriously been the weirdest
thing ever... every single day has been over 90 except for today. The
clouds finally rolled in and we're enjoying some cooler Oregon weather
finally... kinda weird to hear that from me eh? It sounds like you
guys had a real blast down there at the beach... that's awesome! The
nightly jam session sounds like it would have been the funnest part
for sure... we might have to make that a tradition along with the
morning devotionals when I get back... it'd be fun :-)

So this week has been a little bit crazy with all that has happened,
but it's nothing unusual when you're working in a Spanish branch haha.
You already heard about Monday in last week's email, so let's start
with Tuesday. It was a wide open day with no set appointments, so we
decided to knock the heck out of Canby because there is a boat-load of
Hispanics all over the place. The only downside was that it was HOT!
Holy cow it was blazing to the point where there was nobody in the
street to talk to, so we just knocked, knocked, knocked all day long.
The funny part was that we really didn't get sick of it... we made it
fun! Ya know, when you're doing everything in your power to help
others come to Christ, and you show love toward those you come in
contact with, it doesn't matter what they say to you or how they
react. You know the Lord is happy with what you're doing, and that
you're being guided by Him to touch their lives and try to brighten
their day. We ended up finding a couple of great potentials that we
set up appointments with, but didn't have any lessons... the whole
Because of that, we decided to treat ourselves to a nice carne asada
with some home-made green salsa with avocado. Oh yeah, our dinner
canceled on us haha. So anyway, in spite of the adversary's best
efforts to make our day miserable, we had a total blast and were able
to keep our spirits high.

Wednesday, we had our district meeting out in Newberg again, which
went well... although driving out there is a total day killer for the
most part. After getting back at around 3:00 in the afternoon or so,
we did some knocking and found a sweet guy named Rodolfo. He's met
missionaries before, and even had a book of Mormon, but has never
actually read the thing or understood the purpose of it, so we had a
nice little restoration lesson and topped it off with personal
revelation. Long of the short of it: he's gonna read the book and
pray about it :-).
After that, to finish off the night we had a lesson with a lady named
Jessica, and wouldn't ya know it... we got on the subject of all the
CRAZY stuff that people tell us as missionaries and the amount of
counseling that we end up doing, and then she said, "well let me talk
to you about a situation that I'm having." Oh. My. Goodness... Dr.
Feelgood strikes again! I don't wanna get into the details of it and
publish it here on the internet, but my oh my it makes for a good
story when I get home.

Thursday, Elder Hernandez was scheduled for an interview with
president Morby, so we had the opportunity to go to the Woodburn
district meeting with those elders... and ended up being there almost
all day haha. It was such a sweet experience to be able to talk with
those elders while they were there, and then to sit down with sister
Morby and chat with her for almost an hour... she is freakin' awesome!
She's actually good friends with the Travellers from St. George Mom,
so maybe you'd know her? I don't know... it's a stretch, but ya never
know :-P
Anyway, after talking to sister Morby for a while, I also had a little
chat with president Morby in an informal kind of interview, and it was
sweet. He's looking to make elder Hernandez the district leader after
I leave, and he also wants me to do some training with the elders in
this district so that they can be better trainers... kind of apply my
old fogey missionary wisdom to them I guess... not sure how wise that
wisdom really is, but hopefully it helps. The biggest thing they need
is help learning Spanish haha.
One thing that was cool at the end of that meeting though, happened as
we were walking to our cars. President Morby said "Elder Mooney, you
have four weeks left as a full-time missionary. They always say that
a baptism is the crowning achievement of an elder's mission... see if
you can get one right as you go home, so you can go out with a bang?"
We're doing our darndest to make that one happen now :-)
As far as doing our darndest, we had a sweet experience later that day
that might be related. we prayed before going out knocking doors to
be able to find the elect and help them to find the truth in our
message. Nothing amazing or out of the ordinary in a prayer, but
maybe with a little bit more "oomph" behind it with four weeks to go.
Anyway, we went to this complex, knocked the first door and met a lady
who was a less-active member... who was now a baptized Jehovah's
Witness! NOOOOOOO!!!!! Talk about turning away from the light!
However, the second door we knocked happened to be answered by her 45
year-old daughter who lives next door. Now, she's kind of a disaster
and has definitely lived a pretty hard life, but the thing that was
sweet was that we came to find out that she was trying to find THE
church. Not just A church, but the right one. She recognized that
there are a lot of them, they all say they're right, and that there
has to be a right answer-- none of that "all churches are good" crap.
The best part about it was that she said that the JW's probably
weren't right haha. She really wants to get to know God and live her
life in accordance to His will, so teaching her the restoration was
absolutely MONEY! We're way excited to keep teaching her and
hopefully she can be "the one." The best part about that lesson?
She's living with a less-active member who wants to come back to
church and just happened to pray about it that week. Coincidence? I
think not! I'll keep you guys posted on what happens.

Friday was a full day of knocking once again, and it was sweet! There
were some decent appointments set up for next week, but the best part
about it were the two funny things that happened:
1: so there we were, out knocking doors at this super ghetto
apartment complex. We knocked this one door, no answer. We knocked
it again, and didn't get a response, so we decided to ring the
doorbell. Now, it's not one of those that's wired to the house...
it's one that you buy at Wal-Mart for ten bucks that has a remote
control doorbell that you stick on your front porch with double-sided
tape and then put the doorbell inside the house. anyway, this
particular doorbell was kind of falling off, and I, being the genius
that I am, decided to tug at it a little bit. It came right off in my
hand, and so after muttering "oh crap!" I then proceeded to press it
firmly back into place with the tape. It stayed there... for about
five seconds. Suddenly, this little dinger decided it had had enough,
and took a flying suicide leap off the side of the house as if
screaming "so long, cruel world!" as it plummeted toward the sidewalk.
I kinda felt like Ralphie off of 'A Christmas Story' when he drops
the hubcap full of lug-nuts and says "oooooohhhhh ffffffuuuuuudge!"
because it seemed to fall in slow motion, and when it hit the ground,
it didn't just hit and bounce--oh no... it exploded on impact! There
was a spring, the button popped off, the battery cover broke, and the
battery shot out as well. As soon as it happened, Hernandez and I
looked at each other for a split second, then we bailed to the next
door! Luckily there were privacy fences separating them, but gosh we
felt like such dorks afterward haha. The exciting life of a
missionary right?

2: The other funny story was while we were driving trying to scope
out a good pocket of paisa where we could knock off this country road
just outside of Canby. we saw this really long, really straight road
with houses on either side of it just randomly, and decided to
investigate a little bit and see if some of the houses were paisa.
Upon driving in, though, we came to realize something... IT WAS A
FRIGGIN' AIRSTRIP! Holy crap! Not only that, but ALL the residents
in this cute little suburban (except not) neighborhood had huge
garages attached to their houses WITH PLANES IN THEM!!! There was a
pretty funny sign at the entrance that said "residents and guests
only... please yield to airplanes" Well der... what else are ya gonna
do? You'll have to see the picture cause it was kinda comical :-)

Okay, so Saturday. We had a stake presidents breakfast out in Oregon
city, and it kinda made me sad... it was the last one of my mission!
Missions are full of "firsts" and "lasts," but for some reason, all
the lasts seem to be really, really depressing. This was a good one,
though. In every one of these meetings, a member of the mission
presidency comes, and in this area, president Stone is the
counselor-- the same one who did it while I was in Beaverton, and we
have a pretty good relationship. He was excited to see that I'd gone
back to Spanish, and more specifically in this area. The reason why
is that this area has kinda died off in the last year because of some
elders that were...well... less than obedient and less than skillful.
So, president Stone said, "I'm sad that you've only got a few weeks
left and a lot of work ahead of you...see if you can make some good
waves in the pool before you get out!" Does that mean do some repair
Anyway, the only other exciting things that happened that day were
that we stole an organ from the English elders apartment, which was
definitely a good idea... I've missed playing music at nights after
planning, etc... like I said, we'll have to make it a tradition when I
get back :-)
I think by doing that, however, I shot myself in the foot, because
Sunday rolled around, and all of a sudden, EVERYONE knew that I play
the piano and can sing! Ridiculous! I had to play the piano for
Sunday school, teach the priesthood how to sing a hymn on pitch and in
rhythm, then play the intermediate and closing hymns in Sacrament
meeting! I guess I'll just have to start practicing now... do some
deathbed repentance on not utilizing my talents earlier on in the
mission haha.
So jumping back to the stake presidency breakfast comment from
president Stone, I've kinda come to the conclusion that on the mission
there are several different types of work: there's the work of
reaping, the work of sowing, the work of watering/weeding, and the
work of clearing the fields... Woodburn was a time of reaping, sowing
and watering, Beaverton of clearing the fields, Sherwood of reaping,
sowing, and watering. As for Molalla, I feel like there's a lot of
field clearing to be done... as well as sowing... and hopefully we can
make reaping a part of that process as well :-) But yeah, sometimes
you're planting and caring for seeds that will pay dividends in the
future, sometimes you're reaping the rewards of other elders' work,
and sometimes you're chopping down trees and digging out the stumps
that were left to grow by previous elders so that you can plow
straight furrows for the next ones who come along to plant. Looking
over the course of the mission, about a quarter of it has been
dedicated to doing the "clearing," and now that I'm here in Molalla, I
feel that maybe that's what I've been called to do. To be honest,
you'll hear no complaints about it. This place is awesome. The thing
that made it really interesting was that during Sunday school as I was
thinking about this to myself, we read a scripture that HAD to have
been the Lord trying to speak to me. it's in 1Corinthians 3:5-9
Sometimes you boo-hoo a little bit because you don't feel that you're
being effective as a missionary because you're not knocking 'em dead
with baptisms, but reading this gave me some comfort because it helps
you to recognize your role and who is really important in all of this:

"5 Who then is Paul, and who is Apollos, but ministers by whom ye
believed, even as the Lord gave to every man?

"6 I have planted, Apollos watered; but God gave the increase.

"7 So then neither is he that planteth any thing, neither he that
watereth; but God that giveth the increase.

"8 Now he that planteth and he that watereth are one: and every man
shall receive his own reward according to his own labour.

"9 For we are labourers together with God..."

The other one that kind makes me feel good is found in chapter one of
the same book :-)

"17 For Christ sent me not to baptize, but to preach the gospel: not
with wisdom of words, lest the cross of Christ should be made of none

18 For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness;
but unto us which are saved it is the power of God."

To finish it off, it makes me think of our mission scripture as well as my own:

3Nephi 5:13:
"Behold, I am a disciple of Jesus Christ, the son of God. I have been
called of Him to declare His word among His people, that they might
have everlasting life.

Moroni 9:6
"And now, my beloved son, notwithstanding their hardness, let us labor
diligently; for if we should cease to labor, we should be brought
under condemnation; for we have a labor to perform whilst in this
tabernacle of clay, that we may conquer the enemy of all
righteousness, and rest our souls in the kingdom of God."

I know to what I have been called and what I am to do. My only lament
is that I have so little time left to do it. I pray that the Lord
will continue to strengthen me as I come to the close of this
wonderful mission so that I can finish strong and continue to labor
diligently and help those around me obtain that everlasting life.

I love you guys so much, and I'm so thankful for the love and support
that I feel... even if it makes me excited to get home sometimes haha.
Be safe, stay strong in the gospel, and I'll talk to you next week!

Con carino siempre,

-Elder Mooney

Saturday, September 10, 2011

2011 September 6

Dearest Mommy,

Okay, are you ready for an epic email? Cause I'm not! Gah!!
I love checking emails, but it's frustrating here at the end
because it's all about stuff like this: "what do you want
to do when you get back?", "can't wait to see you!",
"I'd write about ___, but I'll just tell you
when you get home!", "you only have ___ weeks left...can you believe
it!?", etc. Basically, I feel like emails are "let's check out and
think about home" time haha. Unfortunately, it's a necessary evil,
but the upside is that I only have to do it three more times and then
it's all OVER! Woo! No more trunky emails! Except that totally
sucks... because then the mission will be over and then it's back to
normal life...dangit!

Okay, I'll quit ranting and complaining about it and get on with
what's been exciting this week. First and foremost, you already heard
all about it from Dad... we bumped into each other by some crazy act
of God down there in Woodburn... ridiculous! That's the only word I
can say to describe it: ridiculous! Well, maybe that and awesome...
or sweet... or wonderful... or something of the like. It's funny
because at the Pisters yesterday (crap, spoiling my timeline already!)
they were poking fun at the uncanny likeness between Dad and I... it
is kinda weird... and it didn't really register just how much alike we
are until that fateful meeting. the funny thing is that it didn't
make me trunky at all! The only thing about it that it did was make
me want to work as hard as I can for these last couple weeks so we can
talk all about it once I get back... still, it's kinda funny that
we've been trying to avoid each other for the last 23 months, and then
out of the blue, we run into each other in WOODBURN of all places!

Okay, so aside from that, things have been pretty exciting here in
Mollala if you can believe that. So Tuesday, we had an absolutely
open day, so we decided to do some knocking out in Canby (where most
of our area's Hispanics/meth-heads are), and we had some good success!
We actually were able to find some good people just knocking around,
and it was such a joy to see that... especially after being in English
for so long! People that were willing to listen to us and set up
appointments for later! What a novel concept right?

Wednesday was the day of district meeting, and holy moses! We had an
hour drive to get there! We meet all the way in Newberg because our
district consists of Mcminnville, the zone leaders, and ourselves, so
Newberg and Wilsonville are the two "midway points" except not
really.. it's a long haul to get out there! It's all good though,
because this district rocks, and has an awesome district leader...oh
wait, that's me! Haha I'm just kidding about that part, so please
don't think I'm a super prideful sucker... it's funny though... I've
gone through my whole mission without being the District leader, and
now for my last transfer I get to do it... funny huh?
So that night, we had dinner with a family that was baptized about two
years ago, and they're pretty dang sweet. They were flabbergasted and
excited that I was able to come back to Spanish, and they asked about
the story of why, so I told them. It was funny because by the end of
it, the hermana asked if I had an apodo (nickname) and I told her that
I didn't really. She then said "well I have one for you then. we're
gonna call you 'el Protestante!'" So there it is folks. The new
nicname is "el Protestante"- or the protestor because she said with
all my protesting, it's gotten me places as a missionary haha. I
think maybe Quejon would be a more fitting name sometimes, although
it's almost the same :-)

Thursday we did some service for a lady that was a former
investigator... we actually ended up pulling out a stump for her,
which was not too terribly exciting. The nice part was that the roots
were already cut up, so all we had to do was get Catalino (an hermano
from the church) to come over with his truck, hook it up, and yank it
up and out of the four foot hole that it occupied :-P After that we
spent a good chunk of time filling in the hole with dirt and planing
it off so it would be smooth. It led us to setting a lesson with her
for Friday, so it all worked to our benefit :-)
One cool thing that caught my attention Thursday morning before
heading out was a quote that I found as I was cleaning up a few things
in the closet, and this is what it said:

"I slept and dreamt that life was joy
I awoke and saw that life was duty
I acted, and behold--
Duty was joy."
-Rabinath Tagore
I know it sounds kind of dumb, but it caught my attention simply
because in this process of change and seeing that there are some MAJOR
changes coming up soon, I feel like life won't be "joy" when they come
about, because there are going to be some "duties," but what I
realized is that as I act, do, and continue dreaming, it'll make it
possible to be able to feel of that joy.
The other one that caught my attention was a poem called "The
Fellowship of the Unashamed" and here it is:

"I am a part of the Fellowship of the Unashamed. I have the Holy Spirit
Power. The die has been cast. I have stepped over the line. The decision has
been made. I am a disciple of Jesus Christ. I won't look back, let up, slow
down, back away, or be still. My past is redeemed, my present makes sense,
and my future is secure. I am finished and done with low living, sight
walking, small planning, smooth knees, colorless dreams, tame visions,
mundane talking, chintzy giving, and dwarfed goals.

I no longer need preeminence, prosperity, position, promotions, plaudits, or
popularity. I don't have to be right, first, tops, recognized, praised,
regarded, or rewarded. I now live by presence, learn by faith, love by
patience, lift by prayer, and labor by power.

My pace is set, my gait is fast, my goal is Heaven, my road is narrow, my
way is rough, my companions few, my Guide is reliable, my mission is clear.
I cannot be bought, compromised, deterred, lured away, turned back, diluted,
or delayed. I will not flinch in the face of sacrifice, hesitate in the
presence of adversity, negotiate at the table of the enemy, ponder at the
pool of popularity, or meander in the maze of

I won't give up, back up, let up, or shut up until I've preached up, prayed
up, paid up, stored up, and stayed up for the cause of Christ. I am a
disciple of Jesus Christ. I must go until He returns, give until I drop,
preach until all know, and work until He comes.

And when He comes to get His own, He will have no problem recognizing me. My
colors will be clear for "I am not ashamed of the Gospel, because it is the
power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes.." (Romans 1:16)"

-Bob Moorehead

Pretty cool, right? It makes you want to be a little bit more
committed to what ya do as a member of the church... that's for dang

Other than that, Friday we had some good lessons with a couple of
investigators... nothing too exciting to report there.

Saturday, we did some plainclothes tracting in between service
projects, and we were able to hook a new investigator because of it

Sunday, we had VERY few people show up for church... like only 15 or
so, but it was awesome... the spirit in that meeting was so awesome.
It was sad, because it's the last fast Sunday I'll have on the
mission, but the spirit was so strong, and the members were so
awesome. I found out that ALL of them are converts. Not most of
them, but every single one... and most of them for only ten years or
less... they bring such a special spirit to the branch every time we
get together as a group. Their testimonies aren't the cozy
comfortable flame you find in a living room fireplace, but the
consuming, light bringing warmth you'd find around a bonfire on a late
summer night... it's something totally different, and you can't help
but catch a little bit of the spirit of it while you're here with
them. Only spending this past week or so with them has already
brought me as close to them as in any other area--- including

So Monday... well, it was Labor day, and that's why we didn't write
our emails haha. We instead took a trip with the zone down to Silver
falls to take a little bit of a hike. It's weird to think that a year
ago we took the same trip while I was serving in Woodburn... that
seems like it was only a few short months ago! A year! Holy crap! It
was super fun though, we took some good pictures, but I'll have to
steal them from elder Hernandez because they're on his camera.
After that though, we had lunch with Lupe G and the fam, then went to
the Pisters for yet ANOTHER meal! Bleh it was too much food in one
day, but it was delicious, and we had such a blast talking with
them... gosh I miss that place and love those people.

Anyway, yeah, I'm burned out on the email thing for now. I'll talk to
you all next week okay? I love ya!

-Elder Mooney