Monday, July 25, 2016

End of July! (July 25, 2016)

It's been quite a week here in Vallejo! I love hearing your updates and what's going on with y'all as summer is winding down. This is week five of our transfer, so not this weekend but the next we will find out about transfer info. I feel like I've been in Vallejo for forever so I'll probably get switched out. We had an event for Pioneer Day yesterday put on by the primary, which was fun. This week was pretty normal for us.

We've been working hard with Maria! She had a baptismal date for this weekend, but we felt inspired to change it for the sixth of August, just a week later. I feel like we have worked really hard with her to get her baptized, from having members there with us, to getting her to church, to getting members to fellowship (which they've done a good job with because Maria told us that she feels like she has had more friends than she has ever had), to taking her to activities, etc. We include her in every prayer of ours and were continually asking God to help us with a miracle. She knows the church is true and that it is the restored church of Jesus Christ back on the earth, because she's been baptized once she doesn't want to do it again. We keep reviewing these principles with her about having correct priesthood authority and such but it's just not clicking for her. Prayers would really be
appreciated for her and that she can meet her baptismal date next week! We really want what's best for her and know that baptism will bless her life.

Other than that we have a bunch of other investigators we are trying to pick up. We meet regularly with a guy named Juan Dominguez. He is actually studying with the Jehovah's Witnesses also. He's an older guy but enjoys the Book of Mormon and just God in general. He's a funny one and we love meeting with him. There's another guy named Luis and he's about our age, 20ish, and is struggling in life. We challenged him that if he would pray nightly God would ease his problems. We're gonna check up with him on that one this week. There's a couple others but that's the main for now. OH we're also working with a couple in-actives who have left the church too. It's hard to see how even
some returned missionaries who once had a strong testimony of the gospel have fallen.

1 Nephi 17:13
13 And I will also be your light in the wilderness; and I will prepare the way before you, if it so be that ye shall keep my commandments; wherefore, inasmuch as ye shall keep my commandments ye
shall be led towards the promised land; and ye shall know that it is by me that ye are led.

Plain and simple. Keep the commandments. He says it perfectly. Need I say more?

I love you. Have a fantastic week!

Con Amor

Elder Joyner

The Squad

Monday, July 18, 2016

Transfer 8, Week 4 (July 18, 2016)

Happy Pday! We are already half way through July wow! S/O to Cody who heads home this week. Congrats buddy! You've been a big example to me. The rest of the Fam, you always sound busy doing something fun. Hey Dwayne, leave the flipping to the gymnasts ;) There are so many people
moving out of the ward, back home. Wow it'll be even more different in a year. Keep truckin along! Oh and safe travels mom and Cole! This has been a fun week!

We had Zone Conference this week up in Napa! Whoop whoop, road trip! It was super bien! I was definitely impacted by the things I learned from the spirit. President talked about how we define success as a missionary, which has been something that has been weighing on my mind recently. I've been reflecting on his I've been out for close to a year and haven't seen as much "success" as others. I was kind of slapped in the face (with a chancla) at zone conference for this. First, I realized I was comparing myself to others and this numbers game. Què malo! Then, I realized how could Heavenly Father not be proud of me. I'm out here serving him 24/7 for Pete's sake. I felt an overwhelming love come from above and I vowed not to get down on myself again.

I also have had several experiences with prayer this past week. The importance and power of prayer is incredible. I had asked a member of the district to teach the commandment "pray often" in district meeting on Tuesday and I learned a lot. I learned that when we are including someone in our prayers or asking a blessing for someone, we are taking our agency, our God given gift to choose, and saying oh it's not about me right now, but turn all your power and attention to this person, which is such a powerful thing. I've been working on making my prayers more meaningful and not just "going through the motions," as Cody mentioned in his departing letter today.  Why has it taken me so long
to realize that? We can't just go through the the motions. It has been said and said and I'm just now getting it. I'm also working on truly changing my heart and becoming converted unto the Lord. I want to able to stand before the Lord one day and say, "Yup, Dad I did everything I could. Thank you." I feel as though I'm rambling and now making so much sense, but it's just what the spirit is bringing to my attention right now.

I'm really grateful to be on my mission at this time. I wouldn't want to be anywhere else, doing anything else right now. I know I'm supposed to be here in Vallejo for a reason and Gosh darn, I'm just super grateful for that. I'm grateful for your support and love and for everything. Thank you.

We have a baptismal date for Maria in two weeks. I'm really implementing the things I've learned on prayer, for her. I feel like every prayer I'm pleading with the Lord to help her get baptized. I really want the best for her and want her to enter into the waters of baptism. We have a lot of investigators with potential, we just need to keep working with them and see what happens.

I think that's it for this week Fam! I love and appreciate you. Have a good week!

Con Amor

Elder Joyner

July Dreamin' (July 11, 2016)

Hello Fam! It's good to hear y'all had a fun week up in Canada. I'm very jealous of the pictures and all. We did some service cleaning up a trail up in the California Hills which was very pretty. Dwayne, ya prolly killed it in your shows. Do you get to record the shows or? That would be very fun to see. I can't wait to be able to do family vacations again.

We had a pretty good week this week! We saw some miracles and worked really hard. We were able to do a lot of service, which was a good way to minister to those in need. We were able to have 3 member presents this week, which is amazing for us! I can really tell the difference it makes when we have a member there with us. It makes me want to have a member there every time haha. They help to testify, clarify, and even teach sometimes. With our investigator, Maria, it's a bit difficult to get across our point and fully explain things to her so it was nice to have a member there to back us up. She has a baptismal date set for the end of this month, but every time we go over to her house and ask her about it she responds the same every time, "Oh yes I've already been baptized in the other church." We explain it to her how you need the correct authority to be baptized and how that authority was restored thought the prophet Joseph Smith. We've had members explain it to her and we've even had a whole Sunday school lesson devoted to the topic. She says she's prayed about it but we're not entirely sure that she's listening to her answer. We are continually working with her to help her receive an answer.

We also had a lesson with the Italian family this week. We were able to find a returned missionary from the Lake Herman Ward who served in Italy and he helped us translate. It was a really cool experience to be able to see how the gospel is the same in every language, no matter where you go. They did not come to church yesterday for some reason, but we will check up on them this week.

2 Nephi 32:9:

But behold, I say unto you that ye must pray always, and not faint; that ye must not perform any thing unto the Lord save in the first place ye shall pray unto the Father in the name of Christ, that he will consecrate thy performance unto thee, that thy performance may be for the welfare of thy soul.

This scripture is kickin! I love the power of prayer. I've seen so many miracles in missionary work with prayer. As missionaries, we pray all day. We are "connected" with even all the time. It's a very
special thing and I'm grateful for it every single day. I would encourage you all to find ways to make your prayers more meaningful.

I'm grateful to be a missionary and to be in this work. I love and appreciate you all. Have a great week!

Con Amor

Elder Joyner

#MERICA 🇺🇸🇺🇸🇺🇸 (July 4, 2016)

HAPPY 4th YALL! Què patriotic huh? I love this holiday and the customs that go with it. I will miss my homemade ice this year mom! This morning all the units in Vallejo had a flag raising/pancake breakfast activity at 7 am! It was good and we even got Maria, our investigator to come! The rest of the day is normal, and then we have breakfast with Presidente Zeceña tonight! That's always a good time and he'll probably barbecue or something. Tonight we have a curfew at 7 because people are crazy and were in Vallejo soooo yup!

We had a crazy week this week! It started off with transfers and getting Elder Thom in with Elder Hansen (the ZL's that live with us). He's a great guy and the only other Spanish Elder from my gen so we have a good time. We had a good district meeting and it was fun getting back to district leader responsibilities. We had weekly planning Friday and some good service Saturday. Saturday we also had a lesson with Maria. We had planned to have it Friday with a member but then the member cancelled on us and Maria wasn't even there when we showed up. We tried again the next morning (Saturday) and she wasn't there. It's hard to get ahold of her because she doesn't have a phone and doesn't drive. We finally talked to her mom and set something up for later that afternoon. The hardest part of this process was finding a member to come with us. We probably called/texted more than half the branch to come out with us and everyone was busy. It was quite the struggle. Finally, una Hermana told us that she would be available for an hour. We had the lesson and the sister was able to help clear some of her concerns about baptism. We FINALLY set a date for her on JULY 30th! We feel as though she still may have some concerns but that for right now she's set. We're kind of scared her parents may sway her decisions and influence her not to, but we are fasting and praying for her. It took a while to get a member there but I can testify that she was a HUGE help during the lesson!

Yesterday was probably the craziest. I had mentioned a couple weeks again about the Romanian/ Italian family and how they just walked into the Benicia Ward. Well yesterday day, they came to the Spanish branch! We had a good gospel principles lesson with them where we watched the
restoration in Italian and then discussed it. We were lucky enough to find a member from the other Ward who spoke Italian and helped us out. He stayed for priesthood also and translated for us. It was an incredible experience, because at one point we had three different languages in the room all discussing the gospel with one another. The members really did a good job fellowshipping them and we are going to return this week to visit them with a returned missionary who served in Italy. It was just crazy, because In the midst of all that, several different members were asking us to do things, like set up for their lessons, or teach lessons, or get materials, or lead the music, or run home and get a cable, etc. Let's just say we were very busy yesterday morning.

We do have part of a new area, that has been added to ours, and are looking forward to finding some good work there! The work suddenly has picked up in the last couple days, it seems. It is going to be quite the busy transfer, but that is good!

I thought I put in a scripture last week but I guess not. We will go with Dayne's for next week.

I love y'all mucho! Have a great 4th and a fantastic week!

Con Amor
Elder Alexander Scott Joyner
This crazy snake we found...

Sunday, July 3, 2016

Halo🤘🏿 (June 27, 2016)

The Zone
Hello All! Yet another pday and the week's come and go. It's been a good week and all is well. It's good to hear all is well there also, in the midst of summer vacations and all. We have transfers tomorrow and Elder Brock and I are staying here in Vallejo for another one. Which means that's I get to finish training him also! To answer your questions, Mom, it's about 50/50 if trainers leave after one or not. And yes we do 12 week. All that basically is, is another hour of comp study each day. We follow a guidebook and watch videos from 'The District' and it's fun. It's tedious sometimes but we try and have a good time. It only started a couple years ago, but its intention is to prepare missionaries when they come right off the plane. It's said that if it's done right, the greenie should be prepared enough to train by the end of his first 12 weeks! That's fun ya?
This week was kind of the same pace as the last couple. We did have some lessons with Maria that we think helped her understand a little bit more about wanting to know which church was true. She also came to church yesterday, which makes four whole times this last transfer! That's amazing for us. We are always striving to get more, but the fact that we have one consistent one makes us happy. Actually, with transfers and all, we will only have four missionaries in the branch now (whereas we have had six) which means that we are getting part of a new area. That's kind of like what happened in Napa a couple months ago. It should give us some more work to do and such over the next six
weeks. Also with transfers, president has called me as a District Trainer, which basically means I'm the District Leader (again) who is also training a missionary. Should be fun!

Other than that, we had service this week doing yard work for a lady. We found her about two months ago just knocking doors and asking if we could help. She said yes and that her back yard was crazy. We didn't think it could be that crazy, but then we got started and realized it was a big job. We called a bunch of missionaries in our zone and we have been working on it every Thursday for the past couple weeks. It's fun to help her out and see that transformation of her yard! Always remember Mosiah 2:17!

After many weeks of not, here's the scripture Hermanita Chose:

1 Kings 6:16  "And he built twenty cubits on the sides of the house, both the floor and the walls with boards of cedar: he even built them for it within, even for the oracle, even for the most holy place."

This scripture is talking about building temples. But I want to focus on how specific the diction is here. I was recently reading in Nephi when he was commanded to build the boat. He received specific
instructions on how to build this boat and as he followed those instructions he was able to finish the task at hand. Just like in this scripture, there are certain dimensions and measurements for this temple. God gives us certain specific commandments and as we follow them we are blessed immensely. Just think if someone built that temple (or in Nephi's case the boat) just a little bit off, how it wouldn't be stable and structured. We have the commandments to keep us safe from falling into temptation. What a blessing!

I love hearing your emails and stuff going on. Keep me updated! I love and miss you all. Take care and have a good week!

Con Amor

Elder Alexander Scott Joyner

¡Qué calor, Qué calor, Qué calor! (June 20, 2016)

Happy Monday all! It sounds like everyone had an exciting and fun week. I bet Cole is having fun at scout camp and all. Why isn't it at Rainey mtn. this year? Good times! Poor mom is gonna be all lonely at home this week. You'll have to find something to keep yourself entertained! Happy Father's Day, dad, and Grandaddy, and papa, and all the father figures in my life. I love you and hope you had a spectacular day celebrating your greatness! This week has been crazy for us. We did lots of service and had our lessons pick up. Maria came to church and we're working with her so hard to pray about the church. I'd love to share all the experiences we had, but here are just two.

The first is with a less active member named Gabriel. Their family has an interesting story. They went less active about 20 years ago because the Spanish branch, back then, got combined with the English Ward. It's such a silly reason to stop coming to church, but apparently they really didn't like it. Gabriel was in his youth at that time and just stopped coming. He told us he appreciates the times he's had at church and all that it did for him. He also told us that he's an "agnostic atheist" now. We were kind of taken back by this and didn't know exactly what to do. Our conversation (him talking at us mostly, haha) included many things and was very long. He said he loves missionaries and talking with us but that he wasn't really interested in returning to church because he thinks it would just be offensive. For some reason, this little experience really stressed me out  and made the end of that night stressful. I guess I had just never seen a member (and really didn't think it was possible) go from a strong Latter Day Saint to a believing nothing atheist. For me that was unheard of. I think that's the part where true conversion comes in and if we really believe what we learn and preach. It makes me want to work hard in my conversion process and become even stronger.

The other crazy story happened yesterday. Right before our sacrament meeting starts, we get a call from the Bishop in Benicia saying there's this family that just walked in that only speaks Romanian,
Italian, and a tiny bit of Spanish. (He called us seeing as Benicia is our area) We weren't able to do anything right there because we had to stay for our own sacrament meeting. After that, we continue home to grab some quick lunch when we get a call from Bishop Tanner at the Vallejo building. He says the same family has just shown up and needs some help translating. We rush down there and meet the family of four, parents and two girls. The mom understood better Spanish than the dad
and we were able to communicate very little with them. We showed them a video in Italian and tried to talk about their faith and interest in the church. At this point we were very confused about what they were trying to tell us, so we whipped out the iPad and used google translate to try and communicate (THANK GOODNESS FOR MODERN TECHNOLOGY). We found out that they came to the church looking for help to pay rent and bills and such. We talked to the bishop that was
there and said there wasn't much we could do because they weren't members and had just shown up. It was difficult because as missionaries, that's not something we should have to worry about. It was difficult to get that across to the family and let them know. We told them they were welcome at church and welcome to take the lessons from us. They seemed interested and we helped them find the Book of Mormon in Italian, on the app. We're being cautious because we don't want them to join the church just to get money. We want to make sure they are doing it for the right reasons. It was a tough little situation and we're trying to find a member who speaks Italian to help us translate for the return appointment. I'll let ya know how that goes next week!

OH I keep forgetting to tell you about this weekly service we do. It's called the 'cliff house,' And basically we go and participate in a bible study group with this other church and then serve them dinner. It's interesting to see how other faiths worship and it's fun!

That's it for this week! I love you. Keep having a good summer! OH and transfers is next week so we will know this Saturday about them. ¡Què Dios les bendiga mucho!

Con Amor

Elder Alexander Scott Joyner

Our Ratchet AC