Five Weeks Worth Of Awesome Missionary-ness! – Bryson on His Mission, Weeks 81-85

(With the Holidays and getting ready for a move, we have been very negligent.  We apologize for waiting so long to post his letters home!)

 

Elder Rich (left), Elder Jones (middle left)
Elder Rich (left), Elder Jones (middle left)

December 8,2014

“When everything works out, your testimony gets stronger”.  Pun intended.

We put three people on date this week!!! Two are very solid. One is kinda crazy, but we can make him solid!   I get to go back and baptize S****** on Saturday. President is going, and she wants me to play Amazing Grace.

Stephanie Meyer, the lady who wrote the Twilight movies, is in my ward. She is snowbirding and spends a few of the winter months in Arizona in Elder Shuler’s home ward. But they should be back here for Christmas!! I am excited to meet her.  They sound pretty cool.

C***** is still doing good. We gave him a blessing on saturday night for him to stop smoking, and he waited all week for it. He was so excited and always talking about it. He invited everyone at his school classes to his baptism. He is an awesome missionary. I hemmed his pants because we was really worried about them being too long. I hated it. They don’t even look that great, but that’s the best he is going to get!! His wife is in Tennessee, and now that he is more comfortable with us, he is very open. He is on date for the 27th!!

Our Ward Mission Leader is great. He took us out this week, and we went and saw people. He is an Edward Jones guy, and is very, very good with people and is fearless. I like his attitude a lot, and feel like that is what I have been working to be like during my mission. We knocked on a door, and someone said come in. Without hesitation, he walked in, and as the guy shooed us out, he was trying to get him to take our plate of Christmas cookies. LOVE IT!!

Elder Rich is a great companion. I love him so much. It is so cool because we think a lot alike, so we can get so much done. I thought that life had to be two people operating on totally different levels trying to barely get something done. But things that are hard to do for most of my mission are now really easy and uncomplicated because Elder Rich and I get along and think along the same lines. We laugh pretty hard because our humor is on the same track. We work hard though and are doing good things. We work out really hard every morning.

President called me out on conference call and asked me to tell the mission about our baptism next week. But I was in the shower. Elder Rich runs in, and freaks me out making me think there was a monster in our apartment. Then I have to get on conference call with my companion holding the phone up to my soaking head.  It was a crazy few minutes.

We were knocking in the cold, cold, cold. Let me tell y’all how cold it was last week.  It was probably the coldest I have been ever, in my life.  It was a very cold week.  Knocking sucked!!!! The snow stuck around all week and I froze.

We were knocking, and walked up to this lady who was cleaning out her car. We talked for a minute. Turns out that we caught her at an incredible time in her life. She has really been seeking out God and asked for help.  Then she started asking really good questions. Do you know of anyone who had a question for God and he answered them?  What about the people who lived in Africa and never heard of God? What happens after we die?   After these questions I thought  she was a member pranking us. Nobody actually asks those questions and then accepts our answers with faith. She has got to be pranking us.  I seriously thought that for half of the lesson. The I realized this was the real deal. The next day we put her on date, and have met with her every day since. She couldn’t make it to church for good reasons, but she came to the Christmas party. Our WML and his wife were really great. When we left, Sister Bowman (our wml’s wife) ran out and said good bye. 🙂 That makes this missionary happy!! We gave her a CT the next day and read 2 Nephi 31 and had a really good study.

There is this good kid, Zach Judd.  He is a good guy! We went over to the Welch’s, they have a room that I really want someday!  A room full of instruments….  Piano, guitars, drumset. The oldest Welch boy got on the accordion, I played the electric, and Elder Rich played drums.

LOVE YOU SO MUCH THANKS FOR BEING GREAT.

December 15, 2014

HEY THERE.

This was a really rough week. Nothing really went right.  😦  (except what’s happening in this picture!!!)

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S***** got baptized. L***** didn’t, but it’s alright because she still has a way to go. President was there, and so were 16 other missionaries. I got to baptize her! I when to put her under, and she kinda froze and didn’t plug her nose. I shoved her under pretty good. When I lifted her back up, she said, really loud, “Man, I feel like I am in a wet t-shirt contest!”. Right there in front of president. Hahahaha!!!!!!   We sang Called to Serve, and at the end the missionaries sang Amazing Grace!   It was good to see them all.  We had lunch together, like old times.

I looked at an ACT prep book a few months ago and almost cried. Last night, I did some math for the miles. I had to do a subtraction problem, and it involved carrying.  I checked it and added the result with one of the numbers.  I got it right! I sat there beaming at how great I did. I was telling myself how smart I am and how I will go far in life.  Then, I realized that it was a subtraction problem.  I learned that in 2nd grade.

C**** is doing so well. He messed up with the smoking, and it hurts me.  😦 But he is more determined than ever and doing really well!!!  We teach him almost everyday. He remembers most of the stuff we teach him now!!

There is this cool guy who works at Safeway. He is the manager and for some reason he knows the missionaries. We go Safeway contacting at night when we are out of things to do, and we know lots of the workers. He saw us and took us out to McDonalds, it was fun. But I am on strike against McDonalds. They are getting too expensive and one of their workers was really rude to us. As we drove out of their empty parking lot, Elder Rich did the steering wheel and we made a wide turn, at 5 miles an hour. The man told us were were going to kill someone and he will call the police.  😦

We had a fun zone meeting. Our ZL got up and ripped his shirt and wrote a WATAC version of the title of liberty on it while his comp read us the story from the BoM. Totally surprised us.

Deer walk around everywhere, 24/7.  I saw this buck, it wasn’t huge, but its rack was beautiful, 8 pt.  I got out and chased it!!!!

Thanks for the two letters. I send the Christmas Eve testimony back.

We are going to Sequim to meet as a zone.

The Daniels from Staduim Ward are doing a fast for me. They know how hard it is up here in Port Townsend. I am fasting with them tomorrow. If y’all would like to join, it would be great. Thanks!!!

December 22, 2014

I have a new hobby! CONVERTING ATHEISTS. It is now my favorite thing in the world. I have waited my whole mission to do it.

I had an amazing week. Y’alls fast for me was so great! I had an incredible time. It was life changing! Thanks so much for caring for me and doing that. I didn’t find out until Monday night, but I was to go on an exchange in Port Angeles with Elder Fuller. He is a good guy.

On the exchange, nothing went well. It was a rough Tuesday.  All of his appointments fell through, and knocking was so so cold!  But, there was this guy that they had never taught that had talked to the sisters before. His name was Rich, and he is an Atheist. “Hey, I’m Rich, I am a navy vet, I am retired, and I am Athiest.”  🙂 It was so funny. We went over after knocking and were planning on teaching the Restoration. But it was soon obvious, that that was not what needed to be taught here. It is still good to bring up, but there was something special here.

This man talked with us and says he doesn’t believe in God, but we start talking and bearing testimony that God lives and Jesus dies for us. Elder Fuller had a great moment where he talked about the Atonement. The spirit was very strong and Rich could feel the truth of what Elder Fuller was saying about Christ. I was trying to feel where this lesson needed to go, because I could feel that we were going to walk out of this lesson with a converted man. But how do you convince an Athiest that God is real? YOU DON”T!  There is only one guy that can do that, and he doesn’t have a body. The Spirit told me, he already knows. Help him realize it. How do you do that? We had a job on our hands.

Then he told us, that he forgot to mention that he had a dream that he was in a white place. So bright! It wasn’t like the Christian paintings where a pillar of light comes down, it was a bright whiteness that comes from everywhere, and there were lots of people there. I thought, hmmmm, sounds like Heaven to me. Then he said, in the dream, he knew he had been there before. YUP! You bet you have. That confirmed what I had been feeling.

We started to talk about how you know God is real. I told him how I know. It is the feeling of the spirit. He told us how when he is on a secluded beach, or up in the Olympics looking out over the mountains, he feels something. It was more than a feeling, he it was more of a state of being, that he was one and that it was all connected somehow. This 60 year old man got tears in his eyes as that feeling returned to him. It was so cool to watch this all happen. We told him how it was the Spirit, and God knows he is there. I asked him, what is he trying to find answers for in the first place. He wanted to know if God is there, and if this feeling is from him. I told him, you already know. Don’t ask me this. You have heard it all before in life before this. Just like in the dream, you have known this before. And you know the answer right now. It is true. I promise you it is.

He started crying as he realized that it is true. He asked what I thought. I started to bear me testimony, and this feeling took me over. It was more than a feeling. There is now way on earth that I could make myself feel this way. I could almost reach out and touch it. Now I know why they say it is tangible. It’s not like when you sing Amazing Grace and your emotions get going. This was from another source. I told him I have waited my whole life to see a man, not knowing a thing about God, seek him out and get an answer and know for a fact that he is there.

I have worked my whole mission to see this. It is the most incredible moment of my life, without any doubt.  I told him some about how we, and Christ, sacrificed for him so that he could come to this point. As I was saying this, my feeling kept getting stronger. There is absolutely nothing in this universe that could have made me deny God and Jesus Christ.  NOTHING!  That feeling was so real. I now understand why those prophets could stand on top of a wall with arrows flying at them, or stand and bear your testimony as you are about to be burned to death. If I felt God wanted me to, I know I could have told a mountain to move and it would have. There was a fire in my soul, and I will forever look back at that moment and remember that I was closer to God than at any point in my whole life. It changed me. There was power and the Spirit behind my words! He felt it. This humble man sought out God and he found him. I got to be a part of it. I know that y’alls fasting was a big part of it all. Thank you so much.

That took a long time to write. Unfortunately I will have to be quick with my other stuff.

B****, is back on the map!! We have been teaching her at the church. We had an awesome lesson where she said she was scared to join any church. At the end, she committed to praying about the Book of Mormon. But she said she wouldn’t have an answer about whether or not she would join our church. Then she said, I guess If I found out the book is true that would mean your church is true and that I should join it. YESSS! Missionaries try to explain this soooo much to everyone. I have probably talked about this more than anything else on my mission. And people often just don’t get it. They still pray and get an answer, but don’t grasp it. SHE DID!  In her prayer, she said she already knew what the answer would be. HA!

We were going over the interview questions with C******, and we found out he was on probation. Then he told us it was a felony. You can’t be baptized if it was a felony and you’re on probation. That ruined my day. My life was devastated. That is so cool that that can ruin my life!! I love being a missionary. We wee so bummed! We showed him “17 Miracles” last Sunday, and I was struggling with it because my faith in miracles like that was really low for some reason. It really bugged me. I realized that that is really not good, and prayed that I could have that fixed. At the same time, Elder Rich had been studying faith and asked for help with that. So, we were trying everything we could to help him get baptized. Thinking of everything! There was no way unfortunately.

We have put so much work and prayer into him. He was devastated too. He felt so bad and cried that he had done the stupid thing last June that put him in this situation. He was a truly penitent soul. I know that he had to go through that before baptism. We all did. We were in the process of trying to contact the First Presidency for permission to baptize him. We talked to his probation officer, and found out it wasn’t a felony. That made my life!!! He is still getting baptized!! That was a ride for all of us, and it really was an incredible learning experience for us.

We went caroling in Chimucum with the guys down there, and had a lot of fun.

We went to Seattle for one of Elder Rich’s baptisms. I wish I could write about this longer, because it was crazy. We almost had to spend the night in Seattle. We barely made it back. We got a ride to the Bainbridge ferry and our guy wasn’t there for a while to pick us up, so we walked around a little and got lunch. We don’t know if that was against the rules, but it was scary. SOOO MANY PEOPLE! And alleyways, and homeless people. After being in the boonies for so long, I about had a panic attack! We finally got picked up and made it to the temple, after the guy got lost. We got out way late. I got to baptize Elder Rich, and he he baptized me.  (In the temples we baptize each other as a proxy for those who who have passed on who did not get the chance.  See Why do Mormons perform baptisms for the dead?)  We confirmed each other font side. It was cool because we are good friends.

His convert wanted to go to Bellevue to eat. But there were thousands of people there for the parade, and we were stuck in traffic for almost an hour and all the restaurants were an hour and a half wait. We finally went back, and ate by the temple, and by then it was after 9. Shelia was going to take us back from the Edmonds to Kingston ferry, but its too late. So we called the Beans to come from Sequim and come and get us from the ferry. That’s how desperate we were. We got lucky and Chimicum finally answered and was able to help us out. THANKS BEANS!!!! Our ride took another wrong turn and we ended up in Everett. That is a whole other mission. We left the mission that wasn’t our mission! Which made us late for our ferry, and we barely caught the last ferry out of Edmonds at 10:25. We got home very late. I was seriously about to find some grass and spend the night in a park.

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We are baptizing C***** on Saturday! LOVE YOU! MERRY CHRISTMAS! We will probably Skype around noon? Maybe 11? Maybe a little later. Not so sure. I will call in the morning when we know. Miss you a bunch.

P-Day!
P-Day!

December 29th

It was really great talking to y’all!!  I love you so much and am excited to be with you!

100_3863We baptized C******!! It went well! We did a horrible job of letting people know the Sunday before, and didn’t see anyone during the week because it was a crazy week for everyone, and we probably looked like horrible missionaries. We have talked about it and had a date for a month and invited everyone, but didn’t do any re-invites. Oh well! C***** had a lady he rents a room to and her sister came and they felt the spirit. His roommate found out that her dad has lung cancer and has two years to live.  We talked that night and she cried. We need to baptize her.

Church was great. We got there early, and guess who was there? Alex Baldrige from Brookdale, who I didn’t get to go back and baptize. She has cousins who live up here, who I taught a little when they visited her in Brookdale. She was visiting them and came to church. She is so solid! A really great convert. It makes me so happy.   🙂   B**** came to church, and loved it!   Someone talked about the 13 Articles of Faith and she asked about them and we showed her, and she loved them. We decided to to cover them for our lesson in the 2nd hour. Our ward doesn’t have a gospel essentials class. The only have Gospel Doctrine, which is not always the best place to take investigators. But since it is a small ward and there are few or not any recent converts, returning less actives, and investigators, they haven’t had a class for beginners. But there is a need for it now!!  We had two investigators at church, and C**** who just got baptized.  Alex came in too and it was cool to hear from her. ***** loves the Articles of Faith, and went on about how it is exactly what she believes. We only got through the first four. She had lots of really good questions. We were discussing the Godhead, and she asked, “Wait, then who created the Holy Ghost?”. Yup. She is solid and thinking about everything.  If we don’t put her on date this week, I will be very surprised. She is soooo great!!

This was a crazy crazy week. We went down to Tacoma for our Christmas party!  We got to sleep over at Chimucums house so that we didn’t have to wake up at five. The party was awesome, we did our skit and had a fun lunch.  I got a barbie that had a name tag on it of a sister who looks like a barbie, white elephant. Then, right when it was supposed to end, we all went into the chapel to have our spiritual meeting. Sister Blatter talked about praising God, and all of a sudden, about ten missionaries stood up in the audience and two guys on the organ.  They started singing the Hallelujah Chorus. It was so cool, then we went home. It was a bunch of fun.

Christmas Eve, we got an amazing present!  Elder Sutton called and said that we were invited to come down south of Bremerton to the basketball tournament that all the northern zones were having. Elder Rich and I beat everyone.   It was the best present I could ask for. On our way back, we were soooo hungry and decided to use what little money we had to treat ourselves to a nice Christmas Eve dinner, because we didn’t really do anything special. For some stupid reason, everywhere was closed. WHO CLOSES ON CHRISTMAS EVE?????  The only place that we found was this little Chinese restaurant that let us get takeout even thought they had just closed. And they forgot to give us forks so we were forced to eat with chopsticks in the car. It was rough.  😉

CHRISTMAS!! We went to the Perkins, and they had us come in our pajamas, then open presents in the morning. It was so cute and cozy. I changed after a little bit and couldn’t wait to Skype y’all!!  Then we went to the Judd’s and had a good Indian dinner. Lots of curry. YUMM! We played pool and Apples to Apples Picture version.

We have a great, close district. Elder Lupton is funny, and crazy. He has been doing this thing that makes us laugh sooooo hard. He has a little Olaf beanie baby, and he carries it everywhere with him. Olaf is always in his coat pocket with his head poking out. Elder Lupton treats him like another person and will talk to him and act like he says things in our conversations. We will be talking, and then he stops, leans over and put his ear to Olaf, “what’s that Olaf? Oh really. Thanks”. Elder Jones, Olaf says your zipper is down. And it is. Haha! Olaf always has something funny to say, and it keeps us laughing all the time. 🙂

January 5th

We were knocking at an apartment complex, and the doors were close together. We knock twice, nobody came. Then we knocked on the next door. The lady from the first door opened up, and looked very angry. “Are you the ones knocking on my door so much?” We said we only did twice. She yelled at us, “Stop knocking on my door! I had to stop feeding my baby (Bryson actually said something we couldn’t post here – but it was funny), and come to the door. How dare you make me do that. And I am fully Pagan, so I don’t want you here. Leave.”  And slammed the door. We looked at each other, and started laughing! It was so funny. Then all of a sudden, the door opened, and she said, “What?  I heard you laughing. Were you laughing, at me?”. We look at each other, not wanting to lie, but not wanting to say yes. We are still smiling and trying not to laugh. Right as I was about to be honest and tell her we were laughing at her, Rich starts saying something about knocking on two peoples doors and gets out of having to answer. She yells at us more, telling us not to laugh at her, because she is listening. She slams the door, and a second later opens it back up, and just stares at me for probably ten seconds. Then slams the door a final time.

I am in Mosiah right now, and just read about Abinadi. I took a while to study the similarities between him and Stephen. I was surprised at how similar their stories are. Everything from who they talked to, being transfigured, and even how they only have this one part in the scriptures. I am sad to leave Nephi though. I think I enjoy reading Nephi, and Moroni the most. Nephi has incredible moral character, and an amazing attitude. I love him!! Reading through Isaiah, made me think about thinks more symbolically, and how all the types and shadows in the scriptures. Multiple fulfillment of prophecies, and what certain prophecies actually mean. But I ended up applying that to a lot more, and really have realized how almost everything in the scriptures is a type and shadow of other things. Especially Christ’s life. Certain things, like the significance of Lazarus being in the tomb 3 days, and Jonah in the belly of the whale, and then Christ himself being raised on the third day. That is a big deal, it reaches all over the scriptures, and you can apply all of that to sooo many different things. Then I thought about Jesus being born in a manger, and how after thinking about it, that is a huge deal, and a big testimony builder. The whole birth story of the Christ child would probably make my brain explode, if I tried to study it that hard. 🙂  I love the scriptures. I am trying to finish the Old Testament. I am on Job right now.

S****** came up with the whole family and took us to dinner! She is a visiting teacher now!! And really loves the ward. When **** (her daughter) saw me through the window, she ran up to the front door screaming “BOY! BOY IS HERE!! MISTER BRYSON!” (S***** refuses to call any missionary Elder. We try…..) She is a great person, and I miss them.

Life is rough. We make so many mistakes. And that’s hard for me. I am in an environment where I should be almost perfect, but I hate how I am not. Even when I do really well, I always know I could do better. A lot of times, I beat myself up pretty hard for it. It is a really good way to stay motivated, but after a while, it is exhausting to care that much and its becomes too easy to not care and give up. I have come to a better understanding of the way that life, and the Atonement works, and it helps a lot. We are not going to be perfect, and unfortunately, I am going to have to live with myself making mistakes for the rest of my life.   😦  I can make it smaller things, but they are still mistakes that I have to live with. I think about when I play basketball. I usually end up playing down low, and I get sooo mad at myself when I miss a basket. Because they are all really close shots, just a layup of some kind from the post position, yet I miss them sometimes!  If I miss, then I should have never shot in the first place. If I take a shot, then it NEEDS to go in. I don’t get mad if I get fouled really hard, or I shoot a three and miss. But I usually yell and get visibly angry with myself when I miss something down low when I didn’t get fouled hard enough to knock me over!!

One game, I had a number of those shots. I was so mad at myself I told Elder Rich I will never play ball again. I was done! But then a few guys came over and told me that I was doing really well, but I need to call fouls, because I was getting hammered down there, and was still getting impressively close for how bad I was being fouled. I was so focused on making the baskets, that I wasn’t realizing that I was doing really well, I was only focusing on the fact that I wasn’t where I needed to be. But even  though I was doing everything I could, it wasn’t enough.

This makes me think about how we do everything we can, but it isn’t enough. Nothing we do is ever enough. We rely on the grace of God to get us the rest of the way there. Though I am often discouraged with myself for how much I mess in life, I try to remember, that it is never enough. But my loving Father in Heaven just asks that I do my best, and repent along the way when I am not my best, and because of grace, I can live with him again. Isn’t God and his whole plan just so cool!? I still need to get on myself when I mess up, but having a thorough understanding of the Atonement can help us not be discouraged, but have hope for ourselves.  I thought about how Brad Wilcox talks about grace isn’t an end of the road thing, something that is added on after we die, but it is there in our lives the whole time. At the end of the figurative game of basketball that we call life, God doesn’t look at the score board and change our losing score to a winning one. Christ is there for each basket we shoot. We do what we can, relying on our team mates (family, church, my companion) to help us get there.

We have tools, like new shoes, good Nike socks, or a new dri fit jersey (Scriptures, conference talks). We even have a great coach telling up what to do that can help us win, and we can consult him when we need help (God). These help us to that moment where we drive in on the paint to get a tough lay up. We did what we could, and then, our shot sucked, but somehow, it went in! The good grace of God let that ball go in, and at the end of a game, we have a winning score.

Elder Rich and I are staying together in Port Townsend. That’s what we wanted. I get to kill him off. (This means that Elder Rich will go home when Bryson is still his companion.)

Since we see deer all the time, we sometimes think big dogs are deer. So now, whenever we see a deer, we call it a dog, and we call dogs deers. “WOW! A pocket sized pet deer!”

Elder Rich and I had an argument for a week about the difference between faith, and hope. For a while it made about as much sense as Abinidi’s explanation of the Godhead. But we have gotten better. We agree now, but we aren’t quite sure what it is that we agree on. We get the basics, but understanding the relationship between the two can be a bit confusing sometimes. They are definitely different, yet inseparable.  If y’all have any time to study it, or even a little discussion between yourselves, let me know what you find!! Love you.

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