Wednesday, September 24, 2014

September 22, 2014- An Answered Prayer and Colonial Williamsburg

September 22, 2014

Hey Family and Friends!

This past week has been a really good week. We committed another person to baptism this week. Her name is Edis and she is from Honduras.

Last Monday during our p-day, Elder Remund and I, and three other missionaries went mini golfing in Williamsburg and then went to the colonial town of Williamsburg. Williamsburg is a   revolutionary war era town that was occupied by the British.  When the Patriots won the revolutionary war they stormed in and took over the town. The town has been really well preserved, so it was pretty fun to tour.

That night, we taught a guy named Giovanni for the first time.  We taught him the Restoration and it was an amazing lesson. When I was on splits last week with my zone leaders they told me that whenever missionaries teach someone for the first time about the Restoration of the gospel, Satan always tries to create a disturbance to distract the individual from feeling the spirit. I definitely noticed that during the lesson. Our area is next to an army base and a few times a day loud fighter jet will fly by.  When my companion began reciting the experience of the first vision, many loud fighter jets flew by one right after another. But that didn't derail our lesson and we got invited to come by again. I think he potentially be a really good investigator.

On Tuesday we dropped off our car at a dealership because our bumper needed to be fixed. We ended up not getting the car back until late Friday.  During those three days without a car, we did a ton of walking because we don’t have bikes to fall back on. In those 3 days we walked over 20 miles!  It was hard because our bags were filled with a lot of Spanish and English materials and so our bags were heavy.

Wednesday we had zone conference in Virginia Beach. We were told the musical called "The Book of Mormon," will be coming to Norfolk Virginia during the last week of October.  To counteract this, On November 1st we will be doing a Social Media split. Local members will spend the entire day with us and during that time they will take pictures and videos of us as we have our studies in the morning, lessons with investigators, and do street contacts. Then, the members will post the videos and pictures online to social media sites so that people in this area can see what missionaries are really do. President Baker said that in this way we can use this event as an opportunity to create interest in our church after people in the community see the musical.

Later that night we had a really good lesson with Jeff and his family.  Jeff is coming closer and closer to baptism and he even says so himself so that's really exciting.

On Thursday morning, Elder Remund and I walked from our apartment to the dealership to pick up the car.  They were running behind so we walked over to this park to figure out what we were going to do the rest of the day since we wouldn't have a car. While we were there, a black preacher came over and started talking to us. After we talked to him for a while he went off on this tangent about how there was going to be a third coming of Christ and about the dimensions of heaven.  He was quoting scriptures from the Book of Jude and Revelations, which I wasn't too familiar with. We just listened to him and then introduced the Book of Mormon to him.  He actually said he would read it, which was pretty cool.

On Friday, Elder Remund and I attended a family history class that the stake here requires that all new missionaries in this area take. It was a very interesting class.  The instructor talked about how we can use family history to introduce the gospel to people, which I had never though of before.   We were finally able to pick up our car later that day.  I don't think I have ever been so happy to be able to ride in a car.

Yesterday, we drove down to Buckrow Beach in Hampton because we had two appointments with Latino families. We brought a 17 year-old member of our ward, Brother Richie.  The Richie family is one of the Anglo families that have been assigned to our Hispanic branch, to provide leadership and help this Spanish branch grow.  It ends up that neither of the families were at home. As we were walking back to the car, our phone started ringing, so Elder Remund answered it. As he was talking, a man from across the street asked, "May I ask you gentleman from which organization you guys are from?" So I walked over there with Brother Richie while my companion continued to talk on the phone. I answered that we were missionaries of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. He said that he had seen us in the neighborhood talking his neighbors and wondered why we hadn't ever stopped at his house. I told him that we were called as Spanish speaking missionaries, so our focus was to talk to Latinos, but we were more than willing to speak to English people as well.  I asked him if he would be interested in hearing a message from us about Jesus Christ.  He declined because he said that he already knew a lot about Jesus Christ and the Bible, and that he was already "full of the faith". I asked him if I could at least give him a card from our church. He said yes, so I handed him a pass along card with a picture of the Resurrected Savior on it. I explained that our purpose as missionaries is to testify of Christ and bring others to Him. He really liked the picture of the Savior.  He said that he really admired us in how that we took our time to bring happiness to others and to testify of the Savior. He then said, "I'm not trying to take up your time or offend you or anything but can I ask you a question?" He asked, "What is your church's stance on gay marriage?" At this point Elder Remund was just starting to cross the street so I knew I had to answer the question and not wait for Elder Remund. I started to give him an answer, and it just amazed me what came out of my mouth as I started quoting phrases from the Family Proclamation to the World that I didn't even realize that I knew well enough to quote word for word. I blended those phrases that I recited to him with my answer about how God loves each of his children so much and that we lived with him before our life on Earth. I said that He loves everyone here on earth because we are all of his children.  I explained that "gender is an essential characteristic of who we were before this earth" and that "God had ordained marriage between a man and a woman to bring happiness to his children," and therefore we did not support gay marriage. I said something kind of like that although it flowed and sounded a whole lot better when I explained it to him. He seemed really satisfied with that answer and that's when I launched into “Because God loves us he called prophets in the bible, etc. and basically I ended up explaining the Book of Mormon to him.  We read a couple scriptures about the Savior and that the Book of Mormon has is another testament and witness of our Savior Jesus Christ. At this point, my companion finally was able to jump in and bear his testimony too. We committed him to read the Book of Mormon and he was super excited about doing so.  When we were done talking to him we asked him to pray. And in the prayer he thanked God that he was able to talk to us because we were an answer to a prayer that he had offered earlier that day, in which he had asked how he could come closer to his Savior Jesus Christ. It was an amazing experience and the spirit was so strong.  I really know now that the scripture in D&C that talks about "first study the word and then you will be given in the moment what to say" to be true. When it was just the two of us talking, I really felt like I was being guided in what to say because I'm positive those weren't my words that were coming out.

Last night, we visited Jonathon. We have tried to come by and talk to him in the past but he has always said that he was busy.  One of our other appointments had fallen through, and we felt like we should go see him, so we did. We knocked on his door, and he answered it and said, "I don't know how to say this, but I don't want you guys to come to my house anymore. I'm just in a part of my life where things have been hard and I just don't want to hear from you guys." We told him that we understood.”  Then he asked, "Before you guys leave, do you want some water?" After he got us some water, the spirit touched his heart because we ended up staying there on his doorstep talking to him about questions that he had just about life and about Jesus Christ and his Atonement and how he had suffered for his sins. We also gave a Book of Mormon and talked to him about it and he said he would read it. We told him we wouldn't stop by anymore but we that if he ever needed help to give us a call. I wouldn't be surprised if he calls us by the end of the week.

Being here on a mission is hard work. It's probably some of the hardest work that I have ever done. It has its downs when people reject your message but I have experienced so much joy as well. I have already seen how people can change and bring happiness into their lives as they come closer to their Savior, Jesus Christ.

Elder Cannon

sheep pasture in Colonial town of Williamsburg

Governor's Palace in Colonial town of Williamsburg

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

September 15, 2014- Tracting in a Flooded Area- The Beach at Sunrise

September 15, 2014

Hi family and friends! My first full week in the mission field has been really amazing!!

It has been raining a lot this past week. As a result, the mobile homes that we were planning to tract at on Tuesday were completely flooded. The water was high enough to cover the wheels of cars on the street. It honestly looked like a hurricane had gone through the mobile home park. Elder Remund and I decided that we wanted to go see a potential investigator anyway so we put on our boots, rolled up our pants and walked through the water to the house. The water ended up being knee deep all the way, and the investigator ended up not being at their house but it still ended up being an awesome experience.

The Spanish hermanas in our district that cover middle Newport News had a baptism on Tuesday. They baptized this sweet old lady from Guatemala. Even though the baptism wasn't for one of my investigators, it was still a really cool experience to see a convert baptism for the first time.

On Wednesday, Elder Remund and I taught Valerio, a less active member from Guatemala. The spirit was so strong in the lesson as we taught him the importance of going to church.  We told him that we wanted to visit with him because we loved him and the branch members loved him. I could see that he definitely felt the spirit so hopefully that will help him decide to go to church again.

On Thursday, my companion and I met with Jeff again. Elder Remund and I had fasted on Sunday for Jeff that he would receive an answer to his prayer about whether the Book of Mormon is true. The spirit was so strong during the lesson.  We asked him if he would pray right then and ask if the Book of Mormon was true. He did, and afterwards he said that he had this warm feeling inside him. I then asked Jeff to be baptized and he said yes! Now Elder Remund and I just need to help him overcome his Word of Wisdom problems.  In order to support him, both my companion and I are both giving up something we like. Elder Remund is giving up Oreo cookies and I am going to give up diet soda. It’s going to be hard but it is going to be worth it when Jeff is able to get baptized. We also gave him a priesthood blessing, which he asked me to give to him, and that was amazing. I remember Dad saying that he hadn't given a blessing until a year into his mission. I feel blessed to have already participated in 6 blessings, three of them in which I was able to pronounce the blessing.

We went to Edwin and Miriam's home and they served us paposes, a dish from El Salvador. I really like eating paposes, even though they do have beans in them!

On Friday, I went on my first exchanges with our zone leaders. It was a lot of fun because we taught a lot of lessons to investigators I hadn't met and they were all English speaking.  It was a relief to take a break from Spanish. We also went to the CNU college campus and talked to a lot of people on campus. We set a goal to talk to everyone and I think we did a good job of talking to everyone that we saw.

On Saturday afternoon, we met with Francisco. He is from the Dominican Republic and will be in the U.S. for only 6 months. He is visiting his daughters here, both of which are members in our Spanish branch. His daughters asked us last Sunday if we could help him stop smoking, as he has been addicted to smoking for over 50 years and has tried to stop before but wasn't able to. So we went over to his home and talked to him about how the Atonement of Christ can help us overcome temptation because he not only suffered for our sins but also for every pain we would feel and for every temptation we would experience (Alma 7:11-13). We also gave him a blessing, which Elder Remund gave in Spanish.

On Saturday and Sunday we had Stake Conference.  The focus of this meeting was Hastening the Work and the importance of members in missionary work. I would encourage everyone back home to be involved as a member missionary and tell everyone about Jesus Christ and his restored church!

Yesterday I learned why its kind of stinks to be a Spanish missionary in the U.S. Elder Remund and I were tracting yesterday in Hampton where we met two African American women. The first one was super friendly.  She was interested in our church and after talking to her for a long time; we gave her a Book of Mormon.  She told us that she was going to read the Book of Mormon to her kids that very night. The other woman was from Haiti. She said that she wanted a copy of the Book of Mormon, too.  We told her we could get her a copy in the Creole language, which is the language they speak in Haiti. She seemed really excited about that. The sad thing about these two solid potential investigators is that since they don't speak any Spanish at all we had to hand them over to the English speaking missionaries, which kind of stinks, but oh well.  I'm still really glad I’m a Spanish speaking elder!

This morning, myself and seven other Elders went to the beach to watch the sunrise. Our mission president allows all the missionaries that are close to a beach to go to the beach every six weeks, or at every transfer, to go watch the sunrise.  We aren't allowed to go into the water but it was still really awesome.  It reminded me of when I watched the sunrise in Hawaii with my family in June.

Later today, after we have completed our P- day duties, we will be going to tour the historic colony of Williamsburg.  There are many historical places in my area, Williamsburg, Yorktown (where the revolutionary war ended), Jamestown (the first American settlement), and the island where Jefferson Davis (the Confederate president during the civil war) was kept as a prisoner.

I'm really excited for another week in the mission field and I will talk to everyone later!

Elder Cannon

​I thought this was pretty funny.  This is a building outside an apartment complex in Hampton. I wonder what the people who live across this building think when we say that Joseph Smith restored the church. "WHO? Joseph Smith? You mean that attorney across the street??" hahah :)

Here is a flooded trailer park that we tracted in.

Here I am in the flooded trailer park up to my knees in water.

In the middle of Newport News there is this big foresty area similar to Central park in NYC. The whole area around here is forested, which is a relief compared to the desert in Arizona that I'm used to.

Sunrise at the beach on Pday

Pupusas from El Salvador

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

September 8, 2014- Happy to Arrive in Virginia

September 8, 2014
Happy to Arrive in Virginia

Hi family and friends,

Wednesday, September 3, was a crazy day for me. Elder McCall and I woke up at 1:00 in the morning, or 11 pm Arizona time, so in total I probably had about 3 hours of sleep. When I weighed my suitcases, I found that one of my suitcases was too heavy so I had to switch a bunch of things around to make it work. The CCM gave us a small breakfast of a lunchmeat sandwich and an apple. We left the CCM at about 2:30 in the morning.

There were two other hermanas with us who were flying to Dallas and then on to Washington DC. Our driver walked us through the airport so that we would not get lost. He dropped the Hermanas off and then found out that he had taken us to the wrong part of the airport for Delta airlines. So we got back in the van and went to a different terminal. We got to the Delta terminal to drop off our baggage only to find out that the Delta counter didn't open up until 4:30 a.m. We stood there for an hour waiting for it to open. 

After we finally dropped our baggage off we went through the Mexican Security, which wasn't that strict.  All they made me do was take off my insulin pump so they could put it through the x-ray machine. I tried to talk them out of it in Spanish, but they wouldn't hear it. Luckily, my pump is still working fine.

We got to our flight just to realize that our boarding time wasn't until 7:00 a.m. So Elder McCall and I sat down and tried to get an hour of sleep, but it was kind of hard because the chairs were really uncomfortable.

Finally, they boarded everyone on the plane. Everybody sat down and we waited for 10 minutes. After the wait, the pilot announced that the navigation system wasn't working and he didn't want to fly over the Caribbean Sea without it.  He said he would try to get it fixed but our flight might be cancelled.

They loaded everyone off and then people rushed in line back in the airport to try to change their flights around. Elder McCall and I were worried because neither of us had been in a situation like this before so we just stood in line. Elder McCall and I said a prayer because we weren't sure what to do, and we asked Heavenly Father to either send us someone who knew a little English that could help us or that somehow everything would work out. Within a minute this Mexican guy got in line behind us. We started talking to him to see what he was going to do. He knew English so he talked to us and told us not to worry about it and that we would figure it out when we got to the front of the line. Elder McCall and I felt calmer after talking to him.  That guy definitely asked our prayers. When we got to the front of the line we found out they were able to find a way to fix the plane, however the plane was going to be delayed and would take off 3 hours late.

We were able to arrange to get on another connecting flight from Atlanta to Norfolk, which was scheduled to land around 7:30 p.m. Then, the guy behind us told the booking agent that since our plane had been delayed, he owed us one free phone call. I had never heard of that before.  Thank goodness he told that guy that. Elder McCall and I decided to use our one call to call the mission president. President Baker arranged to have someone pick us up at our later arrival time.  Our prayers were definitely answered.

After we landed in Atlanta, we had to go through Customs. Immediately when we stepped off the plane, they had a bunch of German shepherds smelling for bombs. Each of us had to stop and let the dog stiff us, and all of our carry on luggage. After we got through that we presented our passport and answered a few questions from an officer who looked at our passport. After that we were officially back in the good ol' US of A!

We got our luggage and dropped it off again and then went through security again to be able to get on our other flight. I exempted the body scan since I can’t go through that with my insulin pump so I got a pat down.  I got held back for even longer because when an officer wiped my hands to do a bomb check for an alarm went off. Then, they pulled me into a separate room and went through everything in my suitcase and did a thorough pat down. Finally, when they didn't find anything, they let me go.

When we landed in Norfolk, Elder McCall and I found out that our bags hadn't made the flight and they were still in Atlanta, but one of the workers for Delta told us that they were going to try to get them to our hotel by the morning. 

We then drove to a church building in Chesapeake where we met the other English missionaries who had flown in from Provo. There was one Spanish Elder who went to Provo because apparently he was already fluent in Spanish since he had lived in Guatemala the past two years where his dad worked. We met President and Sister Baker and they seemed like really, really nice people.

I had an interview with President Baker and he told me that the fact that I had diabetes wasn't going to limit where he was going to send me in the mission, which sounds fine to me! We went to a hotel for the night and the beds were so comfortable compared to the bed I had been sleeping in the past six weeks in Mexico City.

Before I went to bed, I prayed to Heavenly Father and said a specific prayer that both of my bags would be at the front of the hotel in the morning with all my things in them still intact.
I woke up in the morning and went down to the front desk and my bags were there with everything in them, so my prayer had been answered. Prayer really is an amazing thing, and I know our Heavenly Father will answer them if it is according to his will!

We went to the transfer meeting where we got assigned to our new companion and our new area. I was assigned to work with Elder Remund. I have been assigned to Newport News/Hampton Virginia. My area covers the Southern and downtown part of Newport News and most of Hampton.  There are only 6 people in our district, Elder Remund and me and 4 sisters. Elder Remund is the district leader. Elder Remund and I cover Hampton and southern Newport News. Two of the sisters cover the middle of Newport News and northern Hampton and the other 2 sisters cover the northern part of Newport News. The area that we are responsible for is really large.  There are only a few areas where there are apartments or town houses in our area. Almost everybody in our area lives in trailer home parks.  I’m sure a lot of you have heard of Hampton, and yes what you have heard is correct. It really is a ghetto.  It’s nice to have a car and just be able to drive through the sketchy areas.

After the meeting my companion took me shopping to get the things I would need for the rest of the week and then we immediately went to Companionship study where we talked about the investigators in the area. There are 5 progressing investigators.

Edwin and Miriam want to be baptized but they can’t at the moment because they are not married and they have a son.  They are getting married on December 20, and they will be baptized shortly after that! 

Nazario wants to be baptized as well but he can’t yet because he is not married to his girlfriend and they have had a child together as well. In addition, he can’t get married yet because he needs an ID to get married however he was stripped of his ID when he got caught crossing the border and was put in jail. He also has a tracking device on his leg.  He won’t be able to be baptized until he gets his legal issues resolved in late 2015.  As a result, he hasn't been coming to church lately and scheduled appointments with him have been falling through.

Jeff is African American, but his wife is from the Caribbean and speaks Spanish. We are able to teach him in English because he doesn't know Spanish. Jeff is following the commandments that Elder Remund and his previous companion have taught him and he wants to be baptized.  The thing that is holding him back is that he has not received an answer about whether the book of Mormon is true. On a lesson on Thursday night, we taught him how to pray with a sincere desire and we showed him examples of Book of Mormon prophets who prayed with a real desire and with faith. He said he would do that. On Sunday, Elder Remund and I fasted for him that he would receive an answer. We are having a lesson with him this Thursday and we are going to ask him if he has received his answer. If he has not received an answer we are going to ask him to pray right then and after he receives his answer we will ask him to be baptized.   

Jesus P. has been really sick lately and so he hasn't been able to see the missionaries. He wants to be baptized as well, but just like Nazario he is tangled up with legal issues. He has been to jail many times, so Elder Remund is trying to get him an interview with President Baker. If everything checks out, then he can be baptized.

The last investigator is Daniel. Daniel has received some of the lessons from Elder Remund and his old companion, but recently he has been ignoring the missionaries.  We just may have to let him go.

Even though they are mostly English speaker here, we basically only teach Hispanics. We have two cases where we are teaching two different guys in English because their wives speak Spanish but other than that all our other lessons are in Spanish. We have to hunt down the Hispanics in our area because they aren't really grouped together in any specific area. When we are tracting, and bump into people that aren't Hispanic, we ask them if they have seen any Hispanics in their neighborhood. We still mention that we are missionaries and talk to them. If they seem interested, then we get their information and pass it along to the English Elders in that area.

There is one other investigator I want to mention. He wasn't really a progressing investigator until I came here:
Elias is from Honduras and has a wife and two daughters. Elder Remund said that he contacted him in April, but Elias hasn't really been too excited about the lessons and had been missing scheduled appointments.  I had the chance to meet him for a lesson on Friday. He seemed like such a nice guy.  We taught him the doctrine in 2nd Nephi chapter 31. His family sat in with us too. It was an amazing lesson and the Spirit was very strong. I think he could feel it too, as he set up another appointment up with us on Sunday. On Sunday we taught him about the Gospel of Jesus Christ. I taught him the principle of Baptism and then I asked him, "Seguira el ejemplo de Jesu Cristo al ser bautizado por alguien que posea la autoridad del Sacerdocio de Dios?"  Translated to English I said, "Will you follow the example of Jesus Christ and be baptized by someone holding the priesthood authority of God?" I also asked him if he would prepare for baptism on October 4. He said yes to both!!! Elder Remund and I are really excited for him.
I had a cool experience on Sunday at church. The Latinos have their own small branch consisting of 70 members so all three meetings are held completely in Spanish.  Luckily, I am used to having Sacrament in Spanish because that is what we did at the CCM for the six weeks that I was there. Since it was fast Sunday, the branch president asked all the new missionaries that had gotten transferred in the area to come up to bear their testimonies. I bore my testimony, in Spanish obviously, and thought I did a decent job.  However, after Sacrament all the Latinos in our ward kept coming up to me and telling me how impressed they were with my testimony.  They also told me that my Spanish was really good considering that I have only been in the field for 4 days.

The ward missionary in our branch is really cool. His name is Hermano Tucker. He is Anglo, but he is in our Spanish branch anyway because he can speak fluent Spanish.

Well, I am really excited to be here in the field and to serve the Latinos here in Newport News/Hampton area. I have had an amazing time here so far and I know it’s going to continue to be amazing. One thing I have learned these past couple of days is that D&C 18: 15-16 really is true. You experience so much joy as you bring others to the knowledge of their Savior and Redeemer and to the restored gospel. Elder Remund has taught me that you must talk to everyone. No matter where we are or whether the person is Spanish speaking or not, he talks to them and then gives them a card and asks them to check it out.

This really is a glorious work. Talk to everyone next Monday.

-Elder Cannon 

Me with President Baker and Sister Baker

                            Me with my new companion Elder Remund